What Type of Clarinet Should I Start With?

8th July 2024

In this blog we’ve got some information for beginners and parents wondering what type of clarinet is best to get started on…

Which clarinet should I try?

There are a few different types of clarinets, each producing different pitches and purposes in an ensemble. The most common is the Bb Clarinet, used in most band and orchestral settings. It’s also the most commonly used for players taking grade exams.

There is also the A clarinet which is often bought as a pair with the Bb clarinet. The A clarinet is used for progressing orchestral players. This is because s a lot of traditional classical music is written with clarinet parts in the key of A.

The A Clarinet is a slightly longer instrument, making it slightly lower in pitch, but otherwise the same in key layout as a Bb model. The Bass Clarinet is the biggest (of the commonly used family) and therefore the lowest in pitch. This instrument can usually be found in orchestras and smaller groups such as clarinet choirs.

What materials are clarinets made out of?

Clarinets come in two main materials; plastic and wood. Most players will begin on a plastic instrument, a reliable, durable option for a beginner. Once you are looking to upgrade (around grade 4 or 5), there is then the opportunity to upgrade to a wooden clarinet. These offer a much sweeter, rounder tone, but they are more suited to advanced players who have developed their air support.

How can I purchase an instrument through Dawkes?

Once you’ve made the decision to start the clarinet, there are multiple different options in how this can be achieved through us. You can of course buy a new beginner clarinet, this may involve the biggest initial outlay but we do offer a buy-back scheme (what is this?). This option ensures you get the majority of your money back if you need to return the instrument to us should the player not stick to it.

A range of finance options are also available including 0% APR options. As previously mentioned, the majority of players will begin on a plastic clarinet. The Yamaha 255S and the Buffet Prodige being the most popular on the market, predominantly because of their level of reliability when it comes to a beginner player’s needs.

After this, if you are looking to upgrade, we sell a huge range of wooden clarinets from different brands. These include; Yamaha, Buffet, Backun, Uebel, Selmer, Jupiter, Leblanc, and Windcraft. When you get to this point in playing, it is certainly worth booking an appointment with us to try out a few different models and see which is the best for you. We have a range of testing rooms for you to comfortably try out new equipment with the help of our friendly experts.

Testing Room at Dawkes

Do you sell instruments secondhand?

We do also have a range of secondhand clarinets that have either been sold to us, or part-exchanged from previous customers. We also offer a commission sale option for players who wish to find a new home for their instruments. Buying secondhand is a great way to purchase a high standard instrument for a more budget-friendly price. They are all fully-serviced with our workshop technicians before sale, and sold with a 6-month warranty.

What if I don’t know if I’m going to continue?

We also run a rental scheme, in which you can rent a Bb clarinet from us for a low monthly cost. This is a brilliant way of getting started without the financial commitment if you are not certain you are going to continue for a long period of time.

The clarinet hire scheme runs for a 3-month minimum, and from the fourth month onwards half of each monthly payment goes into an accrual pot which then builds over time. When you are looking to purchase your own instrument you can return the rental instrument to us and then put this credit toward the purchase of your own new or secondhand instrument with us.