While many prospective clarinetists are looking for the best deal when it comes to purchasing an instrument, they should be aware of the timeless saying that you get what you pay for.
There are many “value” instruments available on Amazon and other websites, but many of these instruments play poorly and cannot be repaired!
In this article, I will share five of the brands that you should avoid when shopping for a clarinet and some quality alternatives that will give you a far better value for your dollar, all based on my experience.
Clarinet Brands You Should Avoid Buying:
- Aileen Lexington
5 Clarinet Brands to Avoid: Full Explanations
These brands present problems in their construction, tone, durability, and repairability.
Instead of spending money on one of these lesser quality brands, consider investing in one of the reputable brands noted below in the section: “Alternative Brands to Consider”.
This clarinet has ongoing problems with poor intonation on certain notes (A natural and F natural in particular), and while its customer service is okay when items are publicly reviewed on Amazon, the clarinet is not reliable for student or advanced use.
This clarinet has commonly noted problems with air leaking through the pads. The upper register’s sound is poor and the keys played with the first finger on the left and right hands are badly placed.
Overall, this clarinet should not be considered a value purchase because it has so many construction problems. If you are looking for a better value option, there are many other brands to consider.
While you may be attracted by the low price point, you should watch out for poor quality. No repair shops will deal with these instruments.
The metal is far too soft and the parts are not aligned properly. While some reputable shops like Woodwind and Brasswind sell this instrument, it should be avoided.
The Glory clarinet is an extremely poorly constructed instrument. It often comes with noticeable strands of hot glue which are not tough enough to adhere to the pads and corks which are necessary for proper play in any register.
The screws are the wrong size, and the instrument plays at a screeching sharp.
This brand should be avoided whenever possible due to its shoddy construction standards.
These instruments are poorly constructed at best. Parts often have to be sanded down to fit together properly.
The left hand A key is not properly placed, sitting about a centimeter above where it should. The instrument sometimes fails after a matter of a few days.
Air leaks frequently, causing a displeasing sound!
Overall, this brand is a waste of money.
The Lazarro clarinet is another poorly made introductory model. They retain little to no resale value, and even the wooden intermediate models dry out and become unusable in a short period of time.
The sound is inconsistent and not strong enough for a fifth-grade beginner to play in a school band.
These instruments are made by the same manufacturer and have equal amounts of problems.
The clarinets have extremely tight-fitting corks, meaning that they must be greased carefully when assembling.
You may want to take these clarinets to the shop to have the corks shaved down, but it is unlikely that any reputable clarinet repair person would take these instruments on.
The keys are soft, and when the instrument is disassembled without extreme care, they can bend. Overall, a Mendini or Cecilio clarinet is not worth the money.
Alternative Brands to Consider
If you are looking for a solid beginner clarinet, you need to expect to pay at least $450. This price point is the level where quality, repairable instruments begin.
If you buy anything cheaper than $450, don’t expect it to last or to have any resale value. If you truly can’t afford more than $450, look for a used quality instrument.
Here are the standard quality brands for B-flat beginner clarinets:
The Buffet B12 (available on Amazon) is the gold standard when it comes to beginner clarinets. These instruments hold their quality and their value and can be passed down in families.
Jupiter is the only value brand that is good enough to make this list. They do make some great quality beginner instruments, including the JCL700L.
They may not sound as good or last as long as some of these other instruments, but they are fully repairable.
- If you want more detail on Jupiter clarinets, be sure to check my article on that specific brand.
Selmer is another top brand for beginners. Their CL211 is an excellent model often priced under $500 new.
Yamaha offers a number of beginner and intermediate instruments that represent a great value, including the YCL-255.
If you are looking for a student clarinet that will play well and will not fail within the first several days of purchase, stay away from the brands mentioned in the first part of this article.
These instruments may come in at an attractively low price point, but they are not good enough for even the most inexperienced clarinetist to learn on.
Unless you are okay with using a clarinet as an item of home decor only, I would recommend going with a reputable brand listed in the second section.
One of the points that you need to keep in mind when buying a new clarinet is the resale value, since you will likely prefer to sell your beginner clarinet to buy an intermediate or professional model.
If your instrument is purchased under $450, it is likely that the resale value will be negligible at best.
Buying a clarinet doesn’t have to be difficult, but you need to pay attention to quality construction and look beyond a rock-bottom price point.
I would recommend checking with a qualified private instructor or school band director before investing in an instrument.