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Considerations When Buying a Clarinet

Buying a clarinet is an exciting and nerve-racking task due to all that goes into making a smart purchase. Considerations when buying a clarinet should focus on the quality of the instrument, price, material, whether it is plastic clarinet or wood, warranty, and maintenance requirements. Often you can buy a clarinet for as little as $300; however, renting or buying a pre-owned instrument may be the best choice before investing in a professional model.

Benny Goodman on Clarinet

Material Considerations

Plastic Clarinets

The most inexpensive type of clarinet is made out of plastic. In contrast to wooden clarinets, they are typically are more durable and will not crack. Plastic clarinets generally come with the instrument, case and two reeds.

In addition, plastic clarinets tend to require less maintenance and weigh less than other types of clarinets. Some manufacturers have been able to bring student model plastic clarinets down to $200 dollars. However, it is important to note that if a price seems to be too good to be true, often you sacrifice instrument quality as a result.

Wood Clarinets

Pre-owned instruments
Pete Fountain

If you travel to your local music store, you can often find a decent wooden clarinet for $700-$800. For musicians that would like to up their game from a plastic student model clarinet, this is a wise choice. Wood clarinets tend to provide a warmer musical experience. Wooden clarinets tend to last longer, need fewer adjustments and are typically easier to play. However, players need to be aware wooden clarinets should never be stored in areas of extreme cold or heat.

Mid-Range Instruments

If you are in the market for an intermediate level clarinet be prepared to spend one to two thousand dollars. Often beginner and intermediate level instruments can look very similar so be aware of the difference. First, the intermediate level clarinets will have better intonation and will sound better than a beginner model. The intermediate level clarinets will also be easier to play because of the extra attention spent on the instrument’s construction. Since better quality parts are used, the player should fewer maintenance issues.

Professional Clarinets

Advanced players and professional musicians gravitate towards instruments costing $2,000 or more. These instruments have excellent construction and everything it takes to perform beautifully. All that is needed is a talented musician.

Leasing and Renting a Clarinet

The Store

Every mechanical device requires maintenance at some point. Thinking ahead to proper maintenance and care, consider purchasing your next clarinet from a music store with an instrument repair technician on site. As a result, your chances are that the technician will do a quality job and could provide you a loaner instrument while yours is being fixed.

When deciding on a clarinet to purchase, be sure to also physically play on it. Notice the feel, ease of playing and physical demands placed by the instrument. If there is a large variety of instruments you like, bring another clarinetist you trust and have them give you their opinion. Discuss the pros and cons of each instrument. Narrow down the realistic purchase options and decide accordingly. If you still can’t decide, ask the store if you can try out an instrument for the week. If you don’t like it, return it and trade it out with another one.


Renting a Clarinet

When first deciding on what to clarinet purchase, first consider the benefits of renting. Typically, music stores will rent for a minimum of three months. Rental fees cost somewhere between $20-$25 a month.

It is impossible to say exactly how much it will cost to rent a clarinet due to different plans, terms, and conditions. Many stores offer a rent-to-own plan. This means that if you rent the instrument for a certain amount of time you will own the instrument.

Many of the plans also have the option to buy the instrument before the required rental period is over. The credit earned during the time the instrument was rented will be applied to the purchase price.

Instrument Insurance

Renting from Music Stores
Renting from Music Stores

When renting instruments sometimes an insurance plan is included in the price. It is important that your insurance is covered with the rental plan. If an insurance plan is not included, consider getting coverage since all instruments will need maintenance at some point.

Pre-Owned Instruments

Pre-owned Instruments
Pre-owned instruments

Buying a pre-owned instrument may provide you an opportunity to buy the best quality instrument for the price. Regularly maintaining a quality instrument may also give you the opportunity to sell it in the future, when you upgrade, for a similar price.

Final Thoughts

Buying a clarinet takes time and research in exploring the type, make and model of what you desire. There is always flexibility in the buying process. For example, a beginner player could consider purchasing an instrument that is a higher level instrument to allow for an easier playing situation.

Warehouse of pre-owned instruments

Buyers can purchase online, or even at a clarinet workshop. The big idea is to buy smart, ensure that there is some sort of financial warranty or insurance plan. If the clarinet does not feel right or sound good, be sure that it is returnable. Developing your clarinet skills starts with you and the instrument. Follow these considerations and you will be sure to find a great investment for your musical craft!


Clarinet Buying Guide For Beginner & Professional. (2019, February 25). Retrieved from

Friend, M. (2016, December 13). Buying Guide: How to Choose a Clarinet: The HUB. Retrieved from

Pinksterboer, H. (2010). Tipbook clarinet: the complete guide. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Books.

Thompson, R., & Google. (2019, January 6). Choosing A Clarinet – Clarinet Buying Guide. Retrieved from  



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