In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
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Last updated: May 05, 2022
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The clarinet is a beautiful, versatile instrument that is a key addition to orchestras, jazz bands, and many other types of musical performance. For people who are ready to take the next step with their hobby and play professionally, upgrading to the best professional clarinet is absolutely essential. The difference between these and beginner models is astounding.
To put together these reviews, we considered some of the most important features when choosing a clarinet of this caliber. First, the key. We only included those in B-flat since that’s the most common key for a clarinet and the instrument that will be most useful. We also took the key system into account, much more on that later. The materials of the barrel and keys are important, too, as they both have a huge impact not only on how the instrument sounds but also how it looks.
We spent hours researching the features important to a professional clarinet player as well as the specifics about each of these products. Not only did we scour manufacturer’s websites, but we also studied recommendations from professionals as well as reviews from the people who use these instruments every day. The first thing you’ll come to is a chart where you can compare all of our products, side by side. After that are detailed reviews of each instrument followed by a detailed buying guide to help you find the best professional clarinet for your needs.
We recommend the Yamaha YCL-CSVR Series Professional Bb Clarinet. This is the best professional Yamaha clarinet we found in our research and it’s no wonder – it was developed through years of research. Their goal was to create a clarinet that was consistent, high-quality, and sounded great, all at an affordable price. As professional clarinets go, this one is moderately priced and does everything it sets out to do.
The CSVR features thick key plating and durable leather pads that create rich, clear tones. While it has a traditional grenadilla wood barrel design and bell shape, some of the keys are a little longer (specifically C#/G#) and the touch of the keys has been improved. There’s also an adjustable thumb rest so you can find what’s most comfortable for you are well as a strap ring if you want to use one around your neck for extra support. A mouthpiece and case are also included.
There aren’t many complaints about this clarinet. The redesigned keys may take a bit of getting used to for a seasoned player but, other than that, this is a great investment.
The Buffet Crampon Prestige RC Professional Bb Clarinet is one of the brand’s top models. Everything about this instrument was designed with great precision. The milling holes are made to exact specifications and the edges of each piece are capped with durable metal rings to prevent the wood from splitting. Everything is adjusted and assembled in France by experienced technicians.
The egg-shaped bell allows for a fuller sound and creates the perfect amount of resonance. That said, this clarinet also has a smaller bore which adds a bit of vibrancy. There are 18 keys and six rings, all of which are forged from copper and steel then silver-plated for a durable shine. This clarinet also features flat blue steel springs and bladder pads for a responsive feel when playing.
This clarinet uses grenadilla wood that was chosen because it looks amazing and has wonderful acoustics. The wood is polished to a high gloss shine but left as its natural warm brown color. It comes with a leather-covered case and the items you need for basic care. Note that a mouthpiece is not included as most musicians at the professional level have a particular preference for the mouthpiece they use. Professionals who use this instrument did not have a lot of complaints about it.
Next, we have the Antigua Winds Backun Bb Wood Clarinet, which comes off clear in an orchestra, jazz band, or anywhere else you choose to play the instrument. It is part of the Antigua Professional series of pro winds, and you can see that as soon as you look at the construction, features, and sound produced.
Notably, the Bb Clarinet is made from premium quality wood that is shipped to the Backun Musical Services in Canada for processing. Since the company is well-known for producing world-famous clarinet barrels, it’s no surprise that the Antigua Winds Backun Bb Wood Clarinet is as highly rated as it is.
While it’s being bored, it is also fitted with undercut tone holes. Any clarinet player worth their salt will know that this will help them play the instrument better. Also, power-forged nickel-silver keys are provided that go well with the black exterior of the clarinet’s barrel.
Additionally, the keys work in conjunction with the black Valentino pads to enhance the instrument’s notes. The fact that valentine pads are another world-renowned option is another testament to the clarinet’s quality as a whole.
Buyers receive the clarinet with a hard-shell case that’s handy whenever you’re transporting the instrument to and from the orchestra or jazz sessions. The instrument is also insured by the time it’s shipped to you, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
What stands out?
Valentino pads used
Undercut tone holes
Hard-shell case provided
What cons did we manage to find?
There are currently almost zero complaints about this clarinet
The Yamaha YCL450 Clarinet with Nickel Keys is our pick for the best cheap professional clarinet. It’s an intermediate model with a professional sound that’s a great step up for someone interested in taking their music more seriously. This would be a perfect choice for a high school or college student who wants to continue to pursue the instrument beyond just a hobby.
The grenadilla wood construction produces a focused sound and impressive intonation. To create an even better sound quality, the straight tone holes feature tapered undercuts for a better response.
This clarinet features double skin pads and nickel-plated keys that are fun to play and exceptionally durable. The blue steel springs are very responsive and have a light, bouncy feel. It comes with a mouthpiece, cap, ligature, swab for cleaning, and a hardshell case and is covered with a 45-day return policy and 60-day price protection.
Most people felt that this clarinet has a great sound and was a good investment for the price. The only real complaint was that the case was kind of basic. Some people felt that the case could have been of higher-quality or made out of better material.
What makes it stand out?
Affordable intermediate model
Great for students looking to take the instrument more seriously
grenadilla wood construction
Straight holes with tapered undercuts
Blue steel springs
Includes mouthpiece, cap, ligature, swab, hard-shelled case
Our pick for the best professional clarinet for musicians who are just beginning to ramp up their career is the Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet. It’s made of high-quality grenadilla wood that helps create even, responsive tones and an overall fuller sound. The surface is polished but they allowed the wood to keep its beautiful dark brown color. Edges and tenons are covered with metal rings to prevent any splitting or cracking and add a nice bright contrast to the wood.
Buffet has been making clarinets for more than 40 years and has really refined their craftsmanship and techniques to bring you a true professional-grade instrument. Everything is finished with exact precision to enhance the instrument’s aesthetic and acoustic qualities.
One thing to note is that Buffet does not include a mouthpiece with this clarinet. This may be an issue for some people but musicians at the professional level often prefer specialized clarinet mouthpieces. That said, a ligature and cap are included. The ligature is silver-plated and enhances sound quality by helping the reed stay centered and is particularly helpful with high notes. It also includes a wood-shell case with a plush interior.
Users didn’t have many complaints about this professional clarinet and felt it had a great sound, though it is one of the more expensive options on our list.
What do we love it for?
Grenadilla wood with natural polished finish
Metal rings on edges prevent cracking
Ligature, cap, and case included
Wood-shell plush-lined case
What were we disappointed with?
Mouthpiece not included
Things to Consider
Buying a professional clarinet is a big step forward in your career as a musician. Here are some of the big things you should keep in mind while you shop.
Features to consider while choosing a professional clarinet
There are a lot of things that affect the sound quality of any instrument and these professional clarinets are no different. By knowing what to look for, you can be sure you’ll pick the best one for you.
The Boehm system was based on the work of Therobald Boehm. He actually developed it for the flute and had nothing to do with the changes to the clarinet but was obviously the inspiration. The main thing that changed was the ring and axle system and the addition of keys for the little fingers on both hands. This made some notes easier to articulate and corrected the overall intonation of the instrument, affecting tone, technique, and the acoustics. This is sometimes called the French system because it was hugely successful in France back in the 1870s. By the early 20th century, it was the most popular version worldwide and was the prominent choice everywhere except in and around Germany.
The Boehm system replaced the Albert system. This was a more basic design that was derived from some of the earliest clarinets and uses fewer rings and keys than the Boehm system. While this type of clarinet is not common, it’s still used today in places like Russia and Ukraine for its ability to slur notes easily.
Another alternative is the Oehler system which is popular in Germany and Austria. This system has more keys that the Boehm system – up to 27 in all. These clarinets feature a smaller bore and narrower mouthpiece that creates a slightly different sound.
As we mentioned, all of the products we chose use the Boehm system since it’s the most widely used. Throughout your career, you may have reason to use a clarinet with the Albert of Oehler system but you will definitely get a lot of use out the Boehm models on our list.
Key Plating and Body Material
Body material is important because it has such an effect on the sound and tone of the instrument. All of our picks, including the Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet, are made from unstained grenadilla wood. This wood is particularly well-suited to clarinet making because it produces a great sound and it an economical choice for manufacturing. It’s easy to carve and doesn’t crack as easy as some other types of wood do.
Keys are either silver or silver/nickel-plated which looks great against the grenadilla wood and keeps its finish throughout extended performances over many years.
Something important to mention is that some of these instruments, including the Buffet Crampon Prestige RC Professional Bb Clarinet, do not include a mouthpiece. We made note of this in the reviews when possible. Most professional musicians will reach a point where they find a clarinet mouthpiece they like better than any other brand and use it all the time to get the best sound. So, rather than include a mouthpiece that might not get used at all, some of these products require you to buy a separate one.
What’s nice about clarinets at this level is they include most of the things you need for basic care and maintenance, like a polishing cloth, cork grease, and even gloves. The cases are usually really nice, too. Most beginner and intermediate clarinets have hard plastic cases but higher-end instruments typically come in a nice leather-covered case.
Price and Warranty
These clarinets range from around $1300 to $3900. So, as you can see, there’s quite a range and something for every budget. That said, these are also significantly more expensive than beginner and intermediate options which is perfectly understandable. Everything about these clarinets is superior to models meant for students.
There are a lot of schools of thought on this. Some people feel like you can get just as good a sound from a plastic or rubber clarinet and wooden clarinets are only popular because most people are willing to pay more for something that seems more natural. There are also people who feel like nothing compares to the sound of a wooden clarinet. There’s another thing to think about, too. The sound of a wooden clarinet is what people expect to hear from the instrument. It sounds like a “real” clarinet and like what the composer had in mind when creating the music. So, while there’s no definitive proof that wood sounds better, it is definitely the most popular material among professional clarinetists.
Silver is generally better. Nickel-plating can wear off quickly, particularly if you have higher acidity on the surface of your hands and fingers. Silver will tarnish over time, though, are requires regular maintenance to keep it looking shiny. Some people also feel that nickel is shinier than silver and a little slippery which can make it a little more difficult to play.
It’s very important to take proper care of your clarinet, particularly when it comes to cleaning. You should clean it after every use because any saliva or condensation can cause damage if it’s left to sit. Start by taking apart the clarinet. Wipe the surface and the keys down with a cloth to get rid of any fingerprints. Clean the mouthpiece well with a brush and make sure you get all of the edges inside – gunk can build up pretty quickly inside a mouthpiece and it can make you sick if it sits too long. Use the cleaning cloth by dropping the weighted end into the clarinet and pulling it through until all of the moisture inside is gone. Store it in the case when it’s not in use. You should never stand your clarinet up by the bell unless you’re using a proper clarinet stand. Be sure to apply cork grease regularly and shine the keys every so often if they’re made of silver. This will prevent tarnish from building up.
First, we recommend the Yamaha YCL-CSVR Series Professional Bb Clarinet. It was developed through years of research on how to provide a high-quality, consistent sound at an affordable price. The grenadilla wood barrel and traditional bell sound amazing and look polished and professional as well.
Next, we recommend the Buffet Crampon Prestige RC Professional Bb Clarinet. This one is also made out of grenadilla wood and was designed with great precision. The internal egg-shape of the bell creates a fuller sound with just the right amount of resonance and the smaller bore adds a little vibrancy to the sound.
Finally, there’s the Antigua Winds Backun Bb Wood Clarinet . This one has an innovative bore design fitted with undercut tone holes, which will help you play the instrument better. It’s made of premium quality grenadilla wood and comes with a lifetime warranty