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Best Clarinets For Beginners: How To Choose The Best Student Clarinet

Updated on September 23, 2014

If you have kids that are new to the clarinet, you probably have a few questions about the decisions that lay ahead. Don't feel bad. The clarinet is a complicated instrument, and it's easy for a new band parent to get confused.

Should I Buy Or Rent a Student Clarinet?

The first thing on your mind is probably whether you should rent or buy. This is mostly a matter of personal preference. If your child is brand new to music, though, it may be a good idea to rent, for a couple of reasons. You would hate to spend $300-$500 on a brand new clarinet, only to have your young artist decide they wanted to play the trombone, instead. Renting also gives a beginning student the opportunity to try out a few different brands to see what they like.

What About Rent To Own Clarinets For Kids?

Another option that many dealers offer is a rent to own plan. If you're considering this, you should be very careful. It's easy to be seduced by a low monthly payment, but at the end of the lease, you may actually be paying two or three times what it would have cost to buy it outright. Look at the terms of the plan carefully before you commit.
When you are ready to buy, you'll quickly find out that there are more styles and brands of student model clarinets for sale than you would ever have imagined. There is, however, a short list of brands and models that top nearly every band director's list of suggested student clarinets. If you stick to one of these major brands, you can't go wrong.

The Venerable Conn-Selmer Company is Responsible For Two Of The Top 5 Clarinets For Kids.
The Venerable Conn-Selmer Company is Responsible For Two Of The Top 5 Clarinets For Kids.

Best Clarinets For Kids

Yamaha YCL 250

The Yamaha brand is known and respected around the globe. Their professional clarinets are world class, and their student models are among the biggest sellers of any brand. The YCL 250 offers superior sound quality. It's made of tough ABS resin, and the sturdy nickel plated keys are made to withstand the bumps and blows that young band students can deliver.

Buffet B12

Buffet has often been called the "industry standard" in clarinets, and the B12 student model is no exception. This clarinet offers a beautiful sound quality, sturdy keys and tough construction. Clarinets are an instrument that students are prone to drop, and the B12 is one of the few that won't typically crack on impact.

Vito 7214

The Vito 7214 is made of ABS resin that produces a sound that is similar to more expensive wooden clarinets, while being tough enough to withstand the rigors of marching band. With a slightly larger bore than other student clarinets, the 7214 is very easy to blow through and very responsive.

Bundy BCL 300

The Bundy BCL 300 is also made of ABS resin that produces a very rich sound. As far as quality, Bundy no longer enjoys the reputation they once had, but the BCL 300 comes with nickel-silver keys and premium double skin pads, and strikes a very good balance between quality and price. This student clarinet is likely to be the best value you'll find in this price range.

Amati ACL-201

Amati combines old world craftsmanship with 21st century technology to produce one of the most affordable, high quality student clarinets. The model 201 is made of crack resistant ABS resin, and features nickel plated keys that are designed to fit under small hands. It's easy to blow through and has good, consistent intonation and a rich sound quality.

LJ Hutchen Student Clarinets

As much as you'd like to get your kids the best that money can buy, that's not always a practical option. Especially if you don't know whether they're going to stick with it. That's why I have added a sixth, more affordable clarinet to this lineup.

LJ Hutchen clarinets are designed by an American music teacher that was appalled at the quality of the Chinese horns his students were bringing to class. They're not designed to compete with the big dogs, but are of high enough quality for a beginner to learn on, and may even take them them through middle school. They're manufactured overseas, but are made of much higher quality materials and to a higher quality standard than the typical "cheap" clarinets. These horns are leak tested, play tested, and hand checked 3 times before being shipped, and they carry a two year warranty.

Invest In Quality

As a rule of thumb, you should expect to pay at least $400 for a decent quality student model clarinet, and as much as $600 or more for a truly high quality model. They cost a lot of money, but the less expensive (or downright cheap) clarinets will bring you headaches, grief, and repair bills. In fact many of them are considered disposable, because most of the cheap imports are made of materials that are prone to breakage, and are typically not repairable. Investing in a horn from a reputable manufacturer ensures durability, a good experience for your kids, so they're more likely to stick with it, and a higher resale value when it's time to trade up to a professional model clarinet.


Submit a Comment
  • majoringeekology profile image


    8 years ago

    Music & Arts is where I got my first clarinet and I still have it. I totally recommend renting to start so that you're not stuck with an instrument you don't want. However, if you're older or really enthusiastic, consider buying it. Nice hub!

  • profile image

    Ram in Denver 

    8 years ago

    Music & Arts is selling the BCL-300 for $299 until Oct. 3, 2010. I just ordered mine. I would caution anyone buying a used instrument. I almost did so until I was told a re-pad was $200 on the loaner from a family member. Best case, I would be $150 into the used, then $200 to repad provided no other service was needed. The BCL at Music & Arts is the answer!

  • profile image

    mr used 2 play 

    8 years ago

    hey anyone interested , I have a Calrinet in good condition for sale.... want to get rid of it fast.. havent played in years, and honestly will never use it again.... best offer... its a CONN16

  • rmr profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Livonia, MI

    Thanks Lucy, I hope you have found something useful here.

    Hi Pamela. hanks for reading and commenting! I agree, those are two of the best student clarinets out there.

  • Joyful Pamela profile image

    Joyful Pamela 

    9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

    Good choices for beginner clarinets, also. Yamaha and Buffet are by far the best sounding with the best quality! :)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • rmr profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Livonia, MI

    Hi Jeff. Thanks for coming by! That's a good suggestion. If you know someone who's knowledgeable, you can find a great deal like that. I don't recommend it if you're on your own, though. There are just too many things for an untrained eye to miss. You might spend $150 on an instrument that needs $300 worth of work. Some places charge that much just to replace pads.

  • Jeff Berndt profile image

    Jeff Berndt 

    9 years ago from Southeast Michigan

    Another option is to find someone who knows about the instrument you want to learn, and take them with you to flea markets and rummage sales. I've seen many perfectly serviceable instruments for between $100 and $200 at flea markets. I've also seen some junk that would best be used as a paperweight. If you know what you're looking for, though, you could save a lot of money, and the instrument can be considered disposable. When you've decided to either trade up or move on, you can give the old instrument to a new beginner.

    Good hub!


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