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Identifying the Best Inexpensive Clarinet

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


The best inexpensive clarinet costs less than a school year’s worth of instrument rental fees while sounding as good - or better - than the medium quality wooden instruments. It produces a sweet, solid tone without squeaks or squeals (aside from those the student makes).

The best cheap clarinet doesn’t require costly reeds or difficult to find waxes. Wood clarinets are more expensive and time consuming to maintain, so they aren’t ideal for students whose parents need the best inexpensive clarinet they can find. What are some of the best affordable clarinets on the market?

Clarinets for new students should be cheap and easy to play.
Clarinets for new students should be cheap and easy to play. | Source

CL711 BB Clarinet by Prelude

This clarinet has a durable ABS (plastic) body and nickel silver keys.

It has a professional complex bore design. It comes with a sweet sounding reed. The mouthpiece is for players who can exert significant puffs of air; younger and weaker players may need to replace the mouthpiece. It has an adjustable thumb rest.

You get a hard foam lined case to protect the instrument in addition to the instrument itself. This means the case weighs half as much as the traditional hard cases.

This is a good clarinet for beginners and intermediate players. It is as good as the school rental but costs less than renting the supplier’s instrument for three years.

Instruments for marching band should look better than plastic recorders.
Instruments for marching band should look better than plastic recorders. | Source

Etude Student Clarinet Model ECL-100

Etude is often considered the standard for student clarinets. While their list prices can rival professional instruments, often up to $400, you can often find student clarinets for a hundred to hundred and fifty collars – far less than it would cost to rent an instrument for the school year.

The Etude model ECL-100 has an ABS body and nickel keys. It is designed to be easy to play, making it the best inexpensive clarinet for new players. You don’t need to blow hard or push down on the keys with all your might to generate a smooth sound. The instrument is responsive and lightweight.

Don’t worry about the plastic mouthpiece; it doesn’t affect the performance or learning of proper technique for beginners, and you can upgrade to a professional clarinet mouthpiece as your student improves.

You get a carrying case and protective cap along with the instrument.

Lazarro B Flat Clarinet

This clarinet is part of an all in one set. You get the clarinet, reeds, protective case, cleaning cloth, cork grease, screwdriver and several other items.
This clarinet is available in green, orange and pink. If you like green, you can get either silver or gold keys. Never again will your child wonder which instrument is his or hers.

This is the best inexpensive clarinet set for someone who needs both an instrument and all the supporting equipment at one time. This is a great gift for a fifth grader who says, “I want to play clarinet in middle school.”

No one is going to panic about damaging the instrument, given its rugged plastic body.

Hisonic Series 2610 BB Orchestra Clarinet

This clarinet has a professional appearance at a starving student price. It comes with a swab and cork grease, lined case and mouthpiece. The ebonite body gives it a pro look without the cost of wooden instruments. For those who look for the Made in America logo, the Prestini pads are American made. Unfortunately, the rest of the instrument’s components aren’t, so this makes replacement parts harder to find in a hurry if the instrument breaks.

This clarinet is the right choice for kids entering symphonic band in high school, college bands or adult players who need an affordable instrument.

B Flat Clarinet by Medini

This best selling instrument is popular for a number of reasons. First is the fact that it is a professional looking instrument for a low cost, often less than $150 for a new model. You do however make a trade off with more frequent repairs like reattaching pads and keys. Second, it comes with essentials like ten reeds, a music stand, mouthpiece and protective case. You also get cork grease, cleaning cloth and a pair of gloves.

This is an affordable all in one set, and it is a bargain for beginners if you have the patience for more frequent repairs. It is essentially a four star clarinet that becomes five stars when you take its low price into account.

Warning: if the clarinet doesn’t fit together properly when you first assemble it, return it immediately. The few bad instruments that people receive with this brand will never sound right. Send it back and get another one; they make great instruments, but their ratings are impacted by a few ill-fitting duds.


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