5 Best Clarinet Mouthpieces in 2019 – My Top Picks

The clarinet seems a lot less complex than perhaps a saxophone. But even so, it uses the same principle for creating sound – directing air into the instruments through reeds.

This means that the quality of the instrument can be bottlenecked by the quality of certain components along the path. One of which is the mouthpiece where it all begins.

Best Clarinet Mouthpieces from Reputable Manufacturers

Check out some great mouthpieces that can make you sound better immediately.

This mouthpiece was specifically designed for clarinets with A440 pitch. The profile 88 series has a different exterior beak angle.

This makes it easier to play in the upper register of the clarinet. It also helps achieve a more natural sound due to its medium long facing. The ligature is made of hard rubber.

Although it’s designed for A clarinets, this mouthpiece also fits all Bb clarinets well enough. For the best results, you should also look into Vandoren’s #3.5 strength V-12 reeds or higher, but not anything softer than #3 reeds.

The price point may be an issue for some. However, keep in mind that the craftsmanship that comes with Vandoren products is generally worth every penny.

  • Natural sound
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    Hard rubber ligature
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    Great for playing in the upper register
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    Made for A and Bb clarinets
  • Expensive

As is so often the case, different manufacturers come up with their own sizing charts. For example, D’Addario’s size X0 is for A441 clarinets. There are other sizes available

So, what makes it worth the money? – Its hard rubber body is a good start. This promotes a natural tonality as well as consistency through high and low registers.

D’Addario Reserve mouthpieces come in a variety of facings. It can be used with other brands of reeds as long as you match the manufacturer’s recommendations.

This is an overall great mouthpiece for beginners and intermediate players. Note that as you increase the strength of the reeds, it will become harder to play. Anything above 3.5 Reserve Classic reeds is considered advanced player territory.

  • Suitable for players of all skill levels
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    Designed for A and Bb clarinets
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    Maintains tonal consistency
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    Narrow tip
  • D’Addario accessories are usually pricier than the competition

This Standard Series 4C mouthpiece is designed for Bb clarinets. It features a 1.05mm tip opening, which is on the narrow side. It has a plastic body and follows the same design as Yamaha’s high-end Custom series.

The facing is medium to medium long, which makes the clarinet a lot easier to control by beginners. Due to its narrow opening and pairing with softer reeds, the tonality is not too bright. In fact, this Yamaha mouthpiece helps you achieve a natural and rich tone.

The quality of the build is not too amazing, but keep in mind that this is an affordable mouthpiece. It’s reliable enough for lessons and practicing at home. It may not help you to play loud and clear enough for concerts and such.

  • Very affordable
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    Made for Bb clarinets
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    Easy to control
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    Promotes a rich and consistent tone across all octaves
  • Average build quality
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    May have compatibility issues with clarinets from other manufacturers

This is one of Vandoren’s high-end mouthpieces for Bb clarinets. You’ll find that it has amazing intonation and a high degree of tonal clarity.

The mouthpiece features DB5 facing for darker tones and quite a bit of depth in the hands of a skilled musician. What’s also worth mentioning is the unique tonality achieved when playing in the upper register.

It works great with #3.5 and #4 Vandoren reeds. Apart from the obvious tonal clarity, I also noticed a very big difference in output between this mouthpiece and a standard Bb clarinet mouthpiece. Reeds quality aside, this is a solid pick for live performances.

  • Ebony body
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    Superior tonal clarity in the upper registers
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    Made for Bb clarinets
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    Enhances volume
  • Expensive

This is by no means a high-end clarinet mouthpiece. The Debut by Clark W. Fobes is designed and marketed for learning purposes. It’s a beginner mouthpiece for Bb clarinets.

And yet, despite its standard plastic body and simple design, it still outplays most generic mouthpieces that come with a clarinet. You can affordably switch to this as soon as you buy your new instrument.

The medium facing makes it easy to control your instrument while the 1mm narrow tip opening helps you achieve a richer sound.

  • Very affordable
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    Beginner-friendly
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    Better than most factory mouthpieces
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    Rich tone
  • Not loud enough for live performances
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    Average material quality

Choosing By Materials

A key aspect of clarinet mouthpieces is the material. As a general rule of thumb, softer materials have a darker sound. Harder materials have a brighter and louder sound.

Does this mean that one is necessarily better than the other? – No. The thing to understand is that there is a trade-off. Brighter sounds can also be harder to focus. Also, different materials are better suited for specific genres, as they help to achieve different tonalities.

Plastic mouthpieces are the preferred choice for students. Classical and jazz musicians tend to choose ebony or hard rubber for a fuller tone.

Crystal mouthpieces are good for jazz but they’re normally used in outdoor performances. They’re also expensive and hard to maintain. One material that you probably shouldn’t pick unless you’re on a very tight budget is wood. It is the least projecting of the lot.

How to Choose the Right Tip Opening

The tip determines what kind of reeds a clarinet should have, and vice versa. Hard reeds demand narrower tips. Different bore types are used to create different sounds and may require specific mouthpieces.

But you can also classify mouthpiece tips as open and closed and make it easier on yourself.

Open tips have plenty of resistance which produces a brighter tone. Closed tips have a darker tone as they create less resistance.

If you’re a student of the instrument, consider a medium-sized tip. After you become more familiar with the instrument, it’s best to experiment with different types of tips as you build experience. Of course, studying the manufacturer’s sizing chart is always a good idea until you know what you’re doing.

The Only Accessory You Should Care About

Some mouthpieces come with ligatures. They are the circular components holding the reeds to the mouthpiece. The most common ones are either rubber or metal.

Does it affect the sound? – Yes. Additionally, the choice of material dictates how comfortable you’ll be when playing in concert. Metal ligatures are sturdy and very reliable but rubber ligatures are lighter and capable of superior tonal quality.

Note that just like mouthpiece caps, replacement ligatures aren’t often sold together with mouthpieces. However, you should have at least one on hand whenever you’re playing your instrument.

Final Thoughts

Playing woodwind instruments can be such an amazing experience. Other people may not agree if you practice at all hours, but it’s very amazing nonetheless.

While it is true that focusing on one type of clarinet is generally best if you want to learn quickly, after a point it’s time to start experimenting with different tunings and feels.

A and Bb clarinets are very popular with students. But you can also learn new techniques and increase their level of difficulty if you just try out new mouthpieces after a while.

Increasing or lowering the reed strength makes playing more difficult sometimes but it also lets you create unique signature sounds that can elevate your playing. If you’re just starting out, however, any one of these five mouthpieces should give you a consistent and pleasant learning experience.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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