Best Clarinet For Jazz Music

Best Clarinet for Jazz Music: Top Picks and Buying Guide

When it comes to jazz music, the clarinet is an important instrument that adds unique and soulful tones to the genre.

However, not all clarinets are created equal, and finding the right one for jazz music can be a challenge.

In this article, we will explore some of the best clarinets for jazz music, taking into consideration factors such as tone, playability, and overall quality.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a clarinet for jazz music is the tone. Jazz music requires a warm and rich sound that can cut through the mix, and not all clarinets are capable of producing this type of sound.

Additionally, the playability of the instrument is also crucial, as jazz music often involves complex and fast-paced melodies that require a high level of skill and technique to execute properly.

By taking these factors into consideration, we have compiled a list of some of the best clarinets for jazz music that are currently available on the market.

Whether you are a professional jazz musician or a beginner looking to get started in the genre, choosing the right clarinet is essential to achieving the desired sound and feel. By exploring the options available and considering factors such as tone and playability, you can find the perfect clarinet for your jazz music needs.

In the following sections, we will take a closer look at some of the best clarinets for jazz music and what makes them stand out from the rest.

History of Jazz Clarinet

The clarinet has been an integral part of jazz music since the genre’s inception in the early 20th century.

Jazz clarinetists have left an indelible mark on the music, and their contributions have helped shape the sound of jazz as we know it today.

This section will explore the history of jazz clarinet, with a focus on its development in New Orleans, Chicago, and the Swing Era.

New Orleans

The clarinet played a significant role in the development of jazz in New Orleans.

Clarinetists like Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet were key figures in the city’s jazz scene in the 1910s and 1920s.

They helped establish the clarinet as a lead instrument in jazz, and their recordings helped spread the music across the country.


In the 1920s, jazz migrated from New Orleans to Chicago, where it took on a more sophisticated sound.

Clarinetists like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw became stars of the Chicago jazz scene, and their recordings helped popularize the music across the country. Goodman’s recording of “Begin the Beguine” in 1938 was a massive hit, and it helped cement the clarinet’s place as a lead instrument in jazz.

Swing Era

The Swing Era of the 1930s and 1940s was a golden age for jazz clarinet.

Clarinetists like Goodman, Shaw, and Woody Herman led big bands that featured multiple clarinets, and their recordings helped define the sound of the era. Goodman’s recording of “Sing, Sing, Sing” in 1937 is one of the most iconic recordings in jazz history, and it features a famous clarinet solo by Goodman.

Modern Jazz

In the post-WWII era, jazz evolved into bebop and other modern styles.

Clarinetists like Eric Dolphy and Anat Cohen continued to push the boundaries of the instrument in these new styles.

Today, the clarinet remains an important instrument in jazz, and its unique sound and expressive capabilities continue to inspire new generations of musicians.

Sound and Tone

When it comes to jazz music, the sound and tone of the clarinet are crucial.

The clarinet has a unique sound that can be described as warm, mellow, and smooth.

It is a versatile instrument that can produce a wide range of sounds, from bright and punchy to dark and sultry.


The tone of the clarinet is influenced by the player’s embouchure, reed, mouthpiece, and instrument.

A good jazz clarinet should have a warm, rich, and full-bodied tone. It should be able to produce a wide range of dynamics, from soft and delicate to loud and powerful.

The tone of the clarinet can be compared to that of other instruments in the jazz ensemble.

For example, the trumpet has a bright, piercing sound that can cut through the mix. The flute has a light, airy sound that can add a delicate touch to the music. The saxophone family has a rich, full-bodied sound that can blend well with the clarinet.

To achieve the desired tone, jazz clarinet players often use a specific mouthpiece and reed combination.

Popular mouthpiece brands for jazz include Vandoren, Meyer, and Selmer. The reed strength can vary depending on the player’s preference and playing style.

A softer reed can produce a more delicate sound, while a harder reed can produce a more powerful sound.

Choosing the Best Clarinet for Jazz Music

When it comes to choosing the best clarinet for jazz music, there are several factors to consider, including appearance, price, and level of expertise. Here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision.


While the sound of the clarinet is the most important factor, appearance can also be a consideration for some musicians.

Some clarinets are made of ebonite, which has a dark, sleek look that many players find appealing.

Others may prefer a wooden clarinet for its classic appearance.

Ultimately, the appearance of the clarinet is a matter of personal preference and should not be the sole factor in your decision.


Clarinet prices can vary widely, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, it’s important to consider the quality of the instrument.

Cheaper clarinets may not be as durable or may require more maintenance over time, which can end up costing more in the long run.

It’s also worth noting that more expensive clarinets may not necessarily be better for jazz music. It’s important to find the right balance between price and quality.


For intermediate players, it’s important to choose a clarinet that will grow with them as they develop their skills.

Look for a clarinet that is durable and easy to maintain, with a good sound quality.

Some intermediate clarinets may also come with additional features, such as adjustable thumb rests or keys, which can make playing more comfortable.

In terms of maintenance, it’s important to keep your clarinet clean and properly stored in a case when not in use. Regular cleaning and oiling of the keys can help keep the instrument in good condition.

It’s also a good idea to have your clarinet serviced by a professional every few years to ensure that it is in top playing condition.

Top Clarinets for Jazz Music

When it comes to playing jazz music on the clarinet, having the right instrument can make a big difference.

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the top clarinets for jazz music, including professional and intermediate models.

Professional Clarinets

Professional clarinets are designed for experienced players who demand the highest quality sound and performance. Here are some of the best professional clarinets for jazz music:

Clarinet ModelFeaturesPrice
Buffet Crampon R13 Professional Bb Clarinet with Nickel KeysHandcrafted in France, silver-plated keys, undercut tone holes$3,999
Yamaha YCL-CSVR Professional Bb Clarinet with Silver-plated KeysGrenadilla wood body, silver-plated keys, adjustable thumb rest$3,799
Selmer Paris Recital Model Bb ClarinetGrenadilla wood body, silver-plated keys, adjustable thumb rest$5,599

These professional clarinets offer excellent tone quality, projection, and intonation, making them a great choice for jazz musicians. Herbie Hancock, a legendary jazz pianist, is known to have used a Buffet Crampon R13 clarinet in his performances.

Intermediate Clarinets

Intermediate clarinets are designed for players who have some experience but are not yet ready for a professional-level instrument. Here are some of the best intermediate clarinets for jazz music:

Clarinet ModelFeaturesPrice
Yamaha YCL-450 Clarinet with Nickel KeysGrenadilla wood body, silver-plated keys, adjustable thumb rest$1,499
Buffet Crampon E12F Intermediate Bb ClarinetGrenadilla wood body, silver-plated keys, undercut tone holes$2,199
Jean Paul USA CL-600 Intermediate ClarinetABS resin body, silver-plated keys, adjustable thumb rest$299

These intermediate clarinets offer a good balance of quality and affordability, making them a great choice for students and hobbyists. George Gershwin, a famous composer and pianist, is known to have played the clarinet in addition to the piano.

Overall, choosing the right clarinet for jazz music depends on the player’s level of experience, budget, and personal preferences. By considering the features and prices of these top clarinets for jazz music, players can make an informed decision and find the instrument that best suits their needs.

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