Do Clarinets Have Spit Valves

Do Clarinets Have Spit Valves?

Spit valves are common on brass instruments, but they’re not always found on woodwinds like the clarinet. So, do clarinets have spit valves? The answer is no, clarinets do not have spit valves.

Instead, clarinet players need to swab out their instruments frequently to remove moisture and condensation. This is especially important during longer playing sessions or performances. Swabbing helps prevent issues like airiness or raspiness in the sound of the instrument.

While the lack of a spit valve may be surprising to some, it’s important to note that swabbing is a simple and effective way to keep your clarinet in top condition. By taking care of your instrument and keeping it free of moisture, you can enjoy a clear and beautiful sound every time you play.

What is a Spit Valve?

If you’re a brass player, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a spit valve. It’s a small valve that allows you to release the saliva that accumulates in your instrument while playing. But what about clarinets? Do they have spit valves?

The short answer is no, clarinets do not have spit valves. Instead, players must swab out their instruments frequently to remove excess moisture. This is because woodwind instruments, like clarinets, do not have the same collection points for saliva as brass instruments do.

Despite not having a spit valve, clarinet players still need to be mindful of excess moisture in their instrument. Accumulated moisture can cause problems with the sound quality, including a raspy or airy sound. Swabbing out the instrument frequently during rehearsals and after playing is essential to maintaining a clear, crisp sound.

It’s also worth noting that some players may need to swab their clarinets midway through a rehearsal, especially if they’re playing for an extended period. In general, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to moisture buildup in your instrument.

How Do Spit Valves Work?

Spit valves, also known as water keys, are typically found on brass instruments like trumpets, trombones, and tubas. They are designed to allow the player to quickly and easily release any accumulated saliva or condensation that has built up inside the instrument. When the valve is opened, the liquid is allowed to drain out, preventing it from affecting the sound quality or damaging the instrument.

How to Maintain Your Clarinets Moisture

Cleaning Your Clarinet

It is important to clean your clarinet regularly to prevent it from affecting the sound of your clarinet. To clean your clarinet follow these steps:

For a more detailed explanation, you can read my article Clean Your Clarinet In 5 Easy Steps.


As you have learned, clarinets do not have spit valves like brass instruments. This means that condensation and saliva will build up in the instrument as you play, which can cause sound problems if not addressed. However, swabbing your clarinet frequently can help prevent these issues.

It’s important to note that spit valves are not necessary for all wind instruments. Some, like the clarinet, have a vertical and open body that allows saliva to drip freely without affecting the sound. In fact, having a spit valve on a clarinet could actually interfere with the sound quality.

If you’re experiencing sound problems with your clarinet, it’s always a good idea to check for condensation and saliva buildup. Swabbing the instrument regularly can help prevent these issues, and using a mouthpiece patch can also help absorb excess saliva.

Remember to take care of your clarinet by cleaning it properly, storing it in a safe place, and having it serviced regularly. With proper maintenance, your clarinet can continue to produce beautiful music for years to come.

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