It’s safe to assume that if you’re in the market for an intermediate clarinet, you’re already familiar with the procedure and have purchased a clarinet previously. It’s important to make this choice right because intermediate clarinets should be considered long-term investments. These will also cost more than your previous one.
If you’re an intermediate player looking to upgrade your instrument, you’ve come to the right place, as we’ll be discussing all the factors to consider when buying a clarinet and reviewing some of the best options available in 2023. Come on, let’s begin then.
Varieties of Intermediate Clarinets
The Bb clarinet is typically the first instrument chosen by budding clarinetists. By the time you’re considering stepping up to intermediate clarinet, you’ll likely have seen a wider range of clarinet types in use.
These days, Eb clarinets and bass clarinets are most often encountered. But over ten distinct clarinet families are there, and you can identify them all at the intermediate level.
Choosing the Best Intermediate Clarinet
If you’ve ever shopped for a student instrument, you already have a good idea of what to expect when looking for an intermediate clarinet.
You’ve gained some valuable experience since then, and it should serve you well as you weigh your options.
Various clarinet models have different sound qualities and advantages, despite their superficial similarities. The unique make-ups of the various components account for most distinctions.
Plastic and ebonite are the most common materials for starter clarinets. In terms of wood, Grenadilla is the most common for professional clarinets, while other options such as boxwood, rosewood, and African blackwood are also available.
The intermediate clarinet, which can be manufactured from any of the aforementioned materials, has the widest range of possible compositions. Nevertheless, be wary of intermediate plastic clarinets, as they are often not much better than high-quality student clarinets.
Though wood clarinets tend to be the finest for intermediate players, ebonite clarinets are acceptable for those on a smaller budget.
Keys on student clarinets are often nickel-plated, while those are silver-plated on professional ones. In this case, as well, the intermediate clarinet provides a happy medium that can accommodate either of these extremes.
The nickel-plated keys are the most cost-effective and last the longest. Silver-plated keys will always look shiny and brand new, but they will require more care.
Size of the Bore
The bore size is the measurement of the upper joint’s orifice in millimeters. Since most clarinets fall within a size range of 14.75 millimeters to 15 millimeters, some have argued that the effects of this are negligible.
Broader bore instruments have a slightly more edgy sound. Jazz performers, though, often favor them. However, the bore size of most clarinets is around 14.75 millimeters, which is the sweet spot for playing purposes.
Length of the Barrel
Many novice clarinetists merely use whatever barrel came with their instrument, but seasoned musicians often have strong opinions about which barrel works best for them.
The 66mm barrel is commonly found in Bb clarinets. However, adjusting the size of the barrel might prove to be a lifesaver if you struggle to play in tune. Sharper players may benefit from a longer barrel, while flat players are mostly comfortable with shorter ones.
Instead of risking overcorrection, make alterations in discrete 1mm increments. If the clarinet’s barrel is 1mm too short, it gives you some wriggle room if you aren’t sure which size to acquire. You can’t shorten a barrel that’s already too long.
An intermediate clarinet’s heft is not always indicative of its quality. The better woods, however, are often heavier than the lesser ones. As a result, many of the top-tier intermediate clarinets tend to be somewhat hefty. Ensure that anything you choose is not too cumbersome.
Heavier clarinets often cause discomfort in the thumb and wrist because of how the instrument is held.
When choosing your intermediate clarinet, you shouldn’t put too much stock in the mouthpiece that comes with it. Stock mouthpieces for clarinets are typically of low quality despite being included with the instrument. You’ll probably get a different mouthpiece or keep using the one you have.
There are a wide variety of clarinet cases available. However, the rule of thumb is that the harder the case, the better. Additionally, watertight cases are preferable. At the very least, it should be moisture-resistant.
When shopping for a case, it’s important to consider how much space you’ll need to carry all of your accessories, like repair kits, cleaning kits, spare reeds, and so on.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Like with your student clarinet, the intermediate clarinet needs regular maintenance and cleaning. Before putting the instrument away, give it a thorough drying out. A well-organized clarinet case will have all of its parts safely stored away.
For tinkering and loose screws, a miniature screwdriver is handy to have on hand. Basically, you shouldn’t keep the screwdriver somewhere that could cause damage to your clarinet.
Reviews: 6 Best Intermediate Clarinets
We’ve included some reviews of intermediate clarinets to assist you in deciding which one to buy now that we’ve covered everything you need to know before buying.
1. Jean Paul USA CL-400 Intermediate Clarinet
Perhaps the most unusual intermediate clarinet out there is the Jean Paul USA CL-400. It has two barrel lengths (long and short) so that you can switch between them depending on your preference while you play.
The price of this clarinet is lower than others due to the ABS resin body. The CL-400 is built to last with sturdy parts like the Rico H ligature and silver-plated keys, and it looks like real wood, thanks to the paint job.
Considering the price and longevity, it’s hard to find a better option for students who need to move their instruments frequently. The sound is fine for an intermediate player, though some may think wooden bodies provide a better tone.
Once you figure out how to do it, adjusting the keys is simple. Some reviewers remarked that the clarinet might need periodic adjustments, which could be a deal breaker for younger musicians.
2. Yamaha YCL450 Intermediate Clarinet with Nickel Keys
This clarinet is of the same high quality as other Yamaha instruments. The nickel-plated keys and Grenadilla wood body make for a sleek appearance and a satisfying playing experience. In addition, the Grenadilla wood produces excellent sound.
In response to concerns expressed by some players regarding the sensitivity of the Grenadilla wood, Yamaha reinforced the inner bore of the upper joint with ABS resin. Outstanding key responsiveness and stunning intonation are still achieved.
If you’re looking for a beginner clarinet, the Yamaha YCL450 is likely a good choice. You can expand your musical horizons with it because it is one of the most adaptable, well-balanced, and long-lasting alternatives out there.
You might wish to go for a fancier case if you decide on this clarinet. The provided case is disappointing in that it is only partially hard, and despite its seemingly adaptable form, it is essentially a backpack. The clarinet’s case may not be adequate for maintaining humidity; thus, you may also need an external humidifier.
3. Buffet Crampon E12 France Bb Intermediate Clarinet
Buffet’s Crampon E12 France, one of the most well-known brands in the clarinet business, naturally earns the top rank on this list. If you’re an intermediate clarinet player looking to reach those higher notes, this is the clarinet for you. You can count on the same high-quality sound and adaptable pitch range as with any other Buffet.
This clarinet is made of fine Grenadilla wood and has silver-plated keys for the intermediate player. The leather padding and the movable thumb rest are nice touches as well. This clarinet is among the lightest in its category, including the others on this list.
The Crampon E12 France, in addition to its exquisite workmanship, also has a sound of professional quality at a price point more suitable for an intermediate player. This clarinet will reliably give its player the tone they’re after.
Some customers have complained about the corks being too tight, although this is largely a matter of taste. However, the keys may require more frequent adjusting than, say, Yamaha pianos.
4. Jupiter Grenadilla Bb Intermediate Clarinet
Compared to Buffet or Yamaha, Jupiter isn’t exactly well-known, yet their clarinets are good. For those with some experience playing guitar, the Grenadilla offers a nice middle ground between bright and warm tones.
The nickel-plated keys and metal tenons of this high-quality clarinet provide long life, simple assembly, and a pleasant playing experience. Jupiter comes with a variety of add-ons, such as a briefcase-style storage case. Also, you get a premium Vandoren reed and a slew of helpful extras at no extra cost, making this an unbeatable offer.
Its tone might not be as full as that of a Buffet or Yamaha clarinet, but it’s certainly not lacking in any way. Despite Jupiter’s best efforts, some consumers have reported that the Grenadilla is initially difficult to assemble, even after using cork oil.
5. Yamaha YCL-255 Standard Bb Intermediate Clarinet
Yamaha’s YCL-255 Standard is a student-level clarinet that takes design cues from high-end instruments. It’s more lightweight than the YCL450, yet it’s still sturdy enough for daily usage.
This clarinet is like a step forward for amateur players, with an adjustable thump design and nickel-plated keys, along with a neck strap. A Valentine pad and strap ring were also installed by Yamaha to protect the instrument from changes in temperature and to improve the playing experience.
Even though it is one of the cheaper options, the YCL-255 Standard does not skimp on tone. The YCL-255 Standard, just like other Yamaha instruments, produces a full, high-quality sound.
This intermediate-level clarinet from Yamaha is advertised as being suitable for use in a wide variety of situations. Users have complained that it lacks the ability to generate higher notes compared to competing products. If you experiment with several mouthpieces and reeds, you might find one that works better for you.
6. Buffet Crampon E11 Bb Intermediate Clarinet
With the Crampon E11, Buffet gets a prestigious spot on the list. This clarinet lives up to the brand’s stellar reputation for dependable instruments by providing great sound in a sturdy, aesthetically pleasing package.
When you play the Crampon E11, you can count on brilliant tones and polished answers. It has a fair range for intermediate players, is lightweight, and is very easy to play.
The E11 isn’t the lightest on our list, but it’s still considerably lighter than the E12 France. The E11, however, is slightly less expensive than the E12 without sacrificing audio quality. This has a great tone and a very professional degree of responsiveness.
Many listeners flagged off-key performances; however, this seems to be an isolated incident and possibly indicative of a steep learning curve for the intermediate instrument. Several customers have mentioned that the screws may loosen more frequently than on other clarinets; however, this is a minor issue.
You can also read: Difference Between Clarinets and Oboes
Now that you know the essentials about intermediate clarinets and have gone through our review of some of the best intermediate clarinets out there, we hope it will help you make the best purchase decision. Whether you’re looking to buy a new intermediate clarinet or just trying to understand this spectacular musical instrument better, this article should be sufficient to provide useful insights.