A better clarinet mouthpiece will make a very noticeable difference. Clarinet mouthpieces are also a less expensive upgrade than the rest of the clarinet. This means that the quality of the instrument can be bottlenecked by the poor quality of certain components along the path, and the mouthpiece is where it all begins. This is why finding the best clarinet mouthpiece for you should be a top priority.
Table of Contents
What does the mouthpiece do on a clarinet?
Simply put, mouthpieces are how clarinets make sound. The combination of mouthpiece and reed, along with your skill, has the largest impact on the quality of sound you will produce on your clarinet. These combined are more important than the model of clarinet you own. The mouth piece with its attached reed is what creates the rich sounds associated with the clarinet.
Everyone’s mouth is different and it is always a good idea to try several mouthpieces to find the one that fits you best. Clarinet mouthpieces are not a simple “accessory.” They are the heart and soul of your instrument. In your quest to achieve a perfect pitch or tone, a good mouthpiece is half the battle. Finding the right mouthpiece for you is a giant step towards becoming the clarinetist of your dreams.
Mouthpieces makes all the difference
The clarinet mouthpiece will become more important to the student’s playing before the instrument itself does. The combination of reed & mouthpiece has a huge effect on how easy and comfortable it is to create a good sound, and once you’ve worked out what kind of mouthpiece you like, the mouthpiece can be used with your student clarinet as well as the one you later upgrade to. Better yet, once you have your own mouthpiece, you can use it when trying out clarinets you might want to buy. (If you take lessons, often a clarinet teacher will occasionally have other clarinets you can try, too.)
It may take some time to carefully select a mouthpiece and reed combination that you like. Play on many different combinations to see what works for you. This will improve tone and ease of play more than a different clarinet.
Clarinet mouthpieces have different tips
Every model has a different design for the tip of the mouthpiece. This is where the mouthpiece and the reed come together. The opening size affects the quality of the tone and the ease of use. The basic two classifications of clarinet mouthpiece design are open or closed. A harder reed is needed for a narrow tip. If you are wanting less resistance and a dark tone, then you want a closed tip. But if you want a bright tone that requires more force to create, then an open tip is for you. If you are just beginning your clarinet journey, go with a mouthpiece tip that has a medium size opening and is a perfect match for a medium hard reed.
How long do clarinet mouthpieces last?
It is not unusual with a lot of wear and tear for even the best clarinet mouthpiece to need replacement after two or three years. The vibration from the reed combined with your saliva is enough to do this. How long you can use a clarinet mouthpiece is entirely dependent on how much you use it.
What are the best clarinet mouthpieces made of?
In general, the softer the material, the warmer and quieter the sound is. Harder material commonly projects better with a brighter resonance. Student clarinet mouthpieces are plastic, affordable, and very durable. This of course means that the sound they make can be a bit too “bright.” The best next option is hard rubber. Wood or crystal mouthpieces are rare and specialty items. Hard rubber is the best for classical and jazz, producing a rounder tone.
You will need to know how to sterilize a clarinet mouthpiece.
It is becoming more clear that not regularly cleaning your clarinet mouthpiece is a health hazard. A slew of studies have come out on the the mold and bacteria inside of uncleaned woodwind instruments. The International Journal of Environmental Health Research and Tufts University let their scientists test 20 instruments, clarinets among them. All were hiding living bacteria, yeast, and mold! Mouthpieces with wooden reeds were most contaminated. If not cleaned properly, this will increase your chance of coming down with a nasty infection.
So now that you have horrible nightmares dancing in your head, make sure to clean that mouthpiece at least once a week with water. Don’t wash your whole clarinet. Washing everything may damage the pads that cover the holes. You should remove the mouthpiece to clean it separately. All you need to do for the body of the clarinet is drop an absorbent cloth down the interior length of your clarinet a few times.
If you have had strep throat or some other infection, I highly recommend you use more than just water. You can buy Sterisol or go with a less expensive disinfectant mouthwash. If your mouthpiece is plastic or rubber, you can soak it in a bowl of mouthwash and then wipe it dry. Use a soft cloth to make sure it is dry before using your clarinet or packing it in the case.
This is the number one reason I do not recommend buying used clarinet mouthpieces.
For more on this:
How much does a mouthpiece cost for a clarinet?
Though prices are all over the map and new competitors enter the market every day, a student clarinet mouthpiece will cost between $20 – $100. You will find great quality in this range. Below I have selected the top five clarinet mouthpieces I would buy if I was starting to play the clarinet.
Top 5 Best clarinet mouthpieces that are beginner-friendly
Best student mouthpiece
Best Budget Mouthpiece
Excellent, yet Least Expensive