The clarinet is an intricate instrument made up of multiple pieces that combine to create a beautiful sound that makes it a staple of the woodwind family.
However, it does have its complexities when it comes to producing a sound. Because of the techniques used to play the clarinet, the mouthpiece naturally wears down and will need replacing around every 2-3 years depending on how often you play it.
When a mouthpiece is worn down, it makes all the difference for your performance as the sound quality is compromised and it can also be an uncomfortable experience if your mouthpiece has become chipped over time.
Therefore, looking for a mouthpiece replacement that meets your needs is essential.
You’ve probably found yourself here because you may be in the above predicament and unsure where to start in your research.
Lucky for you, we have come up with this super guide full of everything you need to know about clarinet mouthpieces and which one will work best for you.
In this article, we’ll be bringing you the top 5 clarinet mouthpieces on the market right now as well as a buyers guide with all the information you need to know and an FAQ where we answer the most commonly asked questions when it comes to clarinet mouthpieces.
Don’t have time to read the rest of this guide, here’s our top pick:
Our top pick is the Vandoren CM1005 model. To those who are familiar with woodwind instruments and the top brands, it probably comes as no surprise to see a Vandoren product take the top spot.
The Vandoren brand produces the most luxurious products used by players of all abilities around the world. Made from high quality materials, the CM1005 assists in producing a rich sound, making it an ideal choice for advanced and professional players.
What makes this our winner? Designed and crafted to enhance any performance, the CM1005 is a beautiful mouthpiece that is a great investment for those who really want to improve the clarity of sound.
OUR TOP PICK
With a sleek design and unique chamber, the Vandoren CM1005 is our top pick because of its clear leading qualities in the market.
As can be expected from the Vandoren brand, the sound quality produced is greatly improved as it is manufactured from the finest materials.
Ideal for beginners wanting to transition to advanced as well as professionals who rely on a quality instrument for their performances and recitals, the CM1005 is the perfect choice for all abilities.
Made from beautiful ebonite, the mouthpiece has a softer texture making the vibrancy more enhanced when playing as well as a perfect fit for sturdier reeds to rest against.
With an average of 4.8 stars from over 200 reviews, the Vandoren CM1005 has proved to be the perfect choice for beginners wanting to advance their skills as well as professionals looking for a quality replacement.
The CM1005 is beautiful and reliable with a sound that is unmistakably Vandoren enriching the sound and increasing confidence in your performance.
- Ideal for beginners wishing to advance as well as professionals
- Made from the finest materials including ebonite
- Enhances sound quality by providing clarity
- High price point
Our second pick is from yet another instantly recognisable brand. The Yamaha Clarinet Mouthpiece 4C. Made from high quality resin, the Yamaha mouthpiece helps to create a beautiful sound.
The beautiful polished finish gives it a sleek and high quality appearance and is particularly great for intermediate players looking to enhance their skills to advanced.
Despite this, it is great for players of any level as it is durable and reliable for those who practice a lot.
With an average of 4.7 stars from over 300 reviews with a lot of praise coming from its versatility and ability to fit the majority of clarinets.
Some people have commented on how the cork can be sanded to allow for a suitable fit into their clarinet but this usually doesn’t take a lot of time and ensures that you won’t have any adjustment issues in the future.
A lot of buyers have commented on the quality that the Yamaha 4C brings to their sound as it is much better than the mouthpieces that come with a clarinet.
- Great price point
- Ideal for intermediate players
- Made from high quality resin
- Need to purchase a ligature
Our third pick is another Vandoren, specifically their CM308 model. Designed using traditional techniques, the CM308 has been a favorite of band leaders thanks to its beautiful design and high quality sound.
It works best using Vandoren reeds and when used together, the sound has such vibrancy that enhances the performance immediately.
The CM308 is medium and long facing, boasting a traditional beak, so perfect for those who want a mouthpiece that is reliable and durable for more difficult performances.
With 4.7 stars from over 200 reviews, the CM308 can assist in improving performances from any genre of music because it is so well designed.
Buyers have noted how well their music is once they swapped mouthpieces because of how easily it fits into most clarinets.
It’s a great mouthpiece for those who want to use sturdier reeds as well as it can last the highest and lowest notes.
- Ideal for advanced and professional players
- Traditionally made
- Easily fits into most clarinets
- High price point
Our penultimate choice is from Selmer and is the perfect mouthpiece for those on a budget. Selmer is a brand that specializes in creating quality products for students and this mouthpiece is no exception.
Made from plastic, the Selmer 77113 is great for those beginning their clarinet journey as it is easy to produce sound and perfect the basic techniques, extremely durable and reliable.
For parents having to replace the mouthpiece after their children have accidentally broken the old one, Selmer is the brand to go for as it doesn’t break the bank yet doesn’t compromise quality.
With an amazing 4.6 stars from over 200 reviews, the Selmer 77113 works as a great replacement mouthpiece for those who have broken their current mouthpiece or worn their last one down.
Because of its ease of use, the clarity of sound is improved on those beginning pieces and can help the player to transition from beginner to intermediate.
- Great for those on a budget
- Ideal for beginners and students
- Hard-wearing and durable
- Not suited for advanced and professional players
Our final choice comes from Glory and is another model that is ideal for those on a budget.
Not only does the Glory mouthpiece have a brilliant price point but it also comes with everything you need on the mouthpiece as the kit also contains a ligature, one reed and a plastic cap to protect your mouthpiece.
The latter is particularly helpful if you or your children are prone to breaking your mouthpieces.
Ideal for beginners or to keep as a handy replacement should you need it, the Glory model is made from plastic and can help to produce sound easily.
With 4.5 stars from over 700 reviews, most buyers comment on how well the Glory model works as a replacement and is very convenient to have.
The perfect starting mouthpiece for beginners, the Glory model comes with everything you need to start your clarinet career.
- Comes with one reed, brass ligature and plastic cap
- Ideal for beginners
- Great for those on a budget
- Not suited for advanced and professional players
Best Clarinet Mouthpieces Buying Guide
A quality mouthpiece is important as it can be the difference between a rich sounding performance and an average performance.
Bear in mind what level you are currently and what level you are working towards as well as what kind of pieces you are working towards.
Is the mouthpiece going to act as an immediate replacement or is it being kept safe should you need it in emergencies?
When looking for which mouthpiece is perfect for you, it always helps to bear these questions in mind, which is why we have curated this mini buyers guide giving you all the information you need to know when researching clarinet mouthpieces.
If you’re not too bothered about quality and want to buy the cheapest option for a quick and easy solution, that is absolutely fine but the budget options in this article are definitely the best way to go.
Before clicking that buy now button, however, always consider the following before the budget: what you level of ability is, the materials used in manufacturing and how often you plan to play the clarinet per week.
Once you have thought about all of these aspects, then you’ll be fully informed and prepared to make a decision on which mouthpiece will benefit you the most.
Level of ability
The quality of the mouthpiece and the sound it produces can be affected by your level of ability.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or at advanced and professional levels, you want to ensure that the shape of the mouthpiece will be able to fit the reeds that you need to play.
More traditionally shaped mouthpieces tend to suit a wider variety of musical pieces whereas more difficult pieces and higher graded works can benefit from a specialised shape to ensure that the clarity of sound will be heard when reaching the lowest and highest sounds.
Materials used in manufacturing
This leads us onto the materials used in the design. Mouthpieces that are ideal for beginners tend to be made from plastic as it is easier to produce a sound and the firmness of the plastic works well when combined with the soft and thin reeds needed for beginners.
Advanced players need the exact opposite and ideally with purchase a mouthpiece that is made from higher quality materials such as ebonite or resin for intermediate players.
This is because softer materials of the mouthpiece work best to enhance the vibrancy of the music and fit best against the sturdier reeds needed to reach those low and high notes.
If an advanced player were to purchase a plastic mouthpiece for example, the sound quality would be compromised because it wouldn’t be able to withstand the techniques needed whereas a beginner would struggle with an ebonite mouthpiece as they take longer to break in and advanced skills are required to get the best performance out of it.
How often you play
How often you play the clarinet is also an essential aspect as this will also affect the quality of your mouthpiece.
If you are a beginner or a student then you’ll probably be practicing a couple of hours per week so your mouthpiece will be able to endure those beginner and intermediate pieces if it is made from plastic or resin.
However, for an advanced and professional levelled player, it is more likely that they will be practicing hours each day and therefore will need a mouthpiece made from a material strong and resilient that remains comfortable which is why the softness of the ebonite works best.
You want to ensure that the material of your mouthpiece can withstand whatever pieces you are working on or are planning to work on.
If you are uncomfortable when playing then that is going to affect your performance greatly and you’ll never be able to improve so ensure that the material of the mouthpiece suits your needs.
When it comes to calculating your budget, you should consider all three aspects explained above before deciding on what you want to spend.
For advanced and professional players, clarinet playing is something that they knowingly invest in so they would be looking for quality over financial cost as the more expensive quality models tend to also be the most durable.
Whereas someone purchasing a mouthpiece as a starter or student and are learning the techniques want to make sure that they have the basics down before splashing out on any extreme investments.
That is why in this article, we have looked at both the high end of the market as well as the budget end and while there are pros and cons to each, it is proof that for whatever level or reason you are playing, there is a mouthpiece that will sui your criteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do clarinet mouthpieces last?
Believe it or not, clarinet mouthpieces do wear down and need replacing because of the nature of clarinet playing.
On average, you should be replacing your clarinet every 3-4 years as a worn down mouthpiece can begin to affect and hinder your sound clarity and performance.
More advanced players will be able to tell when the mouthpiece needs to be replaced but if you are in doubt, always ask your teacher or visit a music shop to gain professional advice.
What does 4c mouthpiece mean?
A 4C mouthpiece means that the tip is narrower than average meaning that your performance will be more crisp and clear toned.
The benefits of this is if you want your performance to have a distinguished sound which is perfect for those wanting to delve into more intermediate pieces.
The thicker 5C allows for a more richer and rounded sound which is more suited for professionals or orchestral pieces.
How do you pick a clarinet mouthpiece?
Picking a suitable clarinet is the sign of a successful clarinetist. Being able to know what works and doesn’t work for your sound is crucial to enhancing your musicability.
Every musician is different so what works for one person may not work for you and vice versa. Following all the steps and tips in this guide will lead you into making the right decision so you can purchase a quality mouthpiece that works for your level of experience and the pieces you are working on at the moment.
Remember that a mouthpiece has to be replaced eventually so if you do outgrow your next choice then that is absolutely normal in order to get to the next step in your musical career.