Intermediate Clarinets

From jazz to pop, the clarinet makes itself at home in many styles of music. For student clarinetists seeking to work on their tone, intonation, and articulation, it may be time to acquire an intermediate clarinet.

What is an intermediate clarinet?

Intermediate clarinets, such as the ones made by Mendini, Ridenour, and Yamaha, tend to be made from extremely dense granadilla wood. Their larger bore and wooden construction produce a noticeably richer sound.

Are there special care considerations for wooden clarinets?

Wooden instruments may experience cracking or warping from the elements if not acclimated correctly. If you live in a particularly dry climate, you may want to use a humidifier when the instrument is out to avoid excessive drying and cracking of the wood. For those who live in extremely humid environments, keep the bore well-oiled, so the wood does not wick up excess moisture in order to prevent cracking.

There are a couple of general rules everyone should follow to maintain the integrity of their instrument’s wood and sound:

  • When not in use, always be sure to store your instrument in a proper case.
  • Always remove any moisture, and be sure to swab the bore before storing.
  • Never leave your clarinet in environments of extreme cold or heat, such as in your car on a hot day.
How do you break in a wooden clarinet?

Wooden clarinets must be broken in before they can be played for long periods of time:

  • During the first week of use, play the instrument for no more than 15 minutes a day. Swab the bore carefully after use to remove any moisture.
  • For the second week, you can bump up your play time to 30 minutes. Be sure to follow up playtime by swabbing the bore.
  • In the third week, you may extend playing time to 45 minutes a day. Follow up with a swabbing.
  • During the fourth week, you may play music for up to an hour each day. Always remember to follow playing with a careful swabbing.

After following these steps, your instrument should be broken in and ready for regular use, but do not forget to keep up with swabbing after each play session.

Are there differences in the types of key plating?

Manufacturers like Yamaha, Buffet, and Selmer typically offer several models of instruments with a variety of key finishes:

  • Nickel-plated keys are durable and somewhat shiny in appearance.
  • Silver-plated keys have an attractive shine and a nice feel to the touch.
  • Gold-plated keys exist for those who prefer the aesthetic or have a sensitivity to other metals.