Wooden vs. Plastic Clarinet

Clarinets have always been pretty popular. There are a lot of different ones to choose between though. Some are made out of wood, and some out of plastic. But what’s the difference between them, and which one is right for your?

This article explains the differences and similarities between wooden and plastic clarinets. It will help you to decide which is worth going for and what to look out for with each option.

Top Plastic and Wooden Clarinets Brands Review

There are many brands to choose from, but most brands offer both plastic and wooden models. Intermediate brands are usually made of wood, an example of which can also be found. Buffet R-13 is usually accepted  as the standard among most professionals, but some other good brands are Yamaha and Selmer.

At the lower-priced end, you can buy a Jupiter or a Leblanc (Vito), plus others. There are lots of different brands with plastic and wood models. One of the most popular manufacturers of options from these materials is.

1. Buffet

They may be French, but the Buffet Clarinets are manufactured in Paris and are considered the standard among professionals.

Although Buffet is normally known for it’s professional models, they also have some fantastic student models as well. The models in this set are made from ABS plastic and are a lot cheaper compared to pro models.

Professional models are made of Grenadilla.

2. Yamaha

Yamaha is one of the only rivals to Buffet.

Made in Japan, Yamaha are known for their precision-made products with great intonation. Their prices are comparable to Buffet’s.

Yamaha has a range of models to suit all levels, and with so many options its no wonder they are so popular!

3. Selmer

Selmer was a famous brand made in Paris.

Selmer is widely known for their saxophones, but they make some of the most trusted clarinets you can find.

The price range for SGD guitars is usually similar to other well-known guitar producers such as Gibson and Yamaha.

4. Jupiter

There’s a lot of great brands out there. Jupiter is just one of them.

Quietly under the radar, Jupiter has been a solid player on the market for beginner and lower range instruments. They’re not often talked about but are highly respected for their work.

5. Leblanc

Leblanc is a great brand to start with.

Generally not considered a professional brand, their Vito clarinets are also very good.

Generally, beginner clarinet players will start with a plastic clarinet and as you advance, you may want to switch to intermediate model.

Top Wood Clarinet Brands for Beginners to Intermediate

For beginner to intermediate players, Yamaha and Jupiter have great models made of Grenadilla wood at a lower cost. Wooden clarinets are generally significantly cheaper than their metal counterparts – $1500 is very economical in this case. The Jupiter models were designed after Yamaha, so they’re nearly identical.

Most Common Clarinet Materials

ABS Plastic Versus Grenadilla Wood

The two most common materials for clarinet are ABS plastic and Grenadilla wood.

Grenadilla Wood

Grenadilla wood, also known as African Blackwood, is found in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. It is extremely strong and can withstand any kind of weather. It is usually black and chosen because it can withstand any type of manufacturing, much like metal.

Grenadilla wood can be stronger than other types of wood and is more resistant to cracking when it is drilled to fit the clarinet’s intricate keys. It is susceptible to temperature changes and cracking, however, because it’s wood.

ABS resin (plastic)

ABS resin (used for making plastic) is also often used in clarinets.

It is a lot cheaper and less vulnerable to changes in temperature, but it’s also not as good at producing the tone of other types of clarinet. Unlike most other clarinets, ABS are cast and that makes them less accurate when it comes to intonation and sealing on tone holes.

Price Differences Between Wood and Plastic Clarinets

On the price front, there’s a big difference: a plastic clarinet can cost anywhere from $150-1000 while a wooden one can be as expensive as $1500-5000. A good clarinet should last a long time and increase in value over time which might be the reason why sellers want to get rid of them.

Other Types of Materials Used for Clarinets

There are a few common materials, such as ABS plastic and Grenadilla wood but there are other types that are less popular:


Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) is related to Grenadilla wood (Pterocarpus spp.), but it has a reddish color. Many clarinets are made out of different materials, but Rosewood ones have a more refined wood tone. Rosewood clarinets are generally professional models.


Composite clarinets are generally made of carbon, and are a great choice if you’re looking for something that’s high quality.

Hard Rubber

Ebony clarinets are a great modern design, or also known as hard rubber. Some models are less resistant to the effects of temperature, but they are usually better designed and have a more accurate intonation with speech.

Sustainability Concerns: The wood used in our product, grenadilla wood, is currently logged unsustainably – and this could lead to a decline in the future.

This might be something to think about if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option than the traditional wooden clarinet. You could also consider a carbon clarinet or an ebonite clarinet, which are made of rubber.

What to Consider Between Wood and Plastic Clarinets

Your Performance Level

Most people accept that beginners can play with plastic clarinets and that intermediate and advanced clarinetists can use wooden clarinets. This is due to the cost and feasibility of each model.

As the student develops, they will be able to move on to wood and other materials. As the player progresses, they will have more time to search for a model that has better tone, intonation and response. This would mean clarinets made from Grenadilla wood. If they’re too expensive, players can rent clarinets or buy used clarinets.

For the beginner clarinet player, however, it is not necessary to use wooden clarinets. Plastic serves the purpose well.

On Which Environment Are You Playing?

Example: When the player might be playing outside in summer but again inside when it’s cold, a plastic clarinet is often the best option.

Wooden clarinets usually sell for a lot less than the normal ones, which makes them not really worth it for performance outside. They also need to be kept at cool temperatures and require a lot more care, so if you’re going to play them outside then you’ll need a metal one.

Extra Care and Maintenance for Wood Clarinets

In order to maintain a wood clarinet’s quality, players should invest in a humidity and temperature control device and take care to monitor the humidity levels.

  • A temperature of around 70 degrees with a humidity of around 70% is the optimum environment for a clarinet.
  • One way to warm up your clarinet is to press it against your body first, before blowing air into it – this avoids rapid temperature change.
  • Make sure to never leave your clarinet near a heater, oven or in a car. It is also a good idea to keep it wiped clean of sweat and dirt.


Some beginners may prefer to learn on plastic clarinets. But, as the player gets better, they should switch to an intermediate with a wood body for better sound quality. This is what happens when you want to use synthetic reeds instead of natural ones. Reeds come in all shapes and sizes, but such an experiment would not sound as nice as using cane ones.

You’ll need to be careful when using these materials – as with all input variables, you will want to account for the variance in each material. Additionally, it may be worth considering other options such as metal or hard rubber.

FAQ for Wooden vs Plastic Clarinet

What is the difference between wooden clarinets and plastic clarinets?

Clarinets are a common instrument. They are mainly made up of wood or plastic. However, there are some differences in the materials that make them different.

Wooden clarinets have a more mellow sound and they are typically more expensive than their plastic counterparts. Plastic clarinets have a sharper and brighter sound and they are cheaper to buy than their wooden counterparts.

What are the benefits of plastic clarinets?

Clarinets are typically made of wood and metal. However, they can also be made of plastic. Plastic clarinets are a newer option for clarinet players who want to save money on their instrument.

Plastic clarinets are lighter and cheaper than the traditional ones. They also have a similar sound quality to metal and wood instruments. Furthermore, they can be played in any weather condition without worry about the damage that might occur if it rains or snows.

What are the benefits of wooden clarinets?

The wood of the clarinet is what makes it so popular. The wood is naturally resistant to warping and cracking, making it durable and easy to maintain. Additionally, the wood doesn’t need any extra care or maintenance.

The benefits of wooden clarinets are that they don’t require any extra care or maintenance, which means that you can leave them alone for a long time without worrying about them getting damaged or breaking down.

What the drawbacks to using a plastic clarinet?

  • Plastic clarinets are not as durable as metal clarinets.
  • Plastic clarinets can be uncomfortable to play.
  • Plastic clarinets are not as flexible and responsive.

Are there any disadvantages of using a wooden clarinet?

Wooden clarinets are made from solid wood and are generally less expensive than metal ones. They also come in various sizes and shapes, which makes them a versatile instrument.

Wooden clarinets have a few disadvantages that can be found when looking at the materials used. For example, they don’t make as much sound as metal ones and they are not as durable. However, these drawbacks can be balanced out by the advantages of wooden clarinets – they are usually cheaper than metal ones, they come in various shapes and sizes, and they can be customized to suit your needs.

Why is the clarinet made of wood?

The clarinet is a musical instrument that is made of wood. There are many reasons why the instrument is made of wood, but one of the most common ones is that it allows for a wide range of tones to be produced.

The clarinet has been around since 1810 and was originally made out of reeds. However, in the 1800s, makers began using wooden tubes to make the instrument more durable and less likely to break.

What are the advantages of playing a wooden clarinet?

Playing a wooden clarinet is a lot of fun and it has many advantages. It is very easy to learn how to play and it can be played by anyone, regardless of their age or skill level.

The sound that the wood clarinet produces is unique and beautiful. It also has a greater range than the metal one.

The wood clarinet is also durable and can last for years without getting damaged.

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