Stepping Up the
Stepping Up the CLARINET
After playing clarinet for a few years, a student often begins to enhance the sound of their student-level instrument with higher-quality reeds, an upgraded mouthpiece, and a better ligature. However, if the student has done this, is taking private lessons, or playing more advanced music, it may be time to upgrade the entire instrument. Designed for a richer tone and better response, step-up clarinets are made of higher quality materials. The Grenadilla wood body provides a more expressive tone. Many advancing players also choose silver-plated keys for an improved feel. Undercut tone holes reduce squeaking and make it easier to play in tune.
Undercut Tone Holes
Silver Plated Keys
Characteristics to Consider
Type of Wood: A wooden clarinet has a richer, darker tone than a student-level, plastic one. Most step-up clarinets are made of Grenadilla wood, an African Blackwood known for its rich, dark tone. It is also a very strong wood, which makes it more durable and resistant to cracks. Clarinets can also be made from other woods, such as cocobolo and rosewood. Different types of wood produce a variety of tones. It’s important to try out multiple types to find which you like the best.
Keys: Most step-up clarinets feature silver-plated keys. This is a popular option due to the durability of silver. Many players also like the feeling of grip that silver keys offer. Nickel and gold are other key-plating options. Nickel-plated keys are slicker and allow for smoother transitions between keys. Gold-plated keys are less common, but are an available option on some professional clarinets.
Undercut Tone Holes: The tone holes on many step-up clarinets are created with an advanced manufacturing technique called undercutting. This improves the intonation and response of the instrument. It also helps the clarinet sound more in tune with itself and blend better in an ensemble.
It is important to decide what features are the most valuable to you as a player. The best way to do this is to try a wide variety of step-up clarinets. At Menchey Music Service, we have upgraded clarinets from the reputable brands Yamaha, Buffet, and Backun. We are ready to help you find the perfect fit!