Getting to Know the Clarinet


The clarinet has six different parts to it:

  • Mouth piece
  • Ligature
  • Barrel Joint
  • Upper Joint
  • Lower Joint
  • Bell

as illustrated in the diagram.


A clarinet cannot play unless you have a reed, which is held onto the mouthpiece by the ligature. The reed vibrates at a very high speed (changes with each note, but remains at a high rate no matter what) when the player blows through the clarinet which in turn makes sound.

Getting Started


Now that we know the different parts of the clarinet, let's get started. As clarinetists, we will need to get the tools necessary to keep the clarinet clean and in working order. The following "tools" are what the most prestigious of players use to keep their instrument, the clarinet, in top working order:

  • Polishing cloth.
  • Old cloth.
  • Cork grease.
  • Swab. (the best candidate is a handkerchief tied to a thick string, or a swab that can be purchased at almost any music store).

So now that we have our "tools", let's put together the clarinet:

  1. Moisten the reed in your mouth. You may want to run it under some water if your mouth is dry.
  2. If necessary, put a small amount of cork grease on the ends of the clarinet that has a cork stub. It should just be enough to make the cork a little slippery, Do not put an excess amount of cork grease on the cork of the clarinet. Greasing the Corks is only needed when you find it hard to put the Clarinet Pieces together. If the grease does not improve it, you may need to replace your corks.
  3. Now take the bottom of the bell and place it in the palm of your right hand and clasp your fingers around it.
  4. Now take the lower joint in your left hand, be sure that the thumb rest is in the creves between your thumb and index finger and clasp your fingers around the keys of the lower joint.
  5. Now put the two ends together being sure to twist back and forth until they are secure and you cannot push them together anymore
  6. Now with your right hand take hold of the bell while placing your thumb on the last pad on the lowest part of the clarinet, and with your left hand take a hold of the upper joint similar to the way you did with the lower joint in step 3, but this time there will be no thumb rest. Make sure that the bridge key on each of the two main joints line up perfectly and touch. This is essential for the clarinet to work properly.
  7. Now twist the two joints together in a back and forth motion, be sure that the lever on the side that was mentioned in step 8 and the lever on the same side of the lower joint are aligned.
  8. Now put the barrel joint on, then the mouth piece and ligature on in that order. Do not put the ligature on too tightly, but merely turn the screws until it is snug. Turning the ligature screws too tightly inhibits proper reed vibration, producing an unsatisfactory tone. Over-tightening to extreme levels can destroy the reed or even the mouthpiece.
  9. Now put the reed on the mouth piece, be sure that the reed is placed evenly on the table of the mouth piece and that when you push on cut of the reed the tip is black because it touches the tip of the mouth piece, placing the reed on the clarinet correctly might take a little practice before one gets the hang of it.

All of these procedures are necessary to keep the clarinet in good working order. The number of instruments sent in to be repaired could be decreased by about 70% if they were assembled correctly.