Updated: February 16, 2021 by Bobbie Hanson
I once bought a saxophone mouthpiece thinking it would fit my clarinet. Suffice to say, it did not, and while the seller had a return policy, the whole experience was kind of a pain—one I didn’t want to go through again.
So, I spent about 10 hours just scouring the web for information on mouthpieces as well as the top models on the market. On the upside, that’s good news for you, because I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned and hopefully save at least one person the trouble I had.
I’ve compiled a list of the top options so you can have an easy time finding the best clarinet mouthpiece. Be sure to read the buyer’s guide at the tail end too if you want a little more info.
The Best Clarinet Mouthpiece—My Top Pick
Out of all the clarinet mouthpieces I found, I loved the versatility and clarity of the Vandoren CM4158 the most. It has a flawless natural sound that resonates well. If you want to know a bit more, I’ve reviewed it first below.
This is an excellent mouthpiece for playing the upper registers. It has an incredible price and sturdy build with beautiful finishing. Its slightly large opening guarantees a beautiful sound rich in tone.
- Has a great sound with a simple upper register
- Has a tip opening of 102
- Large facing
- Works great with either a Vandoren #3.5 or #5 Reeds
- Its beak is an 88 profile; 13 A=440 series
What I like
This particular mouthpiece was built explicitly for an A440 pitch clarinet. It has a beautiful finish with an 88-beak profile and produces an amazing, natural sound as a result of the medium-long face. It is a versatile mouthpiece that can comfortably work with an A or B flat clarinet.
The ligature is made from hard rubber to produce a great sound that is rich as well as clear. With a hard ligature, this mouthpiece will work well with Vandrovens hard reeds; #3.5 and higher with a v12 strength.
What I don’t like
The only thing not to like about this model is the price—these don’t come cheap.
- Beautiful natural sound
- The ligature is made from hard rubber
- Works best with upper registers
- Versatile–can work with either an A clarinet or B flat.
- It is on the higher price range
Vandoren is a premium quality clarinet mouthpiece with exceptional build quality. This mouthpiece has a surprisingly rich and authentic natural sound that is clear and crisp. It comes with a hardened rubber ligature for maximum strength and best intonation.
Overall Score: 4.7/5
The Best Clarinet Mouthpiece Runner Up Reviews
D’Addario Woodwinds, like many other manufacturers, have their own grading system. On their chart, the Reserve Bb has an XO1 grading, which is meant for an A441 clarinet. It is a sturdy and robust mouthpiece that hits both the low and high registers with no problems at all.#
- It has an unmatched consistency as a result of precision milling
- Built from a unique patented hard rubber to give a beautiful even tone
- Designed by an exceptional team of craftsmen and engineers
- Multiple facing options as well as pitch systems with varied resistance for different clarinets
What I like
One of the outstanding features of this clarinet mouthpiece is its hard rubber design. It offers a very fluid tone that retains its naturalness through the highs and the lows. It comes with an option of several facings to add a level of versatility to your mouthpiece. As long as you use the manufacturer’s standard, you can use this mouthpiece with any reed brand.
What I don’t like
Another price complaint, but this time it’s the accessories that will hit you in the pocketbook.
- Not limited to any specific player level
- Can be used with either A or Ab clarinets
- Has a consistent tone
- Has a slightly narrow tip
- Has expensive accessories
This is a high-quality mouthpiece that can serve all types of players. It allows for different reed strengths and has a clean and natural tone that retains its consistency.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
This Yamaha mouthpiece was built specifically for the B flat clarinet. It is made of plastic and has a narrow tip opening. It is one of the best mouthpieces for students and beginners because of its ease of control. It is storing and extremely durable.
- Made with phenol resin; the best quality
- Uses Yamaha’s custom series design
- Has great consistency
- Perfect for intermediates and advanced beginners
What I like
One of the highlights of this mouthpiece is the design. It borrows this from Yamaha’s premium custom series. It has a narrow opening at 1.05, giving it a warm natural tone. This mouthpiece is paired with softer rings that further extend the rich, natural tones. It has a lower projection that is perfect for playing at home and during practice.
What I don’t like
As this is aimed at beginners, the build quality is not professional. It also doesn’t work well with all clarinet brands.
- Very low pricing
- High level of control
- Promote rich and very consistent tone through all octaves
- Low build quality
- Doesn’t pair with some clarinets from different manufacturers
This is an affordable clarinet mouthpiece that is best for students and beginners. It has an okay build quality but delivers a rich and authentic natural sound.
Overall Score: 4.2/5
This option is yet another high-quality clarinet mouthpiece from Vandoren. It is a premium mouthpiece that delivers unrivaled tone clarity and depth and has a beautiful ebony design. This B flat clarinet mouthpiece is fabulous in a live performance.
- It has exceptional clarity and depth as well as a fantastic presence
- Distinct chamber
- smooth intonation with a remarkable sound and performance
- Characteristic of Vandoren
- 13 A=440 series
What I like
With a DB5 facing, you can expect darker tones with some depth, especially from a professional player. It hits the right chords with the upper registers giving a lovely and distinct tone.
This mouthpiece should be paired with Vandoren’s #3.5 or #4 reeds to get the best results. This will result in incredible tonal clarity.
What I don’t like
Like my other Vandoren pick, this option is also pricey compared to the competition.
- Has clean, beautiful ebony body design
- Has amazing clarity especially when hitting the higher registers
- Has a great projection
- It is pricey compared to other models
Vandoren’s CM1405 has a premium look and feel that unmatched by many mouthpieces. It has a great sound with crisp tonal clarity, especially when it hits the higher registers. It is an excellent mouthpiece suitable for live music.
Overall Score: 4.4/5
Clarinet Mouthpiece Buying Guide
Choosing the right clarinet mouthpiece can drastically affect your performance. There are so many things that should inform your choice, starting with the material it is made from, the tone and accessories among many others.
Types of Material
When selecting the material of your clarinet mouthpiece, it is crucial to consider that the hardness of the materials impacts the quality of the sound. The harder a material is, the better the projection and brightness. Typical student mouthpieces come with a plastic mouthpiece. This may be great for durability, but it doesn’t have the best sound.
Alternatives to plastics include hardened rubber, wood, and crystal. Rubber and crystal are the best and often the choice for professionals.
The tip of the mouthpiece plays a vital role in how clarinet will sound. There are two main styles of the tip: open and closed. An open tip has a high resistance but offers a brighter sound.
On the other hand, a closed tip offers very little resistance with the trade-off being a darker sound. An open tip uses a soft reed while a closed tip uses a hard reed. If you are a beginner or a student, you should get a medium size tip to get the best of both worlds.
Just like there are clarinets for different keys, the same applies to mouthpieces. When getting a mouthpiece, first you should ensure is that it specifically a clarinet mouthpiece. A trumpet mouthpiece will not work on a clarinet and vice versa. The second thing is to ensure you get the correct key for your clarinet. If it is a Bb, get a Bb clarinet mouthpiece, and so one for the other keys.
There are two accessories that are nice to have for your mouthpiece. The first is the ligature, the thing that holds the mouthpiece and the reed together. It may not come with your new mouthpiece. The other is a mouthpiece cap.
There are so many mouthpieces out there for clarinets that cater to different devices as well as different tonal sounds. Getting the best clarinet mouthpiece is a matter of experimenting until you get the best fit.
If you are a beginner or student clarinetist, you might want to go for a mouthpiece that is easier to control and easily replaceable. On the other hand, a professional will most likely go for a premium mouthpiece that delivers excellent depth.
This review of the best clarinet mouthpieces includes premium as well as affordable pieces that target beginners and students. Use our buyers guide today to find the right piece for you and your clarinet.