Clarinet Trial Chart

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Buying a clarinet is a challenge and at times overwhelming. Having help from a clarinet professional is the best step toward making the right decision.

This Clarinet Trial Chart is not for beginners and is probably too much for intermediates. If you have a chance, have a clarinet professional play a new instrument and tell you what they think about it.

So, what I’m saying, is if you are beginner or intermediate, have your clarinet teacher test the instrument or the instruments you are trying.

For upper intermediates and advanced players, if you cannot tell a difference or do not know some of the answers on this chart, skip it and move to the next section. It might become more apparent after you have tried a few clarinets.

OTHERWISE, LOOK AT AND PRINT THIS PDF CLARINET TRIAL CHART OUT HERE, go to the local music shop, or order your clarinets online and test them out.


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How to use the Buying a
Clarinet Trial Chart

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Clarinet 1, 2, 3 leaves enough room to for you to try three different clarinets. It is recommended (in a perfect world) that you try at least three of the same model clarinet. If you do not know what model you want to try, pick three different models and select your best and then go to three different models. Learn more about this at Clarinet Equipment Rule of Three.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart- Your Clarinet 4 - If you are not in a music shop trying multiple instruments, or if you have not ordered a few clarinets to try, at least do a written comparison between the new and old clarinet.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Sound or Tone Quality – first of all, you need to know what you like. What on the list below do you desire from a clarinet? Very Bright, Mellow, Warm, Bright or Dark? Projection – can you fill up a room with this clarinet? Focused or unfocused? After you’ve decided this, mark where you think your prospective clarinets are on this chart.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Air Volume – how easy or hard is the clarinet to blow? Understand that the easiest blowing clarinet is not necessarily the best. Also, let’s say you love a really dark sound. If you found a clarinet with a really dark sound but it is impossible to blow, note if you really want it.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Any Negative or fill-in positives

Sorry that my list is more on the negative side.

Squeaky/Chirpy would more often be attributed to different mouthpieces.

Airy could indicate leaks, loose joints, or cracks.

Tubby would indicate a really dark clarinet sound that is impossible to blow or impossible to play rapid articulation.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Range - Is one range better than another?

If you do not know what the names of the ranges or the range of the ranges, visit
Why is this on the chart? It is likely you could LOVE one range of a particular clarinet better than other clarinets and not like another range on the same clarinet. This could mean a pad is not setting right making a certain range unresponsive or any of a 1000 other reasons. An attractive quality, in a new clarinet, is to have a good consistent range throughout the clarinet.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Tuning – A dream clarinet would play perfectly in-tune in all temperatures (if you find one, let me know) these are key notes and sequence for you to play into a tuner.

Remember, that you need to warm-up the clarinet before you get an accurate tuning. Make sure you are not in a room where the air is at an extreme warm or cold temperature as this will have a major effect on tuning.

Also, pulling out a little bit at the barrel does not mean the clarinet is already too sharp. Let’s say someday in the future you are playing in a cold environment in performance, it is good to have the choice to push-in.

If you really wish to mark the tuning of the entire clarinet range, here is a full Clarinet Tuning Chart.


If sharp – pull-out

If flat – push-in

Open G– No fingers down or keys depressed. This is the one open note on the clarinet. You should get an idea of where the barrel tunes on the clarinet with open G.

What are you looking for with Open G? I believe it should run a little sharp so that you pull out at the barrel. This gives you leeway to push-in the barrel in-case you’re in a cold room. Remember cold weather makes the clarinet go flat so you wish to sharpen the pitch by pushing in at the barrel.

C below staff – Close to middle joint, adjust this joint in or out depending on the reading on the tuner. What to look for? Best scenario is this note is in-tune and you do not have to adjust at the middle joint.

G right above staff – same fingering as C below staff. Check to see how the clarinet goes over the break over-blowing the 12th. Again, best case scenario is no tuning adjustment at the middle joint.

C and B across the break – these notes have the tendency to sharpness. Where is it on the instrument you are trying?

Low E and Low F – tend to run flat.

It is important for you to get a good reading comparing the C and B and the low E and F. If you have found a clarinet that plays the C and B perfectly in-tune, it is likely the low E and F will run really flat. If, on another clarinet, the low E and F are perfectly in-tune, the C and B might well run too sharp.

High C – tends to run sharp so you are looking for a clarinet that is either in-tune or just a little sharp. I would steer clear of a clarinet where the high C runs really flat.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart - Mechanism/Keys

Checking for comfort and efficiency of key movement

Heavy – Brand new clarinets are almost always ‘sprung’ too heavy, especially the professional clarinets. Hopefully, if you like the sound of a clarinet, you can have a good instrument repair person lighten up the springs on the clarinet (lighter keys are my preference, some do prefer the really heavy keys)

Light – While I do prefer the lighter touch on a clarinet, you need to make sure the keys do not blow open because the springs are so light.

Clacky – Do you hear a bunch of key noise? Especially in the pinky keys, bridge key, and side keys. When you play clarinet, you should hear tone, not keys clacking. Key oil, correct cork (or other) bumpers, and proper key adjustment done by a true repairperson can fix this. Again, if you really like the sound of a clarinet, it is probably worth getting the keys adjusted upon purchase.

Why would a brand new clarinet sound clacky? Especially if it is wooden, the wood has probably changed from various climates and weather changes. The wood will move, therefore changing the position of the keys.

Sluggish – Similar to clacky, if the wood has moved on a clarinet, it can push-in pressure to the keys making them too tight. This will create a slow movement of the keys.

Loose – Try wiggling the keys between the posts. Again, if the wood has moved, the keys could run loose.

Just right – alright, I have to put-in a positive description in-case you’ve found a perfect or really good clarinet.

Bridge Key – Check bridge key adjustment by playing one and one Eb. The key should cover well without lost motion between the bridge keys. If this is wrong, it is not the end of the world, just a change in the cork size can make this right.

Pinky Keys – Along with all the previous descriptions, watch for heaviness, sluggishness, and see if there is any lost motion between the keys. If no problems, check-off, if problems, write more note on this on the back side of your clarinet trial chart.

Buying a Clarinet Trial Chart -- Rank the clarinets Best to Worse AND How Are These Clarinet Rating Compared to Your Current Clarinet – You’ve done the work, now, how do these clarinets compare, especially compared to your old clarinet.

Remember this, you are used to your old clarinet. You will have a level of comfort with it. So, do the new clarinets sound better than your current instrument?

Please let me know if this chart helped you pick a better clarinet. Contact me via this link and let me know. Go Pick Your Clarinet Now!