The clarinet is one of the more popular woodwind instruments, finding itself in orchestras, chamber music groups, military and marching bands, jazz bands and more. A proper mouthpiece is needed to play the clarinet to its full potential.
There are plenty of mouthpiece options for student, intermediate and professional clarinetists.
With such a wide variety, knowing the market's top brands is useful. Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of a mouthpiece, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top clarinet mouthpiece brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the clarinet mouthpieces
- Longevity of the clarinet mouthpieces
- Variety of clarinet mouthpieces available
- Accessibility of the clarinet mouthpieces (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The top 11 best clarinet mouthpiece brands are:
Let's detail each of these brands and explain why they belong in the top 11 best clarinet mouthpiece brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable mouthpiece, and a link to their official website.
The four generations that have been in the direction and expansion of this company for the past eleven decades have managed to keep Vandoren on top of the list of go-to brands for brass and woodwind players around the world.
From the search for the perfect reed to creating the perfect mouthpiece, Vandoren has followed a path of innovation and success based on thorough research and development. Thus, nowadays, most players associate Vandoren with reliability, endurance, performance, and high quality.
Finally, Vandoren exports 90% of its production to over 100 countries around the world. This is an indicator of Vandoren's reputation as the best in the market. If you haven't already, give Vandoren a try and feel the difference.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Vandoren 5RV Lyre (link to check the price at Woodwind Brasswind)
Vandoren has been working hard to create the perfect mouthpiece for the last century, and the 5RV is one of the milestones in that journey. To begin with, it is an easy-blowing mouthpiece with a plethora of opening positions and reed positioning that allows every player to find their sweet spot.
If you're serious about clarinet playing, you should be blowing through a Vandoren.
Official website: vandoren.fr
Eugene Van Doren founded Vandoren reeds in 1905. Currently, the headquarters are in Paris, France.
Vandoren is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Clark W Fobes
Clark W Fobes is, before anything else, an accomplished clarinet player who's played for the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and the California Symphony.
He knows the instrument inside out from playing it on the most demanding stages of the San Francisco Bay area.
By 1990 he was the main repairman for clarinets in the area, and his understanding of clarinet acoustics made him a reputation followed by a swarm of clients from all over the country bringing their instruments.
Creating his own brand to pour all his knowledge and experience into the shape of the best mouthpieces in the world came as no surprise. Nowadays, Clark W Fobes' mouthpieces are among the best in the world. If you can afford them, you should try one before buying any other brand.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Clark W Fobes 10K Eb San Fransisco Clarinet Mouthpiece (link to check the price at Woodwind Brasswind)
After handcrafting 10,000 mouthpieces, Clark Fobes came up with this model, the pinnacle of his design and innovation.
They are made of German rod rubber cut precisely using computer-managed machinery. As a result, every 10K mouthpiece offers the user perfect intonation, outstanding response, and beautiful sound. This is Clark Fobes' best creation so far; try one before you buy.
Official website: clarkwfobes.com
Clark founded the company in 1990. Currently, the headquarters are in San Francisco, California, USA.
Yamaha is a corporation that manufactures some of the most relevant products in the world today, maintaining a steady line of excellence throughout its entire catalogue. Indeed, you can find the same obsessive attention to detail in the brakes of a 1000cc motorcycle that runs over 200 km/h and the clarinet mouthpiece.
This is because Yamaha started as a piano-selling company (the logo is three intertwined tuning forks), and the musical legacy running for well over a century is at its all-time greatest moment. Buy your next mouthpiece from Yamaha and feel the difference in every blow.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Yamaha Custom Series 4C (link to check the price on Amazon)
After working with many of the world's most popular artists, Yamaha has refined the design of its mouthpiece. The company's production pleases the world's highest quality and design standards.
Also, the chosen material was ebonite, which offers a sound quality close to that of wood. Moreover, these mouthpieces are highly sought-after for delivering a warm and rich tone without sacrificing clarity.
Furthermore, they are as comfortable and articulate offering exceptional playability as they are accurate in terms of intonation.
Official website: yamaha.com
Yamaha was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887. Currently, headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Yamaha is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
D'Addario is a major name in the accessories world regardless of the instrument you play. It is one of the few companies in the world to make outstanding strings and accessories for a plethora of instruments.
D'Addario is a synonym for quality and performance regardless if you play ukulele, clarinet, or double bass.
The clarinet mouthpieces offered by D'Addario try to recapture the glory of past times in which mouthpieces were made differently with outstanding results. Moreover, every D'Addario mouthpiece leaving the factory is ready to make music history from day one.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: D'Addario Reserve Bb Clarinet Mouthpiece MCR-XO (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
This mouthpiece by D'Addario is inspired by the legendary mouthpieces made in the 1920s and their unmistakable sound.
The technology pioneered by D'Addario to recreate the craftsmanship quality of a century ago allows the company to offer superior craftsmanship and a rich, articulate sound with more power and a sky-high consistency level.
Finally, every Reserve mouthpiece by D'Addario is milled, not moulded, from the hardest rubber in the market, ensuring premium results and uncanny consistency.
Official website: daddario.com
The D'Addario family has been in the string-making tradition since the 1600s. That being said, the company as we know it today was founded by Jim and John Jr. D'Addario in 1973. Currently, the headquarters are in Long Island, New York, USA.
D'Addario is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Besides having an astonishing career as a musician, playing for the London Sinfonietta, recording for the BBC, and as a teacher at the Guildhall school of music, Edward is a master mouthpiece maker.
Therefore, as he grew older and his creations became more sought-after, he decided to dedicate full time to the perfection of his creations and make the best clarinet mouthpieces in the world. For this endeavour, he studied to get a Ph.D. in acoustics.
After selling mouthpieces worldwide to critical acclaim and doing restorations and replicas of 1940s glorious discontinued pieces, his creations are the best-kept secret of the clarinet world. Give them a try today and feel the difference.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Pillinger F2 (link to check it out at Pillinger)
The F2 is Pillinger's take on the glorious English and French makers of the 1920s and the 1930s. Through research and development, Ed was capable of reproducing the magic of the early glorious days but with a modern price tag.
These mouthpieces deliver a clear and crisp tone with lots of articulation and vibrant colours. Also, the well-centred tone is warm and responsive. Finally, the Chédaville traditional angle of the baffle helps in effortless playing.
Official website: pillingermouthpieces.co.uk
Edward Pillinger founded the company. Currently, headquarters are in London, England.
David Hite was a clarinet player who blew his instrument for the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra, among many others. Also, he was a teacher at the Capital University Music University, where he founded the clarinet choir.
Parallel to that, in the 1940s, David set out on a mission to make the perfect mouthpiece for clarinet and saxophone.
According to critics and specialized media, the J&D Premiere mouthpiece can be considered one of the best student mouthpieces ever made. Moreover, his professional models were also used by symphony players worldwide.
Nowadays, the company is owned and marketed through JJ Babbitt, and David's designs are still helping millions of clarinet players around the world sound better effortlessly.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: J&D Hite Model D (link to check the price at Music & Arts)
The Model D by J&D Hite, commercialized by JJ Babbitt, is a superior mouthpiece made of the finest vulcanized rubber moulded on cores that are personally crafted to create custom designs. Moreover, each of these mouthpieces is hand-finished to achieve a higher level of endurance and perfection.
Finally, the internal dimensions of the mouthpiece tend to generate a tonal character that can be identified with the words round and dark. If that's the kind of tone you're after, and you want a mouthpiece made to the higher standards, you have to try J&D Hite.
Official website: jjbabbitt.com/hite-clarinet
Parent company: JJ Babbitt
Jane and David Hite founded the company in the 1980s. Currently, headquarters are in Eckhart, Indiana, USA.
The story behind this company is that of hard work, talent, and success. After reworking and crafting parts for some of the most demanding players in the world, Morrie decided to design and manufacture professional clarinets, mouthpieces, barrels, bells, reeds, and cases.
This accessory line only enhances the company's rich history and victorious presence. Furthermore, Backun made a strong investment in production equipment, and because of the leading multi-axis machining technology, its mouthpieces are perfectly crafted to exceed expectations.
Try a Backun today and feel the difference.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Backun Vocalise Bb Mouthpiece (link to check the price at Music & Arts)
The Vocalise series is a joint effort between Backun and Richard Hawkins. This line of mouthpieces is divided into R, G, H, and Z, going from a close/short approach to an extremely open/long approach. Other than that difference, the tonal ring and outstanding clarity are common to all of the series.
Finally, all mouthpieces are created using Backun's state-of-the-art machinery, which features a one-of-a-kind process combining lathing and mining. Therefore, these mouthpieces are perfect from the moment they leave the machine without needing a second setup or recalibration.
Official website: backunmusical.com
Backun Musical Services Ltd. was founded by Morrie Backun in the year 2000. Currently, the company's headquarters are in British Columbia, Canada.
Backun is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Names like Benny Goodman, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, and Charlie Parker are just some of the virtuoso players that have chosen Selmer to wow the world with their talent. For well over a century, Selmer has provided quality instruments to outstanding players, inscribing its name in musical history forever.
Mouthpieces have just received an overhauling with the addition of two very modern models, the “Concept” and the “Focus”. If you haven't already, try a Selmer and hear the difference.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Selmer Concept Clarinet Mouthpiece (link to check the price on Amazon)
After years of intense R&D work, Selmer overhauled the entire mouthpiece line and released two new groundbreaking models. The first thing to note about the Concept is that the new throat design puts more focus on the airflow allowing the expansion of the sound that blossoms into a wider array of timbres.
Still, this mouthpiece doesn't lose its effortless quality to obtain more projection; it is always easy to play. Finally, the larger tip opening helps projection, so the sound is powerful, focused, and well-balanced.
Official website: conn-selmer.com/en-us/our-brands/selmer
Parent company: Conn-Selmer (Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc.)
Henri Selmer founded the company in 1885. Currently, headquarters are in Mantes-la-Ville, France.
Selmer is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
JJ Babbitt is the oldest known mouthpiece manufacturer in the world and also one of the most prolific, having delivered millions of high-quality, durable, and dependable mouthpieces.
Moreover, since the company remains a family business, the knowledge, leverage, and experience were handed from one generation to the next, helping the company grow.
After the acquisition of several other brands like J&D Hite, the company established a name in the industry not only for making some of the best mouthpieces in the world but also because of the variety of its catalogue.
If you haven't already, try a JJ Babbitt mouthpiece today and feel the difference 100 years of tradition can make.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Premiere by Hite Model DH-113 Alto Clarinet Mouthpiece (link to check the price at JJ Babbitt)
This composite blend mouthpiece is JJ Babbitt's take on student-grade mouthpieces. It was developed with young musicians and students in mind allowing them to play in the higher registers without sacrificing the middle and low frequencies or breaking the bank. Moreover, the special blend of resin gives the mouthpiece its own personality, and the hand-finishing by JJ Babbitt's artisans give makes it flawless.
If you haven't tried a JJ Babbitt mouthpiece yet and want to get an entry-level taste of their quality, this is a great choice.
Official website: jjbabbitt.com
Jesse James Babbitt founded the company in 1919. Currently, headquarters are in Elkhart, Indiana, USA.
The 100-year story backing Chedeville's reputation as one of the best mouthpiece manufacturers in the world started in Paris, France. There, Charles Chedaville learned the ways of the French masters and created some of the most sought-after mouthpieces for clarinet in what's known today as the golden age of French-style mouthpiece manufacturers.
Moreover, his creations sounded so good that the company made mouthpieces for other brands such as Buffet.
That legacy and the commitment to excellence are still present in every mouthpiece to leave the factory. Therefore, if you haven't already, check Chedeville mouthpieces out; they might surprise you.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Chedeville Elite Bb Clarinet Mouthpiece (link to check the price at Sam Ash)
Finding a mouthpiece that exudes clarity and provides your instrument with a crisp and strong clarinet tone and, at the same time, doesn't lose its warmth and beauty is nothing short of a discovery. If you add to that easy articulation, optimum intonation and control, and a free-blowing nature, you're close to what this Chedeville mouthpiece can deliver.
Finally, the “Chedeville facing curve” enhances the warmth and full-tone strength of every instrument. Play one today and get the perfect tones out of your instrument.
Official website: chedeville.com
Charles Chedeville founded the company in the early 1920s. Currently, headquarters are in Savannah, Georgia, USA.
After over 7 decades of non-stop innovation and a relentless commitment to excellence, Beechler has become a synonym for great tone and reliability.
But what is it that makes Beechler a unique mouthpiece manufacturer? Well, the company aimed for personality, richness, and quality of voice through the perfect mix of state-of-the-art equipment and hand-finishing techniques.
But that's not all because every Beechler mouthpiece to leave the factory is fully tested by professional musicians to ensure consistency.
You must try a Beechler mouthpiece on your clarinet if you haven't already.
Notable clarinet mouthpiece: Beechler Tonalex Mouthpiece (link to check it out at Beechler)
If you're looking for the traditional, quintessential warm tone for your clarinet, you have to try these white mouthpieces by Beechler. The line features medium baffles with open chambers, which translate into an open, big sound with projection and power.
Finally, the white acoustic resin the Beechler Tonalex line is made of enhances the softer singing qualities of your clarinet.
Official website: beechler.com
The company was founded by Elmer Beechler in 1942. Currently, headquarters are in Northridge, California, USA.
Beechler is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!