Parts Of The Clarinet And Their Functions Part 1

Parts Of The Clarinet

The clarinet is one of the woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed and the shape of its body is cylindrical. The clarinet as a musical instrument is breakable and composed of many parts. Obviously, there are various components that make up the clarinet parts but all clarinets consist of five major parts.

As shown below, the clarinet parts are the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and the bell. Tenon joints make clarinet’s parts tightly fitting together and ensure an airtight connection. Specifically, the clarinet possesses four cork-covered tenons to hold the five pieces of the instrument together in playing configuration. Each tenon juts out from one end of a section and shaped to fit tightly into the end of the next section. These arrangements produce an airtight connection.

Parts of the clarinet

Furthermore, every clarinet’s part is important, has a purpose, and vital to the overall performance of the instrument. For instance, if the smallest part like a pad or cork is faulty, the clarinet’s performance will be severely limited. Also, if the part like a thinning screw is missing, the ability of clarinet to speak may be impossible.

Therefore, every part must be intact, clean, well-aligned, and in a perfect position for maximum response and sound. Here, we will discuss the mouthpiece section of the clarinet and discuss other sections in the Part of the clarinet and their function part 2. So, the usual names of the parts of the clarinet mouthpiece and what function they perform are discussed below:


A clarinet mouthpiece is a tube with a flattened end through which the clarinetist blows air into the clarinet. For sound creation, the reed is attached to the mouthpiece with the aid of a ligature. The mouthpiece allows the reed’s vibrations to pass through to the body of the instrument. And for your information, the two mouthpieces are not the same. Even production done by assembly line with the same material and specification does not produce an entire uniform mouthpiece.

Mouthpiece with ligature

Above all, the mouthpiece is the most essential part of the clarinet for sound production and it has complex internal architecture. Clarinet’s mouthpieces can completely change the character of the instrument and are an easy way to quickly upgrade a clarinet. Its internal architecture is responsible for the quality of the sound and tone as well as comfort in playing the instrument. Also, the material used in the construction of the mouthpiece has an effect on its tone to a limited extent.

Mouthpiece’s structure (Image source)

Usually, the clarinet’s mouthpiece can be made from wood, ivory, hard rubber (ebonite), plastic, glass, or crystal, sometimes of metal. However, metal, wood, and plastic mouthpiece are not suggested because every one of them has somewhat one serious flaw like poor quality of tone or lack of durability. Most professional clarinetist is rooting for the glass and crystal mouthpiece as the best. However, metal, wood, and plastic mouthpiece is not a bad choice for the beginner.

The Reed

Actually, the reed of a clarinet is fabricated from a bamboo cane. Moreover, it is indeed an essential part of a clarinet when it comes to suitable sound production. The vibration that the reed produced when blown creates the sound that comes out of a clarinet.

Specifically, reeds for clarinet a fabricated to differ in strength. These are designed in a range that is from one to five (1 to 5). Thus we have weaker strength and soft reeds at the range of 1. And the tougher strength with the harder reed at the range of 5. The former is designed and suitable for the beginners while the latter is actually designed and suitable for the professionals. In brief, the harder reed requires more work from the muscle of your cheek, and soft reed are considered fragile.

Reeds for the Clarinet

You can remove the reed from the mouthpiece by loosening the ligature and sliding it off. Moreover, the reeds consist of two sections which are the vamp and stock (or bark). The vamp section consists of the tip, rail (or edge), heart, and shoulder while the stock part contains the heel.

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The vamp is the flat section of the reed without bark that usually seen on the mouthpiece opening. The tip represents the tinniest side of the reed that form its end. It controls the high-frequency swaying of the reed and its attack behaviour. Rail is the edge part of the clarinet’s reed. The heart of the reed is the center part of the vamp section. It cut across the tip and the shoulder where it is more broaden. The heel is the back end part of the clarinet’s reed that enters the mouthpiece. The air that flows through the clarinet body from the reed touches it last.

Reeds section and parts

The material used for reeds is organic in nature and they get stressed during the playing or performance. Therefore, examine your reeds and ensure they are in good condition while you get rid of any worn or bad ones. This is necessary because warping, cracks, or splitting reed can alter the quality of your tone. Also, we should treat our reeds with utmost care to prevent them from damaging. So, after playing try and keep your reeds inside dedicated boxes that can prevent them against the harmful environmental conditions. And also ensure you store them in such a way that will prevent the damp tips from “crinkles” or waves.


A ligature is an object that grasps the reed onto the mouthpiece part of a clarinet. The proper placement of the ligature ensures the reed is firmly attached to the mouthpiece. Also, it ensures a free space for the reed to vibrate as much as possible without hindrance.

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Ligature does not only hold the reed in place on the mouthpiece but also fine-tune the quality of the sound. It adds more resonance and effect to a clarinet’s tone and sound depending on the material used for the ligature.

Different types of Ligature

Ligature comes in different specifications, materials, and designs. Specifically, the point of contact with the mouthpiece and the reed marks the difference in the design of the ligature. In terms of material, we have different types of ligature. For instance, there are classical metal ligatures, and also rubber ligature. Likewise, we have some made from plastic, spirals, and other materials. However, ligatures are usually made of metal with nickel, silver, or gold plated. The metal-plated ligature always comes with adjustable small screws.

Again, the type of material used to make the ligature has an impact on the sound and response of a clarinet. Thus, before you choose a ligature, you need to put the tone and sound you want into consideration. However, metal ligatures produce a rich, full sound and are suitable for big concert halls, and also for soloists that want to be heard. On the other hand, fabric ligature is known for a softer sound. That is good and suitable for usage in a smaller hall and also group performance.

ALSO READ: Parts Of The Clarinet And Their Functions Part 2

At Phamox Music, we go all out for exactness and honesty. For this purpose, if by any means you found any possible glitch, be it factual, editorial or something that we need to update, kindly contact us.


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