Beginner Clarinet Bb - New or Second Hand?

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With so many beginner clarinets on the market it can be hard to know where to start. This guide has been written in view of the first time buyer in the hope of offering independent information and advice. If you find this guide helpful, please vote below so that more of our guides will be visible.

New beginner clarinets range from unbranded models, priced from £50, up to the Buffet B12 and Yamaha 250 retailing at £350. Equally, the prices of second-hand clarinets vary dramatically, although not always relative to the condition/value of the instrument. Second hand clarinets range from poorly treated and damaged instruments, to fully refurbished clarinets, in near perfect condition.

New clarinets - Pros and Cons
Unbranded and counterfeit clarinets are rife on eBay and other private listing domains. Consequently more and more 'first-time-buyers' find themselves purchasing instruments for children or grandchildren, which are of a very poor standard. Often it is not until they begin lessons, and a teacher examines the instrument, that they become aware that they have been sold a substandard clarinet. Sadly it is often difficult, even impossible, to fix any problems should the clarinet need repairing,  and consequently they have relatively little or no resale value. Please be aware of new 'BUFFET' B12 and 'YAMAHA' YCL250 clarinets from China sold on eBay, these are generally counterfeit goods and of very poor quality.

Several of the larger UK music stores and clarinet companies have begun to deal with this problem by introducing their own models of clarinet - designed to their own specifications, and with their own branding. These are generally well performing instruments. Of these we have endeavoured to try as many as possible, including the Jon Packer and Mayflower. These clarinets are of a decent standard and play well but due to cheaper construction, would not last more than a couple of years. They do, however, offer an affordable alternative to buying a new or second-hand clarinet from one of the more established brands.

As mentioned in our guide 'Buying a beginner clarinet Bb'  the Buffet B12 is, in our opinion, the best beginner clarinet on the market. And, when considering buying a second-hand clarinet this model offers the best value for money. In good condition a second-hand Buffet B12 will cost between £150-£250 and be worth every penny. We also heavily favour the Japanese made Yamaha YCL 250 (£130-£200 second-hand) and the Jupiter JCL-631 (£90-£160 second-hand) - please see the afore mentioned guide for further information.

Buying a second hand Buffet B12 means you will be purchasing a high quality instrument, constructed in Germany and at an affordable price. If well maintained and serviced this is a sound investment ensuring a happy introduction to the clarinet with a good resale value should the ambition wane.

Other, cheaper second hand clarinets to look out for are the Boosey & Hawkes Regent clarinets, which preceded the Buffet B12, and hence share many of its qualities. The older Regent, Edgware and Besson are all worth investigating if on a budget. Often under priced, these models can offer real value for money. However, we feel they are generally better suited to the more mature student as the keywork can often prove difficult for small hands (lacking the refinement of the newer models) and often need greater care on the whole.

Selmer's Bundy, Artleys and Armstrongs are all worth considering but again possibly for the older student. Some of these instruments may be fifty years old so make sure to ask plenty of questions; the condition of the pads and corks, do the serial numbers match, what mouthpiece will be supplied etc.

Making the choice between buying a new or second hand clarinet is not an easy task. Both have their pros and cons and we hope this guide has shed some light on the options available and of course, should you have any questions, we would be more than happy to help to the best of our ability. For advice on buying a clarinet on eBay please see our guide - 'Buying a clarinet on eBay - what questions to ask?'  Please feel free to contact us at

Thanks for reading and please rate our guide if you have found it useful.

Best wishes

Thea & Tim

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