Choosing The Right Reed For You and Your Clarinet

Quite an important choice for any wind player that uses reeds and one I hope to make easier, it should always be considered what level of skill the player has when Choosing the right clarinet reed, marry this with the correct mouthpiece and you have the basics for ensuring the student can progress and develop the skills needed for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Here at Rimmers, we get lots of questions about reeds, often from parents of children who want to know 3 things – what type, what brand and what strength?

What type of reed?

The two most commonly played clarinets are as follows: Bb clarinets, as well as A clarinets, use Bb reeds.

What strength?

Reeds are graded in strength and have a simple numbering system, the higher the number the ‘stronger’ or harder the reed. Start with a 1, 1 ½ or even 2 strength reed for a beginner. Purchase a small number of reeds first to try and see how you get on. Also remember that particularly if you’re a beginner you may change strength in the future so don’t buy too many. If your reed feels very easy to ‘squeeze’ you may need a harder one.

What brand?

The most popular brands sold at Rimmers are Rico and Vandoren. Both brands are excellent and we tend to recommend the Rico for the beginner and as you settle in and demand more resonance or require more sensitivity its worth experimenting with the Vandoren reeds.

Below is a comparison chart to help better understand the different gauges/strengths of reed, but do experiment and do have fun.

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