Clarinet: Producing Sound

The clarinet's sound is produced as the stream of air hits the tip of the cane reed on the mouthpiece, causing it to vibrate.  As the clarinetist presses the various keys, the distance the air must travel before escaping is altered, making the different notes. As the distance increases, the pitch gets lower.


Clarinet Care and Maintenance


Clarinet Parts Diagram

Before you play:
  • Place the thin end of the reed in your mouth to moisten it while you put your clarinet together.
  • Check the corked joints of the clarinet; if they're dry, rub a small amount of cork grease on each. 
  • With the upper joint in your left palm, use your left-hand fingers to press down the tone hole rings. When you hold the keys down, they're less likely to get bent; holding the upper joint keys down also raises the bridge key so it doesn't get bent.
  • Grasp the lower joint near the cork without putting pressure on any keys. Line up the tone holes on the two joints and gently twist them together, taking care that the bridge key doesn't catch and bend.
  • Gently twist the bell and the barrel into place without putting pressure on any keys.
  • Grasp the clarinet at the top so you're gripping the barrel and the upper joint at the same time (without putting pressure on any keys) and gently twist the mouthpiece into place.
  • With the ligature already around the mouthpiece, slide the thick end of the reed under the ligature and align the tip of the reed with the tip of the mouthpiece. Tighten the ligature screws to hold the reed firmly in place.



After you play:
  • Remove your reed from the mouthpiece and place it in a reed holder. Remove the mouthpiece next.
  • Use your swab to remove the moisture inside your clarinet's joints and barrel. Drop the weighted end of the string through the clarinet and then pull the wider cloth through to absorb the moisture.
  • Disassemble your clarinet in the reverse order above.
  • Put your clarinet in its case and fasten both latches.
  • Check for loose items in your case that could bounce into your clarinet and scratch it.
  • Don't store anything (music, a cloth, paper, etc.) on top of your clarinet in its case, as it might push on the keys and bend them out of adjustment.



Clarinet Mouthpiece

  • Clean your mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush and warm water.
  • Wipe the keys of your clarinet with a clarinet polish cloth.
  • Liquid polish is not recommended because it can ruin the pads.
  • Use a small brush to clean between the keys.
  • Wash out your swab or replace it with a new one.
  • Apply a very small amount of key oil to the pivot points of your keys. To apply the right amount, put a drop of oil on a saucer, dip a toothpick into it and touch it to the pivot points of your clarinet.
  • If your clarinet is made of wood, about twice a year, apply a very light coat of bore oil to its insides to protect it from excessive drying that could lead to cracking. Slightly dampen an old clarinet swab with bore oil and run it through the clarinet.
  • Bring your clarinet to the Amro repair shop at least once a year and whenever you feel it's not playing its best. We'll inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait. And if you have Amro's maintenance & replacement plan, any adjustments and repair it needs are free.