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Learn how to assemble your clarinet

Feb. 9, 2015
Posted in: Clarinet
Learn how to assemble your clarinet, make your first sound, place your hands properly, tongue and articulate on the clarinet, avoid squeaks, and break in your reeds.



Hi, my name is Eun and I teach clarinet lessons at Sage Music. Because you are reading this blog, I know that you care about improving your clarinet playing so I’d like to thank you for making the first step toward becoming a better musician and a better clarinet player.

These articles will share insider tips with you that all the great professionals and many other students just like you use which will make your clarinet playing feel easier and sound more beautiful right away. In this series I am going to show you how to assemble your clarinet, make your first sound, place your hands properly, tongue and articulate on the clarinet, avoid squeaks, and how  break in your reeds.

The parts of your clarinet

Let’s go over the parts of your clarinet before we assemble the instrument. There are 7 main parts to your clarinet which are:

  • The bell (9)
  • The lower joint (the longer piece with keys) (8)
  • The upper joint (the shorter piece with the keys) (7)
  • The barrel (6)
  • The mouthpiece (5)
  • The ligature (3)
  • The reed (4)

There are also several accessories which include:

  • The swab (11)
  • The mouthpiece cover (1)
  • Cork grease (10)
  • Reed case or reed cover (3)
  • Clarinet case (not shown)
The parts of the clarinet
The parts of the clarinet are 1) The mouthpiece cover; 2) the ligature; 3) the reed cover; 4) the reed; 5) the mouthpiece; 6) the barrel; 7) the upper joint; 8) the lower joint; 9) the bell; 10) cork grease; 11) the swab.

How to assemble your clarinet

Equipment: clarinet, reed
Supplies: cork grease

I’ll present these as a series of simple steps so that you can easily follow along and put your clarinet together.

1. Gently twist the bell onto the lower joint.

Always make sure to gently twist each piece into place, don’t just push them together. If it feels too resistant, just apply a little lubricant, like cork grease, on the tenons of the instrument. This allows for easier assembly, and will preserve the joints of your clarinet.

2. Twist the upper joint onto the lower joint.

When twisting the upper and lower joint together, be sure that the keys of the two joints don’t bump into each other, this can damage them.

3. Align the bridge mechanism.

You need the bridge mechanism to align between the two joints so that your clarinet will function properly.

4. Twist on the barrel.

After the two joints and the bell are in place, twist on the barrel. And then…

5. Twist on the mouthpiece.

The reed should not be attached at this point to avoid damage.

6. Align the mouthpiece.

Twist the mouthpiece until the hole in the mouthpiece is aligned with the back key on the upper joint.

7. Moisten the reed.

Your reed should be moistened with water, or your own saliva.

8. Put on the reed.

Place the reed on the mouthpiece so the flat side of the reed is against the mouthpiece opening. Move the reed up or down the mouthpiece until you see just the slightest bit of mouthpiece behind the reed. Ensure that the reed is vertical and aligned with the mouthpiece.

9. Secure the reed with the ligature.

Slip the ligature over the mouthpiece and reed. Make sure that the ligature is low enough that it is covering the bark of the reed and not the vamp, which is the carved part of the reed. Tighten the ligature to secure the reed’s placement. Your clarinet is now assembled!

See here for more specific considerations for putting together your clarinet mouthpiece.

Special considerations about the reed.

The most important part of your clarinet is your reed. When you blow air across the reed, the reed vibrated to create your clarinet’s beautiful signature sound.  Thus, great care must be taken to ensure that the reed is properly moistened, and is protected to prevent cracking, chipping, or any other damage.


Congratulations, you just learned how to assemble your clarinet. Great work! Now get in some good practice, and when you are done, learn how to take your clarinet apart.

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