Assembling Your Instrument

The clarinet is a woodwind instrument. Playing this instrument is not difficult, but it takes a great deal of practice to get the sweet melodic tone that comes out of a well toned, well played instrument. Taking care of it is important, and so is properly assembling it.

Prepare the parts as indicated below. Parts names include the following: Reed, Metal ligature, Mouth piece, Upper and Lower sections, Bell.


Grease the corks if they seem dry. This will make your clarinet easier to put together and take apart. Most of the time, cork grease comes in a tube that looks like lip balm. If you don’t have any cork grease with your clarinet, petroleum jelly can be used as a substitute, though using actual cork grease is recommended.


Remove the upper and lower sections from the case. Holding the upper section in your right hand and the lower section in your left, press down on the tone hole rings on the upper section. Use a gentle pushing and twisting motion to attach the two sections, aligning the bridge keys, press on the tone hole rings of the Upper section and hold the bottom of the Lower section, so you don’t bend any keys.

Clarinet-Upper and Lower Parts

Holding the lower section, continue the same pushing and twisting motion as you attach the bell to the bottom of the lower section.

Clarinet-Bell attachment


Gently attach the mouthpiece to the barrel. Make sure that the hole is facing the backof the clarinet, not the front.

Clarinet-Mouthpiece to barrel assembly


Attach the mouthpiece and barrel to the upper section of your clarinet.

Clarinet-Barrel to upper section


Put the reed against the mouthpiece – the side with the hole. Do not tap the top of the reed and try not to touch the front of the reed because the pores will get dirty and not play as well. Look at the side of the mouthpiece for reed placement. Line the tip of the reed vertically equal to the tip of the mouthpiece. You should ideally try to see a fingernail width of mouthpiece above the reed. Hold the reed in place with your finger and play. Move it around a little. Different reeds have different “sweet spots”. Perfect alignment with the table (hole) in the mouthpiece is not always best.

Clarinet-Reed placement

Place the ligature (metal or fabric band that holds reed in place) over the top of the mouthpiece, being careful not to chip your reed. Tighten the ligature over the middle of the base, the back, unsliced half, of the reed. (There should be two lines or sets of lines engraved on your mouthpiece, line it up evenly between these.) If you have a metal ligature, the screws go on the same side as the reed. If you have a leather one, the screw goes on the back with leather against the base of the reed. Do not over tighten for fear of breaking the ligature, leave it a little loose for best vibration, it’s a matter of feel and practice to get it just right.

Clarinet-Ligature attachment



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