What Reeds Are Best For Beginner Clarinet?

The best reed for beginner clarinet is a size 2 or 2.5 reed. Most beginners start with Rico, Rico Royal, or Vandoren Brand Clarinet Reeds. Your teacher will most likely recommend one of these brands to start with.

The size number indicates the thickness of the reed. The lower the number, the softer the reed, the higher the number, the thicker the reed. Some manufacturers number their sizes 1, 1½, 2, 2½, 3, 3½, 4, 4½ and so on. Others may use “soft”, “medium”, and “hard” instead. Thicker reeds create a better and more direct tone but require more strength to play. You will need to start with a softer clarinet reed and work your way up to a thicker reed.  

When purchasing your reeds make sure that you are also buying the correct ones for your specific insturment. Clarinet reeds differ from saxophone reeds. This means that a Bb clarinet reed only fits a Bb clarinet, alto saxophone reeds only fit alto saxophones, bass clarinet reeds only fit bass clarinets, and so forth. 

It is best to start with a softer or lower number reed size. Once you gain strength and confidence, you will want to go to a thicker reed and experiment with different brands to increase your range of playing.