If you have been looking for a clarinet, it is likely that you will have been faced with choosing between wooden and plastic. The standard rule is that beginners use plastic clarinets and intermediate and advanced players will play a wooden one. If you are not sure which one is for you, we have put together a short guide of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Whilst keeping this in mind, the most important thing to consider is which one suits you!

plastic vs wood

Plastic vs WoodPlastic Clarinets

Plastic clarinets are ‘synthetic’ instruments, but can be made of different materials. The most popular being hard rubber- ABS or Resonite. These clarinets are typically used for beginners, for travelling and for those gigging outside.


  • Cheaper to make and therefore cheaper to buy
  • Lightweight
  • Hardwearing – they do not break as easily
  • Not as sensitive to temperature (or changes in temperature)


  • May let air blow out easier, potentially causing fatigue over time
  • Mass produced and less aesthetically pleasing
  • The tone produced is substandard to wooden clarinets





Plastic vs WoodWooden Clarinets

Wooden clarinets are normally made from exotic woo, such as African Blackwood (Grenadilla), Honduran Rosewood, or Boxwood. These clarinets are generally used in orchestral bands and for recording.


  • Better sound – fuller bodied and mellower
  • Better intonation and control
  • Heavier and therefore easier to grip
  • Aesthetically better looking


  • More expensive to make making them more expensive to buy
  • Susceptible to water damage and sensitive to temperature



Plastic vs Wood

So… Plastic vs Wood. Who wins?

It’s hard to say. Really it depends on your needs. The best way for you to know which type is the best, is to play them. Here at Normans we have a live room for you to test the instruments that are best for you. If you’d like to come and visit us, contact our sales team to let them so that they can get the instruments ready for you: sales@normans.co.uk

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Clarinet Reeds

About the author

Jack is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Normans Musical Instruments and has been in this post since September 2012 after Graduating from University with a degree in Music. Jack's expertise is in guitars, technology and live sound although he does have a very well rounded knowledge of all aspects of Music.