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How can you identify a clarinet?

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Quick Answer

The clarinet is a wind instrument, technically part of the woodwind instrument family, with a single reed and a cylindrical bore. Most clarinets are similar in appearance, although they vary in size depending on their sound range. For example, recorder clarinets are usually much smaller than soprano clarinets.

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Standard clarinets mainly features five parts: the mouthpiece, the barrel, the upper joint, the lower joint and the bell. The types of keys that are most common on clarinets feature construction with German silver, a special alloy that combines nickel, copper and zinc. German silver looks a lot like regular silver, but it is much cheaper and does not stain or rust. The most expensive clarinets can also have silver or gold-plated keys.

Although designs vary by manufacturer, soprano clarinets are mostly made of several black wood and silver parts. In some cases, the material used can include plastic, metal, Plexiglas and synthetics. The mouthpieces attached to clarinets tend to be wider than the ones used for other wind instruments such as oboes. The general shape of the clarinet is similar to the shape of an oboe, but unlike an oboe, a clarinet only has one single reed with a flared, cylindrical bore.

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