Sound Strides

As musicians progress through the years eventually they will need to ‘upgrade’ their equipment. The question is when. For woodwind players, switching from plastic to wood is a big jump and the appropriate steps need to be taken.

First let’s take a look at the difference between the two materials:

Wood instruments are normally made from exotic woods such as African Blackwood; also known as Grenadilla. Many wood materials are sparse and not as environmental sound as making the plastic types so many wood instruments tend to cost more. Since they are made of wood, they are susceptible to water damage, and so many do not use these for outside play, keeping them for orchestra concert and recording studio play.

Most Plastic instruments have been erroneously been described as ‘synthetic’ instruments. But not all plastic clarinets are created equal. Now they do contain synthetic plastic, but most popular types are made out of Hard Rubber. Resin clarinets are the truest to a synthetic clarinet as they fully use plastic and not alternatives like the Hard Rubber kinds. Plastic clarinets tend to weigh less than their wood counter parts. These types tend to do the best outdoors during festivals and outdoor events. Plastic/resin is used almost solely for student instruments.


During that in-between phase, many clarinet players will keep their student model plastic instrument for outside activities such as marching band. At either the high school or the college level marching band, a plastic student model clarinet is the way to go. Countless hours rehearsing in the sun and the possibility of intense rain at games would absolutely destroy  a wood instrument.

Wood instruments require greater care. They need to be oiled and should be taken into a repair shop yearly for an adjustment. Make sure that when upgrading a student that they are ready to put in the work not only to practice with it but also take care of it, meaning greasing the corks, giving regular oilings, and be very careful not to drop or hurt the instrument.

Visit our website or stop buy in store to see our selection of both wood and plastic instruments.

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