The most expensive clarinets in the world are made from high-quality materials and played by world-class musicians.
Compared to other woodwind family instruments, the clarinet is considered the “new kid on the block.” Many experts believe it was invented at the start of the eighteenth century by Johann Christoph Denner, a Nuremberg instrument maker. While this is true, a similar instrument, called the chalumeau, was already in existence at that time.
However, the chalumeau only sounded good in the lower registers, and the newly created clarinet provided high sound quality in the high and low registers. This is one of the reasons that the name “clarinet” actually meant “small trumpet.”
The clarinet creates sound through a single reed attached to the instrument’s mouthpiece. Until the first part of the 18th century, the clarinet had just two-finger keys, but more were added, which allowed the player to create clean notes and chromatic scales.
The clarinet has changed and evolved through the years, similar to many other instruments like the guitar and banjo. While many clarinets are affordable, you’ll also find a wide variety of truly unique offerings at higher prices.
Here’s a list of the 10 most expensive clarinets in the world:
Table of Contents
- 1. Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet
- 2. Benny Goodman’s Clarinet
- 3. Buffet Crampon 1553 Prestige Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
- 4. Yamaha YCL-622II Low C Professional Bass Clarinet
- 5. Backun MoBa A Clarinet Cocobolo Gold Keys
- 6. L. Rossi Cenit Clarinet
- 7. Peter Eaton – The International Clarinet
- 8. LeBlanc Model 60 Bass Clarinet
- 9. Fratelli Patricola CL.4 Clarinet
- 10. P. Mauriat PCL821 Professional Bb Clarinet
1. Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet
The Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet features a Bb bore, 33.9 mm pitch, and 442 range to low C. With adjustable silver-plated keys and bell neck, along with a Rosewood body, the clarinet provides rich tones. Considered a favorite in many college music programs, the Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet offers a full, rich sound. It projects the perfect tone for a wind ensemble or military band.
At an astounding $35,775, the Selmer Paris Model 41 Contrabass Clarinet is the most expensive clarinet in the world
2. Benny Goodman’s Clarinet
Coming in 2nd on our most expensive clarinets list is Benny Goodman’s Clarinet
Legendary jazz musician and master of the clarinet, Benny Goodman died at 77 in 1986. During his life, he changed dozens of instruments, some that appear on various auction sites.
The most expensive clarinet ever sold in the 21st century was exhibited at the same auction as Charlie Parker’s saxophone and Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet. In 2011, another one of Benny Goodman’s clarinets sold in New York for $16,250, making Goodman’s clarinet one of the top sellers ever.
3. Buffet Crampon 1553 Prestige Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
This clarinet is designed with grenadilla wood, which takes more than 80 years to grow and develop, and features undercut tone holes. With this design, you receive an excellent tone from the instrument that is unmatched by many other models. The posts and keys go through a custom process. Step one involves power forging the holes, followed by pre-plating in copper, then silver plating. The result is durable, strong, and long-lasting keys that withstand years of use.
This clarinet features a double octave key at the high Bb and a half hold speaker vent to help achieve a clearer sound and tone throughout the instrument’s range. This clarinet’s dark, rich sound blends in beautifully with the woodwind section of any band or ensemble.
4. Yamaha YCL-622II Low C Professional Bass Clarinet
This Yamaha clarinet is considered a popular option among advancing students and professional players. It is keyed to low Eb and features a two-piece grenadilla wood body featuring metal inner tenon sleeves to improve the seal. The bell features an adjustable floor peg, allowing for custom height adjustments with the simple turn of a screw.
While Yamaha is a brand well-known for drums and similar instruments, many musicians are surprised to learn about the quality instrument options produced for woodwind players. Because this is a Yamaha, you can expect the superior artisanal craftsmanship and technological prowess to help ensure the instruments provide the projection and intonation desired without compromising the sound’s tone.
5. Backun MoBa A Clarinet Cocobolo Gold Keys
The MoBa was created with the desire to improve virtually everything about the clarinet while sacrificing nothing. When the model was first released, it created a unique path. Only those artists looking for something new and exciting took note of what it offered.
However, once the word spread about this innovative instrument, the MoBa became a modern classic and is now called the “Stradivarius of the clarinet world.”
This instrument uses modern CNC technology with hands-on, old-school craftsmanship, and each instrument is designed and constructed in Canada. The dark color and increased resistance make this clarinet the ideal option for today’s orchestral players and soloists who want to ensure they are “giving their all” to their art.
6. L. Rossi Cenit Clarinet
Price: $9,000 for the Bb and A models
According to the brand, the Cenit Clarinet is the “most sophisticated” option to date. This instrument offers unique solutions to several acoustic problems. It is considered an improved version of the former Boehm system, and the most popular feature is the “Automatic F” System. This feature helps to eliminate – quite elegantly – the issue of the all-too-common out-of-tune F, all without having to add another point of contact.
Don’t worry, though; not everything has changed. The Cenit also provides all the features seen on any Rossi instrument, providing the familiar look and feel desired when purchasing a Rossi.
7. Peter Eaton – The International Clarinet
The International is available in A and Bb models. It is a small-bore clarinet that provides higher flexibility of sound and higher intonation than many other small bore instruments available today. The tone quality is warmer and richer, and it offers higher potential volume, with no issue related to the loss of quality at the lower dynamic levels.
The brand combined all the French and English traditions’ best qualities to craft a genuinely international instrument.
8. LeBlanc Model 60 Bass Clarinet
The LeBlanc L60 bass clarinet is considered an exciting instrument that offers amazing sound and tone. In fact, the sound created by this instrument exceeds the price point mentioned above. Experts have praised this instrument for the robust sound and evenness of response through all registers, along with the consistent intonation it offers.
The manufacturer has specifically designed the clarinet for dependability and playability. It features an unstained and aged grenadilla wood body and a hand-hammered, professional-grade bell. It also features heavily plated silver or nickel keys (based on the buyer’s preferences).
Other main features that are offered include the Steelite Ebonite mouthpiece, a correctly sealing corked tenon neck, and a single register key mechanism. These features, combined with the powerful and centered sound from the complex bore and the hand-crafted undercut tone holes, make this an excellent option for any band, orchestra, or ensemble.
9. Fratelli Patricola CL.4 Clarinet
This is the preferred instrument by some of the top clarinetists from around the world. It is now the go-to option for any player seeking an instrument that provides a more dynamic and focused sound. The Patricola CL4 clarinet is designed with a full Boehm key system that plays just like any typical Bb instrument.
You can purchase it in Bubinga (Rosewood) or Grenadilla, both of which have been aged for 15 to 20 years, like all Patricola woods. Other features that make this a top-of-the-line option include silver-plated keys and the Patricolas patented key mechanism that ensures an instantly recognizable look and feel to the instrument.
10. P. Mauriat PCL821 Professional Bb Clarinet
The creation of the P. Mauriat PCL-821 is thanks to an extensive design and research project conducted at P. Mauriat. This project involved the collaboration of the top acoustic engineers at the company and some of the top players worldwide. During the project, the instrument’s design was reconfigured, and innovations were encouraged. The final product is a professional-grade, 18-key clarinet.
The high level of care and detail used during this clarinet design ensures each instrument provides a tone that is rich in harmonics. It also provides an even response through all the registers. Thanks to the ringless bell, the tones achieved is warm, round, and big. This means the clarinet can be used in various musical settings.
The clarinet offers a classic sound, and it is a must-have in any band, ensemble, or orchestra. Now you have a list of the ten most expensive clarinets in the world, what makes them unique, and why you may want to consider investing in one yourself.
One characteristic of all the clarinets on this list is the high-quality, slow-aged wood they are designed with. Because of this dedication to craftsmanship, clarinets being mass-produced today cannot compare with the sound or beauty of the instruments found here. As you would expect, these clarinets are designed with all the best materials. Most are entirely hand-crafted or have hand-crafted features that make them exceptional.
People are willing to pay for high-quality clarinets and the amazing sound they produce. While many players will never have the opportunity to try one of these top-tier instruments, you can listen to them being played by some of the top artists from around the world. However, you will also be happy to learn that there are a few options toward the end of the list with more realistic price tags.