Invented in 1700, the clarinet is a wind instrument that has left a lasting mark on music worldwide. Although you can buy a brand-new clarinet, tons of vintage instruments are in superb condition that will make a great addition to your collection. Whether you’re a player or merely a collector, you should always consider a vintage clarinet before buying a new one. You can save a ton of money if you buy a vintage clarinet!
We reviewed more than 40 vintage clarinet brands and found that the most popular are Yamaha, Jupiter, and Leblanc. These brands have longstanding histories and a positive reputation in the world of wind instruments. Each brand has more affordable models and rare and expensive options. We also selected seven other brands that are well-liked amongst clarinetists.
Want to learn more about the ten most prevalent clarinet brands? Keep reading, and don’t forget to check out our answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Top Vintage Clarinet Brands
The first vintage clarinet brand on our list is Yamaha – a company from Japan. This brand makes all kinds of instruments, ranging from keyboards to guitars. Many of the vintage Yamaha clarinets that you’ll find online are from the 1970s.
Some of the most common vintage models include the YCL-451 Bb, YCL-651 Professional B Flat, and YCL-62. The price of a vintage Yamaha clarinet ranges from $200 to $1,000, depending on the model and condition.
Newer Yamahas can cost several thousands of dollars, so vintage models are an excellent deal. Most vintage Yamaha clarinets ship from Japan, so it could take a month for the instrument to arrive.
The second brand on our list is Jupiter – a longstanding company still around today. Jupiter opened its doors in 1930 with a mission to create high-quality instruments (including clarinets) for students.
Thus, the company makes affordable clarinets without sacrificing acoustics. Today, Jupiter sells Bb and bass clarinets with a traditional French design. The most popular vintage clarinets include the Bb model 631 and JCL 631, which sell for just over $100, including the casts. These two affordable clarinets are perfect for beginners.
However, if you’re an intermediate or advanced player, a JCL-731 model would suit you better. These models cost around $600, depending on the condition. You can find vintage Jupiter clarinets at antique music stores and on eBay.
The Leblanc brand is inarguably one of the oldest on our list. This brand has roots dating back to 1750 when Ets. D. Noblet started making instruments for the French monarchy. Shortly after, France became a prime location for woodwind instrument manufacturing. Once Noblet was ready to exit the business, he sold it to the Leblanc family. The Leblancs spent lots of time perfecting the sound of the clarinet and conducting acoustic research.
In the early 1920s, the family started to distribute its instruments in the United States with the help of the company Gretsch & Brenner. Conn-Selmer, Inc. eventually purchased Leblanc in 2004. You can buy standard Leblanc clarinets for around $100, but expensive pieces like the Pete Fountain model cost approximately $2,000.
4.Henri Selmer Paris
Henri Selmer Paris is a longstanding clarinet brand that still makes instruments today. A Parisian named Henri Selmer started making clarinets back after graduating from school in 1885. The young man’s brother followed the path.
He began selling clarinets throughout the United States while part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After a few years, the clarinets became the product of choice in the Americas and Europe. In the 1920s, Henri expanded his business when he started to sell saxophones.
The native Parisian sold hundreds of thousands of instruments and hugely impacted the clarinet industry. Henri Selmer Paris is one of the top clarinet and saxophone manufacturers globally and makes its instruments by hand in Paris.
Pedler is a now-defunct company that made clarinets in Elkhart, Indiana. Named after Harry Pedler, this brand constructed its clarinets with hardwood rubber between 1919 to 1930. Pedler eventually retired and sold the company to Martin.
After the sale, the Pedler clarinet company made instruments under various names, including Pedler Hoosier and Pedler Premiere.
Most clarinetists say the quality declined after Harry Pedler retired. Before Martin bought the brand, Pedler made expensive clarinets with high-quality silver. Some of the cheaper clarinets, such as those under Hoosier, go for around $50. For an older clarinet produced by Harry, you can expect to pay about $150.
Based out of France, Buffet Crampon is a wind instrument company with a global presence. Vintage Buffet Crampon clarinets are notorious for their high-quality material and often steep price tag. For example, a 1973 Buffet Crampon R13 wooden clarinet complete with the case would cost approximately $1,100.
However, a handful of styles are more affordable, such as the SN D8579. The Parisian brand manufactures four instruments and clarinets – saxophones, oboes, bassoons, and English horns. Since the company has roots dating back to 1825, you can be confident that your vintage Buffet Crampon clarinet will last for years to come.
The brand has a handy tool on its website that enables you to find a vintage dealer near you. You can also find these clarinets on eBay and vintage instrument marketplaces.
Amati clarinets are unique because they’re from The Czech Republic and feature noteworthy stylistic differences. Many immigrants from former Czechoslovakia brought these clarinets to the United States.
These various clarinets are suitable for beginners, intermediates, and professionals. Many of these clarinets feature boast wood or plastic that resembles acrylic. The instruments also come with a large case with a velvet-like fabric to protect them. Amati’s ACL 201 model is relatively inexpensive, with an average cost of $260. However, the ACL 670 or low C bass may cost you several thousands of dollars.
You won’t find much information about Rene Lorein on the internet. Still, it’s safe to assume that most of the brand’s clarinets come from Italy. The now-defunct brand made most of its clarinets from wood in the early 1900s. Given the age of these clarinets, they’re not super easy to find on the internet. Before buying a Rene Lorein clarinet, you should be mindful of its quality. These older clarinets can cost several hundreds of dollars to repair at a music shop. Some clarinetists speculate that Rene Lorein clarinets are stenciled instruments, meaning another company manufactured them for a store. Although Rene Lorein instruments are rare, they aren’t super expensive to add to your collection.
Andrew Beardsley founded Elkhart, also known as the Elkhart Band Instrument Company, in 1923. Before starting Elkhart, Beardsley worked at Buescher Band Instrument Company – an instrument manufacturing company based out of Elkhart, Indiana.
The two companies eventually merged, and Buescher produced student clarinets under the Elkhart brand until around 1959. Vintage Elkhart clarinets feature metal or wood and range from $40 to $900, depending on the instrument’s material and quality. Additionally, the non-student models produced before 1950 tend to be the most expensive. These are excellent clarinets if you’re on a budget and want a token from the music city of Elkhart, Indiana.
Two native Germans founded the instrument brand Penzel Mueller after immigrating to the United States. Many clarinet players believe that the duo started making clarinets circa 1882. In the day, musicians considered these clarinets “middle-of-the-road” because they weren’t overly expensive nor cheap.
In the mid-1960s, you could purchase a Penzel Mueller clarinet for around $10 – $15. Rumor has it that these instruments were prevalent amongst jazz clarinetists. Nowadays, you can buy a Penzel Mueller clarinet for approximately $200, complete with the case. The bodies feature either hardwood or rubber, and both materials seem to withstand the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Want to learn more about vintage clarinet brands? Take a look at the most frequently asked questions:
How Much Does a Vintage Clarinet Cost?
The cost of a vintage clarinet can range from $50 to $1,000 and upwards depending on the brand and condition.
What Is the Best Vintage Clarinet Brand?
Some of the best vintage clarinet brands include Yamaha, Jupiter, and Leblanc.
How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Vintage Clarinet?
The basic service cost is around $100, and major repairs can cost $400 and upwards.
Where Can You Buy a Vintage Clarinet?
You can buy vintage clarinets on eBay, Etsy, and at various online and brick-and-mortar instrument stores
Can You Play a Vintage Clarinet?
Yes, you can play a vintage clarinet if it’s in working condition. It’s always essential to review the state of a vintage clarinet before buying it.
How Much Do Clarinet Lessons Cost?
Clarinet lessons cost around $50 to $60 per hour, depending on the level of your instructor and where you live.
There are tons of vintage clarinets to choose from, each with different design elements and price points. Yamaha, Jupiter, and Leblanc are perhaps the most famous manufacturers of vintage clarinets.
However, pick any brand on our list, and you should be able to find an excellent addition to your collection. Whether you’re a collector or active clarinetist, there’s something to be said about the character and quality of a clarinet from the early 1900s.