Anatomy of a Clarinet

The clarinet is comprised of five parts from top to bottom: the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell. Each part is fitted and aligned to one another in this order by four cork-covered tenons that hold the five parts of the clarinet tightly together.


The mouthpiece is the top part of the clarinet, which holds the reed and has an opening for air to pass through the instrument. The reed is a thin strip of cane that is mounted on the table of the mouthpiece and held in place by an adjustable band called the ligature. The area where air enters the clarinet is known as the tip opening, which is located between the reed and the mouthpiece tip. As air flows through the clarinet, it causes the reed to vibrate and create sound. Mouthpieces for clarinets come in a wide variety of styles and brands, often made of either plastic or hard rubber.

The barrel is responsible for connecting the clarinet's mouthpiece and upper joint while also shaping and directing the sound produced by the instrument. The barrel's material, weight, and taper all influence the sound quality of the clarinet. To prevent the tenon corks from damaging the barrel, barrel rings are used to constrict its ends.

Upper & Lower Joints – The upper joint and lower joint of the clarinet are the two main parts that make up the body of the instrument. When assembled, they contain small, round keys that cover and uncover the tone holes. These keys are mounted on metal rods and consist of padded metal rings, covers, and levers.

The clarinet has tone holes which can be covered or uncovered by the player. The notes are produced by covering or uncovering these holes with keys in different combinations. As you or your student progresses on the clarinet, a fingering chart will likely be used as a handy reference for learning the proper combinations to achieve the desired notes. 

Bell – The bell, which is responsible for projecting the sound, is the final component of the clarinet and is attached to the lower joint. It comes in various lengths, weights, bores, flares, and materials, similar to the barrel.