Me: no money at all and no experience with wind instruments.

Goal: learn how to play clarinet and to read music.

Found this "French-styled clarinet from URSS" for 40 dollars. enter image description here Is it completed? Can I just start playing on it? I guess I need to buy a monthpice or something. How do I know the model. Seems there are different variations of clarinet.

  • You might edit to clarify whether you've already bought it, or are asking whether you should. If you have it, or are buying locally, I'd take it to a local music shop to check whether everything's in working order. A $40 clarinet that needs $100 of work to be playable is a $140 clarinet. Apr 18, 2022 at 14:44
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    You're good to go. I agree with the advice about buying a new reed, and would also recommend having it looked at by a professional. If something isn't working right, If you're trying to learn on a broken instrument, you'll get nothing be frustration.
    – Duston
    Apr 18, 2022 at 15:12
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    Instead of answering the question, I have some advice: get at least one lesson with a teacher and make the first (only?) lesson about what to buy for your first instrument. I did that for French horn and it helped me a lot. It can be a remote lesson Apr 18, 2022 at 16:12

3 Answers 3


This is a standard Boehm system B-flat clarinet (also known as French system). If it works properly you can start playing on it right away. Check that all the keys move and the pads look as if they are sealing properly. To really tell if it works properly you would need to have an experienced player test it.
The clarinet looks complete. There are even a couple of reeds in the case but you'll probably want to buy fresh ones. You might need to buy softer ones to start on.
There seems to be no manufacturer's mark on the instrument - it would be stamped at the top front of the left-hand joint (bottom right in the photo) and maybe on the bell, so it's likely to be a cheap beginner's instrument.

  • The one thing that I'd add to this is that there may be mechanical and/or pad sealing issues that are impossible to diagnose through a picture. Find a band instrument repair shop (someone that's a member of NAPBIRT in the U.S.; I don't know what the international equivalents are) and have them take a look. Warning: it may be $100 US or more to fix. Remember: just because you can't get a sound out of an instrument doesn't mean that there's something wrong with YOU; it might be the horn.
    – John Doe
    Apr 19, 2022 at 17:22
  • @JohnDoe I did suggest that the poster have an experienced player check the instrument. If they think it's okay then there's no need to go to a repair shop.
    – PiedPiper
    Apr 19, 2022 at 18:27
  • 100% disagree. I wouldn't take a used car to a race car driver to see if the car was okay. The experienced player already knows how to make a sound on the horn. If the repair tech is honest, and most that I've come across are, then you'll also get the added benefit of whether or not it's worth it to fix that instrument, e.g., spending $100 to fix an instrument that isn't worth $50.
    – John Doe
    Apr 19, 2022 at 21:48

It looks complete - all it needs is a reed fitting. Be careful - they're quite easy to damage.

Without handling (and playing) it, it's impossible to say what it'll be like, but it's certainly worth a punt. My first clarinet was £15 from a car boot sale - didn't have the nerve to knock down any more - and I'm still playing it 8 yrs on. On the assumption there are no leaks on joints etc., let a proper player try it out, and, good luck!


I’m not a woodwind player but it looks like you have everything you need to start playing there. There is already a mouthpiece. It is attached the barrel and has a ligature for securing the reed and a cap for protecting it. It is in the right center of the case. You have 2 reeds in plastic sleeves at the top. You also have some cork grease to be able to assemble and take it apart easily. I’m sure you can find some photos or a tutorial on how to assemble the pieces together correctly.

Whether or not the instrument is playable remains to be seen. Hopefully the pads seal well and the springs for the keys work properly. If you know a woodwind player with some experience have them look it over for you.

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