I have a hard time getting notes out of my Artley clarinet. The guy who worked on it and inspected it (I bought it from a friend) said it's a good instrument, and he's done great work on my sax so I trust him.

Getting notes out of this thing is tough esp. staying in the low register and not modulating up to the octave+plus+fifth above. Any tips?

  • Reading this question made me think of famous last words.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 14, 2017 at 18:07

4 Answers 4


One of the beginner issues with clarinet is covering the 7 main tone holes cleanly. If your finger isn't covering it fully, the gap will act like a leaky pad. I think this is the most likely source of your problem.

It could also just be a leaky pad somewhere. The side keys (especially the top two) and the G#/A keys are very common culprits. The tech might not have checked it that thoroughly.


Assuming the instrument is in good repair, and you're covering the holes properly with your fingers, I think you just have to adjust your playing technique down to clarinet size. Speaking very broadly, you blow a sax harder than a clarinet.

  • That's rather broad. For one thing, "blow harder" is not a term any respectable sax or clarinet teacher would use. Mar 14, 2017 at 12:15
  • 1
    Yes, it's very broad. Like I said. But there's nothing wrong with 'blow harder'. It was often a useful suggestion in the years I spent teaching wind instruments. Perhaps I wasn't respectable.
    – Laurence
    Mar 14, 2017 at 12:18
  • As an exhortation while a student is playing for you, sure. Here in a forum, how about "produce a greater volume of controlled airflow" ? Mar 14, 2017 at 12:20
  • 1
    Doesn't that translate as 'blow harder'? :-)
    – Laurence
    Mar 14, 2017 at 12:57
  • Well now it's time to go all the way down -- only a blowhard would blow harder than a hard blow would cause. Mar 14, 2017 at 17:12

It depends a lot on just what you're finding difficult with the clarinet. As Matt P said, you do have to make sure you're covering the holes properly. In general, you need a much firmer embouchure for the clarinet than for any sax. Obviously breath control and firm diaphgragm control are critical for both families of instruments. Clarinets have a significantly greater pitch range which means you'll have to learn the adjustments in airstream & mouth/throat positioning for a lot more notes on a clarinet --- that just takes time and practice.


I play clarinet and saxophone. On clarinet, keeping a tight embochure and steady air stream are the two most important things.

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