The combination of the mouthpiece and reed is the most important part of a clarinet. The next most important piece is the barrel, and then the first keyed joint. The importance decreases, so that the bell could be made out of paper mache and no one would be able to tell the difference.
NEVER stand a clarinet up on the floor on its bell! Always use a clarinet stand or lay it somewhere. I have seen many clarinets fall, and it results in a broken mouthpiece about 50% of the time!

Beginning to intermediate level mouthpieces

If your son or daughter is starting out on clarinet, please don't frustrate them by skimping on second-rate reeds or a cheapo mouthpiece! They will probably be successful with any good-working instrument if they have a good reed and mouthpiece.

Some people think it is better to start beginners with a mouthpiece that has a more open facing, like the first two below. This allows the student to use a softer reed and still get a nice, round sound. Here is a list of good, inexpensive mouthpieces for less advance players. I think plastic mouthpieces are fine for beginners. For intermediate players, go with one of the hard rubber ones below.

tip opening
recommended for
 Hyson LINK probably around 1.03-1.05mm   $15.99This is my top recommendation for a cheap USA-made acrylic mouthpiece. This even comes with a mouthpiece cap and ligature. It would be a good mouthpiece to have as a spare if your favorite mouthpiece gets dropped.
 Rico ReserveX5  1.05mm $87.6616May2014 This is now my top recommendation for a beginning mouthpiece in the less-than-$100 price range. See their interesting promotional video here. The 1.00mm facing would also be a good choice for a beginner. The other two more-open facings are for jazz.
Chedeville Prime LINKmachined from solid hard rubber stock, not molded 1.03mm $139Highly recommended. As of 1July2012, this is the mouthpiece I play.
 Vandoren 5RV Lyre hard rubber  1.09mm  I have one that I feel plays similar to by best Chedeville Prime.
 Portnoy BP02 molded hard rubber   $80 Similar to Chedeville Prime
Fobes Debutmade of plastic
1mm$29beginning through Jr. High.
I tried three of these in August 08, and all were used. They were not consistent, and only one of them played well. However, it is unfair to judge based on used condition. Perhaps two of them got hot and were warped. Also I was using a Legere Quebec cut reed, which is not at all what a beginner will use.
1.04mm$30beginning through Jr. High
Hite Primiéremade of plastic
.043 inch$20for beginning players, and just fine for more advanced players, high school and above. One will want to start using harder reeds earlier with this mouthpiece.
I wouldn't hesitate to start a beginning student on this mouthpiece, particularly if that student was taking private lessons.
A Legere 2 1/2 reed works great with this for a beginning student.
 Richard Hawkins    made from Zinner hard rubber blank older Standard model without markings$185 Hawkins also has a Student model which sells for $104. I tested the older Standard model, thanks to Gord Reeves sending it to me. I found that it plays somewhat like my Chedeville Prime although it seemed a tiny bit less open. I detect a buzz in the low register that I don't like when playing a 3 1/2 Legere Signature reed, but the RH mouthpiece played wonderfully with a Legere Signature 3 3/4 reed. I would like to try other models by RH. I am disappointed not to be able to give any information about tip openings or facing length. From his web site, I gather that RH recommends 3.5 to 4 strength reeds for most of his mouthpieces. This mouthpiece plays almost identically with my second Chedeville Prime mouthpieces.

If you are a more advanced player, you will want a hard rubber mouthpiece. They sound better and last longer, and the good ones start at about $70.

1July2012: I have changed to the Chedeville Prime mouthpiece for my performing and reviewing of clarinets at this site. It gives me a more focused sound, more overtones, and probably a little less open but longer facing than my Vandoren B45. Two mouthpieces that are somewhat similar are the Tom Ridenour TR-40 (a little more closed), and the Portnoy BP02. The Portnoy BP02 is a little softer, mellower, and perhaps has a bit less focused sound. I carry the Portnoy as my backup mouthpiece. See my review at See the Chedeville sub-page with information from my e-mail conversation with Omar Henderson.

[May 2013] I ordered a second Chedeville Prime because I was so happy with my first. However, when I got the second one, it did not play nearly as well as the first. Eventually, when I realized the problem, I sent it back. Omar Henderson replaced the mouthpiece for free. The second one plays better, but not up to the level of my first one. I thought that the computer guided machining process for the Chedeville line would make for great consistency. Evidently NOT! I recently played a Vandoren 5RV Lyre that plays almost like my first Prime mouthpiece, and probably more like it than the Portnoy BP02. (The VD might have that .06mm difference in tip opening shown in the specs below.)

During the days I was in grad school and teaching music, I played on a Hite D mouthpiece (tip opening .041"). Sadly, David Hite passed away, but his mouthpieces are still being marketed, and the prices seem quite reasonable. I haven't heard if the quality has gone down. I have one that I purchased after David's passing, and it plays like my other two. These days I hear great things about Fobes mouthpieces. The Hite mouthpieces don't seem to play well with my Legere Reeds.

No name mouthpieces are not always bad. If it is plastic (with a very shiny appearance), then it is doubtful that it will be good. Some hard rubber no-name mouthpieces that came with French “stencil” clarinets are excellent.

For Advanced Students:

All are made of hard rubber. There are many fine makers and models that I have not listed.
For a good chart for Vandoren mouthpieces, see


 Vandoren BD5 This is— as of mid-2017, my favorite for playing my A clarinet, with which I use a 3.5 Legere Signature reed. See my comments below. tip opening 1.13mm. 
PrimeThis is technically Doctor's Product's student model. This was my favorite for about 5 years.
 tip opening 1.03mm, medium facing length
 Chedeville Prime #2nd one I have found the  Prime mouthpieces rather variable. I like this one better than my first one. It is my favorite for harder reeds (3.75 to 4 strength) and when playing my Bb in band. 
 Vandoren5RV Lyre   1.09mm
Tom Ridenour
The TR40 just happens to be the one I own. I would probably like a different facing better.
VandorenB45very nice, the mouthpiece I played after the Hite D and before my current Chedeville Prime.
tip opening 1.20mm
Many people report flatness in the throat tones with this mouthpiece.
 tip opening 1.15mm
Vandoren3RVa bit more open than the B45
HiteDThe mouthpiece I got from Joe Allard, my teacher in Grad School at the New England Conservatory.
Medium length, .041" tip, a classical orchestral facing. I recommend a #4 reed for this mouthpiece.

New information that I need to verify: Concerning the B45 moutnpiece that I use:
It's important to note that Vandoren Traditional mouthpieces are constructed to play at A=442, rather than the American standard of A=440.  To get an A=440 tuned Vandoren one has to specify the "13 series". 

Here are my general comments on the Vandoren BD5 mouthpiece:
Until now (April 2017) I have been playing on a Chedeville Prime mouthpiece, from Doctor's Products. It is excellent and I still highly recommend it. But I wanted to see how I liked the BD5 so that I could say whether or not I recommend it on the Mouthpieces page of I DO recommend it!

The packaging says, “The perfect balance between a dark, rich, yet compact sound.” My first impression is that this feels much more open mouthpiece than my Chedeville Prime, and that it has a less compact sound. That's not a bad thing. My sound on the Chedeville could be at times become more compact and bright than I liked. I wanted to make sure that the BD5 did not have the throat-tone flatness that I experienced with my Vandoren B45 mouthpiece (especially when playing a Legere reed). [Update December 2017: The BD5 can be slightly flat in the throat tones when playing loudly, but not as bad as the B45.] If I want a more centered sound with greater bite and projection, the Chedeville would be my choice. Playing in a chamber music situation, the BD5 will be lovely. Because of that open free-blowing feeling, I think that the BD5 will be great for jazz, yet— with a reed and embouchure change, move right onto the classical music stage.

The box claims that the BD5 has a medium facing with a 113 tip opening— as it would be commonly called. (Better stated as 1.13mm.) They also suggest a 3 to 3.5 reed for the mouthpiece. I currently play a 3.5 Legere Signature reed with this mouthpiece when I am playing my A clarinet. (This is partly because the A clarinet is naturally a bit more stuffy.)

So I agree with the Vandoren company that the BD5 is perfectly balanced. And the $129 price point is also an excellent price for a professional clarinet mouthpiece.

Crystal and Poly Crystal mouthpieces:
I just had an opportunity to try a James N Pyne * Clarion Poly Crystal mouthpiece. It is beautiful, but I hated the way it played. I didn't like the sound or the response with my Legere Signature 3 3/4 reed.
Poly-crystal is evidently some kind of plastic. It doesn't feel at all like the cool glass feel of traditional crystal mouthpieces. The traditional crystal breaks easily when dropped. The poly-crystal won't have that problem. From a long time ago when I tried a real crystal O'Brien mouthpiece, it had a quick response and kind of a hollow sound.

Jazz Mouthpieces:

Portnoy 3 has a nice open facing and should work well for this.
Brillhart 3 or 4

The older Brillhart mouthpieces were better for both clarinet and sax. Here is an example. Actually this old #2 would be great for jazz.

But don't take my word about jazz stuff. See the JAZZ page!

Good-old Mouthpieces  found in cases:

These mouthpieces are often found with used horns, and I like them.


 D. Bonade7 1/2 hard
 Bonade Clarity
(has three deep scores across the table)
hard rubber wonderful!  
Vandoren2RVhard rubberAn old favorite for young students. Still very good.

Noblet2Vhard rubbergood student mouthpiece. may not be as good as the no-number model below.
Seems to be a bit more open than my Hite D
Nobletno numberhard rubberterrific!
no nameX4plasticamazingly good
very nice 
like B45 
hard rubber
Like my Hite D. 
SelmerHS* (star)
tip opening less than 1.05mm

SelmerGeorge Bundy 3hard rubbervery free blowing and responsive
hard rubber
tip opening about 1.065mm 


For other recommendations, I would trust the people at Muncy Winds (See Links). A good place to see technical information (like tip opening measurements) is The Woodwind&Brasswind.

Many other measurements and technical information is found in this article at

See this thread about beginner mouthpieces at

How to measure mouthpiece facings, discussed at