Let's face it, at the very beginning it can be a bit of a challenge to place a reed perfectly on your clarinet mouthpiece, especially if you are a very young beginner clarinet player who has not fully grown yet. Do you keep breaking your reeds and find them a bit tricky to handle or are you always practising with your reed wonky and it’s a bit hard to make a nice sound? If so, I completely understand, so I’m going to make this very easy for you. Read on to learn about the various simple ways of how to put a reed on a clarinet. Learn and practise all these methods and then choose the most comfortable and efficient way for you!

If you give this special attention now...

• You will produce the sound easier.

• Your sound will be better.

• You will put your reed on safely without chipping it.

• You will be able to adjust your reed quickly, save lots of time so you can get on with playing.

• Your reed will last longer.

.• You will keep Mum and Dad happy (it’s expensive to replace broken reeds all the time).

This is a time to go and get Mum or Dad, or some other grown up in your house, on board. Give one of them a shout now, and ask them to come and read this with you so you can understand this job together. If you get stuck with your reed in the future, they will be able to lend a hand now and again. They can check your reed setting sometimes to make sure you have the parts together correctly, so you make your best sound.




How to Put a Reed on a Clarinet

There are THREE positions in which you could hold the clarinet whilst the reed goes on. Find the most comfortable position for you.

1. Put the mouthpiece on the barrel and put the reed on from there, without the rest of the clarinet attached. The advantage of this is that you don’t have the extra weight of the clarinet to cope with. If you assemble the reed holding only the mouthpiece and barrel, line the reed up with the long speaker key at the back of the clarinet, when putting the barrel onto the main body of the instrument.


2. Lay the assembled clarinet on your lap. Line the flat reed table with the long speaker key at the back of the upper middle joint before you put your reed onto the mouthpiece. Usually, Young Beginner Clarinet Players prefer this way, as the weight of the instrument is on the lap and both hands are then free to deal with the reed and the ligature together.


3. Put the fully assembled body of the clarinet standing upright so the bell is securely on either your legs of on the chair you are sitting on. You may like this way because all the weight of the instrument is on the legs or chair and your hands are free to deal with the reed. Again align the reed table at the back of the mouthpiece with the long speaker key, before dealing with the reed.


Put the Reed on First – Then the Ligature

• Hold the mouthpiece with your left hand. With the right hand put the reed on the mouthpiece on the flat reed table, adjusting it straight, and to the tip of the mouthpiece. Press the reed with the flat of the thumb towards the tip. If you can see the faint black line of the mouthpiece tip you know the reed is at the best height on the mouthpiece.

• Press the base of the reed firmly with the left-hand thumb to keep the reed in place.

• Pick up the ligature in the right hand. Touch the bottom of the ligature on the back of the mouthpiece and slowly slide it over the top of the mouthpiece completely avoiding the reed tip.

• Bring the ligature down below where the reed is shaved and adjust the screws so the reed will not move. (No nipping remember)


Put the Ligature on First – then the Reed

• Hold the mouthpiece in your left hand and slightly push the ligature up.

• With the right hand slip the reed behind the ligature onto the flat reed table, so it is absolutely straight with the sides of the mouthpiece. Adjust the height of the reed. Check this height by pressing the reed near the tip and see the faint black line of the tip of the mouthpiece. Make sure the reed is straight and parallel to the rails of the mouthpiece and also perfectly in the middle.

• Bring the ligature down to below the line where the reed is shaved,

• Tighten the screws of the ligature taking care not to nip the reed.


Please be Patient. It Takes Time to Feel Comfortable Putting a Reed on a Clarinet.

Let me tell you what sometimes happens with Young Beginner Clarinet Players. They rush putting their instrument together and sometimes forget to put the reed on in the best way. They then struggle and get into bad habits forcing the sound to come out, and they find the playing difficult.


Get into the habit of treating your reed in the best possible way.


Always moisten the reed

Don't nip the reed

Don't put the ligature high up where the reed is shaved

Don't have the ligature screws at the side of the mouthpiece

How To Put a Reed in a Clarinet Mouthpiece

 in a nutshell

  1. Hold the clarinet confidently the best position for you. Have the flat reed table facing you.
  2. Put the ligature over the mouthpiece
  3. Put the left hand round the mouthpiece and push up the ligature a little.
  4. With the right hand hold the reed by the thick base. Put the thin end of the reed in your mouth for a few seconds till it is moist then slip it behind the ligature onto the flat reed table.
  5. Adjust the reed till it is perfectly straight and parallel to the rails of the mouthpiece on either side of the mouthpiece opening.
  6. Check that the reed id at the right height. Press with the flat thumb, towards the tip of the reed. See the faint black line of the tip of the mouthpiece – the reed is then in the best place to male the best sound.
  7. Make sure the ligature is central to the reed and that the screws are not on the side of the mouthpiece.Also check that the top of the ligature is below where the line from which the reed is shaved.
  8. Adjust the screws of the ligature so that the reed is kept in place. Do not nip the base of the reed with the ligature.