Jenny Ziefel's Clarinet and Saxophone Studio


Purchasing a musical instrument is more like purchasing an extension of the player’s body than a kitchen appliance and as such must be done carefully. Please purchase or rent an instrument from a music store or based on recommendations from a player of that instrument. Instruments from other retailers (Costco, Fred Meyer, etc.) are always of poor quality and can discourage young players because they don’t work or cease to work after a few months. Good repair folks refuse to work on these instruments for legal and ethical reasons, so once they have a problem, they’re useless. Also, a clarinet from a pawn shop, garage sale, or attic might be a good deal–but only after it’s been taken care of by a good repairperson. Older instruments can be good (or really awful) depending on the condition and brand of the instrument. Please get advice from an unbiased player of that instrument before purchasing to avoid getting a lemon.

Also, there are a lot of really terrible instruments on the market, some that are counterfeit (they have a well-known brand stamped on an inferior instrument), and some that are in bad shape. Buying from a reputable dealer or an individual with a good return policy is very important, especially if you don't know much about musical instruments.

Good Brands (not all inclusive, but a good place to start):

Clarinet: Buffet, Selmer Paris, Leblanc, Backun, Uebel, Yamaha (CSV for professional and plastic models only).

Bass Clarinet: Buffet, Selmer Paris, Leblanc, Uebel.

Saxophones: Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Yanigasawa, Conn (before 1960), King (before 1970), Jupiter (beginner or intermediate).


A decent mouthpiece can make the difference between despair and love of an instrument and is MORE important than the choice of the instrument. MOUTHPIECES MUST BE TRIED OUT BEFORE BUYING THEM, unless the player is a beginner. Here is a list of good mouthpieces for each instrument listed from the least expensive to the most expensive.
Clarinet: Genusa GE* student, current favorite D’addario Reserve X5 or X0, Behn overture, Yamaha 4C, Genusa pro, Reserve (x0 or x5), Vandoren M13 and Profile 88, hand-finished mouthpieces (Greg Smith 1*, Lane, Behn, Backun), Clark Fobes, etc.
Bass Clarinet: Selmer C*, Pomarico crystal, McClune S2 (Jenny’s mouthpiece), Clark Fobes
Alto Saxophone: Yamaha 4C or Custom, Meyer 5 or 7 (jazz), Jazz Select 6 (D'addario), Selmer C* (classical), SR, Jody Jazz, Mouthpiece Cafe, Caravan
Tenor Saxophone: Yamaha 4C, Jazz Select, Meyer 5 or 7, Otto Link 5 or 7, Vandoren Java t55 or 75, Selmer S80 e, Selmer s80 d or s90 190 (classical), Selmer scroll shank F (my mouthpiece), Bob Carpenter custom, Jody Jazz, Caravan, Mouthpiece Cafe
Baritone (Bari) Saxophone: Highly variable, but an Otto Link 6* metal is great for jazz and metal Yanigasawas also work well.


Reeds come in different strengths (hardnesses) numbered 1 (softest)-5 hardest.  These strengths are not the same across brands, but are more consistent in higher quality reeds.  They typically come in half strengths, but some variations of this are on the market today.  Because they produce the sound on the instrument, the quality of the reed matters a great deal.  Please do not buy the cheapest reeds on the internet--they never sound good, are of extremely poor quality (they break or splinter easily), and frequently do not play at all.


Rico, Rico Royal (better quality), or Juno 2 or 2.5 strength reeds work for both instruments.

Advanced players

Clarinet: Vandoren Traditional, V12, 56 Rue Lepic, and others are good.  Reserve Classic and Reserve reeds are also good. Rigotti reeds are another good choice.  Synthetic reeds can work for the right player.  Legere European cut and Alta Ambipoly reeds seem to be the best quality at this time.

Sax: Vandoren Java (red), Traditional, or ZZ. Jazz Select filed reeds work well for most people.


For All: Cork Grease (Micro or Doctors),  Mouthpiece patches (Runyon, BG, Yamaha, Vandoren), Reed Holders (Vito or Leblanc 4 reed case, D'addario 4 reed case, waterproof kayaking container with Original Listerine), Pad cleaners (BG microfiber cleaner).

Saxophone: Neckstraps (Neotech), Harnesses (Neotech or Balaam or Balaam knock-off), cases (BAM, Hiscox, Protech), Swabs (Hodge work really well), Ligatures (Selmer stock, Yamaha stock, Rovner light), Palm Key Risers (See Frederich Weiner site for options).

Clarinet: Swabs (Gem are the best, Hodge is ok, Buffet handkerchief), Thumbrest Cushion (Yamaha are the most comfortable, surgical tubing), Ligatures (heavy stock ligature, Rovner light, BG revalation), Clarinet Stand (K&M), Cases (BAM, Buffet), Barrels (Buffet, Taplin and Weir).