The most notable advantages to using a wooden clarinet over a plastic model is that wooden varieties have a more professional sound. They provide a warmer tone and intonation when playing than less professional models. Any professional player should use a wooden clarinet over a plastic or other synthetically derived one.
In general, wooden clarinets are of greater overall quality than other versions. Original clarinets were made solely from wood, which is where the term "woodwind" comes from. Most wooden clarinets are made from African Grenadilla wood, although sometimes other varieties of wood may be used instead. Rosewood is one example.
Wooden clarinets provide better sound quality and greater intonation between notes during professional play. This is partially due to their better construction and more carefully designed keys, as well as the resonance of the wood itself. While wood in general is considered superior to plastic, not all wood clarinets are created equal. Professional models have more advanced features and better sound than mid-grade models. Additionally, the exact pitch and quality of sound may also vary between brands and even from clarinet to clarinet of the same model.
To choose the right wooden clarinet, it is a good idea to play various models before buying to find just the right sound. This may depend more on individual players and their personal preference than on the quality and value of a particular clarinet. Those who are new to the instrument should have a professional musician try out any options being considered before buying. This will help weed out any instruments which are lower quality than others within the same price range.
Aside from sound quality, wooden clarinets may be considered more fashionable by some. They often have a lovely wood grain on the exterior, and they come in various finish options. They also have a more sleek and elegant appearance, although this also means more care is needed in order to maintain a wooden clarinet.
Despite the overall advantage of using wooden instruments for professionals, beginners and students may find a plastic clarinet to be a better choice. They are much less expensive, are lighter in weight, and are more durable. These aspects are of great importance for young children who often drop and break things, and those in marching band who need an instrument that will hold up against wear and tear.