It's important to know the specific characteristics of your instrument and figure out how each adjustment affects the intonation.


On a beginner level, many clarinetists  are not aware of the different adjustments they can make, which is why tuning is often done by teachers. A common practice among players is to tune the instrument using only the barrel after playing the H4 or C5 notes, which can result in uneven intonation, with the upper register being too low.

For precise tuning, you need to adjust the barrel, upper and lower joints, and bell together. Although correct tuning is not sufficient to play in tune, it's crucial to get the instrument as close as possible to equal temperament, as it makes it easier to make small adjustments during playing.


What are the prerequisites?


To tune your clarinet properly and consistently, it's best to do it after warming up, so you don't have to re-tune it due to the instrument's quick temperature change. Although the tuning process varies from person to person and region to region, the following rules apply:


How to tune the clarinet properly?


Pitch tendencies of the clarinet - comparison betwwen mouthpiece and barrel


Every instrument is different. You have to check if pulling out at the mouthpiece or pulling out at the barrel gives you the smallest average cent deviation.

  • Adjust the barrel/mouthpiece until C5 or H4 sounds clear
  • Check if the notes around open G aren’t too flat. Fine-tune them if neccessary by playing G4
  • You can adjust the upper and lower joint  by tuning to C4 
  • Although adjusting the bell is usually not necessary, if the lower E and B notes always sound off, pulling the bell out may also help


Tuning your clarinet properly can significantly improve its sound and make it easier to play in tune. By understanding your instrument's specific characteristics and following the proper tuning procedures, you'll be able to get the best possible intonation from your clarinet.


Should I adjust the Mouthpiece or the Barrel?

I made a little survey on the Clarinet subreddit. Here are the results.

clarinet mouthpiece or barrel adjustment


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