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14 Key 4 Rings Clarinet


I've always wanted to learn how to play the Sax and thought I would start by learning to play the Clarinet as I've heard the transition is a little easier [I'm from South India and I've been playing South Indian "Carnatic" Percussion for 7 years and I have no prior experience with woodwinds].

I very recently bought a 14 key 4 rings Clarinet [Still haven't tried it] as they seem to be the most popular & cheap clarinets in India but just read that they are really bad (mostly because they are outdated and also only good enough to hang on walls) and are not the ideal ones to start with (or play at all). I understand that the current "standard" clarinets are made of 17 keys and 6/7 rings and I wanted to know if:

1. Do I need to buy a 17 key clarinet and what are the differences between the 17 key and the 14 key clarinets?
2. If I can play the 14 key clarinet, which system of fingering do I use? The Albert system? And if yes, where can I find video tutorials or charts from which I can learn?

Also, do let me know if you have any other suggestions for a beginner.

[Thanks in advance and apologies for any grammatical & musical (syntax) errors and hope I did not offend anybody by buying a 14 key clarinet ;)]
Hi Gandalfe,

Thanks a lot. Will check it out. I'm planning on taking it up pretty seriously. I've managed to return the clarinet and will order based on the information I get from that thread. Thanks again!




Old King Log
Staff member
The Indian clarinet shaped objects (CSOs) of my acquaintance have all been "Albert system" horns, plus or minus a few minor features. You can play an Albert well enough (Woody Allen, a decent jazz player plays one) but you will be out of step with perhaps 99.999% of the rest of the world.

Most play 17/6 "Klose/Boehm" instruments. A minority play some variation of the Oehler "system", which is based upon the instrument that you have in your hands right now.

What's the difference? Well, Klose/Boehm horns tend to be easier to play in flat keys, Albert/Oehler horns tend to work better in sharp keys. The intonation on Albert instruments tends to be a bit wobbly, which is why Oskar Oehler invented his horn.

If I was starting from scratch, I'd opt for the Boehm system. With their thumb rings, they are easier to hold and keep centered in the mouth. Also, you will be marching in step with virtually every other player on the face of the planet, our German and Austrian friends notwithstanding.

Also, most clarinet methods are oriented towards the Klose/Boehm instrument. If you want to go Albert, get the Rubank basic method book, which has an Albert fingering chart in same. For a good method to follow with the Albert instrument, try the Lazarus. He played Albert to the day of his death, and his method has exercises devised to work you through the problems presented by the little finger keys on the Albert.