Here is an overview of different clarinet accessories, that work with the clarinet to help you care for and maintain your instrument. To clean and protect your clarinet, accessories like these can help it last for years.
The mouthpiece cap protects the fragile tip of the mouthpiece when you're not playing. It has two great uses. You can put the mouthpiece cap over your mouthpiece with an old reed and the ligature on it and store it in you case like that. The old reed keeps the ligature in shape and the mouthpiece cap fits over the whole setup.
Another use for the mouthpiece cap is when you have a gap between warming up and playing, such as waiting for an audition. After warming up, simply place the cap over your setup and then put the whole mouthpiece in a plastic produce bag. Your reed will be protected and ready to go when you are. You can put tape over the holes at the top of the cap to keep their reed from drying out as well, but the setup plastic bag is totally airtight.
NOTE: This is not for long-term storage because it invites mold over time!
Many players use mouthpiece patches because they provide a more comfortable cushion on the mouthpiece, reducing vibrations felt though the top teeth. They also can aid against biting on the mouthpiece and keep the top teeth from sliding around.
You can also put mouthpiece patches on the front of the mouthpiece. This can keep the ligature more secure and reduce vibrations created from the ligature against the mouthpiece.
Having a good reed case can extend the lives of your reeds and keep them organized. There are many varieties of cases that work for many successful clarinetists. Shown is my Selmer beveled glass case. I use it because the reeds are stored on a flat surface, reducing warping (like those weird looking ridges on the tip of the reed). You can make one similar to it out of a piece of glass, such as one from a picture frame, and fasten reeds to it with a rubber band.
Cork grease lubricates the corks of the clarinet, making it easier to put it together. How often you apply it depends on the condition of your corks and the climate you live in. With newer clarinets, it's also useful when applied to the exposed wood of the tenons (term for the end of the joint where the cork goes) because it can help prevent the wood from cracking. If you live in a dry climate, you'll probably need to apply it more often.
Of all the clarinet accessories on this page, one of most important ones you'll need is a swab. Every time you play, condensation and saliva get inside your instrument, and regular swabbing is the only thing that will prevent this from damaging the wood over time. Swab out all the parts except for the mouthpiece, which is fragile and could break (just run some lukewarm water through it and have it air dry instead).
Many clarinets come with a cotton or felt swab. These swabs would be more useful for blowing your nose since they leave lint behind in your clarinet. Gross! Silk swabs (as shown) are the best and they can last a long time. Every month or so, hand-wash them in cold water with a mild, unscented soap and air dry.
Regardless of how much you swab your clarinet, spit and condensation can still get underneath pads, causing gurgling sounds often at very inconvenient times. Pad paper, or even cigarette paper, is a great short-term fix. Simply place it under the pad, let it soak up the water and lift the pad back up to remove it. You can reuse a sheet a few times, but they're most effective when they're new. In performances I like to keep a couple sheets paper clipped to my music just in case.
While not one of the essential clarinet accessories, padding on the thumb rest can make playing more comfortable. Shown is a very inexpensive option made out of a piece of rubber tubing from the plumbing section of a hardware store. This fits all kinds of thumb rests as well.
Clarinet stands are a much better option if you have to put your clarinet down because it keeps it upright (rather than horizontal, letting water drip into pads) without having the clarinet balance by the bell alone. NOTE: If you're storing it for more than a few minutes it would be best to put it in the case. Some models of stands conveniently fold up store inside the bell. Shown is my K&M folding stand, which doesn't store inside the bell but I like because the legs are long, making it harder to tip over.
Metronomes and tuners are essential clarinet accessories to productive practice sessions. Metronomes help you develop a steady beat as well as maintain consistent tempi (speeds of playing) while you play. Tuners help you pinpoint whether your pitch is sharp or flat, helping you develop a sensitive ear. There are a variety of digital models that include both, such as my Korg model, shown.
Tuning rings fit inside either the bottom end of the barrel or the top end of the bottom joint, depending on what notes are sharp. The clarinet needs to be longer if the pitch is sharp, and tuning rings simply fill in the space created when one pulls at the barrel or between the joints. This causes better airflow through the clarinet and more consistent tuning between registers.