Clarinet mouthpiece setup and reed placement is sometimes glossed over as an afterthought of the assembly process, but it is one of the most important parts.
Think about it.
The reed is what vibrates to make a sound, and when you play the clarinet, the reed comes into contact with your air first.
If the reed is the first thing that gets the sound going on the clarinet, its placement on the mouthpiece is crucial.
Reed and Mouthpiece Relationship
Before we attach the reed to the mouthpiece with the ligature, here's how they will go together:
Flat-to-Flat: The flat part of the reed (with the logo) goes on the flat part of the mouthpiece.
Fat-to-Fat: The bottom of the reed goes with the bottom of the mouthpiece. Both are the fattest parts.
Thin-to-Thin: The thin tip of the reed goes with the tapered tip of the mouthpiece.
Fastening the Reed on the Mouthpiece
NOTE: Do not touch the tip of the reed when you do this!
Also, make sure the ligature is already on the mouthpiece before inserting the reed. With most models of ligatures, the screws will point to the right.
Step 1: Maneuver the ligature up and slide the reed down from above.
Step 2: Align the tip of the reed with the tip of the mouthpiece.
From the front of the mouthpiece, you should be able to see a small (hairline!) sliver of the reed above the tip of the mouthpiece.
Step 3: Slide the ligature down so that it covers at least one line on the mouthpiece.
Most mouthpieces have two lines the go all the way around. Line the ligature up with at least one of them. Tighten the screws of the ligature just to the first point of resistance.
Disassembly works in the opposite order of steps.
Keep the ligature on the mouthpiece the whole time.
Loosen the screws of the ligature, slide the ligature up slightly and lift the reed up out of the setup.
Storing the Mouthpiece
When you're putting your clarinet away, store your mouthpiece and ligature in a way so that they are protected in the case.
Leave the ligature on the mouthpiece so it doesn't get bent. Put on an old reed that you won't play on again so the ligature will stay put. The reed also helps protect the tip of the mouthpiece.
Place a mouthpiece cap over this setup and be worry-free about storing your equipment!