Have a cup of water nearby.
If you want a clearer view of a photograph use the "zoom" feature from the "page" options button of your browser to enlarge any item as much as you want.
Place your clarinet case on a table or on the floor, not your knees as this makes it difficult to put together while balancing everything else. Make sure the makers name is on the top, this will mean the instrument is the correct way up. Open the case and take out a piece at a time. Identify each part from the photographs and get used to their names. Do one piece at a time paying attention to how it fits back into the case.
Take a reed out of it's box. Reeds come supplied with plastic covers for protection.
There are several different designs. Here I am demonstrating how to use the Vandoren case. If you have a different kind just be careful of the thin tip and handle the reed by the thick end only. The tip of the reed is quite fragile and easily broken.
Put the reed in the water and leave to soak for 2 or 3 minutes. Don't leave it in the water for a prolonged period as it will become waterlogged.
Take the cork grease and apply a small amount to the cork on the upper and lower joints and the mouthpiece. Be careful to use only a small amount, do not get any on the keywork or in the tube of the clarinet. Wipe your fingers on some tissues to remove any excess. I always use the back of my trousers but don't tell my wife!
Follow the photographs closely paying particular attention to how I hold the instrument
during assembly. More damage is done to instruments by mis-handling and dropping than any other cause. Start with the lower joint and bell. Use a twisting pushing action from the right hand. If you have a new clarinet the joints may be stiff. This is quite normal but if it is very difficult to fit the joints together then avoid the possibility of causing damage by taking it back to the seller and ask them to adjust the joints so they work smoothly. There should be some resistance though, otherwise the joints will wobble and air will escape.
Check that the linking mechanism is lined up properly.
This is the best way to hold the upper joint when joining it up to the lower joint
Hold the lower joint in the left hand with the holes up.
Present the upper joint as shown.
I have lifted my fingers up to make clear where the linking mechanism is and how it can be damaged.
Note the key bridging just above the cork. If you push the two joints together in this position the linking key will be bent.
To ensure this does not happen close the fingers of the right hand down onto the ring key as shown.
The linking key has now been raised and the joints can now be pushed together.
Use a very small twisting and pushing action to make this happen
This is the final position. Now you can lift the right fingers off.