The Bb clarinet is the most used and played of the family, but the family of clarinets actually consists of a large number of members.

From the top:

The Sopranino clarinets are the Ab, the Eb, and the D. These friendly 'squeak machines' are found more often in Euorope than the US, although the Eb clarinet is a standard member of both the Concert Band, and standard Orchestra.

The Sopranos in C, Bb, and A are fairly common, the C not quite as common as the Bb and A. The C tends to have a bit more 'brittle' sound than the Bb and A.

Next are the Altos of the family:

The Eb Alto , a particularly lovely sound, but much maligned member of the family, some people consider it the 'ugly-duckling' of the family.

The F Basset horn--really an F Alto clarinet, with a Bb clarinet type bore, gives it a sweet, plaintive sound.

The A Basset clarinet--really an A clarinet with extended range (to low C!)--this is the clarinet that Mozart had in mind for his Clarinet Concerto K622!

The Basses:

The Bb and A Bass clarinet--the Bb being the most common of the two, although there are some companies making an A model. These clarinets have an extended low range to Eb or perhaps low C.

The Contras:

The EEb and the BBb Contras--two wonderful members of the low clarinet variey, that give an agile bass instrument to write for!


There has been an EEEb Octobass clarinet , and a BBBb octobass clarinet made--see my other page for pics.

Sub-Octo-basses: There have been rumours but I can't find any pics yet of BBBBb and EEEEb clarinets. How low can you go??????

There have been also articles on clarinets in low G--Turkish clarinets, there are clarinets with plateau keys, clarinets for children (kinderclarinets), etc.

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