Perhaps more than any other type of clarinet, it's the Bb clarinet that is played most often. Also known as the soprano clarinet, these woodwind instruments are very common to both jazz ensembles and wind orchestras, and over the past two centuries many pieces of music have been composed with them. For this reason alone, the Bb clarinet is the perfect choice for beginners - and as you've probably suspected, today's most respected musical instrument manufacturers specialize in their own models.
As you browse this catalog, one thing you'll definitely notice is the huge difference in price with some clarinets compared to others. This most certainly has to do with the skill level the clarinet was built for. Of course, you'll find plenty of high-quality student models at very affordable prices, like the Bundy BCL-300 Clarinet. With a tone and look similar to a wood clarinet but without the risk of cracking, the BCL-300's keywork provides amazing response and its terrific sound makes it a longtime favorite with band instructors.
Now for those who are well-versed with the instrument and ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime for an audience, go with the Buffet Crampon E12 France Intermediate Bb Clarinet. With its accurate tuning and easy playability, the E12 is crafted from carefully selected and stabilized grenadilla wood, and the key assembly and quality control is carried out by Buffet's expert team in Markneukirchen, Germany. Paired with a comfortable backpack, the E12 is ideal for today's aspiring clarinet star.
Of course, we couldn't let you get away before mentioning at least one pro-level model, and for that we'll suggest the Patricola CL.4 Bb Clarinet. Made in Italy, this CL.4 is the pinnacle of their Virtuoso Series, and features a select-aged Mozambique Grenadilla wood body, a full Boehm system, silver plated keys and an Eb/Ab lever. It even has a range to low Eb - making those complex A transpositions a cinch.
But don't stop at those three items - there are many Bb clarinets here waiting to be admired, so by all means start browsing. Companies like Etude, Amati, Allora and countless others have built sterling reputations worldwide for their intermediate and professional Bb clarinets, and you don't need to look any further than this section to find them.