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Like many similar woodwind instruments, the clarinet can trace its origins back to the baroque period. It was a time of great change in instrument design, with composers like Bach and Handel creating high-register trumpet music that proved incredibly challenging to play. While the exact origins of the clarinet aren't known for sure, a popular theory is that the newly-developed instrument was adopted by trumpeters looking to handle those tough compositions. In time, the clarinet became very popular - enough so that instrument makers began to produce them in different sizes, including Eb clarinets, which are built to carry melodies too high for its Bb cousins to easily handle.
Where the Eb clarinet shines best is in clarinet choirs, due to its ability to manage the higher registers. They're also found in marching and concert bands as well as orchestras, so if you like to play in an ensemble, this could definitely be the instrument for you. There are several models here designed for a beginner's experience level and budget, including the Allora AAEC-304 Eb Clarinet and the Amati ACL 261 Intermediate Eb Soprano Clarinet - for your first Eb clarinet, you can't go wrong with options like these.
On the other hand, if you're an experienced student or an professional player, you may be more interested in some higher-end models. For the intermediate to advanced level, some solid candidates would be the Buffet Crampon E11 Eb Clarinet and the Patricola CI.1S Eb Clarinet. And if you've gone pro, check out the Selmer Paris Recital Model 16R Eb Clarinet as well as the Buffet Crampon Buffet Tosca Eb Clarinet. These instruments are perfectly prepared for the stage or orchestra pit.
Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which Eb clarinets should make it onto your wish list. But as long as you take your experience level and budget into account, the right decision will come naturally. Just take a good, close look at the Eb clarinets listed here, and when you've spotted the one that you can definitely see yourself playing, there's a good chance that you're looking at the perfect fit for your needs.