Clarinets are manufactured in several sizes, which correspond to their different sound volumes and somewhat different sound colors. All these related instruments belong to the clarinet family.
For all types of clarinet joint written range is:
On the B♭ clarinet these tones sound a major second lower (d-f3), on the A clarinet a minor third lower (cis-e3), on the small E♭ clarinet a major third higher (g-b3), on the bass clarinet a major ninth lower (D-f2, an octave lower than on the B♭ clarinet).
Nowdays, instead of basethorn the F altoclarinet and E♭ are sometimes, but rarely used (they sound perfect fifth or lower major sixth), and also the deepest instrument of the family rarely used is the contrabass clarinet (sounds an octave deeper of the bass clarinet).
The B♭ clarinet has a bright tone, it is very mobile and suitable for all expressive nuances (f, p, legato, staccato, melodious pieces, virtuous passages). The same goes for the A clarinet, but its tone is somewhat softer and darker. Both are used as solo instruments in the orchestra and chamber ensembles.
The Es♭ clarinet has a sharp, shrill sound, and is used in the symphony orchestra for obtaining special effects (humor, caricature).
The bass clarinet is in a form similar to the saxophone: the top of the tube with a mouthpiece is bent backwards, a bell upwards. It has a soft, dark, somewhat “hollow” sound, which is valuable in a specific color band. Rarely used as a solo instrument or in chamber ensembles.
Taken from my book