Modern instruments are either in the key of C or F, and are from the smallest (highest) downwards:
- Garklein (C) – very small (and high) & difficult to play
- Sopranino (F) – very high but wonderful when played well
- Descant (C) – the best known, beloved of children and parents
- Treble (F) – the ‘solo’ instrument
- Tenor (C) – getting a stretch for small fingers
- Bass (F) – Because of its keys, not that demanding on reach
- Great Bass (C) – Keys make it less of a stretch than the Tenor
- Contrabass (F) – Wonderful sound, but expensive!
The larger instruments use keys to avoid stretch of the fingers becoming impossible.
The main instruments of the family, all in plastic, which is cheaper and usually less temperamental.
From the left:
Bass in F
Image courtesy of Mike Freestone.