The original name clarinett is a diminutive of clarin and denotes the quite high, non-metallic-sounding pitch of the trumpet. This name is due to the popular tone colour of the first clarinet with a very narrow bore.
It came into existence at the end of the 17th century from its inadequate predecessor, the Chalumeau. While the Chalumeau used a slot for the reed to produce sound, in the clarinet this was done with the help of the beak-shaped mouthpiece. The first clarinets had a narrow cylindrical bore, but after a short time, the diameter of the bore was expanded and the outlet funnel-shaped.
In the second half of the 18th century, a mid-sized clarinet, the basset horn, was widely used. This instrument was initially curved and covered with leather, and was characterised by a soft tone.
At Heckel, clarinets of various sizes were built until 1948, these ranged from double bass clarinets in B to very high piccolo clarinets in A♭. For decades, Heckel clarinets were made according to different key systems and constantly refined.