$1000 Piccolo vs. $5000 Piccolo: What’s the Difference?

Are you looking for your next piccolo or wondering if an upgrade is even worth it? You should compare a $1000 piccolo vs. $5000 piccolo.

$1000 Piccolo vs. $5000 Piccolo: What's the Difference? | Piccolo Perfection

Sometimes, an upgrade is necessary but not always. Be sure to consider the specs of piccolos at these price points.

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Specs of a $1000 Piccolo

Most piccolos start at around $1000, give or take a few hundred bucks. Because of that, you can expect most of these piccolos to be suitable for beginners.

Consider some features you can expect when getting a piccolo in this price range.

Material

Piccolos that cost roughly $1000 tend to use silver plating, plastic, or both. Some models even use a composite material, such as grenaditte.

Many models feature a metal headjoint with a plastic or composite body. However, some are all metal, and a third group of piccolos are entirely plastic or composite but with silver-plated keys.

Split E Mechanism

Not all piccolos have one, but I’ve noticed the split E mechanism seems to be more common on affordable piccolos. I have one on my Pearl, but my Armstrong doesn’t have the spec.

While a split E isn’t super necessary on the flute, it comes in real handy on the piccolo. You tend to play in the upper octave more, so it’s nice to be able to play the third octave E without it cracking.

Machine Made

Like a lot of more affordable flutes, are made by machines to help keep costs down. Now, machine-made instruments aren’t necessarily bad.

The best piccolo brands follow good manufacturing practices to ensure even their beginner piccolos are of good quality.

Silver-Plated Keys

Regardless of the material of the body and headjoint, most piccolos in this price range use silver plating on the keys. More expensive models may feature solid silver.

But a thin layer of silver is a lot cheaper for flute brands, so it makes the instrument more cost-effective for you as the player.

Best Piccolos Around $1000

If you’re looking for a good instrument but don’t have a ton of money, $1000 is a good budget to start with. You may need to go over that by a couple hundred dollars.

Knowing a few examples can also help you better compare a $1000 piccolo vs. $5000 piccolo.

Pearl 105

After I graduated from college, I bought myself a Pearl 105 since I would no longer have access to a school-owned wood model. It’s a composite piccolo, so it sounds similar to wood but without the risk of cracks.

This model comes with either a traditional or wave headjoint, and I went with the wave cut. I love how the keys have an ergonomic design, so it’s more comfortable to hold.

Plus, the case has room for two headjoints. So you could buy a wood headjoint separately to use inside, and you can keep the composite headjoint for any outdoor gigs.

Yamaha YPC-32

The Yamaha YPC-32 is another excellent student model piccolo at a reasonable price. This model comes with an ABS resin (plastic) body, and the headjoint and keys are silver-plated.

You’ll also get a split E mechanism to help you play in the third octave. While I don’t have personal experience with this piccolo, I’ve heard others play and sound great on it.

Plus, Yamaha has a good reputation for making quality instruments, piccolos or otherwise.

Armstrong 204

When I first started to learn to play the piccolo, I got an Armstrong 204. Unlike the other piccolos I covered, the body of the 204 is silver-plated.

That means it has a smaller outer bore, so it has a finger rest for your left hand to make it easier to hold. At least the one I bought doesn’t have a split E, but it’s possible newer ones have the spec.

The all-metal design makes it so that it looks like a small flute. But if you’re not careful, the instrument can sound pretty shrill.

Specs of a $5000 Piccolo

Quintupling your budget can have a big effect on the type of piccolo you can get. Now, I’d only recommend this type of budget to serious players who are looking for an upgrade.

Here are some specs you can expect if you have a larger budget.

Material

At the $5000 price range, most piccolos are made of wood. Grenadilla is by far the most common wood, regardless of the price, and it’s a good material.

Now, you can also find the occasional piccolo with a grenadilla body but a solid silver headjoint. A full-wood piccolo is a good choice for professionals, but a bit of silver can help your sound cut through a large ensemble.

High G# Mechanism

Not all piccolos that cost around $5000 come with a high G# mechanism, but this is the price where you start to see a few with it. I have a high G# mech on my piccolo, and it’s super nice.

Without it, you’d have to learn a few alternate fingerings to sound in tune. The mechanism slightly closes the thumb tone holes to adjust the pitch for you.

Unfortunately, not every piccolo in this price range comes with it. So you may need to compare a few brands and models if you really want this spec.

Handmade

Spending about $5000 on a piccolo is plenty of money to expect a handmade instrument. Piccolo makers will take extra care when making your instrument.

That means there can be slight differences, even between two piccolos that are the same model. The headjoint cut may be a little different, for example.

A handmade piccolo can be an excellent investment, particularly if you’re serious about the instrument.

Solid Silver Keys

You’ll need to spend a bit more than $5000 (or find a used piccolo for that price), but you can get a piccolo with solid silver keys. I don’t know that solid silver is necessary.

My current piccolo features silver-plated keys, and it sounds great. But if silver-plating reacts with your skin, solid silver keys can be a good option.

Best Piccolos Around $5000

It can help to compare a $1000 piccolo vs. $5000 piccolo to look at example models. Some instruments cost a bit less, while others cost more.

If your budget is in the $5-6k range, consider a few models you could get.

Yamaha YPC-81

The Yamaha YPC-81 costs a bit less than $5000, but that can make it a good option if your budget is a hard $5k. I got to try this piccolo when I was testing pro models, and it sounded okay.

But it’s a better fit for flute players who aren’t piccolo specialists. Yamaha piccolos can be a little thin in the lower register, but you can make them work.

If you have and like another Yamaha piccolo or a Yamaha flute, give this model a try. While it may not work for me, it could be the best piccolo for you.

Hammig 650/3

The piccolo I upgraded to is the Hammig 650/3 (buy on eBay), and I still love it over two years later. This model uses grenadilla wood, and you can choose from a traditional, wave, or modified wave headjoint.

I love how it comes standard with a high G# mechanism and a split E. You can get a nice, warm sound on the piccolo, so it’s perfect for use in an orchestra or as a soloist.

Another great thing about this piccolo is that it comes with Straubinger pads. I don’t know of many other piccolos with them, but they’re very popular on professional C flutes.

Don’t quite have enough money? The Hammig 650/2 is almost identical except for the lack of a high G# mechanism.

Powell Signature

If you’re willing to go for a used piccolo for around $5000, you may want to check out a Powell Signature (buy on eBay). The piccolo uses grenadilla wood and a sterling silver mechanism.

You can get it with or without a split E mechanism, and it comes with different headjoint cuts. Unfortunately, you won’t have as many choices if you’re looking for a used piccolo.

When buying used, you’ll have to shop around or sacrifice certain specs to get a piccolo sooner. Still, that can be a great option if you’re looking to save money on a pro piccolo.

Final Thoughts

What’s the difference between a $1000 piccolo vs. $5000 piccolo? Everything from the materials and other specs to whether it’s handmade differs.

Spending $1000 or so is great for beginners or even advancing students. But if you’re looking at getting your forever piccolo, it doesn’t hurt to save up around $5000.

Not sure which brand to go with? Check out my list of the best piccolo brands!

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