Do you want a better piccolo to help improve your playing? You should consider some piccolo buying tips to help find a few models that you might like.
Then, you can decide between those models which you want to purchase. If you get the perfect piccolo, you may want to play more so that you can get better.
Before we get into the tips, this post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure policy to learn more.
1. Start With Your Current Instrument
One of the best piccolo buying tips is to consider what flutes and piccolos you already have. Specifically, consider the brands and if you love those brands or if you want a different sound.
Each model offers something a bit different from the others. Those differences have helped me improve as a piccolo player, but if you have a Pearl flute and don’t like it, you might not like the Pearl piccolo.
2. Research Available Models
Once you have an idea of what you do or don’t want in a piccolo, look at a variety of models. I’d recommend looking at brands such as Pearl, Hammig, Burkart, Powell, and Yamaha.
The specific brands and models to consider will depend on your level. Beginner and intermediate models are very different from professional piccolos.
Still, it helps to know what’s out there to help direct your piccolo buying journey. Then, you can use what you find in your initial search to help later on.
3. Determine a Budget
As you research piccolo brands and models, consider how much they’ll cost. You need to set a realistic budget so that you can try a few different options.
However, you don’t need to set a massive budget, especially if you need a beginner or intermediate instrument. Write down some models that interest you and their prices.
Then, you can use that information to set a good budget. If necessary, you’ll also be able to set a goal to save money for the piccolo to buy it soon.
4. Choose a Few Models to Try
Especially when you’re looking to upgrade your piccolo, you shouldn’t try just one model. I made that mistake when I bought my Pearl piccolo, and while it worked out, I’d avoid doing that again.
When I decided to upgrade to a professional piccolo, I looked at a variety of options. I tried five or six piccolos and a slew of headjoints to help choose the best fit for me.
Select at least three models in your price range that you can test and compare. That will increase the chances of you getting an instrument that you love.
5. Select Some Trial Music
Before you go to try piccolos or request a trial, you should choose some excerpts for your trial. As you test piccolos, you want to use the same music on each one.
That will help reduce the potential differences between the instruments. I’d recommend choosing music you know well so that you can listen for the sound and response and not have to worry about the notes.
If you don’t know where to start, look at your library of piccolo books and exercises. Then, you can choose music that covers the range of notes, dynamics, and styles.
6. Give Yourself Time
Once you get your hands on a few piccolos, take plenty of time to try them. If you go through a trial process, you may have a few days to a week to test the piccolos before returning them.
You can also buy one piccolo at a time from a store with a return policy. That’s a good choice if you can’t or don’t want to do a trial with multiple piccolos at a time.
Either way, take as much time as you need to compare the models in your possession. Then, you can decide on the right model for you and your playing.
7. Get a Second Opinion
Piccolo buying and shopping can be subjective. However, it can be easy to get caught up in the brand and model names and numbers, so you might choose a piccolo just for those factors.
To reduce the chances of this, I recommend playing the piccolos for your teacher or other flute players you know. You can send people recordings or play the piccolos in person.
I did both of those things when trying pro piccolos. And I was able to get some good feedback to help narrow my search and choose which model to purchase.
8. Do a Blind Test
If possible, I’d also recommend doing a blind test of the different piccolos. Be sure to include your current piccolo if you’re upgrading to a better model.
You can do this test in a couple of ways where either you don’t know which piccolo is which or your listener doesn’t know. For example, you might put a blindfold on and ask someone to hand you a piccolo to play.
If the piccolos feel different, ask a listener to put a blindfold on instead. Then, you can ask for feedback without the influence of brands and models, so the listener will tell you which they liked the best.
9. Compare to Your Current Piccolo
No matter what else you do, be sure to compare your current piccolo to models you might buy. That way, you can make sure the new piccolo is worth it.
For example, I compared my Pearl 105 to a Lyric piccolo and a Burkart Resona. Both models were great, but they didn’t sound different enough to make upgrading from the Pearl worth it to me.
You can also use your current piccolo to determine if an upgrade is necessary right now. Sometimes, you might just need to take it in for a COA, which can cost much less than a new instrument.
10. Look at Used Models
A lot of players look for different new models, and it makes sense. New piccolos are usually ready for purchase right away, so you can get the perfect piccolo sooner.
However, I’d also recommend comparing used models if you can. When I got my Armstrong 204, someone else had already owned and played it, but it was still in good condition.
Used piccolos tend to cost less than their new counterparts, so you can get a better model on the same budget. Keep that in mind throughout the piccolo buying process.
11. Test Aftermarket Headjoints
Another thing you might want to do before buying a piccolo is to test aftermarket headjoints. Makers such as Hernandez and Mancke produce headjoints that you can buy and have fitted to your current or new piccolo.
If you don’t love how a piccolo sounds, switch out the headjoint. See if a headjoint from a different maker or made of a different wood might work better for you.
Of course, a headjoint will increase the cost if you buy an aftermarket headjoint with a new piccolo. But it can be worth it to get the sound and response you want.
12. Sleep on It
After you try a few piccolos and get feedback, try to take a day or two where you can think things over. If you rush into a purchase, you might regret it.
Sleeping on it allows you to evaluate if the piccolo you want is the right fit for you. You can also take those couple of days to test the piccolos again.
That may help reinforce that you’re making the right choice, or it could help you decide not to buy the piccolo. You can’t take a ton of time to think over your decision, but use the time that you do have.
Is Buying a Piccolo Hard?
Buying a piccolo can be hard mostly because it can be overwhelming. You have a lot of models to choose from, even after narrowing your search by level.
But using these piccolo buying tips can help make the process less stressful. Then, you might enjoy shopping for a new piccolo.
Can You Buy a Piccolo Online?
You can buy a piccolo online, and I’ve done so with success. Just make sure you buy a reputable brand and model and that you purchase from a reputable seller.
Piccolos are available online from a variety of places, such as flute shops or even more general retailers. But you want to do your research to make sure you won’t end up with a knock-off piccolo.
Where Can You Try a Lot of Piccolos at Once?
The best place to try a bunch of piccolos is at a flute festival or convention. You can usually browse through the exhibit hall and try a variety of models from different brands.
Can You Finance a Piccolo?
You should be able to finance a piccolo, depending on where you buy it. If the store doesn’t offer financing, you can put it on a credit card and pay off the card over time.
Another option is to get a personal loan for the instrument. If you’re in school, you might be able to use student loans to buy a piccolo.
Which Piccolo Buying Tips Will You Use?
The best piccolo buying tips can help you select the model that meets your needs. No two piccolos play exactly the same, so you should try each one yourself.
Be sure to consider your budget and needs as well to help narrow your search. Then, you’ll look forward to playing your new piccolo each day.
Want to learn more? Head to the resources page for more tips on buying a piccolo.