Do you want to start playing piccolo? You need the best instrument you can get, but you may not want a wood model. So consider the Armstrong piccolo model 204.
It’s an excellent choice for beginners and many other types of players. Before you give it a try, consider if the model is worth your time and money.
As we get into the review, remember this post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure policy to learn more.
What Is the Armstrong Piccolo 204?
The Armstrong piccolo model 204 is a beginner model. It was the first piccolo I had and what I first learned on. Even though I’ve upgraded piccolos since then, I still keep my Armstrong 204.
I used it as my primary piccolo from 2014 to 2017. The main reason I upgraded was that the piccolo was hard to keep in tune.
This piccolo looks like a small flute because it’s a metal model. While it’s not the best piccolo for all settings, the Armstrong 204 has its purpose.
As you start to learn the piccolo, you may want to test it out. Then, you can enjoy the benefits of the metal and other features.
Features and Specs
The Armstrong piccolo 204 is all silver-plated, which is common among beginner flutes. However, you can find student piccolos that use plastic as well as or instead of metal.
Because of the metal, it features a headjoint with a lip plate, which can help some players start to learn the piccolo. There’s also an extra piece of metal near the top of the body to help support your left-hand index finger.
Metal piccolos are much smaller on the outside compared to wood or plastic piccolos. So the finger support keeps you from having to scrunch your hand against the instrument.
Unlike some piccolos, this one has an inline G. While that may not seem like a big deal on the piccolo, it does matter. I find it hard to press the G key down without also hitting the G sharp key.
But like most other piccolos, this one comes with a headjoint and body but no footjoint. It can play down to the standard low D like a lot of other models.
- Good for students
- Has a lip plate
- Supportive piece of metal
- Easy to start playing
- Suitable for inside and outside playing
- Shrill tone
- Not the best for long-term use
Who the Armstrong Piccolo 204 Is For
The Armstrong piccolo 204 is an excellent choice for some players. Before you look at other models, consider a few times when you may want to play the model.
Then, you can determine if it’s a good option for you. And even if you don’t think you’ll play it long term, it may meet your needs for now. That can be enough of a reason to get it.
Here are a few types of musicians who may benefit from the Armstrong 204.
The best use case for the Armstrong piccolo is when you’re first starting to learn the instrument. When I wanted to learn to play the piccolo, I managed to find an Armstrong 204 to try and buy.
It was an excellent model to use to help as I learned the smaller flute. There are a lot of similarities between it and your concert flute. That made learning the piccolo more efficient and more enjoyable.
If you’re just getting started with the piccolo, you may want to give it a try. While you may need to upgrade eventually, the piccolo can last you for a few years or longer.
Marching Band Members
Whether you’re in high school or college, you may want to play the piccolo instead of the flute in marching band. The piccolo is smaller and so easier to hold in the parallel position that many bands require.
I used the Armstrong piccolo 204 when I had to play in a marching band after transferring from community college to a university. Some bands, especially at the college level, require metal piccolos.
That way, the piccolos look like the flutes. I don’t know how the audience could tell, and piccolo players in my section would use plastic models. But if your band requires a metal piccolo, go with the 204.
If you’re a woodwind doubler, you may want to try the Armstrong piccolo 204. The flute can be hard enough, and adding the piccolo may be even more stressful.
Because this piccolo features a lip plate, it can make it easier for you to start playing the instrument. You may find it’s a good option when you don’t have a ton of time to practice.
Of course, you’ll still need to practice the piccolo. But having one that has a similar design to a flute can take away some of the stress of the instrument.
Anyone who plays the piccolo for fun may not want to get a wood model. Even a plastic model may be unnecessary if you don’t plan on playing the piccolo in a flute choir or concert band.
If you like how the piccolo sounds and want to give it a try for fun, you should try the Armstrong 204. You may choose to get a different piccolo, but it never hurts to try a few.
The more piccolos you try, the more likely you’ll find one you like. You could stick with the model for a while, or you may choose to upgrade soon.
Who the Armstrong Piccolo Isn’t For
The Armstrong 204 piccolo is great for many players. But you may find that it doesn’t quite meet your needs. That’s why it’s always important to test a few models.
Before you buy or try the Armstrong piccolo, consider if it may not be a good fit. Then, you can keep from wasting your time. Instead, you can look for a piccolo that will be better for you.
Here are a few types of musicians who may want to look elsewhere.
If you’re a professional flutist, piccoloist, or woodwind doubler, the Armstrong piccolo might not meet your needs. At this stage, you’ll need the best model you can afford.
And usually, you can justify spending a few thousand dollars on a piccolo. You may want to get a wood model. Or if you don’t want to deal with wood, a full plastic or composite piccolo can work.
Some professionals do play on metal piccolos. But when they do, they usually play a solid silver instrument from Haynes, for example.
You might also find the Armstrong 204 is a bit limiting as you advance as a piccolo or flute student. This is what happened when I played in an orchestra in the summer of 2017.
Since I finished college, I no longer had access to a wood piccolo. I had trouble playing the Cs in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. So I decided it was time to upgrade to the Pearl 105.
If you have a bit of piccolo playing experience, you may get some use out of the Armstrong. You can use it in marching band or other outdoor settings, for example. But it may not be your main piccolo.
No matter your level, consider if you play the piccolo in an orchestra. If so, you may find the metal makes the piccolo a bit too shrill. You may have a hard time blending with other instruments.
That doesn’t mean you can’t work on your tone. With enough practice, you may be able to get a good sound. But if you can afford a plastic or wood piccolo, I’d recommend it.
Then, you’ll have an easier time blending with the woodwinds, violins, and even the brass. And you can always get the Armstrong 204 to use outside or in other settings.
Do you still have questions about the Armstrong piccolo model 204? Here are your answers!
How Does the Armstrong 204 Sound?
The Armstrong 204 sounds a bit shrill, so you may need to work to get a warmer tone. However, the sound isn’t too different from that of other piccolos.
If you like the sound of the Armstrong, you should play it. Then, you can enjoy learning and improving on the piccolo.
Where Can You Get the Piccolo?
You can get the Armstrong 204 from a local music store, an online music store, or another retailer. Alternatively, you may find a used on on the market in your area.
I got mine through my flute technician who was selling the piccolo for another one of their clients. So consider a few places to shop around for one.
Should you buy the piccolo new or used?
Buying a new Armstrong 204 can be a good option, especially if you know you want to play it for a long time. But it can be more expensive than other beginner piccolos.
I got my Armstrong 204 used, and I bought it through my flute technician who sold it for another client. Because of that, the cost was significantly less, but I still managed to get plenty of use out of it.
Is the Armstrong Piccolo 204 for You?
The Armstrong piccolo 204 is an excellent choice for new piccolo players. It’s also useful for anyone with experience who needs something easy to play and that will work outside.
Be sure to give this model a try to see if it’s right for you. Then, you can determine how the instrument feels and if you like it.