Armstrong Piccolos Guide: Which Models Are Best?

When shopping for your first or next instrument, you may want to consider Armstrong piccolos. Sure, they’re no Burkart or Yamaha, but they can work for some players.

Armstrong Piccolos Guide | Piccolo Perfection

I started on an Armstrong, and it helped me learn the basics. So if you want to learn more about this brand and if their piccolos are right for you, keep on reading.

But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure policy to learn more.

What Are Armstrong Piccolos?

Armstrong piccolos come from the brand of the same name. It’s one of many companies based out of Elkhart, Indiana, with others being brands like Gemeinhardt and Conn-Selmer.

When it comes to Armstrong, specifically, they make all kinds of flutes and piccolos. As a piccolo player, the brand will always have a special place in my heart since it’s the brand of my very first piccolo.

You can choose from student and intermediate models. I wouldn’t say they make the best piccolos for professionals, but you can use them as backups.

Consider the most popular models from this company to decide which ones (if any) will work for you.

Armstrong 204

I started playing the piccolo in 2014 after the end of my freshman year of college. At the time, my parents were nice enough to buy me an Armstrong 204 as an early birthday present.

This piccolo is entirely silver-plated, so it looks like a tiny flute. I like how it features a finger rest for your left hand so that your hand doesn’t have to squeeze as much to hold the piccolo.

Unfortunately, this piccolo doesn’t have a split E mechanism or an offset G key. Both of those specs have become pretty standard, even on student-level piccolos.

But the metal design makes this piccolo an excellent choice for use in a marching band. You can project your sound over the ensemble.

Who It’s For

I’d recommend the Armstrong 204 to any piccolo beginner. It looks and feels like a smaller version of a flute, so the transition can be easier compared to some models.

This model is also suitable for anyone with a bit of experience but who plays outdoors a lot. Whether you play in a marching band or another ensemble, you can use this type of piccolo.

You could also use it as a backup when you upgrade, so don’t sell it right away. After I switched to playing a Pearl 105 as my main piccolo, I kept my Armstrong for whenever my Pearl needed maintenance.

Where to Buy

You can buy the Armstrong 204 from a few different places, including Amazon. However, it’s not available in a ton of music stores, and I’m not sure why.

I’d also check local music stores in your area to see if they have any in stock. Another option is to check the used market to buy one from an individual.

Should You Buy It Used?

This is a great piccolo to buy used, and that’s how I got my hands on one. Since it’s a student model, a used 204 can be a great way to help you save money.

However, you’ll need to make sure the piccolo is in playing condition. Otherwise, it could require hundreds of dollars in repairs, so you may not actually reduce your overall cost.

Armstrong 307

The Armstrong 307 combines a silver-plated headjoint with a plastic resin body. It’s another great option for beginners and casual players who need a good piccolo at a reasonable price.

You can easily learn the piccolo thanks to the lip plate. Meanwhile, the plastic body keeps the instrument from sounding too shrill, especially as you play up high.

I appreciate how this piccolo doesn’t have a cork on the body tenon, even though the body is plastic. That means you don’t have to worry about using cork grease to keep your piccolo in good condition.

While I haven’t played this specific model, I believe one of my friends in college did. It sounded good, especially since they played it in our marching band.

Who It’s For

I’d suggest the Armstrong 307 to players who are new to the piccolo but need a less shrill sound. You get the benefits of a lip plate with the tone of plastic.

This model is also suitable for marching band and other outdoor performance opportunities. If you try other metal-plastic combination piccolos, add this to your trial list.

Where to Buy

This piccolo isn’t the most common, so you may have to search a bit to find one. I saw them for sale on places like Amazon, but most music stores don’t carry the piccolo.

Of course, there are also used marketplaces. But the availability can vary, and you may not always find one at all. You’d need to be patient to find a 307 in good shape.

Should You Buy It Used?

Armstrong piccolos can be great when they’re used, and this model is no exception. Of course, you face some risks, such as the piccolo not working as it should.

But that can give you negotiating power to get a lower sale price. Then, you can take it to your flute repair technician to fix any issues with the instrument.

Armstrong 308

Another great model for students but also intermediate players is the Armstrong 308. It features basically the same body as the 307 in that it’s plastic and has sliver-plated keys.

However, instead of a silver-plated headjoint, this model has a plastic headjoint. That can help you get a slightly warmer sound, so this piccolo is suitable for playing in an orchestra or concert band.

But the fact that it’s not wood also makes it a nice choice if you want to play outside. So if you only have the budget for one piccolo, this model could be for you.

Who It’s For

The 308 is a suitable choice for beginners through professionals but for different reasons. Beginners can put the piccolo through a lot without worrying as much about damage.

Professionals probably won’t use Armstrong piccolos daily, but they make good backup instruments. Since this piccolo is all of plastic, it can sit in storage for a while.

But when you need to use it for a gig, you can get a similar sound to that on your wood piccolo. And the specs make it a great choice for a piccolo upgrade once you outgrow your first one.

Where to Buy

I couldn’t find the 308 available new, either from music stores or other online retailers. It’s possible Armstrong no longer makes this model, so you might have to do a lot of research to find one for sale.

Should You Buy It Used?

From my initial research, it appears as if used piccolos are your only option regarding the 308. Be sure to compare different listings and their sale prices and instrument conditions.

Then, you can choose a piccolo that will work for you or that you can get back into working condition after a COA or overhaul.

Armstrong 358

The Armstrong 358 is the brand’s wooden model, and it’s made of grenadilla. Like the other models, this one doesn’t have a cork, so that’s one less thing you have to worry about.

However, this piccolo also doesn’t have an offset G key. While that’s not as important on a piccolo as on a C flute, it can come in handy, especially if you have smaller hands.

If you’re ready to upgrade to wood instrument, this might be the model for you. Sure, it’s not as prevalent of a model, but you should give it a try if you can.

Who It’s For

Being that it’s a wooden piccolo, this model is best for players with a bit of experience. It’s also more suited for indoor gigs since wood can crack in extreme temperatures.

Compared to many of the best wood piccolos, the 358 is relatively affordable. That makes it a good choice for music majors or any player on a tight budget.

Where to Buy

I couldn’t find this piccolo available from many music stores, and not a lot of other retailers have it. That means you may need to be patient and shop for it every few days.

You can look at different used marketplaces, from Facebook to Reverb to eBay. Then, you may be able to find a 358 that’s in playing condition.

Should You Buy It Used?

It looks like your only option to buy an Armstrong 358 is to check the used market. But of course, you’ll want to inspect the piccolo to make sure it’s in good condition or that it can be repaired if there are issues.

Which Armstrong Piccolo Is Best for You?

The best Armstrong piccolos vary from player to player. If you’re an absolute beginner, I’d recommend the 204 or 307 since they’re both student models.

Meanwhile, the 358 is better for players who need an upgrade. Finally, the 308 is a bit of a compromise between the other three models.

Is an Armstrong Piccolo Right for You?

Armstrong piccolos aren’t right for every player or at every step of your piccolo journey. While mine served me well throughout college, I had to upgrade after graduating.

The brand is best for beginners and intermediate players. However, it can be suitable for professionals who need a backup piccolo to play outside.

Should You Get an Armstrong Piccolo If You Play an Armstrong Flute?

If you play an Armstrong flute, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy one of the Armstrong piccolos. But every instrument is different, so I’d recommend that you try the piccolo you want to buy.

Then, you can make sure the instrument you purchase will suit you and your needs.

Final Thoughts

Armstrong piccolos may not be the most popular, but they can serve you well for quite a while. I’d start on a 204 or 307 if you’re new to the piccolo, but the 308 could be a good upgrade.

Just make sure you don’t rush your purchase, especially for a used piccolo. Then, you can keep from wasting your money.

And if you’re looking to learn the piccolo, don’t forget to reference a piccolo fingering chart as you test the different models you come across.

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