Are you looking for a good piccolo to start or improve your playing? In this piccolo buying guide, I go over everything you need to know to make shopping for an instrument easier.
While it will take work and some trial and error, you can find a good piccolo. So read on for my tips and suggestions to find a beginner or intermediate piccolo.
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How to Choose a Piccolo
When looking at any piccolo buying guide, you need to know how to choose the right piccolo for you. I may have my preferences (and so will any other player), but that doesn’t mean the same model will work for you.
There are a few things I’d recommend you consider before you buy your first or next piccolo. That way, you can make sure you get the right model for your playing.
Know Your Playing
First, you need to know about your piccolo playing. Maybe you’re a beginner and have played the flute but not the piccolo. Or perhaps you have played for a while and are ready for an upgrade.
Either way, you should consider your current skills to help choose an instrument that will meet your needs. For example, a beginner might want a metal headjoint because the lip plate can help you transition from the flute to the piccolo.
While that’s not necessary, it can be useful for some beginners. As you advance, you may want to get a piccolo that has the traditional wood headjoint or even a plastic headjoint.
Consider Your Environment
Another thing to determine is where you plan to play the piccolo. If you will be playing in a marching band or another outside scenario, I would recommend against getting a wood piccolo since the wood can crack.
On the flip side, you may not want to play a metal piccolo in an orchestra. The material can be very shrill, so blending might not be as easy as it could be with a plastic or wood model.
If you want a piccolo that works well in various situations, you can’t go wrong with a plastic or composite instrument. Composite piccolos combine wood and plastic to provide a warm tone without the risk of the wood cracking.
Determine Your Budget
After you decide on what you need from a piccolo, you can do some research on models. When you research piccolos, check out the price of each one.
That way, you’ll be able to get an idea of how much you can expect to spend on a good piccolo. You can find models for less than $1,000, but you can also find models for more than $5,000.
It’s up to you to figure out what you need in a piccolo and how much you’re comfortable spending. Fortunately, you can get a good instrument on a budget, so you don’t need a super fancy piccolo.
Test and Compare
Before you choose a piccolo, you should test a few models. I didn’t do this with my first couple of piccolos. Now, I did get to try my first piccolo before I bought it, but I bought my intermediate model without trying it.
That strategy can work if you don’t have the option to try a piccolo. But you should have a teacher who knows you and your skills. Then, they can give you a good recommendation.
For most people, trying and comparing models is the best choice. The more instruments you try, the better the chance you have of finding one that works the best for you.
Some of the Best Piccolos
To find models for this piccolo buying guide, I looked for well-known brands. I also considered beginner and intermediate piccolos across multiple price points.
If you’re ready to get your first piccolo or an upgrade, give some of these models a chance. You never know which one might be the perfect piccolo for you.
The Gemeinhardt 4PMH is an excellent piccolo for students. It features a metal headphone with a plastic body. This is a common configuration for beginner piccolos to make it affordable and easy to play.
Because of the metal headjoint, it may be easier for some beginners to learn compared to a plastic headjoint. Meanwhile, the plastic body gives it a bit of a warm tone.
Either way, this is a great model for students of all ages. You can use it in marching band, concert band, or any other setting. And you may be able to use it for years before upgrading.
A similar model, the Gemeinhardt 4P has both a plastic headjoint and a plastic body. That makes it look a lot like more professional models. But it’s still useful for beginners and anyone on a budget.
Like the other model, this one isn’t too expensive. And the plastic makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor playing. Plus, you get to force yourself to learn how to play without a lip plate.
While a lip plate is nice, you may not get one when you upgrade. So starting on a piccolo without a lip plate now can be an excellent way to jump right into piccolo playing.
Gemeinhardt Roy Seaman Storm
Another model to try from Gemeinhardt is the Roy Seaman Storm piccolo. This instrument is a composite model, which means that it has wood in it along with plastic to stabilize that wood.
Composite piccolos are great for use in orchestras as well as other advanced settings where you may not want to use a wooden instrument. You don’t have to worry about the wood cracking or having other issues.
It does cost a bit more than the other models. But it’s great for any piccolo player who is serious about music. Whether you want to use it as your main instrument or a backup, give it a try.
I played on the Pearl 105 as my main piccolo for over three years. It worked very well and was able to get me into and through my masters degree in flute performance.
Like the Roy Seaman Storm, the 105 is a composite model. Pearl uses its own proprietary material called grenaditte. It’s basically the same as other composite models, so you get the benefits of wood without the drawbacks.
Plus, this model features Pearl’s One-Piece Core Bar. That’s a type of pinless mechanism which is easier for techs to work on. So you may not have to worry about sending your piccolo to the tech for weeks.
A more intermediate model, the Pearl 165 is similar to the 105. The most significant difference is that this one has a wood headjoint. That can be nice if you want a warmer tone but can’t afford a wood piccolo.
You’ll be able to enjoy a composite body, so the headjoint is your only concern when it comes to cracking. Plus, the Pearl piccolo case has space for two headjoints, so you can get another head if you want.
This model also features slightly different pads compared to the 105. It’s also a bit more expensive due to the wood head and other features. So you may want to try both back to back to see which is right for you and your needs.
The Yamaha YPC-32 is another beginner to intermediate model piccolo. It has the same materials as the Gemeinhardt 4PMH with a plastic body and a metal headjoint.
If you look at a piccolo section in a school marching band, the YPC-32 is probably going to be the most popular model. That’s for a good reason though, because these piccolos are durable and easy to play.
While they aren’t the most affordable option, they can last a long time. So if you don’t plan on upgrading your piccolo for a while, the 32 may be the best model to get.
If you want a full wooden piccolo, give the Yamaha YPC-62 a try. The piccolo is an intermediate model that uses grenadilla for the headjoint and body. However, the keys are silver-plated.
This model is perfect for use in an orchestra or band that plays inside. And you can use it for solo performances. Just make sure to warm up the wood slowly to prevent cracking.
Because of the cracking risk, I’d also avoid using this instrument outdoors, especially in marching band. It’s more expensive than the other models, so you don’t want anything bad to happen to it.
What About Professional Piccolos?
I could have included some professional piccolos in this piccolo buying guide. However, there are so many small differences between the various models. There can even be differences between two individual instruments that are the same model.
If you’re looking for a professional piccolo, you should try as many as you can. Follow the same steps I listed above and look for some good brands, such as:
You can compare models from the same or different companies. That way, you’ll get a good idea of the right professional piccolo for you.
Save This Piccolo Buying Guide
As I’ve shared in this piccolo buying guide, the right instrument can vary from player to player. That’s why I made sure to list a variety of models from different brands.
Now, it’s up to you to go piccolo shopping. Try as many instruments as possible to get an idea of what works well for you. Then, you can get the piccolo of your dreams.