What’s the best piccolo wood out there? Maybe you love the standard grenadilla, or perhaps you would prefer to experiment with less common materials.
Either way, you should compare your options. Then, you can get a piccolo headjoint and body that helps you get the tone you want from your instrument.
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Best Piccolo Wood Options
When choosing a wooden piccolo, you have a lot to think about. Of course, you have to get the right brand and model for your needs, but that can also involve selecting your ideal piccolo wood.
That’s right, there are different woods for piccolos these days. And choosing the right wood can have an effect on the sound you can get with your new instrument.
Here are some popular woods you can choose from.
Grenadilla is by far the most popular piccolo wood. A lot of intermediate and professional piccolos (like my Hammig 650/3) use grenadilla, or African blackwood, as their primary material.
It’s also a common choice for other woodwinds, such as oboes and clarinets. You can get a nice, warm tone with the wood, and it’s relatively affordable.
Unless you have a large budget, grenadilla is probably going to be your only options. But even if you can get other materials, it’s worth trying grenadilla piccolos.
Another somewhat common option (though it’s still less popular) is cocus wood. The Hammig 651/4 is an excellent example of a piccolo that uses this redish brown wood.
Cocus is typically a bit more expensive than grenadilla. I’ve only ever seen it on professional piccolos, but you can find a cocus headjoint if you want to upgrade your intermediate model.
Kingwood piccolos are available at the professional level, but they’re not the most popular. I’ve seen the Powell Custom model comes in Kingwood, but it’s quite expensive.
However, you can get a different sound with the new material. It also looks a lot different, so you’ll know which piccolo is yours if you tend to play with other flutists a lot.
Rosewood is another type of piccolo wood you can select. Trevor James has started making grenadilla and rosewood piccolos, and they’re not as expensive as you might think.
I haven’t tried these models yet, but I’ve heard they sound great and are easy to play. If you need an intermediate model but don’t want to go with grenadilla, rosewood could be a good choice.
Another new addition to the world of piccolo wood choices is olive. You can get this material if you get a Nagahara Mini, which is a sort of cross between a piccolo and a small flute.
I haven’t tested this material, but the model comes with different headjoint options. That way, you can use the wood and headjoint cut to get the best possible sound.
Mopane is another piccolo wood that you can get if you buy a Nagahara Mini. Once again, I don’t have direct experience playing this type of wood.
However, I’d recommend trying it if you want to get the Nagahara piccolo. That way, you can choose the setup that works the best for you and your playing.
How to Choose the Best Piccolo Wood
When buying a new piccolo, you have a lot to consider. If you want to choose the right piccolo wood, you have even more considerations to make.
I can’t make the decision for you. However, I can recommend the following things to help you narrow your search for the right piccolo and piccolo materials.
Consider Model Availability
First, you should determine if you can even get your chosen wood. Not all woods are available on all piccolo models, so you need to know the material first to narrow your search.
Of course, if you don’t like the one model that a wood is available for, you’ll need to expand your options with other woods. Either way, you want to know if you’ll have a large variety or small variety of choices.
Then, you should make sure you can afford the model in question. And you need to figure out if you can buy the chosen piccolo now or if you’ll have to wait.
Don’t Forget Aftermarket Headjoints
An easy way to save money on the right piccolo wood is to just get a new headjoint. You can have a tech fit most headjoints to most piccolo bodies, unless you currently play an all-metal model.
Makers like Mancke and Hernandez use a variety of woods that you can choose from. That way, you can still get a sound reminiscent of a full cocus or mopane model but without the full price.
Just make sure you test the headjoints with your current piccolo body. It won’t matter if you like the headjoint if it doesn’t work with the instrument you own.
Think About Your Allergies
I’ve heard of some people getting contact dermatitis after playing on a model with an exotic piccolo wood. If you find your lips develop symptoms like cracked skin, the wood could be the problem.
I might have even had a reaction a while back, though it could have been other things. Either way, check with your doctor if you do have a reaction that could be due to your piccolo.
Then, you can make sure to purchase a piccolo or headjoint that doesn’t use wood that will trigger your allergies. You’ll be able to enjoy playing and stay healthy.
Try the Woods
Of course, the best way to decide on the best piccolo wood for you is to test your options. You can do this with full piccolos or just headjoints to see what works.
Ideally, you should test the setup you intend on purchasing if it works out. Do it like you’d do any other piccolo trial and give yourself time to test and compare your options.
Use your current setup as a baseline for the comparison. Then, you can determine if one of the piccolos or headjoints is worth the upgrade.
Control for Other Variables
When possible, control your test and only make the wood the variable. So try and test the same models in different woods as well as use the same headjoint cut.
It won’t be a perfect test, but you can minimize what might affect the overall sound. For example, a cocus headjoint with a wave head may sound better for you than a grenadilla head with a traditional cut.
Sure, the wood may have something to do with that. But the difference could also come from the headjoint cut, so you want to get rid of other elements if you can.
Listen to the Sound
If you can’t test the piccolos yourself, try to find recordings online. A lot of players list the brands and models they have as well as the wood their piccolos use.
You can go to someone’s website to learn about their gear and find recordings. Of course, YouTube is another option, and you can then research the player to learn about their gear.
Listening to your options may help you choose which ones you want to try yourself. Then, you won’t waste time or money trying piccolos that won’t work for you.
Save Enough Money
Before you buy a piccolo of any wood, make sure you have enough money. You can save up over a few months or even years, or you can look into financing the purchase.
That way, you can get the best sound now and pay off the instrument over time. Just make sure you set and stick to a realistic budget when choosing piccolos to try.
Why Is Grenadilla a Popular Piccolo Wood?
Grenadilla is probably a popular piccolo wood since it’s relatively affordable. I’ve noticed grenadilla head and bodies are more affordable than similar models with other woods.
So you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good grenadilla piccolo. Some models use silver-plated keys or aren’t entirely handmade to keep costs down.
Can You Combine Woods in Your Piccolo?
You can combine piccolo woods, and this is a good option if you want to change up your sound. For example, you might stick with your grenadilla wood body.
But you could upgrade to a cocus or rosewood headjoint. That way, you can get the right sound you want without having to pay for a whole new instrument.
Are Some Woods More Professional Than Others?
All piccolo wood options are equally professional. Just because one material costs more than another doesn’t make it any better or more advanced.
You should try all of the woods you have access to. That way, you can determine which is the best fit for you and your needs.
Which Piccolo Wood Will You Choose?
The right piccolo wood can help you get the sound you desire as you play. While grenadilla is the most popular, I know some players with headjoints or full instruments that use other woods.
Be sure to test your options to decide which will be the best for you. Then, you can get a sound you enjoy. If you need more resources on piccolo shopping, head to the resources page.