Best Small Flutes (Besides the Piccolo)

If you like the piccolo, you should consider some other small flutes. The piccolo is great, but it can be expensive and hard to maintain. And you may not always want to make a loud sound when practicing.

Best Small Flutes (Besides the Piccolo) | Piccolo Perfection

Whether you want to become a professional musician or simply have fun, add a few other small flutes to your collection. You never know what might happen.

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The fife is one of the best small non-concert flutes, especially for piccolo players. You hold it in a very similar way to the piccolo, so it can be easy to switch back and forth.

Some fifes even have very similar fingerings to the piccolo. That makes it easy to start learning the instrument. Even if some of the fingerings are quite different, it shouldn’t take super long to get a sound on the fife.

You can start on something like the Yamaha fife. It’s plastic and very affordable, so you can ask for it as a gift. Or you can buy it for yourself and start learning the small flute.


Another one of the best small flutes to consider is the soprano recorder. The recorder is a flute, but it’s a fipple flute. You hold it in front of you and place the tip of the mouthpiece in your mouth to play.

If you learn the Yamaha fife, you’ll find its fingerings are identical to those of a recorder. That can make it easy to learn both instruments together or one after the other.

The recorder is also nice because it’s affordable. And you don’t need to have the perfect embouchure to make a sound. If you want something easy to play before learning the piccolo, the recorder is great.

Tin Whistle

Also called a penny whistle or Irish whistle, the tin whistle is another one of the best small flutes. It looks like a skinny recorder, so you play it the same way. But there are fewer holes.

You can play the tin whistle in a few keys, but it’s not fully chromatic. If you want to play in all keys, you’d need to get tin whistles in a few different keys to make that easier.

Most whistles come in the key of D, meaning that’s the lowest note. It’s a fun instrument to play, and it’s great for someone who wants to play Irish music.


If you’ve played Legend of Zelda, you probably know what an ocarina is. But it’s more than an instrument from a video game. This small flute comes in tons of designs and with different numbers of holes.

The most common number of holes is 12. You blow into the ocarina like the other fipple flutes, and you can open and close the holes to change the pitch.

Whether you’ve played Zelda or not, the ocarina is one of the best small flutes. It’s smaller than some flutes, but it still has a nice mellow tone.


The shinobue is one of the best small flutes for playing Japanese music. If you’ve ever played the first volume of Preludes by David Loeb, you might recognize the instrument as it’s the inspiration behind one of those pieces.

It’s not a fipple flute, so you hold it off to the side. The shinobue is a bit bigger than the piccolo, though not as big as the flute.

I don’t play the shinobue a ton, but it’s fun to have one on hand. When I was learning those preludes, I used the shinobue to get an idea of the sound I should go for when playing the piccolo.

Crystal Piccolo

Part of a line of crystal flutes, the crystal piccolo uses a clear material. It doesn’t have any keys, so you will need to learn a new fingering system. But you can choose from patterns on the clear crystal.

The crystal piccolo is small, so it’s easier for people with smaller hands. You can play it like other small flutes, and it looks similar to a fife or piccolo when you play it.

It’s an excellent option if you like to play Irish music or traditional music. And while it’s not as cheap as some other small flutes, it’s not nearly as expensive as a good piccolo.

Why Play Non-Concert Small Flutes

When looking at some of the best small flutes, you’ll notice the piccolo is the only one in the concert flute family. But learning other small flutes can be a great way to expand your skills.

Consider some reasons why these flutes are worth your time and money.


Most of the small flutes I covered are easy to start learning. You don’t need to spend years working on the basics just to get a good sound. And you don’t need to take lessons if you don’t have the time for that.

If you want to play in musical theatre or opera pits, learning these small flutes can set you apart. Some shows require non-concert instruments, so you may have an edge over your competitors.


Most of the small flutes are less than $50 or $100. That makes them a great deal if you want a new instrument on a budget. Meanwhile, some piccolos cost thousands of dollars.

So if you don’t have the money to upgrade your piccolo or even get your first piccolo, start with some other small flutes. Then, you can save up for a piccolo once you know you like playing smaller instruments.


The small flutes I mentioned all don’t have keys. You don’t have to worry about a mechanism breaking down. That can save you a lot of time and money on maintenance.

Also, if you get a plastic flute, you don’t need to worry about taking care of the wood. That’s super nice if you want to try small flutes for fun or to just experiment with them.

Will You Play Any of These Small Flutes?

Along with the piccolo, there are many excellent small flutes you can play. Whether you want to play Irish music or be like Zelda, there’s a small non-concert flute for you.

Be sure to check out the different small flutes to figure out which one is best for you. Then add it to your wishlist or cart to get started learning it.

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