Composite vs. Plastic Piccolos: Your Guide

If you want to get the best sound possible, you need a piccolo that meets your needs. For many players, that means comparing composite vs. plastic piccolos.

Composite vs. Plastic Piccolos: Your Guide | Piccolo Perfection

I love a good composite piccolo, but plastic models also work well for some players. Keep reading to learn which material is better for you.

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

Composite vs. Plastic Piccolos: Similarities

At first, it can seem like composite and plastic piccolos are the same. That’s not totally inaccurate, but it’s also not completely accurate either.

But here are a few similarities between piccolos made of plastic and those made of composite materials.

Base Material

The base material for a plastic piccolo is the same as that for a composite piccolo. Depending on the model, some piccolos use more plastic to help stabilize the wood in the composite blend.

Plastic is a nice choice because it’s warmer than metal, so you won’t get as shrill of a sound on your piccolo. On the other hand, it’s also more affordable and more durable compared to wood.

Performance Venues

You can play on either a composite or plastic piccolo when performing indoors or outdoors. The materials also both work well for solo performances and ensemble concerts.

So if you can only afford one piccolo but want the best possible model, either option can meet your needs. Meanwhile, you may need a wood piccolo for indoor gigs and a metal or plastic piccolo when playing outside.

Price Range

When shopping for a piccolo, you’ll find that plastic and composite models cost about the same amount. Some composite piccolos cost a little more than some plastic ones.

But for the most part, both materials fall into the same price range. That makes it a good option for a first piccolo or even a first upgrade from a metal student model.

Player Levels

Speaking of upgrades, composite and plastic piccolos are both great for advancing students. I bought my Pearl 105 when I’d played piccolo for a few years and was ready for something a little better.

At the time, I was also looking at a couple of plastic models, but I settled on the composite model thanks to a recommendation from one of my former flute teachers.

Composite vs. Plastic Piccolos: Differences

The differences between composite and plastic piccolos are (arguably) more important. Before you choose which material would suit you better, consider how they compare.

Exact Materials

Both types of piccolos may feature plastic as the base model, but composite instruments have more to them. In most cases, composite piccolos combine plastic with grenadilla wood.

That means you can get a very similar sound from a composite piccolo as you can from a wood model. But the presence of plastic helps keep the piccolo from cracking in temperature extremes.

Tone Quality

While plastic and composite instruments are warmer than metal, composite comes out a little warmer than plastic. Again, the wood helps you get a different sound.

Because of that, if you’re an amateur player, you can still get a great response on a budget. Composite piccolos may not sound identical to wood, but they come pretty close.

Brand Availability

Another thing to consider is what brands make composite vs. plastic piccolos. For example, Pearl only makes composite piccolos, one of which comes with a wooden headjoint.

However, brands like Gemeinhardt offer both plastic and composite models. So if you prefer one material or the other, you’ll need to focus on brands that make the type of piccolo you want.

Certain Specs

In my experience, composite piccolos are more similar to wood models in that they offer more specs. For example, the Pearl piccolos come with either a traditional or a wave headjoint.

Plastic piccolos don’t always have more than one headjoint cut. If you want more options, composite instruments might suit you better.

Best Composite Piccolos

If you’ve decided that a composite piccolo is better for you, consider some of the best models on the market.

Pearl 105

The Pearl 105 piccolo uses grenaditte as the primary material, which is a mixture of wood and plastic. It gives you a super warm sound and is very responsive.

You can get the piccolo with a split E mechanism, which can help you play the high E more easily. This model also has a more ergonomic key layout, which is nice if you have larger hands.

I used this piccolo through almost all of graduate school, and it’s still my backup/outdoor piccolo. You can even buy a wood headjoint to keep in your case for when you need an even warmer sound.

GUO Grenaditte

Another popular model to consider is the GUO Grenaditte piccolo. It uses the same combination of materials as the Pearl, so it’s worth comparing the two.

I haven’t had personal experience with this piccolo, but I’ve heard a lot of people love it. What does impress me about it is the presence of a high G# mechanism.

You normally only find those on handmade professional piccolos. But you can get an easier response when playing high G# on this model.

Roy Seaman Storm

The Roy Seaman Storm (buy on eBay) is one of many piccolo models from Gemeinhardt. Of course, it shares many of the same specs as the Pearl and even the GUO composite piccolo.

While I’ve never tried this model, I do know it’s a good alternative. Plenty of players that don’t like how the Pearl plays do like this model.

Whether you’ve played a Gemeinhardt flute or another piccolo from the brand, you may enjoy this model.

Best Plastic Piccolos

Maybe you’d rather play a plastic piccolo, at least for now. In that case, you’ll want to look into some of the following options.

Gemeinhardt 4P

The Gemeinhardt 4P is one of the most common plastic student piccolos. It features both a plastic headjoint and body, so you can get a warmer sound compared to piccolos with a metal headjoint.

If you like the feel of the Roy Seaman Storm but either can’t quite afford it or don’t need as warm of a sound, this is a good alternative to try.

It’s not too expensive, so it’s a nice choice for students as well as amateurs. You can get a nice sound when performing alone or in a group.

Jupiter 1010

Another great picc (or pick) for students is the Jupiter 1010. This model has a lot of the same specs as the 4P, but it’s from Jupiter, so it’s a nice option if you’ve played other Jupiter flutes.

Now, this piccolo is a bit more expensive than some other plastic models. But it’s still not as expensive as some composite instruments.

Yamaha YPC-32

The Yamaha YPC-32 is yet another amazing choice, and it’s super popular among students. Some of my fellow piccolo section members played this model in college marching band, and they sounded great.

For better or worse, this model features a metal headjoint rather than plastic. That allows you to cut through a large ensemble and be heard, but your sound won’t be as mellow or warm.

Still, this piccolo is worth testing out, especially if you’re looking for your first piccolo.

Are Composite Piccolos Good?

Composite piccolos are excellent, especially for beginners or advancing piccolo players. You get the best of both worlds between plastic and wood models.

However, some models are better than others, especially for a specific player. We all respond differently to instruments, so you should try a few piccolos to compare them.

Are Plastic Piccolos Good?

Many plastic piccolos can work just as well as composite instruments. But like other materials, you may find some models work better for you than others.

Also, plastic piccolos are more common among the cheap market. No-name brands take shortcuts, so the piccolo may not last very long. You get what you pay for.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for your first piccolo or need an upgrade, compare composite vs. plastic piccolos. You can choose from a variety of models made of both materials.

Be sure to test as many piccolos as you can. That way, you’ll be able to determine which material and model is the perfect piccolo for you.

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