Piccolo makers use materials in their piccolos to get a distinct sound. Different materials can also affect the price of a piccolo. This post will give an overview to the different piccolo materials you can choose from.
When choosing a piccolo, you can choose from a variety of materials. The most common are metal, plastic, and wood. Plastic is the cheapest, followed by metal, and wood is more expensive.
There are also two types of plastic: straight plastic and composite.
In this post, we are going to explore the many piccolo materials. We will also look at the pros and cons of each.
But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
Plastic piccolos are one of the most common, especially for students. They are cheap, resistant to extreme temperatures, and they work well for beginners.
Some piccolos are made with both a plastic body and headjoint. Others have a plastic body and a metal headjoint.
The pros of a plastic piccolo include the lower price as well as the durability of the piccolo. If you will be playing outside, plastic piccolos can withstand the heat and cold. You don’t have to worry about cracking, like with a wood piccolo.
Cons of a plastic piccolo include the airy tone you can get. However, they are great in almost every other way. Even if you choose to buy a wood piccolo down the line, a plastic piccolo is a great back up instrument.
Common brands: Yamaha, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt
Price range (new): $500-900
Price range (used): $250-450
Composite is a type of plastic piccolo. These usually come configured with both a composite body and headjoint. Though you can buy a wood or metal headjoint if you wish.
These piccolos are a combination of plastic and wood. I currently play a composite piccolo, and I love it. Composite piccolos give you all the benefits of a wood piccolo without the price or the worries about cracks.
You can play a composite piccolo both indoors and out. No need to worry about the wood cracking. The plastic in the piccolo stabilizes the wood for a more refined sound and requires less management.
Common brands: Pearl, Guo, Di Zhao, Roy Seaman
Price range (new): $800-1100
Price range (used): $650-900
Metal piccolos are probably the least common, but they do exist. They serve their own purpose for piccolo players. Metal piccolos, like flutes, come in different metals.
You can find metal piccolos that are silver plated, solid silver, and even gold.
Metal piccolos, while uncommon, are great for marching band and other outdoor events. Metal piccolos carry more than plastic or wood, so they can be heard on a large football field.
My first piccolo was silver plated, and it was a great first instrument. I was able to use it in marching band, and it was also very affordable. Metal piccolos do cost a bit more than plastic piccolos, but not by much.
Used metal piccolos are a much better deal than new, because they are not in high demand.
If you plan to play outside a lot, metal piccolos are worth looking into.
Common brands: Gemeinhardt, Armstrong, Haynes
Price range (new): $1100-2700
Price range (used): $250-1000
Professional piccolos are almost always made of wood. You can even choose from different woods. Grenadilla is the most common wood, and you can find many companies that use the wood in their piccolos.
I have played a school owned wood piccolo, and it was definitely a step up from my metal one. However, wood piccolos vary a lot in cost. Wood piccolos start at around $1500 and can go up ten-fold. The most expensive wood piccolo I have seen costs around $15000.
If you choose to buy a wood piccolo, be very aware of your budget, and shop smart. Unless you are a professional piccolo player in an orchestra, you probably don’t need all of the bells and whistles. You probably don’t need a handmade mechanism.
The biggest con of wood piccolos is the cost, but you can find lower cost wood piccolos.
Common brands: Yamaha, Lyric, Resona, Gemeinhardt, Hammig, Powell, Burkart
Price range (new): $1500-15000
Price range (used): $1200-10000
What kind of piccolo do you play? Have you experimented with different piccolo materials? Comment below, and be sure to follow me on Instagram (@hannahbflute)!