If you want to make the most of your piccolo, you need to know how to assemble a piccolo safely. One wrong move might not make a difference once, but it can add up over time.
Read on to learn what bad habits to avoid when putting your piccolo together and taking it apart. That way, you can keep from having to spend hundreds on unnecessary repairs.
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Before You Assemble a Piccolo
As soon as you grab your piccolo case, you may want to start playing. However, you need to do a couple of things before you assemble a piccolo.
For one, if your piccolo has a cork tenon on the body, you might need to apply cork grease. I don’t do this all of the time, but if it’s been a while since I have or if the cork feels dry, I will add some cork grease.
It also helps to set up your piccolo stand or flute stand before assembling your piccolo. That way, you won’t have to awkwardly rest your piccolo somewhere while you set up the stand.
How to Hold the Headjoint
Now, you’re ready to start putting your piccolo together. First, take your headjoint out of its slot in the piccolo case, and grab it by the solid part.
Don’t ever try to grab the headjoint by placing your finger in the embouchure hole. Doing that could damage the embouchure hole and thus make your piccolo impossible to play.
If your headjoint also has a lip plate, you should avoid using that as a tool to grab the headjoint. Keep it simple, and grab it by the smoother sides near the tenon that attaches to the body.
How to Hold the Body
Next, you need to grab the body of the piccolo. Once again, try to grab it by the smoother parts, near the tenon that will connect to the headjoint.
If you grab the body by the keys, you could squeeze the keys and damage them. Then, you’d need to spend a lot of money on piccolo repairs.
I usually grab the body by the top, and that makes it easy to take off the cap from the body. My Pearl and Hammig piccolos have a cap that protects the cork when the piccolos are in their cases.
If you have that, you may want to grab the body first. That way, you’ll still have a hand free to remove the cap without dropping your piccolo headjoint.
Twist the Piccolo Together
As you assemble the piccolo, twist the headjoint and body together slowly. Don’t force the headjoint and body to fit, especially if you have an aftermarket headjoint from a different brand.
You might also have to go slowly if your instrument has expanded due to extreme temperatures. If your piccolo has a cork, a dry cork could also make it harder to assemble the instrument.
Whenever you struggle to put your piccolo together, stop what you’re doing. Look at the headjoint and body to see what might be wrong, then you can apply cork grease or do whatever else you need to so that you can play your piccolo.
Tune the Piccolo
Now, you need to tune the piccolo so that you don’t play too sharp or flat. You can use a tuner on your phone or a physical tuner to check your pitch against what’s in tune.
Or you can use a drone to check your tuning using your ears. Both options are great, and I recommend combining both, especially because you may need to adjust your piccolo as it warms up.
If you sound sharp, you’ll need to pull the headjoint out, but if you’re flat, you’ll need to push in. Either way, make small changes because a little goes a long way on the piccolo.
Disassemble the Piccolo
After you’re done playing the piccolo, you’ll need to disassemble it. Once again, you should twist the headjoint and body back and forth and slowly take them apart.
Don’t force either part off the other. If something gets stuck, you’ll want to schedule a visit with your repair technician so that they can get it off.
For those times, I like to have a tech I trust close by, even if I take major repair work to someone else. That way, you don’t have to mail your piccolo or wait too long to fix it.
Swab the Piccolo
You’ll also want to swab out the inside of the piccolo when you’re done playing for this practice session. I like to use a Valentino piccolo wand, which you can use before you disassemble the instrument.
But you can also use your piccolo’s included cleaning rod and a silk swabbing cloth. Then, you can swab the body and headjoint separately.
Getting all of the condensation out of your piccolo can keep it in good shape. That way, you shouldn’t have to struggle too much with it the next time you practice.
What to Do If You Can’t Assemble Your Piccolo
If you can’t assemble your piccolo, don’t try to force anything. Instead, you can take it to your private teacher or a piccolo repair technician.
They can look at the instrument to see what’s wrong. In some cases, you may just need to add a bit of cork grease, but you might need more serious repair work.
If you struggle with assembling your piccolo regularly, you should also consider where you store it. Wood piccolos can be especially vulnerable to temperature changes since the wood contracts and expands.
You may want to look for a better place to store your piccolo. That way, the wood will be fine when you take the piccolo out of the case.
Knowing how to assemble a piccolo safely is vital for all piccolo and flute players. Be sure to consider the steps above when putting your instrument together.
That way, you can keep your instrument in playing condition. Check out my favorite resources for more details to help you play your piccolo!