Do you want to play the piccolo in the heat or humidity? Before you use your main instrument, consider how to choose the best outdoor piccolo.
That way, you’ll be able to select an instrument that works for you and is easy to play. You shouldn’t have to struggle, especially if you’ll only use the piccolo for a few months of the year.
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Review Your Budget
First, you need to consider how much you can spend on your outdoor piccolo. Most piccolos that are safe to play outdoors cost less than $2,000, and many are close to $1,000 or less.
Still, you should decide how much you’re willing to spend on a piccolo that you may only use occasionally. You may be able to find some good used piccolos to save money.
But when it comes to new piccolos, I’d recommend spending close to $1,000 or $1,200. That way, you’ll be able to choose from a few different models to find an instrument that meets your needs.
Think About Special Requirements
In many cases, you get to choose the brand and model of piccolo you play. However, you may have some constraints, especially if you’re going to play this piccolo in a marching band.
I’ve heard that some marching band directors require all piccolo players to have an all-metal model. That way, the piccolos will look more like the flutes.
So if you’re playing in an ensemble like that, ask your director if they have that requirement. You can also ask if you need a piccolo with a plastic body and a metal head or some other combination.
Consider Your Main Piccolo Brand
One thing that may help you choose an outdoor piccolo is the brand of your main instrument. Many companies make piccolos in a variety of materials, so you may find a good summer option.
For example, Powell makes wood piccolos as well as a composite instrument that could be good for outside use. Yamaha also makes wood piccolos along with the Yamaha YPC-32 which is perfect for outside.
If the brand of piccolo you play makes a plastic or metal model, check it out. You may find it plays similarly to your main one, so switching between the two won’t be that difficult.
Stick to Reputable Brands
As you look for a good outdoor piccolo, stick to brands with good reputations. Especially if you shop online, you can find tons of cheap piccolos.
That may sound super nice for outdoor use, but you could waste your money. A lot of the really cheap instruments are that price for a reason: they aren’t of good quality.
Avoid Wood Models
Wood piccolos may be some of the best ones out there, but they’re better for indoor playing. If you use a wood piccolo outside, you have to be extra careful.
The wood can crack if you take your piccolo between temperature or humidity extremes too quickly. I’ve had that happen with my wood piccolo, and while I was able to repair it, it wasn’t cheap.
So when looking specifically for an outdoor piccolo, stick to metal, plastic, or even composite piccolos. That way, you don’t have to worry as much about the extra maintenance and care.
Avoiding wood is also essential because this piccolo will spend a lot of time in storage. Even if you never touch it, it could still develop small cracks.
If you want the wood sound, you should look at composite piccolos. There are different composite materials out there, such as grenaditte, but they all do the same thing.
Composite piccolos combine plastic with wood (usually grenadilla). The plastic helps stabilize the wood so that you can play the piccolo outdoors without the risk of cracks.
I love my Pearl 105 and still have it on hand for when I need a good outdoor piccolo. It’s easy to play, and it served as my main piccolo before I upgraded to a wood model.
Test the Models
Another vital step in how to choose an outdoor piccolo is to test the models you’re considering. You may only play this piccolo during the summer, but you should still choose one that suits you.
Look for the option to schedule a trial or to at least be able to return a piccolo you don’t like. When you get your hands on a piccolo, test the range: high to low, loud to soft, fast to slow.
Make sure you can comfortably play the piccolo in its full range. If there’s a problem, ask when it last had maintenance, especially if you’re buying a used piccolo. That way, you can determine if it’s worth it or if you’ll need to pay for repairs.
Focus on Ease
Selecting a piccolo that’s easy for you to play always matters. However, it’s even more important when choosing a summer or outdoor piccolo.
Odds are, you won’t play this model all of the time, so you won’t get to learn the intricacies of how it works. That means you need for the piccolo to be easy to pick up and play.
If you struggle to get a sound when trying the piccolo, don’t buy it. You’d need to spend more time practicing it to get used to how the piccolo works, and you might not have that option.
Try Different Headjoints
One thing that can make an outdoor piccolo easier to play is selecting the right headjoint cut. Many players prefer a traditional cut, which tends to have a small, round hole.
However, others (including myself) like a wave headjoint. Wave cuts have a slight ridge that helps direct your air into the instrument, which can be nice to have on an outdoor piccolo.
But you should try both cuts to see which headjoint style works better for you. That way, you won’t have as much trouble when you have to pick up your summer piccolo on short notice.
Make a Choice
Eventually, you’ll need to choose some sort of outdoor piccolo. After looking at your budget and trying a few options, you’ll need to narrow down your choices.
Selecting any piccolo can be difficult, but sometimes you just have to do it. If you can’t choose, ask your teacher or another player for their opinion.
Sometimes, it helps to get an outside perspective on which instrument is the best fit. I did this when shopping for my wood piccolo, but you can do it with any model.
Then, you may choose an instrument that will work well for you. Whenever you have to play outdoors, you can do so on an instrument that you love.
Why Do You Need an Outdoor Piccolo?
You need an outdoor piccolo for a few reasons. First, wood can crack easily, especially in extreme heat, cold, or humidity, so you can protect your more expensive instrument.
Also, it helps not to use your good piccolo in marching band or similar settings. You can put that piccolo through a lot, so you need something durable and affordable.
Fortunately, most good outdoor piccolos are easy to find and are affordable. So you don’t have to break the bank when shopping for a summer piccolo.
Which Outdoor Piccolo Will You Choose?
Choosing an outdoor piccolo involves some of the same steps as selecting any other instrument. However, you have some special considerations involved.
You have to make sure you can play the piccolo in different climates. And you might not have the biggest budget, so look at piccolos you can afford.
Whether you choose the Pearl 105 (my favorite) or something else, make sure it works for you. That’s the most important part of purchasing any instrument.