Metal vs. Plastic Piccolo: A Comparison

Do you want to play the piccolo? You should compare metal vs. plastic models to help decide which is right for you.

The piccolo that works best for me might not work for you and vice versa. So give the two materials a comparison to make your choice.

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Why Play a Metal Piccolo

A metal piccolo is a common choice for beginners, but some advanced players may choose a metal instrument. If you tend to play outside or need to project your sound, metal is great.

I played a metal Armstrong 204 for a few years, and I enjoyed it. While I’ve since upgraded, it was a great piccolo to start with.

When comparing metal vs. plastic piccolos, you should consider a few reasons to play a metal model.

Durability

One of the most significant benefits of a metal piccolo is that it’s durable. I was able to play my metal instrument in marching band, and it worked out well.

You can play a metal instrument outside in other settings as well. Now, it can get cold if you need to play in a cold environment. But it’s easy enough to warm up your piccolo to keep it in tune.

Durability is essential for piccolo students. If you have to be super careful, you may not want to play the instrument. And it may just sit in its case and go to waste.

Projection

Speaking of playing outside, you may want to use a metal piccolo because it projects well. That means you can get a good sound that people from the other side of the field will hear.

Projection is particularly important in a marching band. You’re going to be at least a few feet from other players. If you can’t hear each other, it will be hard to play the music together.

Being able to project is also nice when playing with any ensemble. Of course, it will be easy to hear the piccolo. But it’s nice to not have to play super loud.

Easy Transition

When you start on the piccolo, it can feel a lot different from playing the flute. It’s much smaller, and in many cases, the materials are different.

But when you play a metal piccolo, you get to play with the same materials. A metal piccolo will have a lip plate, which can be easier for some players to get used to.

That might make it easier to make the switch between the instruments. Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a lip plate, but it can help beginners.

Why Play a Plastic Piccolo

Before you decide between metal vs. plastic piccolos, you should consider the benefits of a plastic model. They may not be as easy of a transition, but they have some advantages over metal.

While it’s technically composite, the Pearl 105 has a mix of plastic and wood. It was what I upgraded to after my Armstrong piccolo no longer met my needs.

So consider a few reasons why you should get a plastic piccolo.

Tone Quality

One of the downsides of a metal piccolo is that it can sound shrill. If you want to play piccolo in an orchestra or a similar setting, you may want to go with a plastic piccolo.

Whether you play a composite or a regular plastic instrument, it will sound warmer and a bit more mellow than metal. That can be nice if you want to take the piccolo seriously and play it many places.

It’s also useful for playing as a soloist or in a chamber group. You can still stand out, but you won’t have to worry about keeping your tone from being too bright.

Blending

It’s also easier to blend with other instruments when you play a plastic piccolo, or it has been in my experience. In an orchestra, the piccolo often doubles the violins, oboes, and even the brass.

You need to be able to blend your sound into the sounds of those other instruments. And if you don’t it will be clear that you’re probably the player with the issue.

Being able to blend with the flutes is also important in orchestra, band, and flute choir. And having a plastic instrument can make that blending much easier.

Upgrades

You may come to a point where you want an even warmer sound. If you can’t afford to buy a wood piccolo, you can get a wood headjoint to get some of the benefits of wood.

And you’ll be able to learn how to take care of the wood headjoint to keep the wood from cracking. Plus, you can still use your plastic headjoint if you ever need to play piccolo outside.

Upgrading the headjoint of a metal piccolo is almost unheard of. I know a few players who have upgraded their headjoints for a plastic or wood instrument but not metal.

Combine Metal and Plastic

A lot of student models don’t make you choose between a metal vs. plastic piccolo. Instead, they have a metal headjoint, which can make the transition from flute to piccolo a bit easier.

The body is plastic, though, so you can get some of the warmer tone colors. Then, you can learn the piccolo without as much of an issue, and you can play the instrument indoors and outdoors.

Metal vs. Plastic Piccolo: Which Is Right for You?

Before you buy your first or next piccolo, you should compare metal vs. plastic models. Then, you’ll be able to choose the piccolo that meets your needs and goals.

I’d recommend trying a few models with each set of specs. I could suggest models all day long, but what I like may not be the right fit for you.

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