You’ve played the flute for years and are ready to give the piccolo a try. Before you order the first one that shows up in search results, consider if it’s one of a few piccolo brands to avoid.
Not all piccolos are as good as a Burkart, Hammig, Pearl, or Yamaha. Some are much worse and can be a waste of money, even though they seem like a good deal at the time.
Before we get into the brands, this post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure policy to learn more.
Signs of Piccolo Brands to Avoid
I don’t want to list specific brands and inevitably lead someone down the wrong path toward a poor-quality piccolo. So to help you refine your search when looking for a new instrument, I wanted to share some things to look for.
That way, you’ll know to remove a piccolo from your wishlist and to keep searching for something better.
No Brand in the Listing
One of the biggest red flags I came across is that not all piccolo listings even have a brand name in them. Now, when it comes to reputable brands, such as Yamaha, Pearl, and Jupiter, they WILL include the brand name.
But there were a surprising number of piccolos for sale on Amazon without a brand at all. Odds are, those are super low-quality piccolos that aren’t worth your money or time to try and play.
Sure, some of those listings may include the brand in the details. But I’d venture to guess that when that does happen, it’s probably not a well-known company.
Number of Keys Listed
I find this happens more with cheap flutes than cheap piccolos, but it’s worth noting. It’s not unheard of for listings for these instruments to include the number of keys they have.
That may sound helpful, but it’s not an official spec that any brand worth their salt will include. Instead, they may include the letter of the note name of the footjoint (such as B vs. C for flutes).
However, I’d run far away from any piccolo that uses the number of keys as a marketing strategy.
Suspiciously Low Price
Another thing to look out for is if a piccolo is way cheaper than models with similar specs from better brands. It’s one thing for piccolos to vary by $100 or even a bit more than that.
But if you find a piccolo (that’s new) that costs $1,000 less than a similar model, avoid the cheap one. The manufacturer most likely cut corners to make the piccolo for that low price.
That means the piccolo probably won’t last very long or get a good sound for long, if at all. So you could actually end up wasting money because you’ll just have to buy a better piccolo in a few months.
Reputable piccolo brands make instruments that are silver-plated, solid silver, plastic, composite, or wood. If you find a piccolo that uses any other material or any wild color, avoid it.
Sure, it may seem like a good idea to buy a piccolo in your school colors for marching band. But the color may rub off, and the instrument itself most likely won’t sound the best.
If you must buy a blue or pink piccolo, do so carefully. Keep in mind that it’s probably going to sound pretty shrill, and it may even be impossible to get a sound to come out at all.
Long Shipping Times
One of the nice things about buying a piccolo on Amazon is that you can get it within a day or two. However, some listings feature very long shipping times, sometimes weeks or months.
Even if you don’t need a piccolo right away, long shipping times are concerning. Your piccolo could sit somewhere in a warehouse or on a truck with no climate control.
Also, a long shipping time might be a sign that the piccolo still has to go through customs. That can take who knows how long, so there’s also no guarantee that the predicted shipping time will be accurate.
Whenever a piccolo claims to be teacher approved, band approved, or professional, you should run. Odds are, these are claims that the company made without any evidence to back them up.
Now, there are some exceptions, like the Burkart Professional piccolo. But that’s actually a professional piccolo from one of the most reputable brands in the world.
If a low cost piccolo is claiming to be “professional,” it’s lying to you. You’re better off looking for piccolos with good reviews and from better brands because they won’t have to say they’re teacher approved.
Don’t get me wrong; I love when a new piccolo comes with a few accessories. However, a lot of cheap piccolos come with stuff you don’t need, like gloves or cork grease.
Yes, you do need to use cork grease if the body of your piccolo has a cork. But a lot of these piccolos don’t feature a cork, and using the grease on the metal can cause dirt and dust to build up.
And sure, gloves may help keep fingerprints off the silver plating. However, you won’t be able to feel the keys as easily if you have a layer of fabric over your fingers.
Only on Amazon
I’ve seen quite a few reputable flute brands being sold on Amazon, even from well-known shops, like the Flute Center of New York. So I don’t want to say that all flutes you’ll find on the marketplace are bad.
However, I’d suggest that you cross-check the flutes on other websites before buying. You can still make the purchase through Amazon, such as if you want the fast shipping or to apply an Amazon gift card.
But if the only place you find a given brand is Amazon or eBay or some other generic shop, be very careful. There’s a reason reputable shops, like FCNY or Woodwind & Brasswind don’t sell that model.
Another thing to consider, especially on Amazon, is whether a piccolo listing is sponsored or not. This isn’t always a sign that it’s one of those piccolo brands to avoid, but it’s a red flag.
When I searched for “piccolo” on the marketplace, the first three listings were sponsored. And all three were for flutes or piccolos from these brands that you won’t hear flute teachers recommend.
The same thing happens when you search for “flute.” Sure, sellers may pay to advertise their reputable models, but it’s not a bad idea to ignore the sponsored results.
You’ll also want to keep in mind what materials the piccolo maker claims to have used. I’d say that most of the knock-off type brands make student models, despite what they may tell you.
At this level, nickel silver, silver plating, and plastic are all pretty common materials. But what’s common among these low-quality brands is cupronickel.
I don’t know of a single reputable flute brand that makes a cupronickel piccolo. They may sound okay, but I’d definitely take the time to research the brand and model to consider if it’s worth your money.
Before buying anything online, you may want to read the reviews. If a significant percentage of the reviews are negative, take a step back and maybe look for a different piccolo.
However, that doesn’t mean piccolos with all positive reviews are to be trusted either. I’ve heard of sellers bribing their customers to remove negative reviews.
So don’t just look at the reviews on Amazon. Check other websites that sell the piccolo model in question. And if you’re still not sure, ask a flute teacher about the brand, and they can tell you if buying it is a good idea.
For as many good piccolo brands as there are, you’ll find just as many piccolo brands to avoid. Be sure you know about these cheap brands whether you’re a beginner, professional, or a piccolo teacher.
Instead, consider some of the best piccolo brands out there. You can trust that (except for the rare lemon) these brands will put out high-quality piccolos that will last for years.