Are you ready for a piccolo upgrade? You may not want to get a whole new instrument, but you can upgrade parts of your piccolo to get a better sound.
A small upgrade can do wonders for your sound and playing skills. Then, you’ll be able to play even better without having to pay a ton of money for an instrument.
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Why Not Get a Full Piccolo Upgrade
You may not want to do a full piccolo upgrade for a few reasons. Sometimes, it has to do with your finances, but it may have more to do with something completely different.
Here are a few reasons to put off buying a whole new piccolo (at least for now).
Of course, upgrading to a new piccolo gets expensive real quick. If you already play a composite piccolo or a lower-priced wood model, you have to spend thousands of dollars for something better.
You may want to get a better sound when playing the piccolo. But when you don’t have a ton of extra cash, upgrading can be impossible.
And even if you have some money, you might need to put it toward bills or other expenses. Buying a piccolo may move to the bottom of your priority list.
You Can Limit Your Options
While there are a lot of good piccolo models, you can also limit yourself. Along with full instruments, there are plenty of piccolo upgrade options to help you get a good sound and response.
If you only consider full new instruments, you could find something you like. However, you could also miss out on something even better.
When looking for a new piccolo, be sure to consider all of your piccolo upgrade choices. Then, you can get the best setup for your needs and playing style.
You Like Your Piccolo
Consider if you still like playing the piccolo you have. If so, it might not be time for a full upgrade just yet, but you can find ways to make your instrument play a little better.
First, take your piccolo to a woodwind tech for some maintenance. Then, you can make sure it’s in the best possible playing condition to help you determine if you really need something different.
If the piccolo sounds good but could be better, look into a smaller piccolo upgrade. Some options may suit your needs much better than a whole new instrument would.
Your Dream Piccolo Isn’t Available
Another reason not to get a new piccolo is if it means you have to settle. You should wait for your dream piccolo to come back in stock or for you to have enough money to purchase it.
As long as you have a decent piccolo, you can continue to play and get better. Then, when you are able to buy the piccolo you really want, you’ll have even more skills to use.
I played on what is now my backup piccolo for over three years, and it served me well. That piccolo also allowed me to shop around and get the best next piccolo for me.
Other Piccolo Upgrade Ideas
If you find that buying an entire piccolo doesn’t make a ton of sense, you may wonder what options you have. Fortunately, you don’t have to continue to play your current setup if it isn’t working the best it could.
Here are a few things you can do if you want a smaller piccolo upgrade that is well worth it.
One of the easiest ways to improve your current piccolo is to get a new headjoint for it. This is particularly smart if you don’t like the current headjoint cut you have and would like something else.
You can test different cuts of headjoints from your current maker and other brands. Aftermarket headjoint makers, like Mancke and Hernandez, also make headjoints in various woods.
That means you can compare a few headjoints to find one that really suits your needs. You just need to make sure that you get a headjoint that fits your current piccolo or that you know a tech who can properly fit the new head for you.
Different Headjoint Cut
Even if you don’t look at different brands, you can look at new headjoint cuts. For example, I play on a wave headjoint, so I might try a traditional headjoint.
Some companies make other cuts, such as ones with lip plates carved into the wood. You can try a lot of different cuts, some round and others more rectangular in shape.
Be sure to test a few headjoint cuts with your piccolo. Then, you’ll have the best chance of selecting a headjoint that will make you want to practice.
LeFreque Sound Bridge
I’ve tried the LeFreque Sound Bridge in a few metals on my now backup piccolo. The sound bridge goes on your headjoint and body to help connect the sound through the instrument.
You can choose from metals like silver, brass, and gold. Some also come with plating of one metal on top of another, which can help you get a more specific sound that you want.
While I haven’t tested it on my current piccolo, it has sounded good when I’ve played it. Some musicians love how it sounds and can’t live without it, but others think it’s a gimmick and a waste of money.
I fall somewhere in the middle because I know it can help improve your sound. However, it may not do as much as you want, so you need to test it for yourself to be sure if it’s worth it.
You may also want to look into getting a new crown for your piccolo headjoint. This is the part the closes the end of the joint. It also holds the headjoint cork and maintains a good seal.
I haven’t tested different crowns on my piccolos, but I’ve head they can have an effect. It may affect the weight or even the sound you can get depending on the rest of your gear.
You should test a few crowns and compare the sound and feel to your current setup. That way, you’ll be able to listen to the different options to help select the best crown for you.
How to Choose a Piccolo Upgrade
Before you decide on the piccolo upgrade you want to go with, you should learn how to choose the right option. You have more choices than you might expect.
That can be a good thing, but it can also overwhelm you when shopping around. Here are some of my best tips for selecting the best piccolo upgrade for you.
Test Different Options
First, you don’t want to limit the options you try out. You may think a new headjoint is the right way to go, but you should also test a sound bridge and a crown or two.
This will give you the best possible chance of selecting an upgrade that works for you. Keep an open mind as you try the different things that you want to.
As you do so, take notes about how each combination sounds or feels. Then, you’ll be able to compare the notes after the fact to help select the right upgrade.
Compare Your Current Setup
When you try new things, compare them to your current setup. For example, compare the current headjoint to a new one so that you have a baseline.
If you just try new headjoints, you may find one you like. But it might not sound that different from the one you currently use, so you could buy something that doesn’t do anything for you.
I did this when I was looking at potentially buying a wood headjoint for my composite piccolo. But I didn’t decide to buy a headjoint at that point, and playing my setup at the time came in handy.
Of course, you may not have a sound bridge to compare against. In that case, compare playing with a LeFreque to playing without one.
Ask for Feedback
You may be able to decide if a piccolo upgrade is worth it on your own. However, it never hurts to get feedback from your teacher or other piccolo players that you know.
One option is to send recordings to your teacher and friends. You can also get together in person or over video chat so that you can try out the new gear live.
Ask your friends to give their honest opinion about the setup. If you do a recording or video call, you can make it audio-only and not tell the other people which setup is which to get a more objective response.
Whether or not you get feedback from others, you should record yourself. Then, you can hear how your setup sounds to a listener, and you may pick up on things you missed when playing.
Plus, you can have a friend record just the audio for you. They can then change the order play back the recordings and not tell you which is which.
That can help you figure out which setup is the best for you. However, you won’t make your decision based on the brand name, pricing, or other preconceived notions you might have.
Review Your Budget
Before you start the piccolo upgrade process, you should look at your budget. Consider how much you’re willing to spend on a new headjoint, crown, or sound bridge.
Start with your current bank balance and consider if you want to buy now or soon. Then, think about how much you can afford to save each week or each month.
That can help you come up with a realistic budget for your purchase. Some upgrades are less than $100, while others top $1,000, such as for a new headjoint.
Consider New and Used Options
It can be easy to look for new piccolo upgrade options, and you have plenty of choices that way. However, don’t count out used headjoints, crowns, and LeFreques either.
Buying a used piece of equipment can help you save money on your purchase. You’ll also be able to get a better model of headjoint or whatever without having to pay the full price.
Used models also add more choices to your shopping, even if you have the money for something new. If you can’t find a new, silver LeFreque, for example, you can get a used one.
Do You Need a Piccolo Upgrade?
You don’t necessarily need a piccolo upgrade, but it can help improve your playing. Think about your current sound and what you do or don’t like about the piccolo.
Then, you can determine what makes sense to upgrade. Of course, you can also review your budget to figure out what type of upgrade is the best for you.
Should You Upgrade Part or All of the Piccolo?
It depends on your budget and wishes. I tried a wood headjoint with my composite piccolo, and it sounded good, but I also knew that I wanted a whole new piccolo at some point.
A year later, I ended up buying a whole new piccolo. Had I bought the headjoint earlier, I may not have had enough money for the wood piccolo that I got.
Is a Piccolo Upgrade Expensive?
A piccolo upgrade can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, some LeFreques cost less than $100, and they may cost even less if you buy them used.
On the other hand, other upgrades, like headjoints, can cost over $1,000. It depends on the brand and materials involved in the headjoint that you buy.
Will You Give Your Piccolo an Upgrade?
A good piccolo upgrade can be well worth it if you don’t want to buy a whole new instrument. Whether you get a different headjoint, a crown, or a LeFreque, you have your options.
Be sure you try multiple headjoints or sound bridges to decide which works the best for you. If you need more tips to improve your sound, head to the resources page.