Should You Play a Piccolo With a Lip Plate?

If you want to play the piccolo, you may be overwhelmed by all of the options. One question that can be particularly confusing is whether you should play a piccolo with a lip plate.

It’s a common feature on beginner models, but it’s not always necessary. And as you upgrade, you may find you have to switch to a piccolo that doesn’t have one.

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Why Play a Piccolo With a Lip Plate

Some players prefer to play a piccolo with a lip plate for different reasons. Consider why you may want a piccolo with this feature.

Feels More Like a Flute

When you first start playing the piccolo, it can be an adjustment. Sure, it’s a flute, but it has a lot of differences that take time to learn and get used to.

So playing a piccolo with a lip plate can help smooth out that transition. You might find it easier to get a sound on such a piccolo more quickly.

That allows you to start to advance sooner on the piccolo than you otherwise would. It’s also useful if you don’t play the piccolo that much since the swap isn’t as drastic.

Most Metal Headjoints Have One

I have yet to come across a piccolo with a metal headjoint that doesn’t have a lip plate. Whether you want to play an all metal piccolo or a metal headjoint with a plastic body, a lip plate is basically required.

A metal headjoint can help you project more, which makes it a popular choice for marching band. You might be heard more than if you played an all plastic piccolo.

Why Not Play a Piccolo With a Lip Plate

If you want to take the piccolo seriously, you may find that you don’t want to play a piccolo with a lip plate. Consider the following reasons why.

It may Not Change Much

I personally haven’t found much of a difference when it comes to playing a piccolo with a lip plate versus one without. The sole exception is an all metal piccolo, which I do somewhat struggle to play.

However, when comparing piccolos with plastic or composite bodies, it doesn’t change much. I play almost the exact same way, so I don’t feel the need for a lip plate.

Not Available on All Models

For better or worse, you can’t always find a piccolo with a lip plate. As you advance to all wood models, for example, you may not have the option to get a headjoint with a lip plate.

Some brands do offer that, such as Hammig, with the modified wave thin cut. You can also purchase a Mancke headjoint with a lip plate.

But a lot of other brands don’t carve lip plates into the wood of their headjoints. If you don’t want to limit your options, consider learning to play a piccolo with or without a lip plate.

Best Piccolos With a Lip Plate

If you want to start learning the piccolo, you may wonder which models are the best. Some of the top piccolos for beginners come with a lip plate.

  • Yamaha YPC-32: one of the most popular choices, it comes with a silver-plated headjoint and a plastic body.
  • Jupiter JPC1000: not as popular as the Yamaha but still a good choice for beginners on a budget.
  • Selmer Prelude: another good, affordable choice for people new to the piccolo.

Consider these models and a few others to decide which is the right piccolo for you. That will make it a lot more enjoyable to practice and get past the beginning stages of playing the piccolo.

How to Switch From a Piccolo With a Lip Plate to One Without

If you currently play a piccolo with a lip plate but want to upgrade, here are my best tips to help you get used to a piccolo that doesn’t have a lip plate.

Choose the Right Piccolo for You

First, you want to choose a good piccolo to upgrade to. Make sure it’s relatively easy to play from the start and that you don’t have to work too hard.

If you choose a piccolo just because it’s popular, you might not get a good sound out of it. That means you could also struggle to get used to the lack of a lip plate.

Alternate Between Piccolos

For the first few days or weeks, use both piccolos during your practice sessions. Start on your existing piccolo to warm up your lips and fingers.

After a few minutes, switch to the new piccolo and play the same things on it. If you start to struggle, switch back to your first piccolo, and switch again after another few minutes.

Eventually, you’ll start to play your beginner piccolo less and your new piccolo more.

Practice Regularly

Even after you stop alternating between your two piccolos, continue practicing the new one consistently. That way, you can retain the muscle memory that you’ve gained.

You don’t have to practice for hours a day or even hours a week. Just make sure you practice enough for you based on your current playing level and future goals.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner, you’ll likely start on a piccolo with a lip plate. But you may eventually have to switch to one that only has an embouchure hole.

Be sure to consider the best models to start on and how to switch piccolos. That way, you’ll continue to love playing the small flute.

And if you want even more tips, check out the resources page.

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