Before you buy your next instrument, you should consider if that should be a student or professional piccolo. The question may not be as easy as you think.
To help, consider how these two types of piccolos differ. That way, you can narrow your search to models that meet your needs.
Here are the differences you need to know.
The first significant difference between a student and professional piccolo is the materials. Student instruments tend to use metal, plastic, or a plastic and wood composite.
These materials are affordable and can withstand a lot of use. But they aren’t the best for professional models. Pro piccolos use wood, either grenadilla or some other material.
You might occasionally come across a solid silver piccolo. These are usually older, but they can be a good option for serious players as well.
Student and professional piccolos also may have different specs. A beginner model may simply have the standard key layout similar to a student flute.
Professional piccolos tend to have a split E mechanism. Some also have a high G# facilitator, a vented C key, or even a low C key. It depends on the brand you buy from.
If you look at really expensive models, you may even get a piccolo with solid silver keys instead of silver-plated.
Like with flutes, student piccolos usually come with one headjoint style. You have to make it work to get a sound out. A lot of beginner piccolos, especially those with metal heads, have a lip plate.
On the other hand, a professional piccolo may have more options. When I tried pro piccolos, some had traditional headjoints. But the others had wave headjoints.
I went with a wave headjoint for my current piccolo. And you can buy headjoints separately if you want to switch them out. Then, you can get the sound and response you want.
Another factor that separates professional and student piccolos is the amount of handmaking that goes into the production. Student piccolos usually go through an assembly line with machines.
A piccolo company may hire players to test the instruments. But most of the process involves machines to make beginner models.
However, almost any professional piccolo you find will have more handmade parts. Some are entirely handmade.
All of the other differences can affect the cost of student and professional models. Even the most expensive beginner piccolo will be more affordable than a pro instrument.
Student piccolos can cost $1,000, give or take a few hundred dollars. If you want a pro piccolo, you can expect to spend around $4,000 o4 more.
In between, you’ll find intermediate models. Those can be a nice option if you want something better than a student instrument but can’t afford a pro piccolo.
Who Should Get a Student Piccolo?
Of course, beginners should get a student piccolo. These models are also great for use outside, so they’re nice for marching band.
Casual players and anyone on a budget should look at beginner and intermediate instruments. That way, you’ll be able to find something that works well.
What About Intermediate Piccolos?
Intermediate piccolos are a good compromise. They’re not too expensive, but they have more features and options than beginner models.
If you want a composite piccolo or an affordable wood model, you should check out some intermediate options. Then, you may not need to get a professional piccolo.
When Should You Upgrade to a Professional Piccolo?
You should upgrade to a professional piccolo after you get serious about your playing. However, you also need to have the money to afford the instrument.
I may have been able to buy a pro piccolo earlier. But due to finances and the pandemic, I waited until the end of my masters program to buy my first professional piccolo.
Will You Choose a Student or Professional Piccolo?
Choosing the right piccolo is crucial, and it helps to learn about the different levels. Then, you can know if you should stick with a student model or splurge on a professional piccolo.
I can’t tell you which is right, so try both. Then, you can make the best decision for you.