Is grenaditte a good piccolo material? It’s one of a variety of materials, but you may wonder if it’s the right choice for your next piccolo.
I love the material and think it’s a great choice for many players. Read on to learn more about this composite material and the pros and cons.
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Overview of Grenaditte
Grenaditte is a specific type of synthetic materials that some piccolo makers use. The most popular brands that use the material include Pearl and GUO.
Unlike plastic, it incorporates a bit of grenadilla wood with the plastic. That allows you to get a warm sound that you might expect from an all wood model.
However, you don’t have to deal with the cost of a wood piccolo or the ongoing maintenance required. Now, you still need to take care of your piccolo, but it’s not as big of a problem.
Grenaditte Piccolo Models
If you’re looking at composite instruments, you should consider grenaditte. Not all composite piccolos use this material, but it can be a good option for many students and advancing players.
I played on one for over three years, most of which was during my time in graduate school. Whether you’re on a budget or need a good piccolo to play outdoors, you have options.
Consider the following models for your next piccolo purchase.
When my first piccolo no longer met my needs, I upgraded to a Pearl 105. The piccolo features a composite headjoint and body, so it’s all safe and suitable for outdoor use.
However, the inclusion of grenadilla wood also helps it sound warm and rich for a piccolo. That makes it a good choice for use in an orchestra or any other indoor ensemble.
I love how it comes with a split E mechanism to help you play the third octave E without it cracking. You can choose between a traditional or wave headjoint, and I chose the wave (which I love).
The Pearl 165 is very similar to the 105, but there are a couple of differences. First, this model features a grenadilla wood headjoint with a grenaditte body.
This piccolo also has omni-synthetic pads as opposed to standard piccolo pads. I believe the synthetic pads are supposed to be more durable, and they’re also synthetic, so they’re vegan.
It comes with a split E mechanism, just like the Pearl 105 piccolo. You also get to choose between a traditional and wave headjoint cut, so you can select the one that works better for you.
If you don’t like Pearl piccolos, you can try the GUO Grenaditte model. I haven’t tried this model, but I’ve heard many great things about GUO piccolos.
This model comes with a split E mechanism, and even the keys are a composite material. That makes it a nice choice if you’re allergic to nickel or silver and so can’t touch those metals for very long.
I also love how it has a high G# facilitator, which only usually comes on expensive wood piccolos. Plus, you can store it assembled in the case to save time when you start to practice.
Grenaditte vs. Grenadilla
The names are very similar, and so are the two popular piccolo materials. As I mentioned, grenaditte is one example of a composite material that combines plastic and wood, usually grenadilla.
Grenadilla, or African blackwood, is the most popular wood among woodwind instruments. It offers a nice rich tone, and it looks great (as long as you protect your instrument from cracks).
Pros of a Composite Piccolo
Whether you buy a grenaditte model or some other type of composite piccolo, consider why you should. These materials may not be as professional as wood piccolos, but they still work well.
As I mentioned, I played on one until the very end of my masters in flute performance. Here are a few advantages of a composite piccolo model.
One of the most significant advantages of a composite piccolo is that you can get a warm sound. I was able to blend in with other instruments in an orchestra or wind ensemble on mine.
Part of why I upgraded to a Pearl piccolo was that I had trouble blending on my Armstrong 204. While a metal piccolo is great for marching band or other outdoor gigs, it’s a bit shrill.
If you switch to a plastic model, you can enjoy some of the warmer tones of wood. That way, you can get the best sound possible, which is vital if you want to enjoy playing piccolo and to advance.
Unfortunately, wood piccolos can crack, even if you’re careful. Wood contracts and expands as the temperature changes, and you may have seen this happen with your floors.
Well, it can happen with a grenadilla wood piccolo, and it happened to me. Less than a year after I upgraded to my Hammig piccolo, the headjoint developed a gnarly crack.
Luckily, my piccolo tech was able to fix it, but it was kind of expensive. If you don’t want to deal with the risk of cracks, you might not want to invest in a wood instrument, at least not yet.
Another way in which composite piccolos are better than wood is the price. Most grenaditte models I’ve found are less than $2,000 or right around there.
While there are a couple of wood models at that price, most cost more than $2,000. Some cost two, three, or even 10 times more than that.
If you’re on a tight budget, you should get the best piccolo you can afford. You don’t have to break the bank to get a good quality instrument that you can play well.
Cons of a Composite Piccolo
While there are many advantages of playing on a grenaditte piccolo, there are just as many drawbacks. Be sure to consider both sides of the story before you buy one of these models.
For some players, it’s the right choice, at least right now. Other players may find they need a different material, either to meet their budget or their performance goals.
Here are a few downsides to playing a Pearl or GUO piccolo.
Not Full Wood
The presence of wood allows you to get a warm sound from a Pearl of GUO piccolo. However, these models still aren’t entirely made of wood, grenadilla or otherwise.
That means you may still struggle to get the sound you want out of your instrument. I know when I switched from my Pearl to my Hammig, the low register was much fuller and richer.
It can be nice to play a wood piccolo to get the warmest, most mellow sound possible. You may not think of the piccolo as mellow, but it can be with the right technique and the right materials.
I don’t think we should judge people for the piccolo models they play. Some people don’t have parents to help them pay for instruments, and that was me after I finished undergrad.
Not everyone can afford a $5,000+ wood instrument or even a cheaper, $2,000 wood piccolo. But that doesn’t stop people from judging you for the model you own.
People have preconceived notions about instruments. That could lead them to judge you unnecessarily harsh, which could make it harder to win auditions or get other gigs.
Another drawback of grenaditte instruments is the fact there are so few of them available. I only know of three composite piccolos that actually specify the type of composite material involved.
If you like this material, that can limit your search for the perfect piccolo. Not every brand is for every player, and I know of quite a few piccolo players who don’t like the sound of Pearl.
The same is probably true of the GUO piccolo, and there may even be people who dislike both brands. If that’s you, you’re out of luck when it comes to composite instruments.
Who a Composite Piccolo Is For
A composite piccolo can be a good choice for beginners who are pretty sure they’ll like playing the piccolo. This material is more expensive than standard plastic, so prepare to spend a bit of money.
But it’s also pretty durable and versatile. So if you expect to be playing the piccolo a lot, you can buy just one piccolo to use for indoor and outdoor gigs.
I’d also say the material is suitable for advanced players and even professionals. You may want to have a wood piccolo for indoor performances, but you need a good backup piccolo.
Instead of spending another $5,000, save some money and get a grenaditte model. That way, you can use your backup piccolo when your main one needs work or when you need to perform in the great outdoors.
Grenaditte is what Pearl and GUO use for some or all of the piccolos they make. It’s a special composite material that combines grenadilla with plastic, so you get the best of both materials.
I played on a Pearl piccolo for a few years, and it served me well. If you’re looking for a good affordable piccolo, you can’t go wrong with composite models.
Need help tuning your new piccolo? Use a digital piano keyboard as a drone!