Are you looking for a new instrument? Buying a used piccolo could be a great alternative to shopping only for a new model.
However, you shouldn’t just buy the first used piccolo you see. Read on for some red flags to keep in mind during your shopping.
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When buying a used piccolo, you need to check if it’s playable. Some used piccolos sound and work just like new, especially if they’re only a few months old.
They can also be worth playing if they’re a bit older and the owner took good care of the instrument. But if you buy a piccolo in poor condition, you may need to spend a lot of money on repairs.
Sometimes, those repairs could cost more than the value of the piccolo. The best way to avoid this issue is to try the piccolo before you purchase it.
If you’re looking at a used piccolo that’s older than a year, ask the seller about the repair and maintenance history. A piccolo that has been well-maintained will usually play better than one that hasn’t been maintained.
Regarding wood piccolos, you should also ask if the piccolo has ever had a crack. The repair history can affect how the piccolo plays, and it can also affect the value of the instrument.
If a piccolo has been sitting for a while, it may need some work. Keep that in mind when negotiating the sale price so that you can get a good deal on the instrument.
Another thing to keep in mind is how old the piccolo is. Older piccolos can play just as well as newer instruments, but you have to consider the condition and repair history even more.
Also, the pitch that piccolos are set to has changed. Older models may be set to A = 440 Hz, but newer ones could be at A = 442 or even 444 Hz.
Those frequencies aren’t too far apart, but they can affect how you have to tune your piccolo. Some notes may require alternate fingerings to play in tune.
Care and Storage
Whether you’re buying a used piccolo that’s a month old or a decade old, be sure you ask about how the seller cared for and stored the instrument.
If the seller swabbed the piccolo regularly, it will be in better condition than if they just put the piccolo away. And if the piccolo was stored in a place without good climate control, cracks may have developed (or could be developing).
You can resolve some of these issues with a trip to the flute repair shop. However, it’s good to know beforehand if that will be necessary or if you’ll need to spend extra money before you can play the piccolo.
Lack of Images
If you’re shopping online, make sure the listing has pictures. You can also ask the seller for more pictures of things like the serial number and of any blemishes or other issues.
A big red flag is when the seller refuses to provide any photos or more than just an overview image. I’d wonder if the piccolo is actually in the condition the seller says it is.
Also, if they can’t provide pictures, they could be a scammer. The seller might not even own the piccolo in question, and they may just want to take your money.
Another red flag is if the seller won’t let you try the piccolo before you buy it. At the very least, they should offer a return period where you can get your money back if you send the piccolo back.
If you’re buying a used piccolo from someone in your city, you can try the piccolo in person. Otherwise, you’ll have to do a trial by mail.
Either way, make sure you get a chance to try it before you purchase it.
If that’s really not an option, ask the seller to send you a video of them playing the piccolo. Then, you can hear how it sounds and know that they really do own the instrument.
Unwilling to Negotiate
One of the nice things about buying a used piccolo is that the price isn’t always set in stone. If any of the prior factors apply, consider asking the seller to negotiate.
For example, if you can tell the piccolo will need a COA soon, you could drop the sale price by a few hundred dollars. Or if there are visible cracks, the seller should be willing to drop the price to some degree.
On the other hand, if they’re set on the price, you may want to walk away. You can buy the piccolo, but you should prepare to spend a bit of extra money to get it back into playing shape.
Where to Buy a Used Piccolo
Before you go piccolo shopping, consider some of the best websites and apps to use.
Benefits of Buying a Used Piccolo
If you’re looking to upgrade your piccolo, you may not think to check the used market. However, there are many benefits of buying a used piccolo, regardless of the model you want.
Save Some Money
Probably the most obvious reason to buy a used piccolo is to lower the cost. When I got my Armstrong 204, for example, the cost was about a third of what it would have been.
The savings will be the biggest at the beginner and intermediate levels. Professional piccolos tend to hold their value, but you could still save a few hundred bucks.
Access More Models
Depending on the level you’re at, you may be able to choose from more piccolo models. If you only choose from new models, that can limit your choices, especially if you have a tight budget.
Opening up your search to the used market increases your choices. Then, you may have a better chance of getting the piccolo that works the best for you.
The musical instrument industry isn’t as wasteful as some. But if you don’t have much money, you’re better off buying a used piccolo from a reputable brand than a new cheap piccolo.
Those off-brands can be very wasteful because they hardly ever last for more than few months. So if you want to cut down on your waste, you can give new life to a piccolo that someone no longer plays.
Are Old Piccolos Worth Anything?
Some old piccolos are worth quite a bit, especially if they’ve been taken care of. However, other models might be in disrepair and not worth any amount of money.
Do Piccolos Hold Their Value?
Professional models and some intermediate piccolos may hold their value. Student models, on the other hand, often don’t cost as much on the used market compared to when they were new.
Where Can You Sell Used Instruments?
You can sell your used piccolo from any of the same places where you’d buy one. Other options include consignment with some of the major flute shops.
If you have a private teacher, you can also ask them to tell their other students that you’re looking to sell a piccolo.
Buying a used piccolo is a great option for many players, but you have to be careful. Keep some red flags in mind to make sure you get your money’s worth.
And don’t forget to compare the new-to-you piccolo with a drone or tuner to make sure it’s not too sharp or flat.