The piccolo is a hotly debated topic in the flute community. Some flutists love it, others hate it. I have yet to come across people who don’t have some amount of love or hate for the instrument.
If you are in the group of piccolo lovers, then you have probably thought about learning how to play it. Maybe you even want to jump right in and buy your own. No rental program. You know the piccolo is for you.
Now, if you haven’t played flute for very long, piccolo is probably not something you should be starting. Focus on the flute first to build those fundamental skills, such as tone and technique. Then you can learn the piccolo.
If you already have a firm grasp on the flute and you want to learn the piccolo, keep reading. I have some tips for how to choose a piccolo.
NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. To read my full disclosure policy, click here.
Determine your budget.
This is a biggie for any major purchase. You have to know how much money you are able and willing to spend on a piccolo. If you can only afford to spend $600, that narrows your search considerably.
If you have a bigger budget, you can look at a wider range of piccolos.
Thinking about your budget keeps you from trying piccolo outside of your price range. It also keeps you from finding “the one” for thousands more than you can afford. You avoid the disappointment of loving an instrument that is too expensive.
Now, if you are searching for your first piccolo, you don’t need to spend a lot. Some great models can be found for around $400.
If you are looking to upgrade your piccolo, you will have to spend a little more. Just as with an upgraded flute, an upgraded piccolo will cost more than a student model.
Determine your needs.
What will you be playing piccolo for? In what environment(s) will you be playing? Do you have the patience to maintain your piccolo?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself when choosing a piccolo.
If you will be playing outside a lot, an all silver (or silver plated) piccolo is a smart choice. These piccolos are very durable, and they can project quite far.
Another great choice for outdoor performances is a plastic piccolo. Plastic piccolos are good, because they aren’t affected by the weather as much as wood, but they still blend well.
If you only plan to play indoors, and you can spend a lot of time maintaining your piccolo, go for a wooden model. These are more expensive, but they sound very mellow, and they blend with other instruments.
My current piccolo of choice is the Pearl pfp-105e. It is made of “grenaditte” which is a material made of plastic resin and grenadilla wood. This piccolo is great, because I can play it both inside and out. I get all of the benefits of a wood piccolo, but it doesn’t cost as much.
Know what you are getting.
While I did buy my piccolo online (who doesn’t love Amazon Prime?!), I was smart about it. I knew that Pearl was a reputable brand, and I had heard great things about the specific model I was considering.
Not only that, my flute professor recommended that model to me. I did not buy blind (deaf?).
All of that helped me choose a piccolo that was right for me.
If you are going to buy online, make sure you can either return it or complete a trial period. The best case scenario is buying in person, but that is not always possible.
Or, maybe you’re like me. Maybe you have been given a recommendation for a specific brand. Or maybe you even know someone who has one, and you were able to test it out.
The main thing is: DON’T BUY CHEAP. While you definitely don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a piccolo, you do need to invest a little bit of money. The cheaper the piccolo, the more problems you are likely to encounter.
So spend the money upfront on a piccolo that is reliable. Get something that you know you will use.
Don’t be afraid to rent at first.
As with any new instrument, you might not end up liking the piccolo. You might prefer flute. If you are unsure of enjoying playing the piccolo, don’t hesitate to start on a rental instrument.
It will be much easier to return a rental instrument at the end of a set period (usually a month) than to try and return a purchased instrument. Rental contracts often give you the option to stop renting at any time.
With a purchase, it’s up to you to either return it soon enough or find someone to sell it to.
Renting can be very cost effective, and some programs let you upgrade or cancel at any time. If you find after a few months that you want to own your own piccolo, you can purchase the one you are renting or buy another model and return your rental one.
Get a second opinion.
If you are buying in person, the sales person might try anything to get you to make a purchase. If you are not sure, take it to someone else. Ask your flute teacher or another flutist to come along.
Usually, people will be more inclined to give an honest opinion if they aren’t trying to sell to you. Also, having someone you trust give their opinion means that you don’t have to consult only yourself.
Have you purchased a piccolo before? What model or brand did you choose? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to comment if you want to see a review of my piccolo!