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I'm wanting to buy my daughter a piccolo as a surprise. She's a third year flute player, being in both marching and concert band. She's expressed a desire to play it, and since her percussionist brother gets to buy new equipment on a somewhat regular basis (mallets, sticks, etc.), I thought I would get her something that would encourage her interest and desire to play. I don't need something really expensive, just something that would suffice for her intermediate level of play. Any suggestions?
 

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I'm sure I'll get some back up on this, but the Yamaha YPC-32 will last her for years and years, and they can be had for a decent price used.

What kind of budget do you have? that could help get some better/more specific recommendations.
 

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Nothing too expensive...probably around $100 or so. Like I said, it doesn't have to be anything really expensive, and it can be used. I'm not sure how much she'll actually use it in band, so I'm not wanting to go all out.

Also, is there a preference for metal, plastic, etc.? I've been looking around, and since I'm not a flautist, I have no idea what is considered to be the ideal media.

BTW, love your avatar...not many people know the Unknown Comic!
 

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It'll be really hard to find something that'll be playable for $100...there might be a deal out there, but it'll be hard to find.

Now, if you can got to a couple hundred, you'll have more luck. I actually owned a Prelude by Selmer student piccolo for a while that I bought new from WWBW for less than $250 with tax, plastic body, metal headjoint. While not the nicest out there, it certainly held up for what I needed and I only sold it to help buy my new alto over the summer. These have been out for a little while now, so they might start showing up used. I think I let mine go for $175 at 10 months old, with two cases.

http://www.wwbw.com/Prelude-by-Conn-Selmer-Student-Piccolo-i268043.music

As for plastic versus metal, i think plastic is the better way to go with a student piccolo (IMHO). I'd be curious what others think though. I've found that student metal pics are generally not well made and don't last very well, but an older metal pic might be a nice instrument. Our college pic line for the marching band uses Gemeinhardt 4P plastic piccolos.

EDIT: not to discourage you in your price range, jsut wishing you luck.
 

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You run a high risk when buying any Chinese-origin piccolo. You may effectively just throw your money away. Pay a little more and buy a reputable brand name like Yamaha, second hand, and if/when you eventually sell it, it will probably be worth as much as what you paid for it. Many piccolos being sold new on Ebay for cheap prices will be worth nothing in months, or even immediately!

Read:
http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=320533&highlight=piccolo#post320533
 

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I got an old Armstrong silver-plated piccolo quite a few years back at a garage sale. I repadded it and it has been fine since. I have seen a few of these since on fleabeh, always sold for <$100...probably all need a repad that will cost $150, though, if you can't do it yourself. I find piccolo repads to be difficult...
 

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I noted a lot of what even I would consider to be cheapos on there, so after weeding those out, noticed there weren't many left. What other good brand names should I look for besides Yamaha and Armstrong?
 

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The only ones from China that are decent are the plastic ones. The metal ones will realy not play above the second octave. you will need to up your budget. $150 is the entry point for most that I sell USED. Remember that you will play at least $150 to repad a used one.
 

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I bought a YPC-32 25 years ago, and it is still going strong. What shocks me is that I paid $245 for it brand new. Now it's over $1000!
 

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I found a Yamaha YPC 32, for $250 a couple of years ago. OK, That's a great deal - but they're out there! For $100 - you'll get crap! Gemeinhardt also makes pretty good plastic piccs that sound a lot closer to wood, than the silver plated ones. Look used!
 

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A Gemeinhardt 4P is a decent plastic student piccolo that I've seen in good used condition for as low as $250. IMO it's about the cheapest piccolo you will find that is still playable, meaning it plays the full range with decent tone and the intonation is close enough to bend into shape. IMO, the YPC-32 is a step up from the 4P.
 

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Wow, I think it's great you wish to buy your daughter a piccolo! Unfortunately, since piccolos are smaller, more precise (and finicky) than flutes, they tend to be more...not less than flutes. For example, there are some entry-level flutes that are fine for $250...piccolos, not really.

Another sometimes confusing consideration is materials. You can have all metal, all plastic, all wood, then metal headjoint-plastic combinations.

In high school I played on an Armstrong with a silver head and a plastic body. I really suggest that setup (not necessarily Armstrong) for those who will use the instrument in marching band and concert band/orchestral work. They are not as brillant as all-metal piccolos; but the body on an all-metal piccolo is narrow...with risers (not to be confused with the riser on the mouthpiece) placed strategically for the fingers to rest on. I find the placement on some of these "hit-or-miss" -- and unless you can try it out first, it may be uncomfortable. Wood and plastic body piccolos have fatter bodies so you have more leway in finger placement. The plastic is also easier to hold in the elements (marched with that piccolo in both high school and college!).

Back then (15 years ago), that piccolo came as a set with an Armstrong 303B flute. Actually, the piccolo bundled was all-metal, but I got the music store to do a swap with the metal head/plastic body piccolo since both retailed for the same price. Today, I think that piccolo sells for around $350-$450. I would not pay that much for an Armstrong today because you can find a used Yamaha or get a new Selmer Prelude (I worked in a music store, so I've tried both out) for less.

In my second year of college (so 8 years ago) I traded in the piccolo for a saxophone. Later that year, I felt like getting a piccolo again to fill the hole. So I brought a $175 Monique that was clearly made in China. Now before I had my own piccolo...in middle school, I had an all metal piccolo that badly needed to be re-padded (I think it was a Selmer-Bundy type thing); and that played better than the Monique! The Monique was also all metal but the embochure hole on the mouthpiece was horrible (almost a circle). The risers for the fingers were thin and uncomfortable. The lower register only worked sometimes (I think that was because of the mouthpiece again!). It had loud keywork. I ended up giving it to one of my Grandfather's friends who was a saxophone player and "always wanted a piccolo". I really tried to talk him out of it. I found the thing to be totally useless.

The best piccolo I've ever played was the YPC-62 (all wood). It just sang in comparision to any other piccolo I've played :) However, I wouldn't suggest an all-wood or all-plastic piccolo to those who are beginners or won't be playing the piccolo as their primary instrument because it takes more control to get the embochure right.

If I were in your position....I would look for a used Jupiter (new ones are pricey), a new Selmer Prelude ($230 at Woodwind & Brasswind), or even the Woodwind and Brasswind house brand. Do not get suckered in with the low prices and bright colors you see on eBay. What will happen if you go that route is that you'll be throwing your money down the drain in that you will probably need to replace it and you won't be able to re-sale it back for anything. Also the piccolo is a pretty unforgiving instrument (very touchy...it's loud, so everyone hears your intonation problems if you have them), it really not fair to give a beginner a bad quality instrument. I don't know about her director, but I've had some directors that won't even let you play on an instrument if they don't think you can play it in tune. And that can be devastating. :(

Maybe you could even get a $400-$500 range piccolo...if you could finance it?
 

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My thoughts for what they are worth are to keep checking ebay and the like for something that is a decent name: Yamaha, Armstrong, Artley, Gemeinhardt, Emerson, Jupiter, Selmer, and the like. Look for something that is in decent shape body and head joint wise. The pads may be shot, but that is a very fixable thing, but a cracked or badly dented body can be a financial nightmare. Find something in your price range and get ahold of it. If it needs work, have a repairman put it into "playable condition". Most repairman will do enough work on instrument to get it playing until something better comes along. If your repairman is good and trustworthy, then you can use him or her to help you upgrade when the time comes. If you have a repairman already, ask if there is a piccolo out there that he/she recommends.

Since it is a surprise for someone who does not really know if it is something she wants to pursue, do not try to get it perfect, just go for the surprise factor.

As far as plastic versus metal versus wood, I would bet that you could poll 100 piccolo players and get 100 different responses. I have seen plastic, metal and wood equally represented among the piccolo players I have knowb.

I applaud your support of your daughter's musical interests. She will appreciate the thoughtfulness and encouragement. Just don't go for the home run. If she does well on it and wants to continue with it, by the time she is ready for a better piccolo, she and you will know what to upgrade to.

Just don't be in too much of a hurry, go with a decent name and flip a coin on the material and it will all work out.
 
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