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Hi, Newbie here. Great site!

I'm considering piccolos for my almost 11 yr old daughter - been playing Yamaha YFL 261 open-hole flute for 2-3 years in homeschool advanced band and intermediate jazz band as well as the Cobb County Georgia youth Symphonia. Now she wants a piccolo.

I've been researching and reading some of the posts here (lots o' help).

I want to keep below ~$700 and new (with some exceptions, see below). She is expected to pay for part of this so she has some ownership.

We've had bad experience with used flutes and ending up buying new flute. We (she) is probably not experienced enought to try out a bunch and decide based on that, so will start with most second hand info we can get.

Dual use - She will use in the above-mentioned areas as well as marching band as soon as we can get her involved locally, so no wood (even if we could afford it).

Please bear in mind that the below are my impressions, subject to change with your expert opinions. Prices are based on fluteworld.com and music123.com. If you know of a better place, please inform me. Local stores are not out, just used for pricing. We are considering:

1. All plastic Sonare SP-500, new $600-700. While I've heard they are the best sounding, the newness, and not-so reliable or consistant mechanicals have probably scared me away, for now. I simply cannot affort to mess around with unreliability/consistancy in this project.

2. Sterling Silver head and body Gemeinhardt 4S - $700. This was our initial top choice, (I'd have killed for an all silver flute at that price!). The other girls she knows have all-metal piccolos. This apparently is out of vogue, has shrill sounds and not good for anything but maybe marching band. So, no go, I guess.

3. Yamaha YPC-32 silver-plated head and plastic body (w/ split E). Yami has no all plastic or plastic with sterling, so I guess this would be the Yami of choice for us. Good reviews here and solid background for reliability put it on our list. New prices of over $1000 have scared me off. My daughter really doesn't want a used one, and I don't want to have to mess around with this thing from the get-go. The used Yami option is still on the table (seen one for sale for $700).

4. Gemeinhardt 4PSH (no split E) - $600. Sterling head with plastic body. This seems to be our fall-back position. She thinks having some real sterling is cool. I'm not so sure the plastic head wouldn't sound better. Anyway, I know these Gemeinhardts aren't world-renouned, but at least reliable and predictable.

Please comment on need for Split E mechanism.

I know there are a lot more brands out there, and getting used (if you know what you are doing) is what you guys would do. Nevertheless, I would appreciate ANY comments, suggestions, redirects, etc.

Thanks.

Bill

PS (8 yr old boy will start Sax next year - just done with 2 yrs recorder)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have just found that Yamaha requires full MSRP prices to be shown. Upon calling, the Yami can be had for $670.:)

Other opinions welcome. Split E a good thing to have?

What's the deal with Yamaha assembly plant in MI closed. Now all Yami will be assembled in China? True? Bad?
 

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Yamaha. Easy to play. Very reliable. Easy to service.

I don't think any Yamaha woodwinds are made in China. The clarinets made in Indonesia seem to me just as good as the ones made in Japan. It's all about quality control.

I would regard Pearl as a bit of a gamble, unless reaslly well checked by a really astute technician. (Who has no interest in Pearl sales!!). Pearl's cheaper range flutes (from Taiwan) are careless in the precision of pivots. This is a recipe for a lot of unreliability in piccolos, and pretty expensive to deal with.

Likewise, I would be cautious of the mechanism of Sonare, which is probably made &/or set up in China or Taiwan. REports have not all been positive about this aspect of their flutes. Piccolos are more critical than flutes.
 

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Another vote for the Yamie. But the Gemeinhardt 4P is a good piccolo for the price if you get one used for around $300.

Why not consider a used instrument? You get a lot more for your money just for letting someone else break it in. A new instrument doesn't necessarily play better "out of the box" either. Whether used or new, either way it will likely need some fine tuning when you buy it.

Anyway, whatever piccolo you get, I would advise avoiding the metal heads. They are easier to play but they just don't sound all that great. It only takes a little more effort and skill to play a plastic or wood head - it's not hard and it sounds so much better. It's a sweeter, less piercing sound which blends better in orchestra, yet it still projects well enough for marching band.
 

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I would go with the Gemeinhardt 4P and not the 4PSH. Piccolos are the only good thing Gemeinhardt builds. I looked at a Sonore recently and it looks just like the pics from China that you can get for $150 but with a metal head whereas the Sonore has a plastic head.
 

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You should try a 150 dollar pic from china...they out play the Gem. right out of the box. And yes, I'm a Gemeinhardt dealer!
 

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saxhorn4 said:
You should try a 150 dollar pic from china...they out play the Gem. right out of the box. And yes, I'm a Gemeinhardt dealer!
I don't doubt that a good one plays as well as a 4P - but a bad one will be unplayable and you never know what you're going to get. The Gem 4P will be reasonably consistent from one to the next and will hold up over the years. It plays the full range from low D to high C and the intonation isn't too bad (for a piccolo :) LOL). Since you can get a 4P used for around $300 it's a pretty good value in a cheap piccolo - about the cheapest you can get that is playable.
On a bigger budget I'd look for a Yamaha YPC-62. I've seen them used for well under $1000. It's a fabulous picc - awesome tone as good as any professional picc I've heard or played and it's easy playing too.
 

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Bill,

How 'bout contacting players, parents, and educators working with the youth symphony? Might your daughter appreciate a new-looking-albeit-used instrument if it came from someone that was playing in the youth symphony? Also consider contacting the flute/piccolo teachers that are giving lessons to the members of the youth sypmphony. They will know who is buying or selling a new instrument and will also know most of the quality used instruments in your area. Your daughter's money will go a lot further buying a used intermediate instrument rather than a new beginner instrument. Even though I could afford most any instrument I care to have, I will always look for a well-adjusted, broken-in, well-cared-for used instrument first.
 

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You can find a Gemeinhardt 4W wood one for in the $500 range used BUT it would not be good for Marching Band. I see a ton of those ones from China and it is the only low priced pic I sell now. AT that price it can be used for marching and thrown away in a few years. The high register is much easier than some $1,000 pics. Agreed that the quality is not up to the others but out of about 50 I have sold, I have only taken one back due to problems. I just had trouble with an adjustment and swapped them a new one. They are never right when shipped but with about an hour of time I get them working well. There is some variance in quality with the brands however.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Dr G said:
Bill,

How 'bout contacting players, parents, and educators working with the youth symphony? Might your daughter appreciate a new-looking-albeit-used instrument if it came from someone that was playing in the youth symphony? Also consider contacting the flute/piccolo teachers that are giving lessons to the members of the youth sypmphony. They will know who is buying or selling a new instrument and will also know most of the quality used instruments in your area. Your daughter's money will go a lot further buying a used intermediate instrument rather than a new beginner instrument. Even though I could afford most any instrument I care to have, I will always look for a well-adjusted, broken-in, well-cared-for used instrument first.
Thankyou. Yes, we have been doing that too. Haven't found anything, but have received lots of good feedback.

Update: She test-drove two Gemeinhardts yesterday: Plastic with metal head (4PMH), and an all-plastic one (4P). She greatly preferred the metal head joint. I've heard its easier to play, and apparently that's true. I know she could get used to the plastic head (and will have to in the future for wood), but we were leaning towards the Yami (no plastic head available) anyway. Looks like we will order the Yami YCP-32 (plastic with metal head) for $650 or less.

Update 6/5/07: Bought YCP-32 new from FluteWorld for $650. Daughter really likes it.

Bill
 
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