Bottom Line Up Front: Knowing how to find the best piccolo trumpet means knowing the level of your musical skill and which manufacturer is best. I recommend the Yamaha YTR-6810S if you need the best piccolo trumpet. It is reliable, with a good sound, and Yamaha craftsmanship.
When I first heard of a piccolo trumpet, I was flummoxed. I demanded to know whether it was a trumpet or a piccolo. As it turns out, it’s sort of a combination. The piccolo trumpet is the smallest of four trumpets, producing a brighter tone.
The piccolo trumpet has a smaller bell than other trumpets, only around four inches in diameter. Similarly, it has a smaller bore size. While most trumpets are in B flat, the piccolo trumpet is one octave higher so, if you were to play “C” in the middle of the staff with one trumpet and then with the piccolo trumpet, it would be an octave apart.
For each piccolo recommended here the piccolo selection criteria included quality craftsmanship, ease of use, and sound.
What Makes the Piccolo Trumpet Different?
The trumpet is regularly used for classical music through jazz. It is heard in big band performances, even military ceremonies.
Among the many options and tones they produce, the piccolo trumpet is gaining popularity. As the smallest of the trumpets, it stands alone with a pitch one octave higher than other trumpets. Most trumpets are in B flat, but the piccolo trumpet can be made to play in B flat or A, with distinct lead pipes for each key.
Piccolo trumpets have removable shank mouthpiece receivers, and they usually have two of them, which makes it possible to change the key in which you play from A flat to A. Some piccolo trumpets are even designed to play in the key of F, G, or C.
Here is a video of a piccolo trumpet solo:
You get the main tuning slide when you look at a regular trumpet, but the piccolo trumpet doesn’t have that. Changeable bells and different tuning slides make it possible to modify the key. Most of the best piccolo trumpets have four valves, which means they can extend below middle C. Having the fourth valve helps with intonation for the lower registers and slotting.
What the Best Piccolo Trumpet Looks Like
When you look at a piccolo trumpet, it will look a little different from a normal trumpet. The length of the tubing is going to be smaller, just about half the size of a regular trumpet.
The lead pipe on the piccolo trumpet also goes into the fourth valve, whereas with other trumpets, that goes into the third valve. For all intents and purposes, it is a smaller trumpet, but it has been designed to play differently.
Who Should Know How to Find the Best Piccolo Trumpet?
People who play in woodwind brass bands, especially clarinets, flutes, or oboes, should consider the piccolo trumpet.
I made the mistake of thinking that the piccolo trumpet was just the smallest of all trumpets. I thought this because my family had played the trombone, and with the trombone, there are many different sizes, with Piccolo being the smallest. Still, in the case of the trombone, it’s literally just a smaller version of the instrument, whereas with the trumpet, that isn’t the case.
Suppose you are comparing a piccolo trumpet to a regular trumpet. In that case, it will simply be more challenging for you to play at the beginning because the piccolo trumpet doesn’t take in as much air as a regular trumpet.
When I switched to a piccolo trumpet, I changed my mouthpiece so that I could use the same mouthpiece as my regular trumpet, but that still didn’t help. I was very light-headed after breathing the wrong way, trying to get large breaths into the small instrument.
I learned that taking smaller breaths and exhaling a bit in places where you would normally inhale is more helpful when it comes to getting the right amount of air through your piccolo trumpet.
You should do shorter sessions when you start practicing with a piccolo trumpet because it requires so much more effort to play in the higher registers. It never occurred to me until I started sitting down to practice that higher registers would require more effort. Singing never seemed to require more effort for higher registers, so I didn’t think about its impact on playing.
This video shows some of the other ways it might be difficult:
Another area where you might have difficulty is with tounging. Your tounging needs to be a little lighter with a piccolo trumpet than a normal trumpet because of the change in airstream.
How to Find the Best Piccolo Trumpet
Finding the best piccolo trumpet requires you to consider:
- What your needs are
- What your budget is
- What your skill is
For example, I need a piccolo trumpet to play with a band. The piccolo trumpet I purchased was intended more for solo performances, so the sound wasn’t as strong and clear as I needed to be heard over the corresponding instruments in my van. Eventually, I had to exchange it for the right make and model.
There are many excellent manufacturers that produce high-quality piccolo trumpet, but you can find many different options at different budgets.
I don’t like to spend a lot of money on my instruments. Still, I appreciate that sometimes spending more money upfront qualifies as an excellent long-term investment, especially where high-quality manufacturing is concerned. As such, I am willing to pay $500 or so on a high-quality instrument without complaining (too much).
I am grateful that I haven’t reached the point where I need to spend a few thousand dollars on a trumpet because I’m simply not a professional trumpet player.
That said, I do play other instruments, and I have been willing to invest at that level for my more advanced and professional needs throughout the years recognizing that it’s a one-time investment that produces long-term dividends, musically speaking.
You will have to consider these when finding the best piccolo trumpet.
You also have to consider your skill level, which goes hand-in-hand in most cases with your budget. A beginner probably doesn’t have $500 or $1,000 to spend on an instrument but might be willing to rent one or spend $100 or $200 on an instrument.
Tangentially being a beginner requires better durability and reliability in the instrument you choose because you don’t want something that breaks easily, especially if it costs a lot of money to fix it. There are some Piccolo trumpets that are designed with sturdy construction but are on the more affordable side, and these are perfect for beginners, especially younger beginners.
New, Used, or Rented
If the model you are looking at seems too costly right now, you might consider renting or buying used. Finding a used instrument can save a lot of money as long as the instrument is in good quality. I often sell used instruments as we buy upgrades or other manufacturers, and they are in good condition; I just want them to go to a good home.
I recommend renting a piccolo trumpet if you have a small child who wants to play, but you don’t know for how long. For example, my kids always like to take up a new instrument when they hear someone play a solo online or in school.
Still, after about one year, they grow out of it and revert back to their primary instrument (violin, piano, and cello, respectively). So, I like to rent new instruments, and once they stick with it for one year and want to move forward, then I look for a used or new model.
Out of all the options, I have a few that I prefer. For each piccolo recommended here the piccolo selection criteria included quality craftsmanship, ease of use, and sound. The selection criteria for each was based on things like name brand.
For example, brands like Yamaha have been around for decades providing reliable products with good quality control so I know that when I order something from Yamaha, it won’t disappoint. I also like the variety in sound and design because there are plenty of times when I don’t want to spend a fortune on the “best” because I just need something for my kids or something basic.
Conversely, there are plenty of times when I am buying for myself and I want something top of the line. Knowing the pricing and the craftsmanship for each helps me know which to select in each situation.
The Yamaha YTR-6810S is marketed as their professional model. Yamaha is very well known for being a top manufacturer of high-quality instruments. This particular model has improved functionality over most beginner or student models. As a result, you get faster responses and smoother play. It is entirely made of yellow brass, giving a richer sound and better projection.
This high-quality sound and projection are great for group situations where you need to be heard over other instruments, as well as solos where you need to fill a room with your single instrument. It comes with a case so you can keep your instrument safe.
- Good for chamber music or solos
- Can be exchanged for B flat or A
- Bell diameter only three and ¾ inches
- Made with yellow brass, which not everyone likes
Schiller Elite Model V
The Schiller Elite Model V is more for intermediate players. From a reputable brand, the exterior is beautiful, with a slide and clamp to help you tune as you play. It has a bell size of 3.875 inches which delivers a strong sound. I love that it comes with a hard carrying bag because I can trust that the instrument will fit perfectly.
- Good intonation
- Affordable for intermediates or students
- Getting replacement parts can be a challenge
Band Directors Choice Piccolo Trumpet
The Band Directors Choice Piccolo Trumpet is perfect for students or beginners. It is silver plated and comes with a mouthpiece and a carrying case. The construction and design are very simple but elegant, perfect for beginners. The bell is 4 inches, and the bore size is .450 inches.
- Cheap, perfect for students who need something to play in school
- Durable and lightweight
- Made with copper
- Only in B flat
Answer: The piccolo trumpet is much less expensive than more enormous tenor trumpets because it is smaller, but the beginner model still costs around $300 or $400, and more advanced models can cost you a few thousand dollars. The cost of a piccolo trumpet is based on the skill level, the hardware and craftsmanship that goes into the design, and the manufacturer.
Answer: Yes. If you have experience with another trumpet, you will find it somewhat easy to pick up the piccolo trumpet, but it will still play in a different octave. However, it is not exactly the same in design or structure, so it will require a learning curve of you in order to play it properly.
Answer: The piccolo trumpet uses the treble clef for sheet music. You are probably already familiar with this if you play the trumpet or the tenor trumpet.
Answer: The best places to find a piccolo trumpet are online or in local music stores. The piccolo trumpet is the least common, so it is the most difficult to find no matter where you look. I recommend that you hold it and practice with it in person so that you can hear the way in which its sound differs from all the other trumpets, especially at a higher octave.
Being able to test it and hear the sound or physically test how to change the key before you play can be very helpful when knowing how to find the best Piccolo trumpet. Every manufacturer is slightly different in the key and the design but the features built into their instrument.
You might also consider renting a piccolo trumpet from a music shop before buying one if you are still on the fence.
Answer: The piccolo trumpet is appropriate for any groups with clarinets, oboes, or flutes. Realistically you can play the piccolo trumpet with any large group. Bear in mind that it has a different key in some cases than most trumpets.
It comes in a higher octave, so you might look for concert groups or jazz bands that have dedicated Piccolo trumpet sections or even soprano trumpet sections that you can play with your Piccolo trumpet.
Out of all of these, I recommend the Yamaha YTR-6810S if you need the best piccolo trumpet. It is reliable, with a good sound, and Yamaha craftsmanship. The bottom line is that knowing how to find the best piccolo trumpet means understanding the key you want for your instrument and whether the octave in which it plays suits your musical needs.
Many people who pick up the piccolo trumpet already play another type of trumpet and use this one for limited purposes. Whatever your needs, it brings with it a unique sound and can be a lot of fun.
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