The piccolo is a popular woodwind instrument designed, essentially, as a half-sized flute. Thanks to its higher register, It has become a mainstay in concert bands and orchestras.
Since piccolo is so widely accepted, there are plenty of options for student, intermediate and professional piccolo players. This isn't only true of individual instruments but also solo piccolo makers and larger brands.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of a piccolo, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgment. In this article, I’ll share my take on the top piccolo brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the piccolos
- Longevity of the piccolos
- Variety of piccolos available
- Accessibility of the piccolos (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The Top 11 Best Piccolo Brands Are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best piccolo brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable piccolo, and a link to their official website.
Right after World War II, the entire world was changing, and it needed bold entrepreneurs like Katsumi Yanagisawa to tackle the challenge. With this in mind, Pearl was born.
With time, it grew way beyond its founder’s wildest dreams. Indeed, Pearl is the success story of a single man with lots of courage and a ton of hard work.
Besides being one of “the big three” drum brands in the world, Pearl’s leverage and founding principles allowed them to branch out into other musical instruments, among which woodwind and brass excel.
Pearl not only makes amazing-sounding piccolos, but it is also a brand you can trust.
Notable piccolo: Pearl Piccolo PFP-165
Pearl not only came up with a new design with this Piccolo model, but they also created a new material, grenaditte, for the body. This innovation by Pearl makes way for a new palette of sounds for the instrument.
Moreover, mixing it with the quintessential grenadilla body makes this the perfect blend of classic tones and bold adventures every musician dreams of.
If you want a piccolo with Pearl’s build quality and a new sonic dimension to explore, this is a must-try before you buy.
Yamaha is a brand that has become synonymous with high performance, obsessive attention to detail, and impeccable craftsmanship. This can be said about their fastest motorbike, state-of-the-art silent instruments, luxurious pianos, drum kits, and, of course, wind instruments.
Indeed, Yamaha is a rare case of a brand that excels in every category of its vast product line. As a result of this relentless commitment to excellence and well over 100 years of experience, every piccolo leaving the Yamaha factory is ready to make history. If you haven’t already, give Yamaha a chance before you buy.
Notable piccolo: Yamaha YPC-32
This piccolo made of maintenance-free ABS resin sounds so close to wood that it would take professional ears to discover the difference. Therefore, it is a great choice for students and amateur musicians looking for a good-sounding piccolo that can take the beating of the college years and still offer a warm tone.
Finally, the silver headjoint and keys round up a great combo for the musician on a budget or student.
George Bundy was the manager of Selmer USA for decades. During his years at Selmer, one of the biggest wind instrument companies in the world, he learned every secret of the trade.
He wanted to create his own company, and all he needed was someone who could create the kind of instrument that would outdo Selmer and all of the competition.
For this endeavour, he went as far as Markneukirchen, Germany, to find Kurt Gemeinhardt, the fourth generation of flute and piccolo makers. This clash of titans gave birth to some of the most sought-after, great-sounding instruments professional players used to wow audiences worldwide.
Today, after expanding its catalogue to include all player tiers, Gemeinhardt is still one of the best piccolo brands in the world. Try one today and hear the centuries-old leverage in every note.
Notable piccolo: Gemeinhardt KG Ltd.
This piccolo is named after the founder, Kurt Gemeinhardt. It pays homage to him and the long heritage of four generations, making the best piccolos on the planet.
The granadilla wood, sterling silver keys, and split E mechanism make it a great-sounding instrument with a modern twist. Moreover, the custom-contour headjoint makes it a beautiful instrument capable of groundbreaking tones that can shake the world.
The man is gone, but the legacy lives on. Try a Gemeinhardt piccolo today and be amazed by what you hear.
Jupiter is the quintessential learning wind instrument for the Asian market and the world. This is because the company was a privileged witness to the first musical steps of generations with good-sounding, well-made, affordable instruments for teachers and learners.
Moreover, the reliability and sturdiness of every piece leaving the factory can get any student through the hardships of the college years and accompany them with different models to their first sold-out show.
Jupiter is the perfect brand to try if you’re a student looking for the perfect mix of price, reliability, and tone.
Notable piccolo: Jupiter JPC1100E
Although Jupiter is best known for its entry-level instruments, this is a great sample of what the brand can do for professional musicians. Indeed, the grenadilla body with a hand-cut grenadilla headjoint and silver-plated nickel keywork bring it closer to the tone you would expect from an instrument with a much bulkier price tag.
This affordable yet great-performing piccolo is great for advanced students and professional musicians.
What can be the outcome of the joint effort by a professional flute player with several degrees and a lifelong career that started at age 10 and the go-to instrument repair technician for all major orchestras around the world with decades of experience and a degree as a mechanical engineer?
The answer to that question is greatness. Indeed, every Burkart piccolo is a potential contestant for being the best you’ve ever tried. If your budget allows it, give Burkart a chance before buying anything else.
Notable piccolo: Burkart Resona Piccolo
The next step down the line from ordering your custom handmade piccolo from Burkart is buying their Resona line. To begin with, it utilizes the same groundbreaking Burkart scale handmade piccolos are famous for. Thus, this is indeed a very stable instrument in every register.
Furthermore, each Resona piccolo receives the last finishing touches and a thorough quality check by the legendary piccolo masters in-house at the Burkart Workshop.
If your budget allows it, this might be the best piccolo for the money in the market today.
Verne Powell was born into a family of musicians. He started playing his instrument at a very young age, showing immense talent. Still, that tells half the story. His family took music as a hobby but made a living through trading and, most importantly, silversmithing.
Verne melted several pieces of silver he found at home (his family made jewelry) to create his first flute. The result was so good he got offered a job at William S. Haynes Flute Company of Boston.
Nowadays, the same childlike curiosity and passion fuel every decision the company makes. Thus, you can expect every Powell piccolo to be an instrument ready to shake your world through innovation and impeccable craftsmanship.
Notable piccolo: Powell Handmade Custom Piccolo
The handmade custom piccolo by Powell is the highlight of the company’s piccolo series.
Not only because the level of attention to detail is sky-high but also because it’s made from the finest granadilla wood in the world. This means that this instrument's quintessential dark sound is perfect for blending with the rest of the instruments in an orchestra.
Finally, this is a 100% hand-tuned instrument finished with a mechanism made of rose gold or 14k gold and three different headjoint styles to choose from.
Christian Gottlob Hammig was the first of his family to manufacture a wood instrument in 1780. From that year on, his creations were highly sought-after, and Gottlob became what is known as a master luthier. His know-how and leverage cascaded for generations and are still present today in every piccolo leaving the factory.
Speaking of which, 24 employees make handmade woodwind instruments to the highest standards in the world. If you want a real taste of what human attention to detail can do to the best piccolo designs, you have to try a Hammig today.
Notable piccolo: Hammig Philipp Piccolo 650/2
You can choose between the three master luthiers in the factory: Johannes, August, and Philipp. Since every instrument is handmade and finished in-house, this makes a big difference. In this case, this piccolo was made by Philipp Hammig from hand-picked, premium-quality granadilla and silver.
Since the instrument is handmade and hand-finished, you can choose from several headjoint styles, wood types, and mouth hole shapes to suit your exact needs.
Bulgheroni is a family business. It was born from Luigi’s passion and grew immensely as a side-effect of cascading his knowledge and passion to the upcoming generations. Indeed, since every family member contributed with innovation and passion, today Bulgheroni is one of the most important woodwind instrument brands in Italy and the world.
Working from a green facility (powered by solar energy) in the heart of Italian tradition, Bulgheroni is a synonym for passion for excellence and impeccable craftsmanship. Try one today and hear the difference the “made in Italy” label makes.
Notable piccolo: Bulgheroni Piccolo 501
Combining a sterling silver mechanism and top-quality granadilla wood, this instrument is what the brand calls “a pearl of rare beauty”. In addition to the beautiful dark tone of the wood, the balanced timbre and the dynamics of this instrument can surprise even the most seasoned professional player.
The Piccolo 501 by Bulgheroni results from decades of innovation; try one today and hear the difference with your own ears.
Alexander was an austere man with a simple wish: to make the best wind instruments in the world. He worked relentlessly for over 35 years to pursue that dream, making 50 top-notch instruments a year. Quality-wise, Eppler instruments are among the best in the world.
Nowadays, although Alexander passed away in 2019, his spirit lives on in every instrument leaving the factory. The brand’s legend grew one instrument at a time for over three decades, but it will surely take you less than one minute to hear why it is among the best in the world.
Notable piccolo: The Eppler Piccolo
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The Eppler piccolo is a rare wonder: a miniature flute with a cylindrical bore.
To begin with, you can choose your wood type from cocuswood or a one-piece premium grenadilla. This choice will drastically change the tone of the instrument.
Also, the design includes a silver headjoint-to-body tenon and a unique C# trill key. Finally, the Straubinger pads and flute-style thumb key make this a one-of-a-kind instrument ready to change your sonic world for good.
Jim Keefe went through his apprenticeship period with Brannen Brothers in 1978. He escalated to become the General Manager and, soon after, bought the business from them. His success story is based on the uncanny craftsmanship of his instruments and the relentless innovation path he took at a young age.
Nowadays, Jim is regarded as one of the finest piccolo makers in the world. Moreover, his associate, Janet Kinmonth, a professional player (she holds a Master’s degree in music), adds the sensitivity and thorough quality control that make playing a Keefe piccolo an outstanding experience.
Notable piccolo: Keefe Piccolos
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Keefe piccolos are made by order. Each of them is built to meet the specific requests of the client. You can choose the type of wood, the material of the mechanism, and any other addition you might need for your professional playing career.
In the same vein, you can also select from a plethora of head joints and innovations that can potentially change your perception of the instrument.
When you feel ready, Keefe can make you the ultimate piccolo, the one that you’ve always dreamed of. You can order it here.
Braun is a family business with a history that goes well into the 19th century and an uninterrupted production that reaches the 21st century. Throughout the decades, the family know-how, leverage, and craftsmanship quality evolved from one generation to the next. Today, the technical knowledge owned by the Braun family is a priceless treasure.
Every Braun piccolo is 100% handmade by Anton Braun and his daughter Antonia Simon. Therefore, for those after “the best money can buy”, ordering a custom-made piccolo from Braun is getting one step closer to their dream instrument.
Notable piccolo: Cylindrical Piccolo Flute Down To Low C
This is a patented model by Braun in 1999: a cylindrical Boehm piccolo tuned down to low C—moreover, state-of-the-art construction benefits from the highest-grade components. Indeed, the entire mechanism is made of 925 silver sterling, and the body is from hand-picked, grade-A grenadilla wood.
Finally, the precision applied to the creation of the pads ensures your instrument will only reproduce the frequencies you want and none you don’t want.
For the best money can buy, you can check Braun’s current price list here.