Considering on a Piccolo

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrassBandMajor, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    you may have to reconsider your stand about pitch. Most baroque stuff was for natural trumpets in written C and D - but at A=415 or A=466, that means Cb/C# or Db/D# not modern C or D. The instruments were twice as long as their modern counterparts - hardly the squeaky picc.........

    I think that most should have a G-picc before the Bb/A picc. Much more flexible, easier to play and more forgiving than a D trumpet.

  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Possibly, but I never had a problem with the Eb/D. At the time I was using it, (sadly, I had the opportunity to purchase it, but never did) I was playing it almost every week in church for hymns and descants, and I'd used it in D on the Hallelujah chorus and Clarke Trumpet Voluntary. This wasn't even a great Eb/D - in retrospect, I think it was the Yamaha 761, and it switched from Eb to D with just one slide. I've done some reading on it recently and from what I gather, it was originally designed (I think) as just an Eb trumpet, and they decided that it might market a bit better if they added the ability to use it in D as well. (or vise versa - I don't remember at this point) It had some minor intonation quirks, but nothing that couldn't be lipped in pretty easily.

    For the hymns and descants, whatever slide I decided to use was whichever key was easiest once the part was transposed, sometimes I brought it in D, sometimes in Eb - on occasion I'd bring both and switch, but usually I ended up just using one or the other.

    I never put a lot of thought into it from an academic perspective - it was the horn that was available to me at the time, so it was what I used, and I used it in whatever key seemed to be the best for it at the time. Keep in mind, technically I was at my peak as a player back then. I was 20-21 years old and working full time as a military bandsman - all I did was play trumpet. The whole reason I had the horn was because a guy I knew next door at the Military Intelligence group had two of them, and loaned one of them to me. I wonder how things might have been different if it was an A/Bb pic. I might be singing the praises of the pic rather than the Eb/D.
  3. jimc

    jimc Mezzo Piano User

    May 21, 2009
    Spokane, WA USA
    I have them all, not that I can play anything worth beans. A friend was going to do the Messiah and wanted to borrow the picc. I suggested the D instead, which he used and it went well for him in the limited time he had to work it up. MUCH easier in our opinions than it would have been with the picc, and no transposition required. (I have a G picc that I've never used, and to me it seems just as treacherous and duck-ey as the Bb/A. Unlike the C and D trumpets.)

    But... if you just love the picc then get one. Just don't be surprised when it takes a lot of work to make it something worth listening to.

    [That's how it was with me. The hate part of the love-hate relationship came after I bought it!]
  4. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    No offense intended, but I suspect you will be acquiring a picc whether or not we think it a good idea.

    I picc'ed up a Carol, very nicely put together for $, and it is a whole different animal, for sure.
    barliman2001 likes this.
  5. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I never did anything more than try to play one that was at some store for sale or a friend who would let me try his. I never could get the reference point right. I am always impressed when someone can make that little thing resonate. I would love to have one to see if I could ever gain any proficiency on it but have no real need to.
    I just think of how anyone who has tried a pic for the first time acts... they blow.. it sounds terrible and then they pull the horn away laughing because it sounds so bad.
    Enjoy your new toy Veery!! Youtube to follow?
  6. ckkphoto

    ckkphoto Pianissimo User

    Jan 31, 2013
    Northwest Georgia

    This is precisely what I am doing now. I play about 60 percent of my practice and performing at church on an d/Eb trumpet and it has not changed my range much....but it has TREMENDOUSLY changed how well I play the upper register in my available range. Which is from F# below the staff to high F on a Bb trumpet. I am still slowly daily gaining the ability to play with relaxed confidence in my range. Will add a G trumpet likely in a year when I hit a plateau. Barlimans advice is sound. Pic will come in time. I have been using the instruments to change my tessatura as I play. So far it is working.
  7. limepickle

    limepickle Piano User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Dallas, TX
    I started on piccolo a couple of weeks ago, a Brasspire Unicorn from ACB. My range was worse than on my regular Bb, and I did tend to overblow despite knowing beforehand that it was one of the common mistakes. I will say that the stock mpc was really bad as I just found out. I mean it was atrocious. ACB sent one of their mpcs that just arrived today. My range went back to normal (a little better maybe), the upper register slots were much easier, and the notes were in tune. I can't emphasize how bad that stock mpc was. That being said, intonation was still an issue, which I think is more of a consequence of not being used to how the slots feel and them being narrower. I feel that once you acclimate to it, it is not nearly as bad as in the first few days. You have to really embrace the bright piccolo sound and style for it to work right, I've found. Trying to go for that big warm sound totally backfires. Let it pop and be light like in all the records that use piccolo. I mean that's why you're playing piccolo anyway right? Switching back to the regular Bb is kind of difficult, especially for the first minute or so. It makes your chops feel funny, but it's not too bad.

    I feel like the gist of what I'm saying is that there is a lot of exaggeration about this type of stuff. People have been playing musical instruments for a long time. Just pick it up, play, and try to develop good habits. The idea that you have to work your way up... maybe it works better, but I don't think that it's necessary. At the end of the day, if your expectation is that you will just transition really smoothly, you will be disappointed. I started with the mentality that I was starting a new instrument but with many advantages. Then I'm not surprised and discouraged when I sound bad. To the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised today that I can play the first line of Ablassen pretty well starting on a C. If you already have that range locked in, I imagine that you could do it in a couple of weeks too.
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    One instrument you might consider is the Eb soprano cornet. IMHO it answers a number of dilemmas raised in this thread.

    1) It is a challenging instrument, at least at first, but not too challenging.
    2) You would have the opportunity to play it regularly - brass bands are always on the look-out for a good sop player.
    3) There's no confusion over which pitch is best - they only come in Eb.
    4) There's a substantial repertoire available for it.
    5) It's sufficiently different from a trumpet (and even a Bb cornet come to that) to add a whole new dimension to your musical range.

    This is purely personal opinion, but I tend to see it not so much a 'high cornet' but a unique instrument in it's own right; as distinct from a Bb cornet as a tenor horn from a euphonium.

    IMHO, in the right hands it's also the most beautiful of all the brass voices.

  9. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    I'm not yet on a hunt for a piccolo but do like to listen to them and am interested in learning more about them. This video for example: (Piccolo Trumpet Playing Tips by Dr. Jack Burt)

  10. abc

    abc New Friend

    Dec 27, 2016
    Has anybody had any experience with a recently manufactured Wessex Picc?

    I've got a friend who has a wonderful euphonium from Wessex and says the quality has improved substantially over the last few years.

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