The materials used for construction, new or used condition, grade, specialized design, brand name association and warranty inclusion all affect piccolo prices. These factors can be interrelated, so piccolo buyers have to take a broad approach when figuring out how much a piccolo should cost. They should look at these factors based on what they need a piccolo to do and how long they need the instrument to last.
Manufacturers make piccolos with wood, metals and composite material such as plastic. In general, plastic piccolos, which are good for outdoor use and marching bands, are cheapest, followed by metal instruments that are best for cutting through concert bands. The most prevalent metal used for metal piccolos as well as flutes is silver, but manufacturers also use other more expensive metals such as gold. Wood piccolos, which are suitable only for indoor playing such as in orchestras, are the most expensive, because it takes such precision and care not to crack the wood during construction. Hybrid piccolos, which tend to be mid- to upper-range in price, may be constructed with a wood body and a metal head joint.
Piccolo prices also vary based on whether the instruments are new or used. A used instrument is almost always cheaper than a new instrument of the same model and year when looking only at the base purchase price. Other factors have to be taken into consideration, however. For instance, used instruments often need touch-ups or repairs, which adds to the overall cost.
In comparing new and used instruments, the grade of the instrument also matters. Piccolos are student, intermediate or professional grade, similar to other instruments. The higher the grade, the more piccolo prices increase in general. This means that a used professional grade piccolo can exceed the price of a new student or intermediate model.
Piccolo players also affect piccolo prices when they ask for a specialized design. They might do this to accommodate issues such as finger length or to get a very specific tone. Engraving is another example of specialization. The more specialization a person wants on his piccolo, the greater the overall cost will be compared to a non-specialized model.
Brand name association causes people to pay more for piccolos, as well. When a company is well-known for their quality and service, people pay more for an instrument by that company because they trust the technicians and assume their selected instrument will have the same quality and service standards as previous instruments. This is not always the case, as any manufacturer can produce an instrument with some defects. Buying a piccolo from a lesser-known company with excellent technicians can produce an instrument of equal quality for a lower price, because the company does not have enough weight to charge for brand loyalty.
Piccolo players also can add to piccolo prices if they opt to purchase a warranty with their instrument. With new instruments, this usually is not optional, with the warranty provided by the manufacturer. With a used instrument, however, players can decide whether the warranty is worth the cost, and the warranty is provided by the shop that sells the instrument. If a player buys an instrument privately, it is unlikely she can get a warranty unless the instrument is new enough to still be under the manufacturer's original agreement.