As the smallest and highest member of the flute family, the piccolo is a very colorful instrument that adds a lot of liveliness and spirit to the sound of a musical piece. While the concert flute underwent a bit of a renaissance in the mid-1800s that saw it change from its original wooden form to today's metal instruments, the same change did not work as well for the piccolo and it came away from the period with wood still being the preferred material. Since most piccolo players start on the flute, chances are high that you're already well-informed about many of the things to look for in a piccolo. The various options available on a piccolo, such as the split-E mechanism, are often similar to the flute. Where the two instruments differ (apart from size and octave, of course) is primarily in what they're made of. Piccolos are available in four common materials: plastic resin, wood, Grenadite composite or metal. Plastic resin is a solid choice for a player's first piccolo, since it is both affordable and durable. A plastic piccolo will never crack and needs only basic upkeep and care to maintain. Wooden piccolos, usually made of the same Grenadilla wood as an oboe or English horn, are the preferred choice of professional musicians. As the traditional material for the piccolo, wood offers an exact tonal character. The third option is Grenadite, which is a composite that sits somewhere between plastic and wood. Grenadite has plastic's resistance to temperature and humidity with most of the acoustic quality of wood, making it a favorite of professionals for outdoor concerts to put out a great sound while avoiding the risk of cracking. Completing the material roster is metal, which creates an instrument similar to a miniaturized flute and, therefore, with many of the same qualities. Choosing your new piccolo comes down to combining your knowledge of the flute with the decision of which material is best for you. With well-regarded piccolo makers like Yamaha, Gemeinhardt and Powell to choose from, there's no shortage of great-sounding instruments ready to take home.