Sankyo piccolo

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Sankyo piccolo

Post by ExPhysKid »

I was wondering if anyone has tried the Sankyo piccolo before? As far as I know, they offer just one model (silver head/silverplated body). Their flutes are beyond fantastic, so I was wondering if their piccolos are worthy of serious consideration as well? Thanks!

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Post by snowstripedmoose »

I have tried two of the sankyo piccolos last time I was in japan the 301 and the 401, I am saving up to buy the P401.

In japan there are three models available the 201, 301 and the 401

They do sound different to the wood models as you would expect.

Hope this helps

neonG :)
My Instruments :)
Sankyo - ETUDE inline with NEL
Sankyo - ARTIST PA inline with NEL B foot
Yamaha - YPC32
Yamaha - YPC62

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Post by ExPhysKid »

Hi neonG - Thanks for your response. I'm most curious about the timbre of the silver Sankyo piccolo, and how the intonation is. Also, what do you think its best features/qualities are, and do you agree with the notion that this piccolo is NOT one of the typical "screaming meanie" types seen among many silver piccolos? In other words, is there reason to seriously consider Sankyo's silver piccolo when other well-made piccolos out there can be had in wood? I'm on the fence and am trying to get as much information as I can before I spend money on trials. Thanks!

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Re: Sankyo piccolo

Post by ExPhysKid »

Hi everyone. I realize this post has been dead for many, many years, but I wanted to update you on my recent acquisition of a Sankyo piccolo (P-201 model) and my thoughts on it now that I've played on it for a week. I have been toying with the idea of buying one ever since 2009 or 2010 when I first discovered that Sankyo made piccolos, but they are so incredibly rare on the used market that it literally took me almost 10 years to finally come across one. I am an amateur who happens to enjoy playing the piccolo, mostly because of the improvements I readily observe in my flute playing as a result.

I had been playing on a grenaditte Pearl piccolo for a little over two years, and had really come to love the warm "woody" sound I am able to produce with it. The Pearl models come with a conical bore, whereas the Sankyo piccolo only comes with a cylindrical bore which is generally not seen in professional piccolos due to their inherent tuning issues. (I have also owned and regularly played a Yamaha 62 wooden piccolo, which I think is a fantastic instrument. However, living in a frigid climate means I am not able to own a wooden instrument, which is why I opted for the grenaditte Pearl and, more recently, a metal Sankyo.)

When I first put the Sankyo to my lips, I did not like what I heard. At all. I immediately rolled my eyes and thought "What a dud!" A few notes later and I had all but confirmed my initial suspicion. It sounded "tinny" and seemed to lack resonance - producing a very one-dimensional sound. I did notice that the response was extremely quick, but the sound quality seemed quite poor. It seemed much too "in your face" for me, and I felt as though it would be impossible to blend into a group with that screaming meanie! I put it back in its case and did not touch it at all until the following evening. I carried on playing my Pearl piccolo and reminded myself why I loved the conical bore instruments: they were warmer, sweeter, could be played more quietly, and the flexibility of sound was exciting and provided almost endless possibilities.

The following evening I decided to play them side by side, note for note, to "convince" myself how terrible of an instrument the Sankyo is. Although I absolutely love Sankyo flutes, I was certain they had completely missed the mark with their piccolo design. I was wrong. Quite wrong, actually. Over the next hour, I was able to unlock the magic of the Sankyo piccolo, and am so glad I decided to give it another chance. While I still love the Pearl, and while the Pearl can indeed be played more quietly in the third octave, there literally is nothing else the Pearl can do that the Sankyo can not and does not do. On the contrary, I believe the Sankyo does what the Pearl can do AND THEN SOME that has left me thrilled to have made the switch to the cylindrical bore Sankyo.

To begin, there are absolutely ZERO intonation issues with the Sankyo. On every other cylindrical bore piccolo I have played the jump from C# to D has been much too wide (with the D always being incredibly sharp), the tone lacks any semblance of resonance, and they are all but uncontrollable above second octave G, with pitches going wildly too far in one direction or the other. This Sankyo piccolo is spot-on. And while I am quite adept at using alternate fingerings to bring piccolos into tune, alternate fingerings are really not necessary with this instrument. The scale is extremely consistent throughout all three octaves, and the instrument stays in tune with itself. The only adjustments needed are in the third octave, with high Ab and A (both with standard fingerings) being unplayable if the D# key is depressed. They simply will not come out, period. If I play these notes and leave off the D# key, they pop right out, as they do when I use the "long" (extended) fingerings for them in combination with the D# key.

In playing the Pearl alongside the Sankyo, I discovered that the Sankyo is also capable of accepting much, much more air, especially in the troublesome first octave. Conical bore piccolos tend to become stuffy below first-octave F, due to the tapering of the end of the body, and I find this to be somewhat true of the Pearl. The Sankyo keeps barreling along at full tilt, if desired, all the way down to low D. And it is here in the first octave where, in my opinion, the Sankyo truly shines. I do not know how they did it, but the Sankyo designers have somehow managed to create a cylindrical bore instrument that sounds identical - in terms of sweetness and warmth - to a conical bore piccolo in this octave, but without sacrificing volume to achieve this sweet, wooden tone. It chugs along and produces darn near any volume you want it to give you, and does so without complaint. And, again, the response is extremely quick and precise throughout all three octaves. My tonguing is considerably more effortless as a result, and I can play for longer periods without getting tired.

Admittedly, I am still trying to train my embouchure to produce "p" and "pp" from the third octave (G and above), and I'm usually pretty able to do so for the first few minutes until I get tired if I stay up there for too long. After that, it's a struggle. This is my only current concern, and is likely evidence that I am the weak link and not the instrument. I do not warm up as well as I should, but instead start skipping around from octave to octave pretty haphazardly. I will update the thread over the next few weeks once I've nailed down a consistent warm-up routine and also had more time to get more used to the new instrument.

In reflecting back over my first experience with the Sankyo, which again was not pleasant by any means, I realized that my frustrations with the instrument were not due to the instrument itself, but rather with the results produced as I tried to play the Sankyo the same way I had grown accustomed to playing the Pearl: safely, with moderate air speed, and delicately (in fear of cracking notes in the second octave if I pushed too hard). However, once I realized that these were two very different beasts, I adjusted my approach to the instrument, adjusted my expectations, and just let the Sankyo take me wherever it wanted us to go together. And very quickly I realized what a gem it is, and what it is willing and able to give me. My expectations were possible, but I had to "do" things differently (not better, not worse; just "different") to get out of it what it is capable of.

The Pearl is "safe" and secure, while the Sankyo can be more lively and willing to let you push the envelope a bit. And when you do, it happily gives you what you're looking for. So if I had to relate them to cars in order to provide a different perspective, I would say that the Pearl is a Buick: It does everything well, and you aren't going to risk offending anyone by playing it. On the other hand, the Sankyo is more like a sports far: It is flashier and can be more "in your face" when you want it to be, but it is just as comfortable and safe as the Buick whenever you aren't in the mood to turn heads or travel at full throttle. And that is something that I believe the Sankyo company needs to be commended for. They managed to create a cylindrical bore piccolo that, in darn near every aspect possible, matches if not outperforms conical bore instruments.

I would strongly encourage anyone who may be lucky enough to find a used one to try it out. I believe Sankyo has quit making the P-201 model with the sterling silver head and silverplated body and is now making only the P-301 (silver head and body) and P-401 (silver head, body, and keys). In any event, if you do happen to get your hands on one, I tend to think you will be quite pleasantly surprised at what you'll find it is capable of doing. Just understand that, unlike most other professional piccolos, the different bore design will require a re-evaluation of your approach to piccolo playing. But once you realize what it's looking for, I think you will find underneath a fantastic little instrument that can remove much of the worry and hassle inherent in playing the piccolo!

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Re: Sankyo piccolo

Post by SylvreKat »

Thanks for the update. What a very interesting read of your experience in getting familiar with your "new" Sankyo. Please do keep posting as you get to know it even better.

Flutes:1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel;1982 Armstrong 80;2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P;1982 Gemeinhardt 4S;1980s? Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199
Treble:2009 Guo New Voice

+ many flute-cousins

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