Cymbals are that integral part of any drum kit that is far more vibrant compared to the monotone resonance of drums giving that additional quality and room for drummers to express better.
The sheer variety of sound available through different brands of cymbals can be truly overwhelming. Apart from the usual cymbals (crash, ride, and hi-hats), there is a whole new range of cymbals available. Focusing on three of the biggest companies, this article looks at classic series from each of these brands that brings out their representative characteristics.
SABIAN AAX Cymbals
Sabian cymbals was founded in 1981 by Robert Zildjian when he had a falling out with his brother Armand over the ownership of Zildjian cymbals. Since then, Sabian has become the biggest competitor of Zildjian cymbals and one of the biggest brands. The AAX series debuted in 1993 and has ever since become the most popular series that Sabian has to offer. Known for a characteristically bright sound, the series offers a range of crash, ride, hi-hat and even effects (FX) cymbals under the AAX brand. There are certain drawbacks to using Sabian. To begin with, Sabian has not spread out well in India. This makes it difficult to test and buy some of the more obscure cymbals that they have to offer. These cymbals are thin and sonorous, thus making the vibrant sound almost overbearing. Their cymbals are not very durable either. All this makes buying Sabian an expensive affair.
Globally, Sabian endorses some of the biggest names in the business such as Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Jose Pasillas (Incubus), Jojo Mayer (Nerve) etc.
MEINL Byzance Cymbals
Meinl was founded by Roland Meinl in Germany in 1951. Starting out solely as a wind instrument manufacturer, Meinl started making cymbals in the 1960’s. The Byzance series has become a mainstay of Meinl. Meinl is known for a variety of dark, polished sounds owing to the popularity of Byzance. The cymbals are unique both in sound and design, usually opting for a sandburst finish. This gives the cymbal an aged appearance. The larger drawback of these cymbals is that they are usually expensive. The cheaper models are designed for beginners.
The biggest advantage of these cymbals in India is accessibility. Not only has Meinl struck a great partnership with local businesses, they have also actively pursued big drummers in India like Jai Row Kavi and Gino Banks for endorsement deals. This treatment to local artists creates a very favorable market image. Meinl has shown an adaptable and versatile quality that looks to stand the test of time in the expanding Indian market.
Famous Meinl artists include Benny Greb (independent), Thomas Lang (stOrk), Luke Holland (Independent).
ZILDJIAN Custom A
Zildjian was founded in Constantinople in 1623. Now almost 400 years old, it is one of the oldest companies in the world. Zildjian has looked to develop its sound over the years. Their cymbals are never too bright, nor too dark; they linger in a ‘midtone’ that is now characteristic of the company’s overall sound. A major drawback of Zildjian cymbals is their hefty price tag. They are also usually thin cymbals, which reduces durability. The thin design also gives a quick decay, that is, their sound does not reverberate for long. As stated earlier, Zildjian is one of the oldest cymbal brands and the common perception is that they do not possess the know-how of the modern drummer to make the same technological advances that they were once known for. Nevertheless, Zildjian is a very reliable and consistent brand. Famous Zildjian artists include Tré Cool (Green Day), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Talyor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)