NAMM 2006 In Depth Review Part 2 - Cymbals
Istanbul also had some special ‘06’ rides that sounded beautiful (Istanbul 05 / 06 / 08) and had a slightly blue finish. If you are into your jazz cymbals, these should be top of your list to check out. As with all handmade things, you may need to try a few to find the one that is best for you as each one does sound slightly different. Of course, they still have their signature Mel Lewis models that are possibly the most archetypal ‘jazz’ cymbals around.
Istanbul is one of the few cymbal companies to make their products just how they used to in the ‘good old days’. There’s no computers adjusting the metal content, CAM hammers doing the hammering or any of that nonsense (!), it all down to a few men in a small, very hot room, with a few hammers. They only got electric lathes ten years or so ago. We are talking hand made in the very real sense of the words, rather than what goes for ‘hand made’ nowadays.
They have three main lines, Traditional (see above), Custom and Signature. The Traditionals are divided into the standard models definitions like hats, crashes, rides and effects. The Custom line is divided up into Turk (dark, unlathed and trashy), Sultan (with bands of lathing/unlathed metal in a distinctive concentric circular pattern (Istanbul 10)), Vezir (limited models, aimed more at jazz players, 80% of the range are rides), Empire (featuring an unlathed centre section), Ottoman (drier but similar to Turk, with concentric lathing) and Pasha (featuring an unlathed outer ring). The Signature line has the previously mentioned Mel Lewis models, Agop (named after Agop Tomurcuk and made using vintage hammers and lathing tools to designs from his ‘little black book’ - all unique and original cymbals) and Special Edition cymbals (very dark, trashy cymbals based on the Mel Lewis and Agop ranges). As well as the ‘kit’ cymbals, Istanbul also do gongs, band and orchestral cymbals. I am amazed they have time to do it all. If that older sound is what you look for, look here. In the UK, contact BR Distribution.
The MB20 range gains a Chris Adler Pure Metal Ride (Meinl 03), which got much attention, as it is 24”. It’s a bit of a monster, and sounds just like you would expect such a big, heavy ride to sound. Due to its size, it comes with its own 24” cymbal bag (which will be available separately). There are also some new Medium Heavy crashes in 16 and 18”, Medium Heavy Ride in 20” and 20” Rock China.
The Byzance range gets three new Thin Brilliant crashes in larger sizes of 16-18” to add to the 14 and 15” that are currently available. Medium Brilliant crashes in 21”, Regular Chinas in 14” and Brilliant Chinas in16” are also new.
In the Sound Caster range, there is a new Distortion Splash that to my ears sounds similar to the Paiste Flanger Bell. It has a very thick outer rim and you can feel where it suddenly gets thinner. It sounds like a chime rather than a splash with a limited frequency range (not much high end). Strange, but it may be just what you are looking for.
Meinl have been reorganising their ranges, so some of the Classics models and sizes have disappeared altogether. The MCS range is only available in box sets now, rather than individually as well.
The full range is…
Full Ride 20”
Thin Crash 14/16/17/18”
Medium Hats 13/14”
Thin Splash 8/10”
But… also expect another load very soon…
Flat Ride 20”
Phew, quite a few really. As I said above, they all sounded MUCH better than I expected.
The new 2002 Wild Crashes (Paiste 08 / 09 / 10) are meant to be the strongest 2002 crashes around and come in 17, 18, 19 and 20”. I was expecting a dull ‘clunk’, but they sounded very flexible and splashier than such a strong cymbal should. I can see these being the proverbial ‘hot cakes’ amongst Paiste aficionados. As they sound much thinner than they are, I would be interested to hear how these cymbals stand up to a serious beating. If Paiste have managed to achieve a really tough cymbal with a splashier/thinner sound, that would be rather interesting. The other new 2002s (Paiste 11) are the Paperthin crashes at the other end of the spectrum, which come in 16, 18 and 20”. Some of the Dimensions cymbals have also been absorbed into the 2002 range. They are immediately recognisable by the funny hammering marks ( Paiste 12 )
Legacy is their new range, which is a subsection of HHX and has been created with the help of Dave Weckl. Apparently they knew they wanted to release these cymbals when they released the HHX Evolutions but they didn’t want to flood the market with two new cymbal ranges. The Legacy cymbals are the ‘dark side’ of Mr Weckl’s cymbal needs, being much darker and trashier and ‘nastier’ than the very bright Evolutions and they really couldn’t be more different. Very thin but loud, with distinct oriental overtones, they have taken 4 years of research and development. Imagine very thin rides with massive china influences and crashes that sound underhammered and almost wobble when hit.
The range comprises 14” Hi-Hats, 10” and 12” Splashes, 17” and 18” Crashes (blinkingly LOUD), 20” and 21” Legacy Rides, a 22” Heavy Ride, and a 20” Ozone Ride. The last cymbal is particularly interesting as it has 5 large holes drilled into the back ‘half’ of it, in a similar way to the Evolution Ozone cymbal ( Sabian 09 / 05 ). Sounds REALLY dark and trashy. The 21” Legacy ride was so thin you could bend it with your hands as you could with others in the range. (Sabian 10)The unlathed band on the cymbals is designed to control the volume. They are pretty loud anyway, so I don’t know how loud they would be without them.
Other new gear was the AA Raw Bell Dry Ride and the AAX Picante Hand Crashes and the Vault line gets some 14” hats which sounded like you would expect them to, following on from the crashes last year – crisp and bright (Sabian 11)
The other range launched was the ZHT (Zildjian 01 ). These come in at the top of the sheet ranges and have an amazingly full line. You want a sheet flat ride or 10” mini hats? You got it in ZHT. Firstly they are made in a new alloy and secondly they have additional hammering. There are 38 models in the range and Zildjian have been stockpiling them at their warehouse with 35,000 to be shipped now. This really is a very comprehensive line…
Medium Ride 20”
Fast Crash 14/16/18”
Hi Hats Thin/Med 13”
The EFX in particular is worthy of a mention ( Zildjian 10 ). It features three long oval slots equally spaced around the cymbal and between each one are four half-inch holes, three in a line and one above. They sound darkly trashy, and I can see these cropping up on hundreds of set ups for two reasons – they are great for crash riding on and they are cheap – the 18” retails at £127, so with the usual shop discount, that should be a steal. Very cool.
Zildjian were also showing some new sticks - Matt Sorum from Velvet Revolver and Taylor Hawkins from Foo Fighters (a 5B with a larger, more rounded tip), new Mezzo Multi rods with birch rods and moveable rubber rings, and new mallets. One of the coolest products of the day was the Zildjian cymbal bag made by Body Glove (Yes, really!) which carries cymbals up to 22”, has internal separators and comes in two models – a back pack and a roller bag with castors and a telescopic handle. They are also making a matching stick bag, which joins the Cindy Blackman ( Zildjian 14 ) and Tommy Lee stick bags Tommy’s being Desert Storm camouflage pattern ( Zildjian 15 ). Cool.
Who would ever have thought that accessorising for drummers would be such big business? Just to give you an idea, the new Zildjian Basic catalogue has 51 items, including pink caps, all sorts of wearables, Zildjian shot glass, drink coasters, coffee tumbler, socks and best of all… doggie T-shirts. No, not T-shirts with a dog on, but T-shirts for your favourite pooch. I kid you not.
Our final in-depth review which will follow shortly will cover electronics and percussion.
Words:  Simon Edgoose
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