With the recent passing of NAMM 2017 Zildjian has seen some remarkable releases, such as the new K Custom Special Dry Collection and the new cymbal Music Packs.
Zildjian has been around the block since 1623. If you do the maths that is around 400 years, well 394 years to be exact. So that’s a whole lot of time for innovation. Since the opening of the first Zildjian factory in the USA in 1929, Zildjian has been on the forefront of cymbal innovation.
Here is a quick history lesson on 10 cymbal firsts inspired by the Zildjian family, going back to the time of Avedis III till recently.
1. Paper Thin Cymbals
Zildjian has always prided itself on listening to the drummer. What better source of potential innovation than looking to those who play your cymbals. The Paper Thin Cymbals were first crafted in the 1940’s. Avedis Zildjian was encouraged by renowned American Jazz drummer, Gene Krupa to make thinner cymbals. This attribute would allow drummers more diversity and creativity in their sound.
2. Crash Rides
The name gives this one away. The Crash Ride. It’s not just used for crashing or riding, but both! This dual- purpose hybrid cymbals came about in the 1940’s. Think of it as a buy one get one free cymbal, perfect for when you can only have one but need more.
3. Sizzling Cymbals
Beware, this might give drummers of today a heart attack. In days gone by drummers used to hammer actual nails into their cymbals. This seemingly barbaric practice was to increase the sustain of the cymbals. To try and eradicate this barbaric cymbal abuse, Zildjian created cymbal rivets which are a more humane approach to achieve more sustain.
4. Ping Rides
Created to give drummers that “ping” sound that would cut through the mix of the ever growing bands of the time. This Ride was essentially the heavyweight champion of rides. The Ping Ride was designed as a heavier weighted ride with a higher bow to increase stick articulation with minimal cymbal wash being produced.
5. Holy Cymbals
Another one of the Zildjian cymbal firsts was the creation of cymbals with holes in them. The revolutionary introduction of the 14″ and 15″ Quick Beat HiHats in the late 1970’s changed the game. The addition of these holes allowed for air to exit the HiHats quickly to create a consistent “chick” sound. This patent held by the Zildjian company to this day is also applied to some of the most popular EFX cymbals.
6. Unlathed / Earth Rides
The 1970’s gave birth to the first unlathed cymbal in the most unlikely way. Drummer Billy Cobham had a specific sound in his mind, which Armand Zildjian found by playing on some unfinished cymbals. The Earth Ride was born..well found. These unconventional cymbals came with a unique sound and look. Just goes to show Cymbal Firsts can be found in the place you least expect.
7. Brilliant Finish
This high-speed buffering process is not just to make your cymbals look like stars in the sky. The Brilliant Finish also plays an integral role in helping cymbals to open up and produce a more elegant and transcendent sound.
8. Cross Matching HiHats
Cross matching HiHats by combining tops from one range of cymbals with the bottoms from another was first done by Zildjian in the late ’80s. This Cymbal First still remains to this day in the Zildjian Catalog. The 13″ K/Z HiHats were originally designed as “Fusion” hats, but very quickly established themselves as a diverse pair suitable for all genres of music.
Music is an ever-evolving creature, constantly changing with time. As the music changed so did the needs of players. Drummers began to ask for thinner K Cymbals to adapt their sound. The K Custom Darks were rolled, hammered, and lathed thinner, then hammered again as a final step to help control overtones and to dirty up the cymbal’s sound.
10. Low Volume Cymbals
Here is another testament to Zildjian’s drummer focused innovations. The release of the Gen 16 acoustic/electronic hybrid cymbals in 2011 allows for players to harness the power of technology and unlock a huge range of sonic possibilities. The Gen16 enables users to customise their cymbal sound to their desired tones with the direct source pickups.
Seeing another opportunity to help drummers, especially educators, Zildjian created the L80 Low Volume cymbals using the same hole pattern technology from the Gen16 system. The L80 cymbals have been making neighbors of drummer and noise conscious drummers happy since 2015.
There is no doubt that Zildjian has been on point with cymbal firsts since the start of the brand. These cymbal firsts have contributed to keeping Zildjian as the global favorites for years.
Here is to another 400 years of Zildjian and cymbal firsts!