April 2002

A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage Cymbals

Proceeding from where Zildjian left off with last year’s 14-, 15- and 16-inch crashes, the addition of a 20-inch ride, an 18-inch crash and 14-inch hi-hats to the A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage line constitutes an authentic trip down memory lane for those drummers who cherish the shimmering sound and feel of pre-World War II cymbals. Younger jazz drummers, who’ve cut their teeth on the power and projection of modern-day A. Zildjians, might be taken aback by the speed, sweetness and delicacy of these vintage archetypes.

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A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage Cymbals
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A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage Cymbals

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“Well, you’ve got to remember that articulate ride cymbals and aggressive crash cymbals were not yet in vogue during that time,” explains John King, director of education for Zildjian. And weight-wise, these Zildjian Vintage cymbals certainly seem slotted for drummers who favor an exceptionally light, thin-throated stick, along the lines of a 7A. Otherwise, the new 20-inch Vintage ride would function more naturally as a crash-ride in most modern setups, what with its sizzling, elemental wash of upper midrange/lower treble white noise and its light, sparkling, slightly oblique ride sound. Likewise, the leading edge of the 18-inch Vintage crash’s attack transient has a round, smooth character, with none of the metallic qualities endemic to heavier modern crashes—yet with the right touch, it too functions superbly as a crash-ride at lower volumes. Lastly, the 14-inch Vintage hi-hats transport one to another time and place, so light and quick and malleable is the sound. Instead of a sharp metallic clink, when pedaling with the foot alone one gets a soft yet penetrating percussive chip; and when manipulating these vintage “sock cymbals” with hand and stick, one evokes the splashy shout and crystalline top-end colorations of big-band jazz, small swing combos and piano trios.

Never in this day and age did I expect to hear cymbals like this again, and while not for everybody, as the basis for a vintage kit or a subtle change-of-pace sound in a modern setup, they are uniquely musical.

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