November 2008

Sabian Vault Crossover Ride Cymbal

Founded in 1981, the Canadian company Sabian is the fledgling among the world’s four leading cymbal manufacturers, predated by earlier 20th-century European innovators Paiste and Meinl and venerable 17th-century cymbal godfather Zildjian.

Robert Zildjian founded Sabian after the death of his father, Avedis Zildjian III. When another son, Armand Zildjian, was awarded control of the family-named company, a rift developed between the brothers. Robert Zildjian was eventually awarded the New Brunswick-based factory that had produced the classic K Zildjian line, originally developed by Kerope Zildjian in Turkey during the 19th century. (The K ride cymbal became a historical, standard piece of jazz equipment.) Robert named his new company using the first two letters in each of his three children’s names (Sally, Bill and Andy).

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Sabian Vault Crossover Ride Cymbal

Perhaps not by coincidence, the company’s new Vault Crossover Ride (retailing online for $429) bears some of that K cymbal’s characteristics—even if you’ll find no mention of Robert Zildjian’s last name on the Sabian Web site.

The ride has historically been the most important cymbal in jazz drumming. It’s the third side in the pyramid of necessities, along with the snare drum and bass drum, for timekeeping, accents and interplay. With its new 21-inch Vault Crossover Ride, Sabian has created a jazz essential that combines vintage warmth with modern versatility.

The medium-thin, B20 bronze cymbal lives up to its name in several ways. At 21 inches, it’s a crossover between the standard 20-inch ride used by most traditional jazz drummers and the 22-inch rides favored by rock- and funk-oriented Sabian users David Garibaldi (Tower of Power) and Chester Thompson (Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Genesis).

Lathing and hammering combinations on both the top and bottom result in a warm, dark tone. The cymbal’s volume is controllable at any intensity, and it responds articulately during everything from slow, sensitive ballad feels to accelerated bop patterns. When played close to the outer edge, the unavoidable overtones are dry, musical and unobtrusive.

Switch to brushes or hybrids like Pro-Mark Hot Rods and you get the desired drop in volume—but no drop in articulation. Played to a crescendo with mallets, the cymbal delivers a desirable oceanic swell.

The Vault Crossover Ride’s medium-sized bell delivers enough volume to cut through without being overbearing, and the cymbal offers a feature that many rides 20 inches and larger don’t: crash capabilities. Whether struck with sticks, hybrids or brushes, this crossover delivers a dark, simmering sound. Even crashing with a mallet produces a warm, marching-band-like tone.

Sabian’s line of Vault cymbals includes hi-hats, crashes, rides, China and effects cymbals, and is named for “The Vault,” where its design team comes up with new concepts.

That design team has turned out cymbals that are now the choice of many top jazz and fusion drummers, including Jack DeJohnette, Jimmy Cobb, Ed Thigpen, Dave Weckl, Rod Morgenstein, Terry Bozzio, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ed Shaughnessy and Will Calhoun.

With competitive pricing and creative ideas like the Vault Crossover Ride, Sabian has also become Zildjian’s main competitor for world cymbal supremacy. Call it a crossover family success story.

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