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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.

“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.

Originally Published