Stewart Copeland’s sound is as unique as his technique, and in combination they have led him to become one of the most influential drummers of the past few decades. In particular, his distinctive use of cymbals makes him impossible to confuse with anyone else. As a Paiste endorsee for over a quarter of a century, the cymbalsmiths in Switzerland must have jumped at the opportunity to help him create his ideal ride.
The starting point for the cymbal was Paiste’s Signature Dark Metal ride, which bears similar proportions to the Blue Bell ride. However, creative input from Stewart, who was onboard with the project from the word go, ensured that four prototypes later a different cymbal emerged. At 22" in diameter and being far from thin, the Blue Bell ride is quite a slab of metal.
Visually it is dominated by a blue coating, which stretches from an inch in from the edge all the way to where the bell begins (though not, oddly enough considering its name, onto the bell itself). The coating, which covers the entire underside of the cymbal as well, makes the cymbal a little drier than it might have been but is as much for looks as anything else.
Apparently Mr Copeland requested the shade of blue to match the colour of his kit. Rock stars, eh?
Clusters of deep hammer marks are visible beneath the cymbal’s blue coating, along with regularly spaced bands of lathing. The cymbal sports a curved profile, which is crowned by the large, flattish bell. Paiste’s logo appears in white above the bell, while below it is printed a silhouette of Stewart on horseback, along with the legend ‘The Rhythmatist’, which is a reference to his ‘80s movie soundtrack album of the same name and his passion for equestrian sports.
Perhaps unsurprisingly considering its size and weight, this is a big-sounding cymbal. It provides an almost textbook definition of glassy, giving a clear bright ping over a dry wash. The stick sound it produces is quite fat, however, and there is also a suggestion of rawness to it, making for a strong presence in the mix. Patterns are buoyed by fairly minimal wash that is spiced with dark undertones.
The thickness of the cymbal means that though the wash never really gets going, it does take some time to dissipate once begun. The bell is quite simply majestic, performing in almost complete separation from the rest of the cymbal. Its deep, powerful and warm response would be at home bouncing through the entire Police repertoire.