Buyers' guide: high-end and specialist cymbals

5 cymbals from £140, 3 essential buying tips

Paiste Signature Cymbals
Paiste Signature: introduced to widespread acclaim in 1989

For some, buying new music making gear is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. For the inexperienced, though, it can be a stressful experience. There's so much choice, and, depending on your skill level, buying the wrong gear could seriously stunt your progression.

To make it easier, we've put together a buyers' guide, which includes our top product picks and essential buying tips. Here's how to buy high-end and specialist cymbals…

3 buying tips

1. At this level you should be an experienced enough player to know what you're seeking in a cymbal, but the usual rules still apply. Consider how well any new cymbal will sit within your existing set-up. The best way to do this is have your regular cymbals with you so that you can compare them side by side.

"This type of cymbal will not reveal all of its qualities in loud scenarios, so try to test new cymbals in as quiet an environment as possible"

2. This type of cymbal will not reveal all of its qualities in loud scenarios, so try to test new cymbals in as quiet an environment as possible. That way you will be able to hear their range of expression properly. As well as playing a cymbal yourself, it's a good idea to have a friend or salesperson play the cymbal for you as you move around the room. Cymbals do sound different out front, so it makes a lot of sense to pay attention to how they travel to an audience or microphone.

3. The sort of cymbals available here are, almost without exception, handmade. As a result many of them come with personal touches, like the weight in grams written underneath, often accompanied by the cymbalsmith's signature. This adds kudos, if not gravitas, to each cymbal, but, as ever, don't let anything distract your ears from making the final judgement.

5 high-end and specialist cymbals from £140

1. Zildjian Constantinople

One of Armand Zildjian's final projects, the K Constantinople range has continued to evolve since his passing away in 2002. The individual cymbals that make up the current range of hi-bell and fl at rides and hi-hats are all outstanding (if pricey) instruments that compare favourably with the vintage K cymbals that inspired them.
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2. Paiste Signature

Introduced to widespread acclaim in 1989, Paiste Signatures were designed to expand musical horizons and they continue to do so nearly two decades later. Created from Paiste's patented signature bronze, the cymbals are incredibly refined and expressive. Radical new models have recently joined a range already bursting with different sizes, weights and finishes.
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3. Sabian Vault

Not so much a collection of cymbals, rather a series of cymbal concepts seen through to fruition, Sabian's Vault range consists of high-end models created at the behest of Sabian endorsees and customers. Though limited to crashes, hi-hats and rides for the time being, these are distinctive, impressive and reassuringly expensive instruments.
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4. Ufip Firm

Made from enriched B22 bronze for an even softer feel, these cymbals are the creations of Damiano Tronci, regarded as one of the best young cymbalsmiths in the world. The natural finish enhances the already warm tones of the cymbals, with models currently restricted to crashes, hi-hats and rides.

5. Roberto Spizzichino

Truly exclusive jazz cymbals from a one-man operation. Roberto Spizzichino takes raw Turkish B20 blanks and then creates exquisite rides and hi-hats, one at a time. To get hold of one you either have to travel to Tuscany to commission Roberto or see him at the Frankfurt Music Fair, at which he displays each year.

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