Steve Jordan lifts the lid on his favourite cymbals in new Paiste interview

Steve Jordan
(Image credit: Paiste (YouTube))

Few drummers are as stylish as Steve Jordan: from the tasteful playing to the selection of sounds, he’s helped set and spur-on trends including compact kits, wood-hooped snares, and of course oversized hi-hats as drummers pursue his sound. Now, in an interview with Paiste - whose cymbals Jordan has played for decades - the session groovesmith details some of his go-to cymbals.

After describing how he came to be a Paiste artist after the brand was supplying cymbals for performers at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jordan, sat at a diminutive bass drum/snare/hi-hat/ride setup talks about why Paiste Traditionals are the perfect line for him.

"They wanted to come up with a cymbal that satisfied their players that had their favourite cymbal. I remember going to S.I.R. with my favourite cymbal, and Grady Tate brought his favourite ride cymbal that he played on all these Quincy Jones records and stuff. 

I remember seeing his cymbal, and I always thought in my head while listening to it that it was a different type of cymbal to what it was. That’s the great thing, prior to YouTube and Instagram and everything you had to use your imagination to actually figure some stuff out!

So at any rate, all these players brought their favourite cymbals and paiste came up with a line called the Traditional Series, and that by far is my favourite series. The Traditional line just fit me to a tee because it’s contemporary sounding, but it’s vintage sounding simultaneously. 

That’s very hard to do, usually a vintage cymbal can be very dark. Even though it’s appealing while you’re playing it, it can actually cloud the sound of an entire recording, and not necessarily for the better.

So what the Traditional series does, is it gives you the vibe of a vintage cymbal, but it doesn’t cloud the top of the frequencies of the entire record. It gives you a fresh, clean top, not a dirty, cloudy top. So it’s the perfect cymbal. And to prove that, when I was playing this cymbal with Sonny Rollins he turned around and said ‘What’s that cymbal?’. I said “It’s a Paiste Traditional, 22-inch with rivets I put in” and he loved that cymbal. So that was seal of approval right there! The Traditional line is the most versatile line for me.”

He goes on to showcase a 24” Masters thin ride, which he says is “Yet another versatile cymbal, and it so gorgeous. It's like the best of every world, this cymbal here…this could be my favourite ride cymbal!”One of the most chased elements of Jordan’s setup, however, is his use of oversized hi-hats, which he has helped turn into a big trend over the last decade as players go after maximum slosh. “I worked with them closely on developing hi-hat cymbals for me, and these are my 17” Traditional hi-hats. I used to just put a couple of little crashes together, but they dedicated a little time to make these hi-hats for me, and I’m really, really happy about that.”

Summarising, Jordan talks through some of the other metals in his arsenal before concluding, “They’re doing it. Paiste has always been there with variety, I think that’s what I like about them the most. They’re not standing still.”

Meanwhile, Jordan is due to take-up the drum stool with The Rolling Stones on their upcoming No Filter US tour, following the death of Charlie Watts. Jordan was already set to fill-in for Watts when the band announced Watts had undergone surgery prior to his death last month.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.