Zildjian releases 400 genuine vintage A cymbals from its private family vault, and you can buy them

Musicians are obsessed with vintage gear, largely because it gives us the opportunity to play the same instruments, made by the same hands in the same factory as that which many of the pioneering heroes of our chosen instrument used. The same thing extends to cymbals, and now, to celebrate its 400th anniversary, Zildjian has reached into its hallowed family vault — home to a private collection of the brand’s cymbals — and plucked out 400 new-vintage cymbals from the '30s, '40s and '50s, all of which will be available to buy.

Among the 400th Anniversary Limited Edition Vault Cymbals haul are 200 mid-1940s A ride cymbals, all of which contain stick marks and fingerprints after being hand-tested by the late Armand Zildjian. 

What’s more, Zildjian says that some of those 200 cymbals also carry the fingerprints of Armand Zildjian’s father, Avedis Zildjian III. In addition to the 200 ride cymbals, Zildjian is releasing 200 15” A crashes dating from between the 1930s and 1950s. 

Zildjian Executive Chair, President and 14th-generation owner, Cragie Zildjian made the announcement via a video posted to the brand’s social media channels, saying “2023 is a very special year for our company and our family, as we celebrate our 400th anniversary.

"Part of the celebration includes the release of 400 handpicked, vintage A cymbals from our personal family vault. We’ve selected 200 of our finest 20” vintage A rides, which were built during the mid-1940s in our original Quincy, MA factory, not far from where I’m sitting today.

Zildjian Cymbals President, Cragie Zildjian

(Image credit: Zildjian)

"As a mark of their distinction, they have the original fingerprints and stick marks of the cymbal tester who approved each cymbal. That cymbal tester happened to be my father, Armand Zildjian. 

"In addition some of the fingerprints belong to my grandfather, Avedis Zildjian, who deliberately tucked these cymbals away in the family vault rather than the company vault. These cymbals were special to him…

“While not easy to part with cymbals from my grandfather’s collection, we’ve decided that these cymbals were meant to be shared, and heard. So it’s our hope that these vintage As will become as cherished-a-piece of your musical collection as they were for my family’s collection.”

The 400 cymbals will be available via Zildjian dealers worldwide, and each cymbal will come in its own presentation flight case, complete with a certificate of authenticity signed by Cragie Zildjian. Zildjian is also shipping a pair of cymbal gloves with every cymbal for worry-free handling, but if you do want to play one, each cymbal will  come with a mounting-adapter, allowing the cymbal to be safely used on modern cymbal stands.

Zildjian’s 400th anniversary celebrations are just beginning, with its anniversary event in London set to take place on October 15th where a host of Zildjian artists — including Dennis Chambers, Ash Soan, Gavin Harrison, Royal Blood’s Ben Thatcher and more — will be performing at the Clapham Grand to mark the company’s 400th birthday. Tickets are available here.  

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.