What is it?
To many, Zultan is still a ‘new’ brand. But the surprising reality is that while Zultan was in its inception, the world was genuinely freaking out about the Millennium Bug, we still asked Jeeves when we wanted to look something up, and you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Rob Thomas yarl “Man, it’s a hot one.”
A lot has changed in the cymbal market since then. Buying new metals on a budget is no longer restricted to generic utilitarian models such as ‘medium’ or ‘heavy’, and rather than a dead-cert staple of B8 bronze in limited sizes, we now have a combination of two of the most important criteria: quality and choice.
That’s thanks in no-small part to brands such as Zultan, who, over the course of two decades have helped democratise cymbal selection. Now, in its 20th anniversary year, Zultan’s complete catalogue includes no less than 13 different ranges, with all but one created from B20 bronze alloy.
The cymbals are made in Turkey using traditional techniques at every stage of their production, but with a focus on creating cymbals that perform in modern genres. To celebrate 20 years in the game, Zultan has created the limited edition (only 75 sets will be produced) Anniversary Set that we’re checking out here.
In the box you get a 22” ride, 15” hi-hats and 17” and 19” crashes, as well as a 20th Anniversary certificate of authenticity. The cymbals come in a half-raw finish: dark and rich-looking with an organic patina.
Zultan says that for the Anniversary Set it worked the metal harder than it does for its other ranges: employing the use of wider, more pointed hammers to create the distinctive dimples that cover the cymbals’ surfaces. This in-turn results in what it describes as a trashy, dark tonality that is suitable for everything from jazz to “grungy rock”.
Performance and verdict
With the cymbals in place at our kit for a few days, our first overall impression tallies with Zultan’s description. Starting with the ride, we’re met with a fairly complex sounding cymbal: there’s a dryness to our strikes on the bow of the cymbal that maintain our stick definition, but at the same time it has a dark undertone that remains musical. There’s plenty of sustain but it doesn’t get in our way.
The ride cymbal also crashes well, giving us a wash that sits somewhere between a trashy edge and a full-bodied crash which we think will be great for players who like to ride with crashes without the build-up of uncontrollable wash.
The bell is a regular size, and as such doesn’t give fans of heavy accents a massive target to hit. It sits balanced with the rest of the cymbal when accenting, but isn’t as bright as some more ‘power’ options.
Next we switch to the hi-hats, which at 15” follow the trend for larger hats while still remaining traditional. Once again these have a darker sound, but as with the ride they reward us with a strong stick definition.
There’s a weight to 15” hi-hats that makes them great for heavier playing as well as groove-heavy funk, and these cymbals don’t disappoint. They’re crisp when played closed and stepped, but they don’t become overly-bright.
This darkness is particularly useful when playing them half-open, as it removes some of the potential for too much zingy wash. They’re dynamic too, keeping their tonality across the range, just at different levels.
The crash cymbals offer a similar tonality: slightly dry and dark, but with enough body and brightness to cut through. The crashes are a medium weight - thicker than say, an A Custom, but without becoming ‘heavy’.
However, fans of thinner cymbals will notice that they take a fairly heavy hit to get them to fully bloom, but they do have a decent dynamic range, developing into a crash sound with quieter hits and unlike some medium cymbals they remain quite fast within a playing context.
Played together, they offer a nice separation thanks to their pitch intervals which serves as a good reminder of how buying crashes as a set - or at least a pair - can have its benefits.
- Alloy: B20 bronze
- Finish: Hammered/unlathed
- Sizes: 17"/19" crashes;
22" ride; 15" hi-hats
- Contact: Thomann (opens in new tab)