What is it?
What cymbal brand do you play? For many drummers, the answer to that question will be one of four big names, with some smaller, more bespoke brands picking up the remainder.
Us drummers are also fiercely loyal when it comes to the metal we prefer, sticking with the same brand for each of our cymbals. Which is why it can be difficult for new brands to enter into the market with any real sense of grabbing a share.
Difficult, but not impossible. Zultan isn’t really a new brand, either, having been founded 20 years ago. However, it is relatively unknown outside of its native Germany. The company uses B20 bronze across all but one of its 10 ranges, with each of its cymbals being handcrafted from Turkish blanks using traditional techniques.
Since 2011, Zultan has been one of retail giant, Thomann’s in-house brands. Intrigued by the sheer breadth of the company’s offerings, we got our hands on a set of Zultan Q Series cymbals to see if these pies are worthy of a slice of the market.
Performance and verdict
Call them ‘dual’, call them ‘hybrid’, the Q Series is made up of cymbals that have undergone two different finishing processes to make the final product. First - as the Zultan website tells us - the B20 bronze blanks are hammered a few thousand times across the entire top face.
The cymbal is then partially lathed - which produces the brilliant, shiny part of the cymbal. The underside is then lathed entirely, before the cymbal is given a wax finish. Our review set comprises some fairly standard sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes, a 20” ride cymbal, and a 10” splash. So what does the fancy double-finish do to the sound?
The dark, earthy appearance of the non-lathed part of these cymbals isn't a million miles away from the finish on our Meinl Extra Dry cymbals. Likewise, the lathed part is more recognisable as ‘regular’ cymbals. So, tonally, we’re expecting a balance somewhere between the two.
In practice, these lean more to the regular side of the spectrum than the ultra-hip, dried-out sound. The hi-hats in particular offer a brightness we weren’t expecting, not unlike our Zildjian A Customs: they cut, they have a medium/high pitch with plenty of slosh when semi-open, making them applicable for many different kinds of music.
The ride cymbal follows this, but with a darker tonality on the bow, and a dry, more focussed ping from the raw bell. Those hoping to crash the ride will have to give it some welly, and even then it doesn’t bloom with sizzling overtones, so we think this is better suited to keeping time, rather than creating accents. It’s funky, and clear enough for rock without the raucousness.
The crashes come closest to our preconceptions: they’re dark, and also require a fair amount of force to get them to open up to a full crash. But when you do, you’re met with an added edge of trash - as you might expect from dryer crashes, which makes these a little more interesting than generic crashes, but not so far removed that they don’t sit well next to our Zildjian K, A Customs and Sabian AAX models of similar sizes. The lathed part of the cymbal keeps these crashes from being too trashy, too fast, too, with our swells sitting for a moment rather than dying straight out.
Discovering a new gear brand with promise is a bit like finding a band you’ve never heard before, then realising they have a whole back catalogue for you to dive into. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s sure to pique interest.
There are plenty of ‘other’ brand cymbal manufacturers out there, but too often, we’re met with generic ‘Rock’ ’Vintage’ and ‘Heavy’ ranges that smack of a logo change and not much else.
If the Q range is representative of the thought and quality control that goes into all of Zultan’s ranges, then the brand is onto something. These cymbals have personality at a price point that puts them within reach of many players. Add them to your list to try.
- Alloy: B20 bronze
- Finish: Dual hammered/lathed top, lathed underside
- Sizes: 10", 12" Splashes; 14", 15", 16", 17",18",19" crashes;
20",21",22",23" rides; 14" hi-hats
- Contact: Thomann