Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sabian AA's are amazing

I just received my 22" Sabian AA Raw Ride (purchased blind on Ebay) in the mail the other day, and continue to be really impressed by the quality of  the AA's- these beautifully refined-sounding cymbals keep coming up.

Since they were introduced in the mid-80's, Sabian AA's have been roughly equivalent to A. Zildjians, which for anyone coming of age in the 70's and 80's were the classic cymbal sound- I lack the vocabulary to describe it, but the envelope is instantly recognizable to anyone of that era. While the Zildjians seem to have declined somewhat- I can't remember hearing a really nice one in a long time, and they seem to be making them heavier now- Sabian seems to be making real advances with the manufacture of this type of cymbal, taming their often-obnoxious brightness.

My unhammered and unlathed Raw ride looks a lot like the old Zildian Earth ride, but is a completely different thing. It's a jazz weight- a little lighter than my 2600+ gram Bosphorus Turk 22" Original (light) ride- and plays exactly like a jazz cymbal. The sound is very mellowed-out classic A, much like some of the thinner A's from the 1950's. You expect this type of cymbal to be very dry, but mine has a lovely, harmonious low cushion of sound under it, almost like an organ drone. I love the bell sound: clear, but not harsh- in fact, it's hard to get any kind of obnoxious sound out of this cymbal- even riding on it with the butt of my SD11's works. It gives a nice balanced, controlled, but explosive crash. It's well-suited to acoustic music, but would likely not work in situations requiring a cutting sound, or a sustained strong riding. Mine has six rivets installed, which livens up the sound, but I'm not sure this is the ideal sizzle cymbal- catching it with a brush does not give that nice long tone I want from that type.

The price is also nice, costing (on sites like $75-100+ less than the K-type cymbals it is actually classed with.

Fulfilling the same role, the Sabian Raw ride is an excellent, lower-cost alternative to the generally darker and more idiosyncratic hand-hammered cymbals. Highly recommended, and I'm going to be keeping an eye on other AA's.

UPDATE: After using it on a couple of gigs (one very low volume), I'm more enthusiastic about this cymbal than ever- it's like a much kinder, mellower version of the circa 1970 A. Zildjian medium ride rivet cymbal I used for many years. In practice it actually works just fine as a sizzle cymbal, though not precisely ideal- I prefer a slightly heavier cymbal for that.


Steve Korn said...

I've had a couple of these, they're great!

Unknown said...

I want to try the 22. I had a 20 and liked it at first but it seems too light to ride on. The stick definition disapears easily and it washes out. And I am talking for a jazz trio also, not anything very loud.


Daan van Diest said...

Hi there |Todd, i'm playing an AA Raw pie since three months or so and, like yourself, am utterly happy with the kind of sound that it gives in many ways. I'm using a sizzler chord often and for me that works great too. I'm so happy i tried this one out!. Cheers- Daan