Sunday, February 12, 2012

Best values in used cymbals

By the way, during this recent bout of eBay-trawling, I noticed that the best deals on used cymbals appear to be:

Dirty, filthy old Paiste 2002's - A lot of drummers have the bad habit of needing their stuff to be new-looking. Here's an instance where getting over that can save you a lot of money on some great cymbals. Maybe pretend you're Stanton Moore; the first thing he does with any new cymbal is destroy the bright finish by subjecting it to some process he took the time and trouble to figure out.

Dirty, filthy old A. Zildjians or Sabian AA's - See above. These are plentiful, and with some patience you should be able to steal some nice cymbals.

Paiste 2000 - In the late 80's they basically split the 2002-type of cymbal into two lines- 2000 and 3000. My impression is that they are both pro cymbals, with the 3000's being a little more complex. Somehow I can't shake the impression that 2000's are a slight step down from the 2002's, but I don't think that's right. At any rate, there are some good deals on reasonably new looking cymbals here.

Paiste Sound Formula, and Dimensions - These are two discontinued pro lines I have little experience with; for whatever reason they weren't a big commercial hit. SF's appear to be relatively inexpensive version of the Signature series. I believe the Dimensions are a more sophisticated 2002. Neither of these are extremely cheap, but there are bargains here and there.

Note that Paiste 2002, 2000, Sound Formula, and Dimensions cymbals are all basically meant for amplified music; that's not to say they're all rock & roll dinner plates, or that they are necessarily useless in a combo setting, but they will trend heavier and louder than what people generally want in jazz cymbals these days.

More after the break:

Paiste Twenty (not Masters) - I haven't played these. I believe Paiste used Turkish castings for this line, and they are more variable in sound than other Paiste cymbals. I believe they are more or less a more complex, A. Zildjian-y version of the old 602 line. 602's, you'll recall, were very clean, crystal-like, and intended for jazz or other moderate-volume settings. The Twentys haven't been a huge hit for Paiste I think due to being a little hit or miss, and some people seem to think they are a little insipid compared to the more complex K-type cymbals out there in profusion. Still, they should be decent moderate-weight jazz cymbals, and worth the gamble if you get a good price. Do some homework before buying.

Paiste 505 - My first ride cymbal was a 20" 505, so I have some fondness for this is semi-pro series from the 70's-80's. I thought these would mostly be destroyed by now, but quite a few of them are turning up. Some of them are selling for a bit too much, so if you don't feel like you're getting a bargain, don't bother.

Cymbals drilled for rivets - This seems to drive down prices a little bit, for no good reason.

Cymbals with significant keyholing - That's wear on the hole. For some reason, people hate this. As far as I can tell it doesn't significantly effect the durability or sound of the cymbal, so what the hell. 

Cracked cymbals - This massively drives down the price of anything. I've owned two cracked Sabian 18" HH thin crashes and an 18" A. Zildjian swish that sounded great, and the cracks never expanded. In each case the cracks were radiating from the hole, and were less than  1/4" long. Significant cracks drive the price down to almost nothing, but usually the cymbal sounds like garbage and is not long for this world. But maybe you can find a good "effects" cymbal.

The best, most reliable and reasonable, jazz cymbal - Used Sabian Raw Ride. Not a true hand-hammered cymbal, but still outstanding for combo playing, and apparently very consistent- give a listen to the examples on I would not hesitate to buy one of these blind. You can definitely get a 20" or 22" for under $200. I got my 22" sizzle version for $180, I think. A 20" recently went on eBay for $110, but that appears to have been an exceptional deal. Still...

Since this seems to be the topic du jour, I'll give some guidelines for shopping on eBay shortly- in the mean time, you can start building your watch list...

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