Saturday, February 11, 2012

Three Paiste cymbals

UPDATE: I think I've correctly ID'd one of the other cymbals.

I've been on a vintage Paiste cymbal-buying kick recently. Here are the findings on my finds:

22" Formula 602 Dark Ride - circa 1975-76 - approx. 3266 grams

The Dark Ride family of cymbals- which includes the later Sound Creation (and SC New Dimensions) Dark rides, and the "transitional" cymbals- has something of a cult following; on the aptly-named Cymbalholics forum they are discussed in terms bordering on mystical. Designed with input from Jack Dejohnette, other noted users include Paul Motian, Al Foster, and Jon Christiansen.

Here's what cymbalsmith Matt Bettis says about these cymbals, and how they compare to their successors:
The ultra-rare 22" Paiste Formula 602 Dark Ride is one of those cymbals that very few ever get to play much less actually own. The ideas behind them eventually became the Sound Creation Dark Ride, but they are definitely different beasties. The 602 has hammering that is more dense, and a markedly different sound. She has that killer, dark and complex wash, but her stick and bell are much more 602-ish than the Sound Creation Dark Rides.

So, this thing is, ah, quite prodigious. It even looks imposing sitting on the stand. It is actually about 1 cm larger than my other 22's, in fact. The sound is huge- an order of magnitude bigger than the light 22" Bosphorus Turk or Sabian Raw rides I've been playing. It's very imposing in the practice room, but when I played it on a session it snapped into a perfectly balanced Paul Motian sound. You can get a great range of sounds out of it lower volumes, and I'm really digging that the thing actually cuts- that's kind of a forgotten property for jazz cymbals. I noticed it influencing my touch on the rest of the instrument as well; it led me to pull a little fuller sound out of the drums. Yes, that means I played a little louder because of the louder cymbal, but it's more complicated than that. I actually think that trying to come in under the very delicate Bosphorus has led me to play excessively quiet; this cymbal balances with the natural volume of the instrument, which is a little bigger than I had been playing.

Using it in a combo situation definitely requires a refined touch- I don't think I would've been able to handle it as recently as five or six years ago. I play it with a Vic Firth SD-11 Slammer, a maple stick the size of a largish 5B. Cymbalholics devotees speak about "the haunt" of this cymbal- I see what they mean. It's not an overtly "pretty" cymbal like, say, a Bosphorus, but I can't get the sound out of my head, for reasons that are completely mysterious to me.

After the break are brief reviews of two other vintage Paistes, and some recorded examples of the 602 Dark:

20" Sound Creation / New Dimensions Bell Ride - 1986

This cymbal has been tough to identify- the printing has mostly worn off. It's possible that it's actually a Dark Ride, but I don't think so. The overall impression of the sound is on the dark side, but rather metallic, with a dense cushion of overtones close to the frequency range of the stick sound (with the dark ride, the cushion is much lower in pitch than the attack). It seemed extremely brash when I first got it, but not next to the 22; they actually compliment each other well. To use them together I would want to have rivets in one of them, and add a 16" crash. Plus a guitarist and a very powerful saxophonist.

UPDATE: Upon further research, I believe this is actually a 1996 Sound Formula Full Ride. These can be had for pretty bargain prices of around $180- I probably overpaid about $20 for it, which isn't too bad.

20" Formula 602 Medium Ride - late 60's-early 70's - 2450 grams

I was just thinking about one of the most perfectly middle-of-the-road cymbals I've ever played- my old high school 20" A. Zildjian medium ride- and then this came in the mail. Somewhat dry, not too heavy, excellent for accenting with the shoulder of the stick,  and a strong but controllable bell sound, this could be the lost twin of that cymbal, except for it's distinct 602-ness; that purity of sound reminiscent of a high-quality vodka (that's just the nearest analogue I can think of). This particular cymbal seems to have been played a lot, and has gotten pretty mellow for a medium. Remarkably similar to a 602 reissue I played at Portland's amazing Revival Drum Shop- but again, a little mellower.

A few recorded examples of the 22" 602 Dark Ride:

It's pretty unmistakable on these recordings- listen for the heavy-sounding ride. In some cases it could be/is likely to be the successor to the 602, the Sound Creation Dark Ride:

Dejohnette plays both the Dark Ride and a 602 Flat here:

Al Foster is almost certainly playing a Sound Creation Dark Ride here:

Poor quality recording, but I believe that's a 602 Dark on the right:


Me [LFoaB] said...

Sorry to post so long after your initial post... 101% sure that Jon is using his legendary old K there. About 3800 grams and on all the ECM recordings he's made over the years. That said, there has always been speculation that Jon played an SCDR (Sound Creation Dark Ride) from time to time... but it's never been substantiated by him.
Motian, Foster & DeJohnette, yes... big time SCDR & F-602 Dark Ride users.

Cool blog, thanks.


Todd Bishop said...

Thanks for clarifying— I heard about that K of his, but had no idea it was 3800g! You have to wonder if it wasn't part of the inspiration for the 602/SC Dark. Another thing to ask Dejohnette if I can ever get an audience with him...