Wednesday, June 02, 2021

CYMBALISTIC: a few new Holy Grails

I picked up a few more cymbals from Cymbal & Gong HQ last week, for sale on my Cymbalistic site. I'll be posting those and adding video... shortly. Four Holy Grail series, two 20" rides, a 21" ride, and a 22" ride, all jazz weight. I didn't bother making video of the selection process, because I've gotten very fast at it. It helps that the cymbals are nearly all excellent, and it's very hard to choose wrong.  

I also visited with Tim Ennis, C&G's proprietor, for a few minutes, and had a few thoughts about our conversation: 

Easy and challenging cymbals

Sometimes when I'm selecting cymbals to sell— I select them individually, only choosing things I would want to use myself— everything seems equally good, and it's rather hard to choose. They would all be the best thing in any store at any other time in history— and today— but it can be hard to choose between them. 

Several of this batch just immediately popped as very special cymbals. Within the range of excellent cymbals, there are easy ones and relatively challenging ones— hand hammered cymbals will often have a slight trashy element, some random harmonics, that make you take a moment of listening to decide if it's an acceptable sound. Or, some cymbals may require slightly more care when playing them— my 22" Holy Grail is rather a beast, for example. I don't just lay into it like I do my dry 20", which is a very easy to handle cymbal. 

The sound

I keep referring to these as “the true 50s sound” or whatever— which is really not the true point of all of this. The purpose is not to get a “period” or “vintage” sound, and I don't want to suggest that these cymbals are just for playing 50s jazz. 

They do capture that sound, but what I really mean is that this is the sound of the instrument. Like a piano, acoustic bass, or clarinet— they are what they are, the sound doesn't change from decade to decade. Basically, if you're playing acoustic music, or amplified music with acoustic instruments, Cymbal & Gong cymbals, like those original K. Zildjians, are the sound to blend in that setting, whatever the style of music. 

Hell of brands

I also talked to Tim about how fundamentally different Cymbal & Gong are from the many other Turkish brands available now. I've been raving about this since my visit to Istanbul in 2019. Most of the cymbals I played there were either in the fascinating-but-not-musically-useful category; or in that fast, trebly, splashy category that happens to be popular right now.

Many had strange qualities that made them no good as musical instruments, for me— they didn't sound like cymbals as I know them. We do have to play these things, ride on them, crash them, play the bell. Apart from having a fascinating, lovely sound, cymbals need to respond to the stick in certain ways to be playable, and create a musical impression played in an ensemble.

Tim said the reason for the difference was mainly due to him finding a true master smith, who is highly skilled, and who actually listens and cares about what his cymbals sound like. Cymbal smithing is metal work— a dirty physical job which typically isn't approached with a high art mindset. Did you ever take a metal shop class in school? Apparently in a lot of shops, the primary orientation is about making what everyone else is making and shipping a lot of product. 

And of course it also required Tim knowing the sound we're all after, and going to Turkey and asking them to make these cymbals this way— they weren't doing this on their own. There are now some shops in Turkey attempting to do traditional K-type cymbals, perhaps copying Cymbal & Gong— the ones I played over there didn't quite make it. 

Anyway, check back soon, videos of the new cymbals are coming!

1 comment:

Michael Griener said...

My C&G's make me happy!
As good as they sound, the most important thing is: they don't get in the way!
I love the way they sound, but I don't have to think all the time what a great cymbal it is.
Right off the bat, they feel like a pair of great, broken-in shoes.
Shoes that are so comfortable you forget you are wearing them.
I'm really grateful that you introduced me to them; they make my life as a working drummer so much easier.
The only problem I have right now is that they all sound so good, I still have to pick the ones I take to the gig and leave the rest at home.
But that's "complaining on a high level", as they say in German.