Friday, July 15, 2022

Germany/Istanbul tour wrap up

I returned from Germany a few days ago, and am still quite loopy with jet lag. I took as many Cymbal & Gong cymbals as my wife and I could carry, and had a couple of meets in Berlin and Dresden, where I met a lot of old and new drummer friends. We hung out and played the cymbals, and people bought some, and then I flew to Istanbul to visit Cymbal & Gong's foundry. And I had some spare time to hang out and enjoy Berlin and Istanbul. 

It was really great to travel again, and as always with these cymbals, to have so many discriminating drummers be so into them— in the picture on the left we have many of the best drummers in Berlin, who care the most about how their cymbals sound. Many or most have college level teaching gigs. The hardest people to please. And these are Germans, who broadly, I've noticed, tend to state their opinions and criticisms directly. It's always the same experience showing C&G cymbals to players of this caliber— everyone loves them, and is stunned at how consistently good they are.  

I was extremely pleased that people brought in their cymbals they bought from me in 2018-19, which have all matured beautifully— especially one 18" that developed a lovely buttery sound, and a 21" settled into a nice funky sound. I don't know how to account for the change except that some of the stray harmonics got played out of them. The sound just settled and focused a bit, and now they sound like career cymbals that you play for 40 years. The 21 also developed a lovely delicate green patina after the owner spilled a beer in his cymbal bag.  

The star cymbals of the tour were the Special Janavar— Janavar series with a heavy patina added, sometimes rivets. I try to select lighter-than-usual cymbals for that treatment. I sold three of those: a 19" with rivets, a 20", and a 22" with rivets. The 22 especially was THE ONE everyone wanted. I'll definitely be carrying more of these, in addition to my new Extra Special Janavars, which we'll see in a moment... 

Here are the some of the guys hitting cymbals in Berlin and Dresden: 

In Istanbul I got to play the Extra Special Janavars, which I special ordered before the trip, and will be my new signature item. The regular Janavar series are B20 Giant Beat clones, with fine lathing and light hammering. I described the Special Janavars above; the Extra Special Janavars have heavier K-type hammering and irregular lathing, plus the patina.

They waited to finish them until we got to the shop— they asked me how heavy I wanted them (~1800g, I said), and then they lathed them on the spot:  

They heat up when being lathed, so I had to wait about 30 minutes for them to cool before I could play them. Needless to say, I've never had that kind of immediate experience with cymbals before. This is shot on an iPhone:

I ordered three of those cymbals— the one on the left is the same through the whole video, I swap the one on the right part way through. 

Regular Janavars are light, bright, and full, with a little bit of an edge to them. These Extra Special Janavars seem a little more full and rounded in sound, possibly more complex, not particularly darker, or more trashy— as I was half-expecting. It will be interesting to see what happens to them when the patina is added. 

I'll receive these with the next shipment, so hopefully I'll have them in my possession and they'll be available for sale in the next 4-6 weeks.  

I did shop around Istanbul for cymbals, to see what else was out there— there are several shops in the Kabataş neighborhood. There weren't a lot of cymbals around for me to play generally— the foundries apparently don't keep any stock around, and the shops are pretty small. As on my last visit in 2019, there wasn't much that was very good. The only cymbals I would have considered buying were a few Agops— everything else I played was a little strange. People say the good cymbals get shipped overseas, but I'm not convinced everyone in the cymbal manufacturing business knows what good cymbals are, from an American drummer's point of view. 

And once again, it was clear that Cymbal & Gong are not run of the mill Turkish product at all. The foundry that produces them generally does exceptional work with all of its cymbals, and Cymbal & Gong are the only things we saw deliberately emulating a traditional 20th century cymbal sound. 

We did find one shop in the Grand Bazaar that had two old normal-size K. Zildjians, an 18" crash and a 20" medium. Apparently a rarity; Cymbal & Gong's owner has been traveling to Istanbul for 20 years, and has seen only a few of them. Either one would have been interesting to own and play, but they were priced approximately the same as they would be in the US, and... I already have easy access to some to the best cymbals in the world, so what's the point?  

Finally, I want to thank everyone that helped this happen— my wife Casey Scott, Michael Griener, Tim Ennis, Thomas Rönnefarth Percussion / Berlin, Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber / Dresden, and friends Jakob Greiner, Andre Schubert, Sebastian Merk, Moritz Baumgärtner, Joshua Reinfeld, Heinrich Koebberling, and all my new friends— I have to dig my list out to remember everyone! And Aziz and Ali, and everyone at the Cymbal & Gong foundry, who must remain anonymous for business reasons. 

There were a few notable things about this trip that made it go really well just logistically— I'll do another travel post in a day or so, and then we'll be back to our regular content.  

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