Hand Hammering.. why?

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
I won't say that one is better than the other because everyone's taste and sound preferences are very different. However, I prefer a hand hammered cymbal to an automated one. Why? Because it adds a more human element to the product. Even if it sounds the exact same as an automated cymbal, that human touch means something to me, more so than a robot's touch.

That doesn't mean that I'm all "gung-ho" on Turkish sweat shops churning out cymbals left and right. I don't really care for that style of cymbal, or it's construction method. I am a big fan of Sabian HH and Artisan cymbals because its ONE person doing all the hammering of the cymbal. Yeah, other's do the lathing and the pre-hammering work, but that one cymbal smith puts their skill, knowledge and artistry in to shaping that piece of metal in to a musical instrument. Can a robot do the same job? Sure... But its just not the same, IMO.
 

porter

Platinum Member
I would have expected all mass-produced, hand hammered cymbals to be made this way. Are you telling me that the cheap Soultones, Masterworks, Dreams, Zultans etc. are COMPLETELY hand made from blanks?

Dreams are Chinese, so, jury's out on that one. Zultans might be as well, but Masterworks and Soultones (same thing) are Turkish as far as I know and decidedly not cheap. To me there is just a massive difference between the feeling I get playing a Zildjian Constantinople and a Byzance, a Bosphorus, an Agop, etc.

Oh, and here's some footage from the Masterwork foundry – looks like they might press the bells on some cymbals, which makes sense given the profiles on some Soultone Extremes. They still sound more natural than Sabian bells to me, which always are remarkably clangy and isolated. Not necessarily a bad thing but it's something.
 
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wildbill

Platinum Member
.... Is there a reason that cymbals can't be machine made and sound good?....

My Zildjian KCD's and K Con sound exactly like I'd like them to, so I'd have to say no.

Of course, good in this case is in the ear of the beholder.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
I won't say that one is better than the other because everyone's taste and sound preferences are very different. However, I prefer a hand hammered cymbal to an automated one. Why? Because it adds a more human element to the product. Even if it sounds the exact same as an automated cymbal, that human touch means something to me, more so than a robot's touch.
I agree with this pretty much. For me, a hand hammered cymbal feels more organic, has its very unique character. It is a "one of a kind" cymbal, which I like. I do have the HHX Evolutions and many turkish hand hammered cymbals. The turkish cymbals just sound and feel different to the HHX's. Which to me feel way better than the AA's or Paistes 2002. Warmer, more gentle yet complex. But everyone has a different taste. So, this discussion is not really that important, I guess. :)

porter said:
Dreams are Chinese, so, jury's out on that one. Zultans might be as well, but Masterworks and Soultones (same thing) are Turkish as far as I know and decidedly not cheap. To me there is just a massive difference between the feeling I get playing a Zildjian Constantinople and a Byzance, a Bosphorus, an Agop, etc.

Oh, and here's some footage from the Masterwork foundry – looks like they might press the bells on some cymbals, which makes sense given the profiles on some Soultone Extremes. They still sound more natural than Sabian bells to me, which always are remarkably clangy and isolated. Not necessarily a bad thing but it's something.
Dream Cymbals are basically made in China, but get a final hammering-treatment in Canada, so I have been told by a distributor. The Zultans are a different story. Zultan is only a "brandname" for selling different cymbals that are made by different manufacturers. The cheapest Zultans are made in China afaik, the more expensive (well, they are still cheap...) lines like the Caz and Dark Matter are made in Turkey e.g. by Turkish Cymbals. The Stamp reveals the real manufacturer. ;-)

Yes, Masterwork presses the bell, but the rest of the cymbals-production-process is 100% hand-hammering on the professional Custom, Resonant, Jazzmaster and Iris-Series. The mid-range Troy-Series might be pre-pressed and then rehammered manually, but im am not 100% sure about that. Still, they sound really good.

So... Hand Hammering ... why? Because people demand it and because there are limits in computer-controlled hammering. Humans are not machines thus the result will always be a bit different to machine-made/machine-hammered cymbals. And this difference is important for some drummers.
 
For a mass-produced, machine-hammered McDonald's cymbal, my 22" K Con Med Thin Low sounds and looks "dirty". It has seemingly random dents and dings, and the finish is marred here and there. It also sounds fantastic. If I didn't know otherwise, I would be convinced it was hand made.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
The fact that, to my ears, Sabian HH's (hand hammered) don't sound noticably richer, more complex or more organic than Zildjian K's (computer hammered) sort of debunks the myth of hand hammering for me.

Aren't a lot of Paistes hand hammered? My problem with Paiste has always been that I find them too sanitized and lacking character (even the Twenty and 602 lines).

Good points, Paiste are very clinical with their sound but I would argue the Giant Beats are the exception to the rule
 

Superman

Gold Member
I think there is a huge difference in 'producing' a cymbal and crafting one. I have a couple artisan cymbals and they are just out of this world. You can see the hands on work that has made each cymbal its own complex and unique instrument. I can understand why Sabian charges a small fortune for them and why they are much pricier that machine produced ones.

There is a Lance Campeau video where he takes a Zildjian ZBT 20" ride and with lathing and hand hammering turns it from a cheap B8 dud to an amazing sounding cymbal. It shows the value and results from someone who took the time to craft a cymbal into something great. I think it shows the value of a craftsman and hand hammering.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W83S_6-spM4
 
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The SunDog

Guest
Sabian is a poor example to draw that from. Sabian's HH cymbals are produced in Canada from their own alloy and pressed into shape to give them their profile, and THEN hand-hammered – they cannot be used as a reasonable dismisser of the Turkish style which is to hammer the cymbal's entire profile into shape. I personally don't like a lot of Sabian's HHs also, for what it's worth...

I'm not sure of Paiste's methods at present. I thought their Twenty line used to be Turkish, but honestly the newer Twenty Masters cymbals sound Zildjian-y to me. So I'm not sure.

You are misinformed, and you are spreading it. Sabian HH/HHX/Artisan cymbals have their profile hammered by hand. The only stamped part is the bell, otherwise it is a flat disc. There is a video factory tour on YouTube that demonstrates this in detail. And FWIW, Sabian has raised the bar to an extremely high level, leaving other companies trying to play catch up in the "complex hammering" market. Many of the employees in Meductuc are still there from the Zildjian days before the split. Most dislike for Sabian stems from bias or misinformation. Robert Ziljdian built that company into what it is through innovation and good product, with rights to the proprietary Zildjian recipe, but without the right to use the Zildjian name. I invite any naysayers to pay me a personal visit in Tucson. You can give my Artisans/HH/HHX cymbals a spin and decide for yourself. This invite actually extends to everyone at DC, if you find yourself in southern AZ ��
 

retoxtony

Senior Member
So where would Diril cymbals fit into the "hand hammered" thing. From what i can tell on the website they are made pretty much made by hand from start to finish.

I have a set of 15" hats from them which are really great sounding and a 8" splash which is a terrible sounding piece of crap.
 

porter

Platinum Member
Oh, boy. No comment.

Retoxtony, Dirils are Turkish and indeed IIRC where Meinl first went for their Byzance prototypes? I've certainly heard some bad sounding Turkish cymbals to be sure... my comments about my many loves for them are based on the good ones, haha.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
You are misinformed, and you are spreading it. Sabian HH/HHX/Artisan cymbals have their profile hammered by hand. The only stamped part is the bell, otherwise it is a flat disc. There is a video factory tour on YouTube that demonstrates this in detail. And FWIW, Sabian has raised the bar to an extremely high level, leaving other companies trying to play catch up in the "complex hammering" market. Many of the employees in Meductuc are still there from the Zildjian days before the split. Most dislike for Sabian stems from bias or misinformation. Robert Ziljdian built that company into what it is through innovation and good product, with rights to the proprietary Zildjian recipe, but without the right to use the Zildjian name. I invite any naysayers to pay me a personal visit in Tucson. You can give my Artisans/HH/HHX cymbals a spin and decide for yourself. This invite actually extends to everyone at DC, if you find yourself in southern AZ ��

Actually all Sabians, other than the Artisans, are roughly shaped with a press and then final hammering is done before lathing. The Artisans have a pressed bell, but the bow's profile is shaped with hand hammering.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Actually all Sabians, other than the Artisans, are roughly shaped with a press and then final hammering is done before lathing. The Artisans have a pressed bell, but the bow's profile is shaped with hand hammering.

Yeah, I watched that Sabian Factory Tour series with a very critical eye, and I thought I saw some marketing double-speak going on. He clearly states that they use a stamping process for AA and AAX and a different process for HH and HHX, but never says exactly what that process is. Later, they show the guy hand hammering the HH cymbal into it's final shape, but the blank he starts with already has a bowed shape. No one said exactly how it got from the stamped-bell-in-a-sheet-of-bronze stage to the one we see him hammering. It was really hard to tell exactly how much they hand hammer each line. At no point did I hear him say "All HH and HHX cymbals are completely hand hammered except for the bell," or anything like that. He said only that they are not stamped into shape on the same machine as the AA and AAX. I got the impression they wanted you to think it was almost all hand work, but there was still a fair amount of machine work involved. I really don't know, and I'm admittedly severely skeptical.

Ultimately, I don't care THAT much. I choose based on sound and price. I choose the best sounding cymbal I can afford.
 
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AzHeat

Platinum Member
There's a Sabian factory tour video, along with a 4 part history of the company with details about the split, etc. if nothing else and even if Sabian isn't your thing, it's interesting stuff to watch. The Zildjian factory tour video is also interesting, but more marketing oriented. Still has a ton of history though. While the companies used to be one, they do things way differently today. It's interesting to see the direction each took.

I watched something on UFIP a while back, but can't find it now...talk about different again.

Good stuff and very informative, if anyone hasn't seen them.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
I worked for Emerson for nearly 18 years in there Drives and Components division, we had a contract with Harley Davidson for 10 years and the company bought million dollar CNC machines to run those gears and sprockets. They spit those parts out fast and accurate, but on each group was a set-up man like myself doing quality checks, change overs, loading, etc making decent money even in my neck of the woods. What I am getting at is you still have skilled machinist making these cymbals, they just have better, more precise, more expensive machines cutting the blanks. At least that is what I would think.

And the ways of those million dollar machines were very likely scraped by hand.
 
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The SunDog

Guest
Actually all Sabians, other than the Artisans, are roughly shaped with a press and then final hammering is done before lathing. The Artisans have a pressed bell, but the bow's profile is shaped with hand hammering.

No Tommy, and no disrespect intended, because you have a wealth of knowledge and hands on experience (no joke, I've taken away a lot from your posts) but all HH, HHX, and Artisans have hammered profiles. I just watched the video again to make sure I'm not remembering things incorrectly. All cymbals that Sabian labels "Hand Hammered" indeed have their profile shaped by hand. Actually the tour guide says that B8, AA and AAX have machine hammered profiles as well. They apparently don't stamp any profiles except that every blank is pressed into a generic cymbal shape when the bell is formed. Just different presses for different bell sizes.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
I'll have to watch the video again, but all my HH cymbals, of which I have 6, have rather minimal small hammer marks with the exception of my 22" HH Rock ride. I just cant see how so few (relatively speaking) hammer marks would profile the whole bow of the cymbal.

I have a number of HHX cymbals as well, and the bows look to be automated hammering with the bells being hand hammered. Again, I do not believe the bow to be shaped by the hammering alone. My 22" Legacy Heavy ride may be all hand hammered, but I will have to look at it again. It has both large and small size hammering on it and it could be a mix of automated and hand hammering.

My Artisans, which I have 8, are hammered all over and they definitely have enough hammering in them to be able to shape the cymbal's bow profile. The hi hats may be shaped a little bit by a machine, but again, I'll have to look.
 
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VitalTransformation

Silver Member
I'll have to watch the video again, but all my HH cymbals, of which I have 6, have rather minimal small hammer marks with the excaption of my 22" HH Rock ride. I just cant see how so few (relatively speaking) hammer marks would profile the whole bow of the cymbal.

I have a number of HHX cymbals as well, and the bows look to be automated hammering with the bells being hand hammered. Again, I do not believe the bow to be shaped by the hammering alone. My 22" Legacy Heavy ride may be all hand hammered, but I will have to look at it again. It has both large and small size hammerig on it and it could be a mix of automated and hand hammering.

My Artisans, which I have 8, are hammered all over and they definetly have enough hammering in them to be able to shape the cymbal's bow profile. The hi hats may be shaped a little bit by a machine, but again, I'll have to look.

Much to learn from this thread!!

But I would've thought you shouldn't be able to see by the hammer marks by which process a cymbal originally came into it's basic shape. The lathing process, where a cymbal sheds up to two thirds of its mass (I've read that figure somewhere recently, don't remember where) would be pretty effective at hiding clues about the early steps in the manufacturing process.

My "22 K Dark Medium ride is completely machine-made (except for the hand-held lathing tool), but it retains very deep and dirty (unfinished) random-pattern hammer marks all over. It's not completely in round either!

I'm curious to know whether an expert would be able to tell it wasn't hand made!
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
Just to clarify how Sabian does the rough shaping of a cymbal. Yeah this is slightly going off topic, but it is somewhat relevant to the cymbal making process.

The video below shows how the AA and AAX are shaped. I assume XS20/XSR, B8 and all the other variants of the B8 series are all done this way as well for their rough shaping from the blanks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T3x3KvT3Tk&t=4m38s

This next video explains the other process that Sabian uses for their other series of cymbals like HH, likely HHX, Vault and I would also assume their Artisan series:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/28992972#t=149

So I was incorrect in saying the Artisans are entirely shaped by hand like a true Turkish made cymbal. They do receive a machining process to give them a starting point to their shape, but the final profile is done entirely by hand with hammers. I have seen other videos where they put up the final shape template to the rough cymbal and it is drastically different. So there is a lot of hammering and shaping being done to the Artisan cymbals.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I agree with the OP.

I think hand hammering is a bit over rated. It's a marketing method more than anything.

People like think think, but that's how Tony and Elvin got their sounds...and while true, what's often left out is they went through boxes of cymbals to find just the right one. Just the fact that a cymbals was hand hammered didn't automatically make it sound good.
 
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