Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made today?

dpk204

Senior Member
I'm in the market for a pair of 14" new beats but I've heard from a few people on this board and some other people that vintage Zildjian new beats sound better than the ones made today? Were cymbals manufactured any better back in the day? Can you elaborate on this and does this hold true for all cymbals? I was looking at an Avedis Zildjian pre-pack for $650 but if the older cymbals sound better, then I'm probably going to have to look at only used ones.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I think so. Actually, I'm a fan of Zildjians from the 50s to the 70s. During the 80s, they started going too far down the path leading to where they are today, which I think is a little too bright and harsh.

There are some factors, like weight, distribution of metal along the taper, lathing styles, profile, bell size, etc. that seemed to vary a lot more back in the earlier days. Now, it seems like each pair is closer to sounding like all of the others. Also, the aging of the cymbals (mellowing out, patina, metal fatigue from being played) has a role in why the older ones sound good now.

Above all, go with YOUR ears. Find out if you prefer new ones or older ones by trying them out side-by-side. Then, be on the lookout. You can even find newer ones on the used market, and buying them used is much cheaper...
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I find that there's a real difference between '50/'60s, '70/'80s and '90/'00s Zildjians. They've generally become drier and clankier, especially in the '90s (I've always said that they must have lost the recipe.) It's ironic that they started the Armand line to replicate the sweetness of the flagship cymbals that became the A series.

But cymbals make different sounds. A ride doesn't need to sound like a crash, which doesn't need to sound like hats. What I mean is, a new A crash may be dry and clangy, but a new A ride that's dry might be ideal. And hats are generally meant to be played while pressed together, so their separate sounds don't count as much.

Among Zildjians, I prefer '70s and earlier, and the late-'50s/early-'60s sound best to me. I've never heard a clunker from that era.

But I agree with Caddy, go with your ears.

Bermuda
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I can't really describe it, but today's A Zildjians sound different, in both tone and decay or sustain than the Avedis Zildjians from the 1960s and 1970s.

I am not sure what has happened over the years, but yes the Armands sound more like the older Avedis Zildjians - for what reasons, I am not real sure. I know that in the 1970's Zildjian opened up the New Brunswick (later Sabian) operations to meet the heavy demand of the time, and probably buck the Massachussetts labor union issues. I believe they also quit using the Quincy drop Hammer around this time, and went to a rolling method, which would also have had an effect on sound. Alot of drummers noticed a quality difference beyween 1960s Avedis Zildjians and 1970s. I cracked a number of 1970s Avedis Zildjians in the mid 1970s that were almost new - radial cracks at that. I remember there being rumors about that New Brunswick cymbals were being mass produced and Zildjian quality was going down. Later on, they went to full automated production techniques and there is no telling how much of this process changed the sound of A Zildjians. I just don't care for them anymore.

I believe to this day that 1960s Avedis Zildjians were the best quality they ever made. I haven't owned any Armands, and right now have a full Paiste setup, but If I was going for that older Avedis sound, I would buy a set of Armands. Sabian Paragons are a nice comparison to the older Zildjians, as well. Thank you Neil.
 

volvoguy

Senior Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

What does "sound better" mean? :)

They definitely sound different. Those vintage A hats have such a nice, sweet sizzle sound when opened. The old, A rides have some amazing overtones, wash, etc. Fantastic cymbals. A guitar playing friend of mine has an old '60's set of Slingerland's and Zildjian's. I love playing on that kit.

Music has definitely evolved quite a bit, and the cymbals have, too. This isn't true of just Zildjian. Everything is more focused and "cutting". Seemingly most modern hats have that rigid "clang" when opened. Even an early '90's pair of Sabian HH hats were still clangy. Closest thing to those vintage A's in Zildjian's catalog were the Zildjian & Cie "Vintage" cymbals.... but they were an arm and a leg.

Aside from vintage A's, you could look towards the handmade Turkish cymbals (Bosphorus, Agop, Mehmet, etc.). I have a pair of Istanbul Mehmet "Legend" hats, and they are the closest "new" cymbals I've played to the sound of those old A's.

-Ryan
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

Music has definitely evolved quite a bit, and the cymbals have, too. This isn't true of just Zildjian. Everything is more focused and "cutting".
That's true, and cymbal companies have expanded their sound palette accordingly with new lines. BUT, an A should remain an A.

If that sound is no longer relevant, Zildjian should discontinue it. But they shouldn't change it and continue to call it an A.

Bermuda
 
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TheArchitect

Guest
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

That's true, and cymbal companies have expanded their sound palette accordingly with new lines. BUT, an A should remain an A.

If that sound is no longer relevant, Zildjian should discontinue it. But they shouldn't change it and continue to call it an A.

Bermuda
True but I suspect as the formula was handed down things tweaked a bit. Not to mention as music got louder and heavier in the 70's the A's started to evolve to the heavy side, likely to minimize breakage. The transition from truly hand made to a lot of machine work came in during that time as well.

I would be more surprised if the sound hadn't changed to be honest. The K's seemed to have changed as well. As much as I love my modern K's and KCon's the internet keeps telling me they suck and don't sound like the old ones. :) LOL.. To which I say so what, they sound phenomenal. I don't care if they sound like a 50's K. That's not the point to me.

Musicians tend to worship the vintage and the old when it comes to instruments. I do as well when it comes to guitar amps. Nothing wrong with that as long as we don't lose site of the phenomenal tools available to us today.
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

The transition from truly hand made to a lot of machine work came in during that time as well.
I suspect this is the major culprit, and not just with Zildjian, either. I can supply you with a number of threads on other forums on the subject of vintage Paiste 2002s and Giant Beats discussing how they sound nothing like the modern versions as well.

As much as I love my modern K's and KCon's the internet keeps telling me they suck and don't sound like the old ones. :) LOL.. To which I say so what, they sound phenomenal. I don't care if they sound like a 50's K. That's not the point to me.
I like the sound of modern Ks and KCs better than old Ks myself, but the mystique to old Ks grows by the day it seems. I posted this thread last week to show how ridiculous vintage K worship can get on the internet:

http://www.cymbalholic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31366&highlight=K

Musicians tend to worship the vintage and the old when it comes to instruments. I do as well when it comes to guitar amps. Nothing wrong with that as long as we don't lose site of the phenomenal tools available to us today.
Tony Williams' Nefertititi Ride, Jimmy Page's 1957 Les Paul, Hendrix's 1968 Olympic White Stratocaster, Bonham's Paiste Giant Beats on Stairway to Heaven - it's funny but we know more about every detail of the instruments these famous artists used back in the day than we did back then. There was definitely alot more hand work in the instruments of yesteryear, but the prices have gone past the ridiculous into collectibility status, which of course is driven by perceptions rather than reality, at least in the sound department.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

Not to mention as music got louder and heavier in the 70's the A's started to evolve to the heavy side, likely to minimize breakage.
The heavier music spawned new series of Zildjians... there was no need to evolve the A's.

Seriously, I think they lost the recipe. Or they're having Remo handle the quality control.

I have nothing asgainst Zildjian, I just don't understand why they can't make an A sound like an A.

Bermuda
 
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TheArchitect

Guest
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

The heavier music spawned new series of Zildjians... there was no need to evolve the A's.

Seriously, I think they lost the recipe. Or they're having Remo handle the quality control.

I have nothing asgainst Zildjian, I just don't understand why they can't make an A sound like an A.

Bermuda
I agree they shouldn't have done it but I suspect they did.

But to your point, every cook makes a recipe a little different. I don't think they lost it, :) it just morphed a little as it got handed down. The lathing also moves from one generation of craftsman to their apprentices over time. Subtle changes creep in. I doubt even the craftsman at Zildjan or any of the others could tell you what changed but obviously it did.

There are still some good cymbals from the A line but other make me scratch my head. For example, the modern New Beats I have are excellent but a modern 20" Medium ride just sounds like ass to me. I can't imagine an application where I would choose that cymbal but they sell them by the bucket full.
 

volvoguy

Senior Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

That's true, and cymbal companies have expanded their sound palette accordingly with new lines. BUT, an A should remain an A.

If that sound is no longer relevant, Zildjian should discontinue it. But they shouldn't change it and continue to call it an A.

Bermuda
Great point! I wonder if it's just marketing.I dunno....

-Ryan
 

RogerLudwig

Senior Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

It's ironic that they started the Armand line to replicate the sweetness of the flagship cymbals that became the A series.

Bermuda

I had a set of A's from the late 60s; a 22" ride, 16 and 18" crashes and 14" hats. Then I bought a set of Armands last year: a 20" ride, 16 and 18" crashes and 14" hats.

Modern A's don't sound like my 60s A's at all....the Armand's are almost identical. And I love 'em.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

modern 20" Medium ride just sounds like ass to me. I can't imagine an application where I would choose that cymbal but they sell them by the bucket full.
It's not just the modern Medium ride; I shouldn't say that - I use one on a regular basis.


Mike

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Skitch

Pioneer Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

The heavier music spawned new series of Zildjians... there was no need to evolve the A's.

Seriously, I think they lost the recipe. Or they're having Remo handle the quality control.

I have nothing asgainst Zildjian, I just don't understand why they can't make an A sound like an A.

Bermuda
The new series was the Z line, some of the most annoying ride cymbals ever made!


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I just started drumming again in January 2009. I got myself two Zildjian Ks. At first I was satisfied with them. Then I found a nice 21.5" diameter ride from the 60s, and moved the 20" K custom to the left side to work on my left hand. I then picked up a 70s crash and found that to be better then the K-custom.

I have to agree the newer Zildjians are not there. They are not as good as the older ones. I have been trying to find out why this is so, and can not find an answer. I checked the alloys and they are similar. Perhaps it is all to do with the lathe work and hammering.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I played a pair of 14 inch new beats that were made in the early seventies for many years. I have sampled the new versions of these hats and I did notice a difference. Zildjian definitely changed them. I liked them, but they were brighter than the ones that I owned.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

Part of the mystic of older Zildjians is before the 80's, Zildjan didn't print the weight class of the cymbal (thin, medium thin, rock etc) on their cymbals. People chose their cymbals by ear, and not by what was written on the logo.

As drum marketing became more sophisticated, and buyers became more sophisticated, Zildjian (and everyone else) started to put logos that more identified what the cymbal was. And of course, they started making them heavier to cut through loud rock music.
And as technology got better, many of the inconsistencies of cymbal making were eliminated.

Also, metal ages over time, and the sound of aged cymbals is more pleasing to some.
People even used to try to "age" their cymbals by burying them in their back yard, (but all they really got out of that was dirty cymbal).
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I just started drumming again in January 2009. I got myself two Zildjian Ks. At first I was satisfied with them. Then I found a nice 21.5" diameter ride from the 60s, and moved the 20" K custom to the left side to work on my left hand. I then picked up a 70s crash and found that to be better then the K-custom.

I have to agree the newer Zildjians are not there. They are not as good as the older ones. I have been trying to find out why this is so, and can not find an answer. I checked the alloys and they are similar. Perhaps it is all to do with the lathe work and hammering.

I have to wonder whether it was not after they quit hammering ingots and went to pressing. Here is an excerpt from Zildjian history:

And that's when Dick Dane and I invented the pressing process for cymbals, which eventually replaced the old Quincy drop hammer that I developed in 1955. But after 1970, Quincy needed all of our production for Zildjians, so they'd send castings up to Azco and we'd make them into cym-bals eventually we were responsible for 40%f the company's output.

I don't know the exact date the drop hammer was ceased and the pressing method begun, but obviously Zildjians were going through alot of production changes starting in the 1970s.
 
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TheArchitect

Guest
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I just started drumming again in January 2009. I got myself two Zildjian Ks. At first I was satisfied with them. Then I found a nice 21.5" diameter ride from the 60s, and moved the 20" K custom to the left side to work on my left hand. I then picked up a 70s crash and found that to be better then the K-custom.

I have to agree the newer Zildjians are not there. They are not as good as the older ones. I have been trying to find out why this is so, and can not find an answer. I checked the alloys and they are similar. Perhaps it is all to do with the lathe work and hammering.
Sounds to more to me like you prefer A's to K's than their being anything wrong with the cymbals
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Re: Is it true that 70's and 80's zildjian cymbals sound better than the ones made to

I've always said that they must have lost the recipe.

Bermuda
Hey Bermuda. They quite literally did lose the recipe. Traditionally, the formula was passed down to the oldest son in the Zildjian family. However, Avedis III passed it on to both Armand and his younger brother, Robert. This led to a lot of fighting amongst them, and they broke apart. Armand kept Zildjian, and Robert started Sabian Cymbals (Sabian = Sally+Andy+Billy+zildjIAN, the names of his three children), running from the Canadian factory that had, until that point, created 40% of all Zildjian K cymbals. Initially both the Zildjian K line and the Sabian HH line both used the same formula (since they both legally had permission to use it, having both inherited it), but as the companies competed, they both tweaked their formula slightly, and thus "lost the recipe."
 
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