Is there such a thing as a bad Sabian?

Mr VK

Junior Member
Hi guys,

I've been playing the same old entry level cymbals I've had for about 10 years now and as my band is getting more traction and fine tuning my sound is becoming more important I've been looking at upgrading to a semi pro / pro set.

I was talking to one of the guys in my local drum shop for ages as we were discussing the different makes and ranges. I play hard rock so I'm quite partial towards something like Sabian AAX. The guy in the shop advised me against it, saying he rates Paiste much more highly. Not from a sound point of view, but from a quality point of view. He said that all the Paiste cymbals they sell are awesome and they rarely get any back because they're duff. With Sabian, not so much. They apparently get quite a lot of Sabian's back, many because they don't sound like they're supposed to, or because they get damaged within weeks of buying them.

Now I rate his advice highly, he's very knowledgeable. After listening to many, many cymbals online and in the shop I've narrowed it down to Paiste Alpha (mixture of rock, metal edge and sound edge cymbals) or Sabian AAX (mixture of regular, xplosion, and stage). I have to admit I think the Sabian's sound just that tad better than the Alphas. If I had infinite money I'd probably go for Paiste Twenty's but I think my budget just might not stretch that far.

So, long story short; is there such a thing as a bad Sabian? Has anyone ever bought a Sabian and had to take it back because it didn't sound right, or it got damaged in the first few hours of playing on it? Similarly any such stories about Paiste?
I'm only looking for the high end cymbals, I'm not surprised if an entry level cymbal cracks when a would be metal drummer plays on them ;o)

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

ps.: I'm not looking for advice on the sound, I'm quite happy with what I've heard and happy picking which ones go with my sound, I'm purely looking for advice on build quality :)
 

cornelius

Silver Member
I find Sabian quality as good as any cymbal company. They're QC is two, sometimes three people before a cymbal is shipped out - they look for physical as well as sonic imperfections.

I've played Paiste for years, and I find their cymbals not nearly as durable as Sabian or Zildjian. This applies to 2002, Giant Beat Dark Energy and Signature.

I've never had to return a Sabian for sound quality (if it sounds good in the store, it sounds good in my studio) or breakage. If they're getting Sabians back because they "don't sound like they're supposed to" or due to breakage, then it sounds like they're in the hands of inexperienced players - not a reliable source.

I like Paiste, but IMO AAX is in another league than Paiste Alpha... I'd stay away from a "semi pro'' set of cymbals - if you want to save $$, go for used pro level cymbals... You'll save money in the long run and have better sounding cymbals...
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I started out drumming on Sabian cymbals...B8s (which did their job when I was first learning...), and I moved up to AA crashes, and eventually HHX Evolution hats/crash/splash with an HHX Stage Ride. Then, I started branching out.

My take: After playing some of these cymbals for 12+ years now, they still sound good and they haven't broken. Good quality in my opinion.

...but, yes, there are bad Sabians, just like there are bad Zildjians, bad Paistes, bad Meinls, etc. It's very hard to do perfect quality control inspections when the cause of most manufacturer's defects are microscopic and inside the cymbal where you can't see them.
 

Mr VK

Junior Member
Thanks for the replies thus far :)

On the semi-pro vs pro side, Alpha's seem to be on the edge, some say they're semi pro some say pro. I'm going on what I like, I considered PST-8 from a budget point of view, but then decided that I'm going with Alpha or AAX as they just sound better. Sure they're twice the price, but you can hear that difference. I'd buy Twenty's but I think my wife might have something to say about that ;) (although I'm still considering getting the basics in Twenty and then building up, but with a studio session imminent I could do with replacing 5-6 cymbals in one go)
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I've worked in 4 drum shops.

Sabian was always a strong seller, and I've sold way more Sabian's than Paiste's over the years. Rarely had any problems with returns. Sabian customer service is excellent (as least here in North Amercia).

Zildjian/Sabian/Paiste all make great products. Any perceived difference in quality is a matter of personal taste.

For every person who says one is better than the other, you are sure to find someone else with the exact opposite opinion.
 

choki

Senior Member
Paiste seems to have more consistency with their cymbals, but I've heard they break a little more often. Paiste cymbals are usually more expensive as well. I've found Sabian and Zildjian to be pretty inconsistent. There are more than 3 brands of cymbals, so I would advise you to just go out and find the best sounding cymbals you can that fit your budget. Drummers seemed to have an overly developed sense of brand loyalty, which really isn't necessary unless you have an endorsement deal.
 

Tyger

Senior Member
yup pretty much agree with what everyone has said. Also depends on how the player plays, and how often he/she plays.

Bottom line if you like the sound just go for it.

I had Alphas for a short time and regret selling them, however I did get Twenty's after :)
For the price and amongst B8 cymbals they are hard to beat. With that being said take a look at the Sabian XS20's, they are very good cymbals for the price range as well.


Oh and to answer your question...is there a bad Sabian...YES! Sabian Solars! hahaha! with age they get worse and change colour dramatically! No offense to those that own them, but sorry they are just really bad cymbals :) I have Solar 13" Hats, 16" and 18" crash that came with my first probeat kit.
 

Solaris

Silver Member
I've played all 'big 3' cymbal companies, and out of all of them I've found Sabian to be the most durable and also sound the best. I've broken Paiste Crashes within the first year of owning them, while I now have Sabian cymbals that have last 2 and a half years without any cracks or damage.
 

tard

Gold Member
He may be knowledgable, but as long as he is inside the store, he is pushing anything with a higher profit margin, which in this case might be Paiste.
I have to agree with this too, Ive been beating my current set of AA's AAX's and HH's for over 14 years with no problems and have been playing Sabian for 33 years and only had one cymbal start to crack and it was due to abuse (long story) and had nothing to do with the quality of the cymbal.
 

steverok

Silver Member
I've played all 'big 3' cymbal companies, and out of all of them I've found Sabian to be the most durable and also sound the best. I've broken Paiste Crashes within the first year of owning them, while I now have Sabian cymbals that have last 2 and a half years without any cracks or damage.
Sorry, but I'm not, at all, impressed about a cymbal lasting 2 years without cracking. A cymbal should last a lifetime without cracking. I often see drummers bashing on cymbals to the point of annoyance. It gives me a headache. Cymbals sound so much better when played with touch and feel. Doesn't mean you have to tap on 'em, just hit 'em with some love. Hopefully you know what I mean ...
 

Mr VK

Junior Member
Thanks for all the responses, nice to see such a discussion forming.

Someone mentioned inconsistency and that's what the guy in the shop was talking about too. He said that Sabians and Zildjians are inconsistent whereas Paiste is very consistent ("There's no such thing as a bad Paiste").

Of course I don't know what his motivation is. He said he's worked for Sabian for several years, used to play them but has switched to Paiste himself and never looked back. So it could be that he's particularly brand loyal, or even an endorser (I should look that up) and is therefore pushing Paiste.

Or as someone pointed out, it could be where his biggest mark up is. Although he was pushing me to wait for PST-8 to come out rather than buying something I'd regret so I have the feeling he wasn't particularly money motivated in our conversations, also through other things he said. Or he could be an awesome salesman and is very good at hiding that fact and coming off as a drummer talking to a drumming buddy.

In terms of brand loyalty, not an issue for me. I play Zildjian at the moment, ready to ditch them. I've listened to all the big brands, Meinl I love the Generation-X stuff but don't really like any of the basic sets, Sabian as I say I like AAX, don't like XS-20s that much, Paiste Alpha or Twenty, awesome. Dream you can't really get here in the UK, or I've never seen them in a shop anyway. Zildjian, just don't really like their sound, find it too refined for my playing style, too much pop or jazz sound. So I'm open to try any cymbal by any brand, but thus far I've set my sights on Alphas or AAXs (possibly Twenty's).
 

makinao

Silver Member
So what is it? Build quality? Durability? Or consistency?

If its consistency: Sabian (and Zildjian) b20 cymbals really are more inconsistent soundwise than Paistes, spacially their b8s. But another way of looking at it is that each Sabian/Zildjian b20 is unique and has its own identity, whereas Paiste b8s will sound similar if not indistinguishable across a particular model. Its your choice, do you want to be different or consistent?

Finally, he's suggesting PSTs? You obviously have a good idea of the sound you are looking for, as I can see some kind of connection between the sound of Alphas and AAXs. But AFAIK, the sound of PSTs seem very far from that. So I can't understand why he's pushing you in that direction.

P.S. What Zildjians are you playing?
 

Mr VK

Junior Member
So what is it? Build quality? Durability? Or consistency?

If its consistency: Sabian (and Zildjian) b20 cymbals really are more inconsistent soundwise than Paistes, spacially their b8s. But another way of looking at it is that each Sabian/Zildjian b20 is unique and has its own identity, whereas Paiste b8s will sound similar if not indistinguishable across a particular model. Its your choice, do you want to be different or consistent?
It's been a few weeks since I was in that shop so don't quote me on it. He mentioned inconsistency and he mentioned that lots of them came back compared to Paiste. Apparently Zildjians come back even more often.

I find slight inconsistency one of the beauties of hand hammered cymbals, it shows that an artisan has been doing it, rather than a machine which stamps each out exactly the same. I guess as long as you hear the actual cymbals you're buying in the shop then you shouldn't get one that sounds sub-par compared to what you heard.


Finally, he's suggesting PSTs? You obviously have a good idea of the sound you are looking for, as I can see some kind of connection between the sound of Alphas and AAXs. But AFAIK, the sound of PSTs seem very far from that. So I can't understand why he's pushing you in that direction.
Yeah, he said that the PST-8 were really good value for money, sound like pro cymbals but cost intermediate money. I've listened to them online over and over but I just can't like them anywhere near as much as the others.

P.S. What Zildjians are you playing?
I'd rather not say ;)
ZBTs, first set I ever bought. Was good enough then, not very good now :) I've also got a Wuhan splash and china. Even though Wuhan kit cymbals are rubbish, their splashes are the only ones I've ever heard that actually sound like a splash rather than a small crash, and their chinas are just pure noise, which in my opinion a china should sound like :)
 

cornelius

Silver Member
I played Paiste for a while (still have a couple that I'll hold onto for a while), because I was fed up trying to find good Z's. But I've moved on...

Anyway, try to get some more opinions/advice from other stores, if you can. I mentioned AAX was so much better than Alpha because it's better to go for pro level cymbals - and I still say that used is a good way to go. If you like Paiste, try to find something higher up in the food chain.

You can tweak an entry level kit to sound pretty good - but you really can't alter a bad sounding cymbal to sound ''better''.
 

HMNY

Silver Member
Welcome fellow Brit!

I have been happy with my Sabians, XS20 cymbals, and AA hats. I would be intrigued to learn from the statement "a lot of Sabians come back", of which line is he talking about, and (sorry if I missed this) are they damaged, or not sounding as the buyer expected when they got home to their kit?
 
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