Zildjian K vintage or modern?


Junior Member
Again understanding sound is a personal thing i would like to ask the following.
Are the newer k's just trying to capture the sounds of vintage. What are the manufacturing process differences? Are totaly different metals used? Any info or reviews/comparisons i would realy like to read.


Pioneer Member
I think that within their current K series line, overall they are trying to reproduce the original sounds in the K series. Where it gets tricky is that older K Zildjians were not mass produced along modern and series based cymbal offerings.

For example, older Ks were put out with only sizes and not names like ride and crash, etc..

Modern Ks are not hand hammered anymore. There may be some variance in the copper/tin content over the years for the most part they are all B20 bronze. Certain cymbals like the standard K Ride and Constantinoples (and others) are made to be as faithful as possible to the original cymbal sounds but beyond that straight comparisons can't be made.

If anything, nothing has really changed in the sense that you should play each cymbal you're considering because many cymbals labelled as the same model will sound different.

If you factor in the value of certain cymbals as collectable, the prices vary significantly.

The 21" K Heavy Ride is a good example. Great cymbal and a lot of drummers cherish this pie, but Zildjian discontinued it. Their used price has gone up in recent years. It would be very cool if Zildjian offered to make any cymbal you wanted like Sabian does. This contributes to the value and desirability of some older cymbals that are harder to find now.


Platinum Member
Are the newer k's just trying to capture the sounds of vintage.
Nope. They have their own thing going now.

What are the manufacturing process differences?
Istanbul Ks were hand-made. Modern American Ks are machine-made.

Are totaly different metals used?
Supposedly they're the same, but there's much speculation that the metal alloy has changed over time to allow for harder playing. For a good read about the making of and composition of cymbals, check out several threads on the topic over at Cymbalholic.com.


Gold Member
the standard K Ride and Constantinoples (and others) are made to be as faithful as possible to the original cymbal sounds
I agree with you completely, save this. I just want to add some clarity. The modern K line is made to give the impression that they are being faithful to the vintage sound, but they aren't. In my mind, case and point is their weight. The modern K are considerably heavier and brighter than the vintage ones. If the standard K Ride and K Constantinople line were thinner then, yes, I'd say Zildjian was doing there part to be faithful to the Istanbul sound, but they aren't. Zildjian CAN make thinner cymbals, they just choose not to.

Supposedly one one living Zildjian family member at a time knows the secret formula that they mix to get their cymbal sound... thats for the A lines too--at least the vintage ones. But I'd be flabbergasted if its far from the standard B20 alloy that almost everybody uses.


Platinum Member
One of the main reasons for heavier cymbals is rock music.Rock was louder,and drummers started hitting harder to be heard over heavily amlipified guitars,keyboards ect.Older Zildjian A's and K's were much thinner than now,and just could not hold up to the pounding.My 60's Zils,are way thinner than the new stuff.

As far as handmade K's ,well they weren't all that great,When they were first imported to this country,and sold by Gretsch,their quality and sound varied wildly,according to John Aldridge,in his book"A Guide to Vintage Drums"They were indeed a crap shoot.I have heard some 40's vintage K's that were just terrible.

There is really no way to keep up with orders for thousands of cymbals,and expect them to be all hand made.Paiste cymbals,were actually the first computer hammering assisted cymbals.Paiste prides themselves on the fact that if you buy say a 2002 mediun crash in the US,and then buy one in Europe,that they'll sound almost exactly the same.You can't get that kind of consistancy with a totally hand made product.

Steve B


Silver Member
I finally got to try some of the K Constantinoples recently. I must say, I thought they sounded terrific. Not something I would with my current band which is pretty rocky, but they sounded like a classic gorgeous old ride cymbal to me.