Seattle cymbal meet – 12/13/21

It was small but mighty. We had a little meeting of drummers in Seattle this week, to hang out and play some cymbals. It confirmed a lot of things I already felt about the Cymbal & Gong instruments, and gave me a lot of valuable information from some drummers whose experience and opinions I totally trust. Most of the conversation happened between me, my brother John Bishop, and Seattle drummers Don Berman and D’Vonne Lewis— all players with many decades of experience playing in a lot of different situations, and having played a lot of cymbals in our careers.

Here’s the upshot:

They are the K sound
We got to compare the Holy Grail series directly with several decent Turkish-made K. Zildjians— they were clearly the same family of sound, with a very similar harmonic profile. The Ks were all about 40-80 years older than the C&Gs— which dulls a cymbal, dries it out. It’s not necessarily a bad quality, it’s just what happens to cymbals over time. I’ll sometimes order a heavier-than-normal patina on Holy Grails to replicate that quality. The Ks each had their funky idiosyncrasies, which were apparent when you hit them once, but not so noticeable once you were playing them— with the examples we played, at least. The Holy Grails were more lush, like pristine examples of the same type of cymbal.

Jazz drummers love the Mersey Beat
The 20″ Mersey Beat Crash/Ride has been a popular item on my Germany trips, but I have difficulty describing their strength, except that a lot of players love them. They’re bright timbred, live, light-medium crash-rides with four rivets, and just an all-around outstanding all-purpose cymbal. I feel that they’re moderate-duty cymbals; I was surprised that my brother thought they would work great in a big band setting as well. D’Vonne purchased the one I brought, and everyone was enthusiastic about it.

No dogs
We talked about playing cymbals in a store, which is often an exercise in rapid fire rejection. We are so used to not liking cymbals, everyone was a little bit stunned to play fifteen different cymbals, and have them all be totally valid— the cymbal you were hunting for on your last ten visits to the drum shop.

Few reservations
On this site I give pretty detailed playing notes on each of the cymbals I sell. I was interested to see that some of my reservations about certain cymbals were not shared by the other drummers— see my description of the Leon Collection cymbal “Aramis”, for example, which D’Vonne also purchased. Or the 17″ Turk “Daichi”; I reported that it seemed a little stiff as a crash cymbal, but you can see in the video that it handled quite well in that role. I felt Aramis was too washy for many ride applications, my brother and D’Vonne disagreed.

My sound, not the cymbal’s sound
There are many heavily characterful cymbals available now, but there’s a feeling that they don’t always work that great as instruments. Players expressed the feeling was that they box you in, coloring your performance in a way you may not want all the time. As Peter Erskine said about relentlessly amazing drumming, a relentlessly characterful cymbal can be like bad wallpaper. Cymbals are supposed to be vehicles for what you play on them, not be the content themselves. I cymbal can have a beautiful sound, but we need a certain amount of transparency.

A little video of people playing the cymbals, with apologies for the poor sound quality:

Here are the cymbals being played— cymbals listed as NEW will be posted for sale by 12/15-16:

0:00 – D’Vonne Lewis playing (l-r):
14″ Holy Grail hihats – “Eugene”
17″ Turk medium-thin crash – “Daichi”
20″ NEW Merseybeat crash-ride – unnamed, purchased by DL
22″ Leon Collection crash/ride – “Aramis”, purchased by DL

1:57 – John Bishop playing (l-r):
14″ Holy Grail hihats – “Eugene”
17″ Holy Grail crash – “Jake”
22″ NEW Holy Grail jazz ride – unnamed
20″ Janovar with patina – “Grayson”

2:42 – Don Berman playing (l-r):
14″ Holy Grail hihats – “Eugene”
20″ Turkish K. Zildjian ride – owned by Bishop
20″ Turkish K. Zildjian ride – owned by Berman
20″ NEW Cymbal & Gong Holy Grail jazz ride – unnamed

4:14 – Don Berman playing (l-r):
Same as above with different unnamed new 20″ Holy Grail on the right.

5:09 – John Bishop playing (l-r):
14″ Holy Grail hihats – “Eugene”
18″ modified Turkish K. Zildjian ride – owned by Berman
20″ NEW C&G custom crash-ride – unnamed
20″ Holy Grail ride – unplayed on this segment

5:41 – John Bishop playing (l-r):
15″ NEW Holy Grail hihats – unnamed
16″ NEW Second Line – unnamed
20″ NEW C&G custom crash-ride – unnamed
21″ NEW Holy Grail jazz ride – unnamed

Leave a Reply