Michael Griener’s cymbals

Here’s a video Michael Griener, our man in Berlin, made for me back in May, demonstrating his two sets of Cymbal & Gong* cymbals. Michael has been a loyal (and increasingly exclusive) Cymbal & Gong user since about 2017, when I got him his first used 20″ Mersey Beat.

Michael is one of the most active players around, constantly touring and recording all over Europe, and it’s a very big deal to have a player like that be so enthusiastic about Cymbal & Gong’s cymbals. Serious players love them.

* And Leon Collection, which were sort of under C&G’s umbrella when he got them.

First part:
Cymbal & Gong Holy Grail 14” hihats “Richie”
Cymbal & Gong Holy Grail 18” crash “Lyle”
Cymbal & Gong Extra Special Janavar 20” crash-ride “Kirk”
Cymbal & Gong Second Line Swish Knocker 20″ “Melba”

Second part : 3:39
Leon Collection Light Hihats 14″ “Florent”
Leon Collection 18″ Thin Crash “Zénon”
Cymbal & Gong Mersey Beat Ride 20″ “Alvin”
Cymbal & Gong Project cymbal: Swish with cutout, drilled for 17 rivets 22″ “Dizzy”

Sticks used: LA Backbeat JB505X

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

Michael Griener playing Cymbal & Gong

Here are few videos from Michael Griener, a very active drummer and teacher in Germany. He has been hugely encouraging and directly helpful in me developing this little business, and in getting Cymbal & Gong cymbals to drummers in Germany. He has been a big fan of the Leon Collection and Mersey Beat cymbals especially, and in these videos you can hear a lot of them, masterfully played.

Here he is using a Merseybeat ride, Leon Collection crash and hihats, and a special 22″ Dizzy-style China prototype, with rivets and a large chunk rudely cut out of it by Cymbal & Gong’s proprietor, Tim Ennis. Plus a bell and some splashes by another brand:

Geoff Goodman Quintet – Noch eins für Heinz

“I replaced Billy Elgart in that band recently–” – MG
“That’s extremely cool!” – TB

Sofakonzert #1: Stephan Abel & Band spielen “The New Standard”

Into The Shed vol. 41 feat. Rudi Mahall/Michael Griener

Uschi Brüning sings Billie Holiday
“She used to be the most famous singer in the GDR (East Germany).” – MG

My new axe: “Werner”

A new cymbal for my personal use, replacing a similar model I sold to our man in Berlin, Michael Griener, last year: a 20″ Cymbal & Gong Holy Grail Jazz Ride, “Werner”, 1893 grams. This has a special heavy patina, which dries the sound somewhat.

I have another C&G 20″ with custom “Sultan” style lathing, which is more of a light medium. I was looking something for a “left side” role. Usually I want something a little airier for that, but in this case the relative dryness contrasts nicely with my Holy Grail 22″, which has more spread. Werner also serves nicely as a main cymbal. I made sure I had a nice pitch differential between this cymbal and the others I regularly use— a 22″ A-type Holy Grail, and a funky 17″ Holy Grail thin crash, which you hear a few times in this video.

By the way, in selecting this cymbal, I played a dozen Holy Grail 20s in rapid succession, all of them fantastic— the weights varied, but every one was absolutely solid. My final selection (which took about 15 minutes), was based purely on pitch and weight.

New cymbal videos are up

C&G proprietor Tim Ennis getting pictures on our June visit to the cymbal foundry in Istanbul.

I’ve just posted videos for a new batch of cymbals, handmade in Turkey by Cymbal & Gong, personally selected by me for awesomeness in the purpose of playing music, for you to purchase and love. I have several Holy Grail series, and a couple of flat rides.

The Holy Grails are a solid group, good primary cymbals for their size and model. There are three 17 and 18″ crashes, two 20″ rides, and a 22″ ride. They are all moderately dark, with no wild/exotic elements, and trending towards medium weight. The crashes are true crash cymbals, but are distinctly medium thins, not splashy thins or paper thins. The rides are all jazz weight, but they handle like light mediums— full sound but controllable, with good definition, and a robust stick sound. It’s a peculiarity of Cymbal & Gong cymbals that the heavier cymbals often act lighter than they are, and the light cymbals often act heavier than they are. What that means in practice is that most of them are excellent all-purpose jazz cymbals, suitable for riding and crashing, to varying degrees.

We also have a couple of special flat rides— an airy, delicate 20″ Leon Collection, and a very tight, light-medium 18″ Custom. Both have complex, pleasing brighter sounds, a la a Paiste 602… “only better”, as my German friends commented on playing them in Berlin in June.

And I have a lot of other great stuff in stock. I’ll be doing a meet in Seattle in January, where I’ll be moving out a lot of cymbals, so if you want to get yourself a nice holiday gift of a fantastic, heirloom musical instrument, you should order now!

CYMBAL DAY – 5/10/19

Todd Bishop at Cymbal & Gong headquarters in southeast Portland,  with company owner Tim Ennis, selecting cymbals for the site, and for our Germany tour in June.

We played 14/15/16″ Holy Grail hihats, 20″ Leon Collection rides, 20″ and 22″ Holy Grail jazz rides, and 20″ Holy Grail medium rides. Scroll down for a complete list of all cymbals played and selected.  As always the quality and consistency was extremely high. I don’t believe there was a single bad/difficult cymbal (or set of cymbals) in the lot.

Individual videos of all the cymbals we took are coming next week. Most other cymbals should be available in Cymbal & Gong’s stock for a short time, so if you see anything you want, let us know as soon as possible, and we will try to get it.

Here are the cymbals played, at what time in the video. Cymbals marked with a * were selected for Cymbalistic, and will soon be available on the site (as of 5/11 I have not yet starred everything I selected):

00:00 Holy Grail 16″ hihats – 01
00:48 Holy Grail 16″ hihats – 02
01:36 Holy Grail 16″ hihats – 03
02:18 Holy Grail 15″ hihats – 01
02:53 Holy Grail 15″ hihats – 02
03:13 Holy Grail 15″ hihats – 03
03:39 Holy Grail 15″ hihats – 04
04:47 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 01
05:24 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 02
06:03 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 03
06:37 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 04
07:05 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 05
07:37 American Artist 14″ medium hihats – 01
08:01 American Artist 14″ medium hihats – 02* (this set is reserved)
08:41 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 0 replay
09:15 Holy Grail 14″ hihats – 0 replay *
09:47 Leon Collection 20″ rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03
11:54 Leon Collection 20″ rides – L-R: 02 / 03 / 01
14:15 Holy Grail 20″ jazz rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03 / 04
16:20 Holy Grail 20″ jazz rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 05 / 04
17:17 Holy Grail 20″ jazz rides – L-R: 01* / 06 / 05* / 04
18:44 Holy Grail 20″ medium rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03 / 04
20:33 Holy Grail 22″ jazz rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03 / 04
22:32 Holy Grail 22″ jazz rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03 / 05
23:34 Holy Grail 22″ jazz rides – L-R: 01 / 02 / 03 / 06

Germany tour report!

In December we had a really great time meeting, hanging out with, and bringing cymbals to drummers in Berlin and Dresden.

Big shoutouts to Tim Ennis at Cymbal & Gong, and Michael Griener for instigating and facilitating this whole thing. Shoutouts to Sebastian, Moritz, Tim, Valentin, Manuel from Augsburg, Heinrich, Joshua, Paul, Claas, André who charged in at the last minute and bought a 22″, and Yorgos who bought a 16″ crash I left behind. Also shoutouts to Ernst, Martial, Felix, Tobias, Simon, Dag, Pablo from Barcelona, and all of the drummers at Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. And to Carlos in Mexico, who bought a really nice 22″ ride “LeRoi ”right before I left, and Jens from Rotterdam who sat in when I was playing at Hat Bar in Berlin on the 9th— and Jonathan from Toronto for taking me on for that gig.

Shoutout to Berlin for being a truly incredible city, and Dresden for being incredible in a different way, and Germany in general for being infectiously wonderful. Shoutout to Planwirtschaft in Dresden for the schnitzel and bockbier, and Pivovarský Klub in Prague for the lunch specials and great scene. And to 500 ml beers and every kebab shop in Germany. Shoutout to the ice skaters and the street guy in Alexanderplatz. Shoutout to the U-Bahn. Shoutout to all the glühwein, good and bad.