Cymbal production has three stages:
- Casting (melting metal, pouring it into a mold and cooling it down).
- Hammering (crafting the shape and strengthening the material by hitting it either by machine or manually).
- Finishing (cutting, shaping, polishing the cymbals and printing a logo).
If you ever wondered how cymbals are made and what materials manufacturers use to make these wondrous instruments, stay with me to find out.
I’ll do my best to give accurate information about all the things you didn’t know about the cymbals, but you always wanted to learn.
The production of cymbals has three main parts:
How cymbals are made
The casting itself has four steps, so let’s go through it step by step.
Casting cymbals is a process where the craftsperson heat and melt metal, then pour it into a desired geometric-shaped mold. After it is cooled down, it will be ready for the other processes.
Melting the alloy and pouring it into the mold filled halfway with water so that it doesn’t get stuck inside the mold.
The next step is the heating and pressing machine. It is a process where the cooled alloy is removed from the mold, heated again in the oven, and put into the pressing machine. The pressing is repeated a couple of times, depending on the type of cymbal being made, to get the right thickness for the object.
Bell press is a process in which a cymbal-like object goes into a hydraulic pressing machine. The machine will press the bell right into its center.
After the cymbal-like object has been tampered with, the craftsperson will place the object on the unique machine, cutting the edges and creating a more accurate shape.
Hammering is one of the essential steps in making cymbals, as it will impact the sound.
Cymbals can be hand-hammered, but nowadays computer-controlled machine does most of the hammering – like at Zildjian.
On the other hand, the Paiste Company uses a machine, but it’s operated by a craftsperson who controls the velocity and the speed of hammering.
Hand hammering is done in a more random but still right way, while the machine works with a symmetrical pattern.
Finishing is the last process in producing cymbals, and it has certain steps like:
Cutting and shaping using a rotary tool, the cymbal gets its shape and more accurate look. The craftsperson will use the right tools to cut and shape the cymbal’s surface and smooth the edges of the cymbal.
Polishing – the cymbals will get polished with a special coating that prevents dirt and rust.
Logo printing is the final step of manufacturing. The cymbals will get a trademark and unique serial number with a laser, and the silicon stamp will place the company’s logo onto the cymbals.
What is a cymbal made of?
Cymbals are made from different materials, such as Brass, Nickel silver, Silicon, but predominantly from copper alloys, and the most popular is Bronze.
You may didn’t know, Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper, and the amount of tin can affect the sound of the cymbal – the more tin to a bronze alloy darkens the tone of the cymbal, giving it a richer sound.
As I already mentioned, proportions of copper and tin impact the sound, so manufacturers have produced different types of cymbals, mostly using B20 and B8 types of Bronze.
Along with the B20 (80% copper, 20% tin) and B8 (92% copper, 8% tin), they started experimenting with B10, B12, and B15, to give a more complex frequency response.
Some of the best companies that produce cymbals are surely Paiste, Sabian, Zildjian, and Meinl.
Paiste, a third largest manufacturer company from Switzerland, makes legendary cymbals from CuSn8 (B8) Bronze, also known as “2002 Bronze.”
Sabian, one of the four best manufacturing companies with headquarters in Canada, makes the highest and mid sets of cymbals from B20.
The same as Sabian, Zildjian produces high and mid sets of cymbals mostly using B20, but they call it Zildjian secret alloy – which consists of 80% of copper, 20% of tin, and some traces of silver.
Meinl, a manufacturing company from Germany, produces professional cymbals mostly from B8 Bronze alloy, but they also produce cymbals from Pure Alloy bronze. The cymbals that give more traditional sounds are hand-hammered in Turkey and made from the B20 alloy.
How many days does it take to make a cymbal?
Compared to the present-day manufacturing process, traditional manufacturing takes more time to produce cymbals, it takes around 21 day to create a perfect cymbal.
Why do cymbals have dimples?
Since cymbals are very simple made and there is no much room for changes, dimples serve to shape the overall sound of particular cymbals.
The difference between hand-hammered cymbals and cymbals hammered by the machine is that the first tend to have dark, low, and richer tones, while the others tend to be brighter and higher in pitch.
What are the best sounding cymbals?
When it comes to the cymbals with the best sound, it does come to your budget and taste.
Yes, most people can’t afford that high-quality, expensive cymbals, but that doesn’t mean that the great ones don’t exist.
Manufacturers take care that all of their cymbals have good definition and sound quality – with every type of the cymbal.
Before they leave the factory, the experienced person will test cymbals for the sound – he will compare freshly made cymbals with the master one.
Only when all the cymbals get approved by the person in charge of testing can they leave the factory.
If any doesn’t match up to the master, it will get put aside and recycled.
All of this means that you will not have to worry if the cymbal you would go for has a bad sound quality.
All in all, the competition is fierce, and it all depends on your budget and your taste.
But as a closure, I would say that the best sound comes if you choose the right cymbal for the right type of music.