Did you ever been confused about the Meinl cymbal hierarchy?
It is because of their subseries.
Just Byzance has 8 of them, so I decided to make a complete guide on Meinl cymbals best to worst and go trough each and every cymbal series.
The basic structure is straight forward.
- Byzance made out of B20 Bronze with 8 subtypes. The highest class in the Meinl cymbal lineup.
- The Artist Concept series is a stack of 2-3 cymbals. Signature series of Thomas Lang, Anika Nilles, Matt Garstka…
If you take a look at Zildjian or Sabian cymbals the lowest series are always made out of brass and the best ones out of B20 Bronze.
Meinl has series like Candela or Marching cymbals but they are not used on a drum set.
Now when you know have a clear understanding of cymbals series from Meinl let’s dive deeper into each series and its subgroups.
I recently ran on this cool article on the Modern Drummer website, it talks about cymbal alloys.
As you are able to see Byzance series is divided into 8 subcategories.
Those are just twitches to get a different sound while the entire series is made out of B20 bronze and it is hand-hammered.
Byzance series is the highest cymbal series from Meinl.
Most popular drummers play Byzance live and in the studio.
The reputation of Meinl is invested in this series, they will not gamble with Byzance, so whichever you choose you can’t get wrong.
Let’s see what are the subcategories all about.
Byzance Foundry Reserve
This cymbal series is limited and that makes it exclusive.
It is not in the permanent lineup so it is possible that Meinl does not plan to produce it for a long time.
If you decide to purchase one of the cymbals from this series prepare no less than 400 bucks.
Foundry Reserve doesn’t contain splash, chine or any ozone cymbal while the smallest crash is 18″.
Regarding rides, there are two. Regular ride and Light ride; both come in 20″ and 22″.
Hi-hat comes in two sizes as well, 14″ and unusually 15″.
With the high price of these cymbals you really need to love the sound.
Same as top lines from Sabian like Artisan. It has a cool sound but buying a crash for $400 is something only a few can afford.
Now when I mention it does have a similar sound to Sabian Artisan.
This is a hybrid subgroup a mix of the Byzance Extra Dry and Byzance Brilliant series.
The bell and the center of the cymbal are raw and dry while the edge is brilliant. Cool and modern mix.
It is obvious that Meinl let loose and experimented with this series instead of holding to conservative cymbals sounds.
This is the main reason behind Meinl’s popularity over the last years.
Proof of the unconventional approach is the lack of regular ride cymbal in this series. It contains only 20″ and 22″ crash-ride.
At the same time, there are many FX crash cymbals called “Trash Crash“, splashes, chinas. Hi-hat comes in two size variations 14″ and 15″ while crashes come as 16″, 18″, 19”.
Byzance Extra Dry
This series falls under the category “Love it or hate it”.
For those who love the dry sound with a short sustain, Byzance Extra Dry will come as a gift from the sky.
On the other hand, some drummers who like Zildjian A custom “brilliant” sound will just hate this series.
The last couple of years dry, trashy sound with a low pitch is very popular and Meinl seems to dominate the market in that area.
This series comes with a regular lineup. Rides, Crashes, Hi-hats, Splashes, Chinas.
Most of them have a thinner variation while most of the sizes are pretty common.
However, there are two exceptions. The 20″ crash and 20″ china. It seems like Meinl’s focus is on the bigger cymbals.
On the first look, they are similar to Extra Dry.
You are probably wondering what is different. Excerpt darker color, they are thicker and not so dry.
If you are trying to get more “rock” sound I would pick Dark series but if you look for strange, dry sound go with Extra Dry.
Price is the same, don’t expect to get a great deal on the premium class of cymbals.
Crashes on this level cost no less than $350. Are they worth it? I will leave this to you and your taste in cymbals.
Meinl is gaining popularity that is for sure, however, Zildjian still holds the largest part of the market.
With that in mind, I would expect for Meinl to lower prices a little bit.
This is maybe the most popular Byzance sub-series.
You probably saw these in every video from drummers who play Meinl, sometimes in the form of a stack, combined with other series.
All the new or renewed series from Meinl such as this one lean towards big and dry cymbals.
Byzance Vintage series contains crashes, hats, ride, splash and china cymbals, but the cymbal that draws my attention is 16″ hi-hat called “Sand Hat”.
I never saw hi-hat this big it would be interesting to play around with this beast.
Vintage is no different from other Byzance subcategories. It is dry, low pitched with a cool new sound, still unexploited in the drum world.
Among Byzance, this is the most numerous series. It contains 43 different cymbals.
At the same time, it is one of the most versatile cymbals from Meinl. This is the old school type which you can find in every cymbal company.
This kind of sound can be found in the Zildjian K series or Sabian Vault, Paiste Signature and so on.
It can be used easily in Rock, Pop, Jazz, and many other music genres.
The reason behind the versatility of this series hides in the sound. It is in between dry sound with low pitch and brilliant sound with a high pitch.
When the studio decides to purchase a set of cymbals for the home drum set, they will probably go with this type of cymbals.
Since Byzance traditional can cover many genres, by playing this series you can show up on almost every gig, which will make a substantial difference in your wallet.
You do not need to purchase all the different cymbals to adjust every band you are playing with.
The Jazz series explores that classic jazz sound.
These cymbals sound cool when played on the body. Their main purpose is to be played like that so, in this series you will find many Flat rides.
They are very thin cymbals so the volume is lower also. With such a volume they are great for playing in clubs.
Pitch is somewhere in the middle meaning not to bright not to low.
I wouldn’t say this is a jazz only series but opposite very versatile and recording friendly.
They named the series Jazz because they are made like all other jazz cymbals, thin and with a warm tone.
Don’t let that fool you. You can play many genres with this series and they are great for recording.
Finally a rock subtype in the Byzance Series. I am not saying other series can’t be used for rock. But, this one is made like the rock cymbals are most commonly made.
They are thicker and louder with a brilliant finish that always adds more attack.
Byzance Brilliant is equivalent to Sabian HH. It is that sort of sound.
Maybe you had the opportunity to play the Meinl MB 20 series in the past. Well, this is the inheritor of that series.
The sound has changed a little bit tough. It is a little bit warmer and not as heavy as MB 20.
I think Meinl wanted to keep the versatility and keep this series tone in the middle rather than going over the edge and shooting for the rock and metal drummers only.
This series is made out of stacks. Meaning, combinations of 2 or 3 cymbals stacked on each other.
Whether stack cymbals are just a current trend I like the idea of combining the two cymbals and getting a completely new sound by yourself.
There are two big questions behind this. The first one is about the price.
We all struggle to form a basic set of cymbals that contains high-quality cymbals. Do we have money to make just one stack out of 2 cymbals?
It took me 15 years to form a set out of premium class cymbals like K Custom or HHX only.
With all the additional costs like drum sticks, heads, electronics, and other drum gear.
It is very expensive to purchase 2 cymbals and a stand to get a cool sound.
The other question is whether or not these are new models or just a combination of existing ones.
For example, Thomas Lank stack is made out of 18″ Classics Custom China and 18″ Classics Custom O-zone (FX crash) but named differently like “Super Stack Top” and “Super Stack Bottom”.
If you ask me, I think there is nothing new here. However, I would love to play some of these stacks especially Matt Garstka Fat Stack.
Pure Alloy Series
With a Pure Aloy series, Bronze B20 stops to exist and with that, we stepped out of a premium class.
It is made with B12 Bronze. These cymbals belong to a strong middle category.
The tone is similar to the famous Paiste Formula 602 that Vinnie Colaiuta currently plays.
So how do you know this is not a high class if you are a newbie. Let me tell you a simple trick on how to guess without hearing the cymbal.
Check out the top artist for Meinl. Benny Greb, Chris Coleman, Thomas Lang, etc.
See what they play, not what they advertise but what they actually play; Byzance, the highest class.
Maybe you’ll find a cymbal or two from the middle range but most of the set contains premium class only.
You will find Youtube, Instagram drummers play these level series and very often advertise them.
Pure Alloy Customs
The main difference from regular Pure Alloy is the tone. The Pure Alloy Customs have a lower pitch and sound heavier, they are more of rock cymbals.
On the other hand Pure Alloy sound warm and with a higher pitch.
If you want more versatile one go with Pure Alloy.
As you can see this series has 3 subtypes. The quality and a price goes even lower here with a transition to B10 Bronze.
I would say this is the first step into Meinl bottom series but I don’t want to sound too harsh.
They improved the sound and added a Dark-type which I think sounds great.
Don’t expect to find these cymbals in the studio or behind the professional drummer drum kit.
The big plus, however, is having a middle series that has a great price and sounds good. Out of big companies, only Meinl and Paiste have that.
The equivalent to the Classics series would be Paiste PST 8. It sounds similar to Classics Custom Brilliant.
They subdivided this series into 3 categories:
Soft sound, not too loud, middle pitch, short sustain
Great for rock, long sustain, bright sound
Large bell punchy sound strong attack
Thomas Lang played these cymbals a long time ago as a new Meinl Artist.
I often mention the business side of drumming in my articles. It is called endorsement or sponsorship.
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. You remember that Paiste Joe Jordison series colored black.
Well, at the pick of his popularity he advertised this series but the truth was he didn’t play this series in the studio because they sound like shit.
What I wanna say is that don’t hold strictly what are drummers advertising.
Ok, back to Generation X… This series has a rounded edge or “sound edge”, how they called them in Paiste.
I think the idea behind this series was to make cool looking low-end cymbals and shine a light on one of the lowest cymbals series from Meinl.
The sound is very bright with the higher pitch not typical for Meinl.
They make two types
- HCS Bronze made of B8 bronze
- HCS made of brass
These cymbals are for beginners only but when you are starting on drums you don’t need anything better.
If I have to pick I would go with HCS Bronze, it is low quality but still a bronze while the brass is shit. It looks like shit, it sounds like shit so guess what, it is shit. But it is cheap 🙂
These are bright cymbals with short sustain but with crappy tone. Don’t get them outside of a practice room.
Except our Meinl cymbals best to worst guide we have Sabian best to worst article go check it out.