Fill out the form, and I will hand-pick the best cymbals for you and drop you an email.
As the cymbals play an essential item in any drum set, I assume you would want the best cymbals you can get for yourself. Before you pick out the right one, you should know a thing or two about the brands that make these great instruments.
The market is full of many cymbal manufacturers today, but some stand out as the best – the years of production, the quality they guarantee, and millions of satisfied customers all over the world are just some things that make them top.
Here is the list of the best brands of cymbals that are notable worldwide:
- Istanbul Agop
However, I still have to point out the ones that are dominating the cymbal market.
Every professional drummer knows about these major cymbal manufacturers – which is why they are called the “Big Four.”
These companies have over half of the market, and they are:
Without further ado, let’s dive into more information about these cymbal brands.
The 4 best cymbal brands
It is clear that Zildjian is the world’s largest maker of cymbals, as it holds around 30 – 35% of the market – it’s not only that they managed to be the top sellers in the past, but they still keep the biggest market share up today.
The company was founded by Avedis Zildjian in 1623 in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) but is presently situated in Norwell, Massachusetts, USA.
The Avedis Zildjian Company, or just Zildjian, holds the honor of being one of the oldest companies in the world – lasting for around 400 years in business.
The 15-generation family business has kept its quality and status up to this day, and that’s why many professional drummers will choose to play Zildjian cymbals.
Zildjian is popular for using a bronze alloy (80% copper, 20% tin) also known as B20 bronze. This is a commonly used material in the industry.
Since the company has been successful for years, the annual revenue is surely high – it’s not fully available, but it’s estimated that it ranges from $10 to $50 million.
All of the terminologies, like the ride, crash, etc, originated at Zildjian Company.
The most popular series:
Their most popular sets are K and K Custom and A and A Custom series.
The K and K Custom sets are just incredible. They deliver that darker and richer tone. The sound is enveloping with a lot of projection and perfect clarity of each sound it makes. It fits perfectly to different ranges and styles, but it is preferable among jazz drummers.
As for the A and A custom sets, they are a bit different. They deliver a more crisp and sophisticated sound when struck. It is better suitable for those modern sounds and music. They are also extremely versatile, but they are happily chosen by rock and funk drummers.
Zildjian makes around 600 different models of cymbals – from 6” up to 24” – and in their vault, there are over 250 thousand cymbals.
Certain products need more time than others, which is why the company has the vintage cymbals area, which will stay longer in the vault before they are ready for sale.
Drummers who use Zildjian:
Zildjian has a long list of professional drummers endorsing their cymbals, and some of them are Dominic Howard, Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd, Travis Barker, Lars Ulrich, Dave Grohl, and Ringo Starr.
Robert Zildjian founded the Sabian Company, in Canada, back in 1981, and since then Sabian has always been the direct competitor to Zildjian Company.
Their goal is to make continuously better quality cymbals than any other on the market.
Close to Zildjian, Sabian has somewhere around 25 – 30% of the market today.
The company covers all the phases within the music industry – from beginners, semi-pros, and professional cymbals, and for all types of music, not just one kind.
Sabian is making sure that every cymbal is tested at least twice, sometimes even three times, before it goes to the market – because they value quality and they take it seriously.
The way they handle business took them from selling 50 thousand cymbals a year to now selling over 800 thousand annually. They produce roughly 10 – 20 thousand cymbals per week.
The factory has a room where they put all of the prototype cymbals that they worked on over the years. It is said that there are thousands of different cymbals that aren’t available to the public yet.
The company offers various sets of cymbals, just like Zildjian. They use both B20 and B8 alloys. What makes these cymbals so popular on the market is their consistency and durability.
They are as wide as popular as Zildjian among drummers of all levels. However, Sabian prevails slightly more among beginner drummers. The sound of these cymbals is just incredible. It is very clear with a lot of punch and is extremely versatile.
Since it is close to Zildjian for its market share, Sabian makes high revenue. It’s not available how much, but according to Zoom Company Info, Sabian’s revenues in 2019 were around $23 million.
The most popular series:
The AAX and HHX lines are in the same class as the A and K Custom lines from Zildjian. These series are the most popular cymbals from Sabian company.
The AAX series are bright with a focused sound. They are made from B20 bronze and are extremely durable. Perfect for any kind of drumming, but they excel at rock and metal genres.
The HHX has dark and rich tones with a simmering sound. The HH stands for hand hammered. They project perfect and clear tones without comprising the feel and sound.
Drummers who use Sabian:
Some of the drummers endorsing Sabian cymbals are Chris Dave, Anderson Paak, Brian Fraser-Moore, and others.
Same as the other three big cymbal brands, Meinl holds lots of today’s market, but it’s more close to Paiste than it is to Sabian or Zildjian.
The market share of the Meinl Company is around 10 – 15% worldwide.
Meinl Company is a family-owned manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments, based in Germany.
The founder of this company was Roland Meinl, who started his business back in 1951. The very first cymbals Roland Meinl hammered, lathed, and drilled by himself.
The production of these cymbals went high very quickly – leading it to export around half of the production to the United States in the 60s.
Meinl is famous for also being the first cymbal company to offer pre-pack cymbal sets, in 1974.
Meinl is a company that not only cares about the quality but the innovations as well.
The company claims that only they use 6 different alloys to craft cymbals, which is more than what other cymbal makers use.
They offer hundreds of different cymbals, which are designed for specific budgets and different stages – from beginners to professionals.
The company was focused on producing low-budget cymbals for years, but eventually, they started producing pro cymbals – which led to their first pro series called “King-Beat Series.”
Their cymbals are extremely sturdy and have outstanding acoustics. These cymbals are very responsive with high durability thanks to their sturdy construction.
Meinl uses a variety of alloys, including B20, B12, B10, and B8. Each alloy and series offers a different sound.
The most popular series:
The most popular and professional line of cymbals from Meinl is a Byzance, made from B20 alloy.
Byzance cymbal line is available in 8 variations and it became an ultimate choice for many professional drummers.
These cymbals are also hand-hammered, and they deliver a range of dark and warm sounds.
The sound of these cymbals is like a wide dynamic spectrum. Yet they deliver a very soft sound. Open hi-hat sound with a sharp chick that is unobtrusive and easily controlled. These cymbals can easily blend into any kind of musical style, but they perfectly blend with jazz and fusion drummers.
Another popular Meinl cymbal is the Mb10 series. Unlike the Byzance, Mb10 are made from B10 bronze, and they produce a more modern and bright sound.
Drummers who use Meinl:
Some notable drummers who endorse Meinl cymbals are Anika Nilles, Chris Coleman, Benny Greb, Thomas Lang, and Chris Adler.
A Swiss cymbal company, Paiste is one of the major four brands that rule on the market.
Estonian musician Toomas Paiste founded the Paiste brand back in 1906 in Saint Petersburg.
Because of the revolutions and wars, the company was relocated many times – from Saint Petersburg to Estonia, Poland, Germany, and then Switzerland, where the company finally got its headquarters and production facility, in the year 1957.
Paiste takes around 10 – 15% of the market today, same as Meinl.
They are not as much famous as Zildjian, but they still have the market as one of the best cymbal brands.
Not only do they take care about the quality of the cymbals they make, but they also care about the innovations.
Paiste cymbals have a reputation for being more expensive, yet the cost is justified because their cymbals generate remarkable sounds and characteristics. Here’s a comparison. A Paiste Crash PST5 14” cymbal, great for beginners, is available at $70 at the moment of writing.
When it comes to the Meinl crash, we have HCS 14” crash cymbal, which is very popular among beginners and entry-level drummers. This one is around $49 at the moment of writing (June 2023).
To compensate for the higher prices, Paiste offers several of its cymbals in cymbal sets. These sets are less expensive than purchasing them separately, allowing budget-conscious drummers to purchase high-quality cymbals.
Amongst some of the innovations from the cymbal manufacturers, Paiste developed the Flat Ride – a ride cymbal without a bell.
They also started the use of B8 bronze as a cymbal alloy and were the only major company to use that combination for high-end lines over the years.
Their most popular cymbals are manufactured of CuSn8 Bronze alloy, often known as “2002 Bronze”. They are renowned for their crisp and brilliant sound that can simply cut through any sort of mix. It is commonly favored by rock drummers, but thanks to its versatility you can play it to other genres as well.
Paiste often uses the CuSn20 or better known as “Traditional Bronze” or “602 Bronze,” which is the alloy used to make Formula 602 Classic cymbals. These incredible cymbals generate a real and clean tone with a lot of clarity and consistency.
The most popular series:
Although one of the best selling series by Paiste is 2002, series like PST 7 and PST 8 are increasingly popular nowadays due to great value for money ration.
Another popular Paiste choice is the Paiste Signature cymbal set. It is falling under the high-end sets and are popular among professional drummers.
Their sound is very bright and full of lots of projection. They have a strong presence with crisp and focused undertones. They are highly musical and can easily complement the most demanding drumming and studio apps.
These cymbals are perfect for rock and metal music. This is thanks to its richness, musicality, and sensitivity that go hand in hand with this drumming style.
Drummers who use Paiste:
Many famous drummers endorse Paiste. Some of them are Nick Mason, Steward Copeland, Ian Anderson Paice, and Joey Jordison.
Other notable cymbal brands
Since the Big Four cymbal manufacturers have more than half of the market, at around ¾ of it, other companies still find their ways to drummers – from beginners to professionals ones. Some of these brands are:
5. Istanbul Agop
Istanbul Agop is one of the two companies that started working on their own, after the split of the Istanbul Cymbals Company.
The founder of the Istanbul Cymbals was Agop Tomurcuk, and after he passed away his children took over and formed the Istanbul Agop cymbals company.
Though the company originally only produced jazz cymbals, they expanded over the years.
Now they offer a variety of hand-hammered, traditional, and modern cymbals.
The unique thing about these cymbals is a secret alloy, where only the owners of the company know the formula.
Some of the musicians who endorse Istanbul Agop are Lenny White, Tom Meadows, and Cindy Blackman Santana.
Anatolian is a cymbal manufacturer from Turkey, formed in 1998. All of the cymbals that they make are handcrafted and there is a variety of them.
They have 14+ standard series and 10 series for Jazz – all of them made from B20 plus alloy.
UFIP is an Italian musical instrument company, founded back in 1931. This company takes care that their products reach great quality, and the only alloy they use in the production is B20 alloy.
This type of alloy offers tonal character and dynamic range, which is why they want to keep the production of all of their cymbals with precisely this B20 type.
Drummer and entrepreneur Iki Levy founded the Soultone Cymbals Company back in 2003.
Although the headquarters of the company is in Los Angeles, California, USA, the cymbals are produced in Turkey.
The Soultone Turkish cymbals are all hand-made and are great for all music styles.
Some of the artists who endorse Soultone cymbals are Steven Adler, Nick Smith, Jerohn Garnett, and Eric Seats.
Amedia is a cymbal company from Turkey that produces only hand-made cymbals, and each of those cymbals is one-of-a-kind. The top line from the Amedia cymbals is the Kommagene series.
Wuhan Cymbals and Gongs is a Chinese brand that produces affordable but also high-quality cymbals.
They use some of the cymbal-making techniques that date back to two thousand years old traditions while also using today’s modern methods in production.
They use B20 alloy to produce their cymbals and are most famous for their china cymbals.
Some of the drummers that use Wuhan cymbals are Neil Peart, Jeff Hamilton, and Chad Sexton.
Masterwork Cymbals, founded back in 2002, is a small company from Istanbul, Turkey. Masterwork has 14 different series of cymbals, each of them hand-made.
Their cymbals are great for all music styles, and the alloys they use to produce these cymbals are B20 and B25.
Are there certain brands or models of cymbals that drummers prefer?
All manufacturers craft cymbals for different drumming styles and, thus, music styles.
The big four, known as Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl, and Paiste, are all equally popular for the easy type of drummers. From rock to metal, to jazz and pop.
This is because these companies all offer high-quality cymbals for each of your musical demands and are incredible for your preferred setting. All you need to do is experiment a bit and find your groove with the cymbals.
For instance, the two most popular rock bands, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin used different cymbals. While Nirvana used Zildjian, Led Zeppelin drummers use mainly Paise cymbals.
And for the Beatles for instance, Ringo experimented and used Zildjian but also Paiste, as well as Zyin and Ajax.
So even though all these fantastic bands were categorized as rock groups, they almost all used different cymbals and yet delivered incredible work.
What cymbals brand should beginner drummers use?
Just like the previous section, this will also depend on you and your style.
However, the rookies are usually limited in budget, so it is best to seek those more affordable cymbal sets from renowned companies.
Luckily, all mentioned brands have great offers for beginner drummers. Thus, here are my top choices from each of the four leading manufacture cymbal brands
- Zildjian: Zildjian I and S Series
- Sabian: Sabian B8X Cymbal pack
- Meinl: Meinl HCS Cymbal set
- Paiste: Paiste PST7 Universal cymbal set
From past experiences, which I noticed, I can say that beginners usually opt for Paiste. Paiste might have better entry-level cymbals, so that is the reason why this is a go-to choice for rookies.
On the other hand, Zildjian has incredible cymbals offered for intermediate and professional players. So you can see that pros usually opt for Yildjian bran.
Overall this is not exclusive. This is what I noticed and what might be common but not correct.
Both manufacturers have amazing offers for all levels of drumming. There’s nothing wrong with using both brands.
What cymbal brand do famous drummer use?
As I stated above, it really depends on the drummer’s preferences. Many drummers from the same genre use different cymbal brands. However, here are some popular drummers’ opinions about their cymbal brand.
Cindy Blackman Santana has always been a fan of Ziljdian cymbals. She loves the distinct character and presence these cymbals have. It adds to the depth and expression of her playing.
She likes them because they are extremely responsive, so you can easily articulate musical ideas with clarity. As she said, Zildjian has never failed her to deliver anything she thinks of.
Chad Smith, from the rock band Red Hot Chillie Papers, is a big fan of Sabian cymbals.
He said that Sabian excel in handling his energetic playing style and delivers the desired powerful and dynamic sound. As he said, no matter what he is playing, Sabian cymbals always tailor to his style with the perfect projection.
Chris Adler, from the American heavy metal band Lamb of God, is a long-time user of Meinl cymbals. As Chris said, the Meinl cymbals deliver the perfect balance of power, precision, and musicality. He loves that these cymbals have a unique character and that they can easily cut through the mix.
Stewart Copeland from the unforgettable band The Police, which I still wait for their reunion, is a die-hard fan of Paiste cymbals.
He has been using Paiste cymbals for over 40 years and he is not planning on changing them. It is his favorite go-to choice, and he is happily celebrating his Paiste artist career each year.