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 brands of cymbals
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.
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.
Their most famous cymbal lines are the K and A-lines. The K and K Custom are darker, while the A and A custom are a lot brighter – mainly used 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.
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.
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 high-quality cymbal lines from Sabian are the AA and HH series. If you care about what type of sound you would get, the AA cymbals are brighter, while the HH are darker.
The AAX and HHX lines are in the same class as the A and K Custom lines from Zildjian.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Many famous drummers endorse Paiste. Some of them are Nick Mason, Steward Armstrong 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.