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Whether you are a beginner or professional, everyone knows about the Zildjian name and its cymbals. At some point in their career, every drummer had come across them.
As being one of the oldest instrument manufacturers in the world, Zildjian has been around so long that they know their stuff – you can’t go wrong if you decide to go for their cymbals.
Now let’s say that you don’t know which cymbal would be best for you. I highly recommend you to read about and try as many cymbals as you can – by the time you’ll understand which types are working for you.
I made a list of Zildjian cymbals best to worst, to give you an idea of what this company offers – and trust me on that, it has a lot.
Two special series
The K Family
I have to start this list with the K Family because we may agree that this series has the best cymbals Zildjian offers. The K family cymbals are lower in pitch and easier to excite – this is why Zildjian calls them Dark and Rich cymbals.
Every strike of the cymbals from the K Family gives an enveloping sound. Brilliant projection and outstanding clarity are present in each of these cymbals.
The hi-hats are sensitive and precise, the ride pings and shimmers, while crashes dark tones resist becoming muddied. Because of their greatness, this is why many internationally famous drummers endorse K cymbals.
Now when I already said something about the K Family, let’s see which series we have.
- K Zildjian
- K Custom
- K Constantinople
For decades Zildjian K series has been a favored choice by many worldwide drummers. Forged from the Zildjian Secret Family Alloy, these instruments share natural and organic sound – the sound that is dark in tone and highly rich in harmonics.
K Zildjian cymbals share the traditional dark and warm sound with the original K cymbals, which were developed by Zildjian back in the 19th century in Turkey.
With all that said, these cymbals are a perfect choice for drummers who play Jazz, Rock, and Country music.
- K Custom Special Dry
- K Custom Dark
- K Custom Hybrid
K Custom is a unique line among K Family. With its three subseries, K Custom shares a wide variety of outstanding cymbals. All of them share that dark, rich, and dry sound, but there are differences in aesthetic.
Although they all have the same alloy – a secret family alloy – using different finishing and hammering techniques makes each one of them unique in its way.
Since Zildjian combined K hammering with various modern hammering techniques, K Custom became one of Zildjian’s most prominent lines. They are perfect for all types of music genres.
K Custom Special Dry
K Custom Special Dry cymbals are not standing out much from the rest of the K Family cymbals, but this line is a unique collection of raw and earthy cymbals.
They deliver dry, rich, funky, and sound with lots of dirt. Since Zildjian remastered this line of cymbals for today’s modern musical styles, this series combines almost everything that will give you uniqueness and personality on stage or in a recording studio.
K Custom Dark
One of the interesting facts about the K Custom Dark line production is the combination of K and A style hammering that gives cymbals profiles more stick definitions, first-rate patterns, and narrow symmetrical grooves.
The sound that you can expect from these cymbals is dark and rich, like the rest of the K Family cymbals, but also slightly dry and trashy overtones because of the over hammering techniques.
K Custom Hybrid
Zildjian K Custom Hybrid cymbals feature a traditional finish outer half and stunning brilliant finish inner half that creates a unique and fantastic combination.
Balance of brightness and darkness of K Custom Hybrid cymbals created genuinely modern K voice – different sonic characters and dynamics depend on where and how you strike it.
When it comes to the hammering of K Custom Hybris, a combination of modern and K Zildjian hammering techniques creates perfect patterns of symmetrical grooves that stiffen the cymbals and enhance their dry sound.
The Kerope series truly represents the authentic vintage sound. This line is certainly the most authentic vintage K recreation to date since the company did its best to make these cymbals from using Zildjian’s rich history and cymbal-making expertise.
Each of these cymbals from the Kerope series is thoroughly handcrafted, where bells are individually shaped uniquely to optimize the sound of each cymbal.
Attention to detail in producing this line leads to complex and dark-sounding cymbals with a neat low profile and patina finish.
Because of the alloy and techniques Zildjian used in producing these cymbals, they are the perfect choice for drummers who play jazz, swing, or in a big band.
Complex hammering – in other words, random rotary and impact hammering processes – contributed to the unique sonic identity and dark tones of the K Constantinople cymbals.
Every K Constantinople cymbal has its signature voice because they are produced in small batches using 14-step hammering processes.
The main characters of these cymbals are rich and dark tones. However, they can be both smooth and cutting across the broadness of any range.
Although they are primarily designed for and used for Jazz, they have outgrown that tag, and nowadays, you can see more and more drummers using them regularly in Pop, Funk, even in Rock music.
The A Family
- A Zildjian
- A Custom
- A Avedis
The A family cymbals are right after The K Family as one of the best series Zildjian offers. The cymbals are higher in pitch, and they require more energy to excite – the sound you can expect to get from them is Bright and Sweet.
Although my personal experience with Zildjian tells me that the K family are the best cymbals you can get from Zildjian, for drummers who want to get over the top of other high-pitch instruments and “screaming” guitars, I would recommend the A family.
The steeper curve gives the A cymbals a higher profile. The Zildjian Secret Family Alloy, the most commonly used kind of alloy in manufacturing Zildjian cymbals, gives them everything Zildjian aspire to meet the needs of every musician.
Since these cymbals are high-end, it makes them the perfect choice for professional drummers.
As I already said, their sound is bright and wide, which allows them to hit a broader frequency range. Their tones have so much clarity and can cut through in any possible band setup.
The A Zildjian is an iconic series – there is no doubt why many greatest drummers worldwide used, and are still using these cymbals, not only for live concerts but for studio recordings.
The A Zildjian series is super versatile, and no matter if the cymbal model is thinner, heavier, or thicker, a bright and sweet sound will project across any range. These cymbals are a great choice because they work for all genres and all settings.
The hammering craftsmen use when making A Zildjian cymbals has a symmetrical pattern, and the finish is traditional. Except for 21” Mega Bell Ride, 21” A Zildjian Sweet Ride Brilliant, 19” and 21” Ultra Hammered China, Dyno Beat hi-hats, Up Town Ride, and all Heavy models.
The A Custom series has a slightly lower profile than the standard A Zildjian series.
The hammering technique used for making these cymbals is modern rotary hammering. This way, Zildjian makes thinner weight and attractive patterns of grooves that will create enough stiffness.
Like the rest of the A Family Cymbals, A Custom also shares that bright and sweet sound. What makes them stand out is overall glassier and smoother tone, which makes them perfect for studio recordings.
They work with all styles of music and in all settings, particularly in studios.
The innovative hammering process, vintage style lathing, and vintage patina finish make these cymbals timeless and unforgettable.
Since A Avedis collection is a vintage recreation of that timeless sound we heard in many top hits throughout the 20th century, these cymbals are relevant for today’s music also.
There are not many cymbals in this line – 20” 21” 22” Rides, 18” 19” Crashes, 14” 15” 16” hi-hats – but each of them has that patina finish that shares the look of the decades-old cymbals, and the unforgettable sound.
The Zildjian S cymbal line is the successor to Zildjian’s ZHT series – once long-standing favored entry-level series.
Although ZHT was good series for entry-level drummers, the company decided to work on improving that line. The goal was to get mid-quality cymbals that would meet the needs of every drummer.
That’s how we got the S line of cymbals, of medium quality and affordable. What’s most important, this series allows intermediate drummers to carve out their voice in a way it wasn’t possible with the previous line.
The B12 alloy which Zildjian uses for the S series gives these cymbals a shimmer and shine you won’t be able to find in affordable cymbals.
With the extensive hammering techniques and lathing, these cymbals resemble traditionally cast cymbals than they do more typical stamped ones.
The S cymbals are available in various weights and diameters, and the sheer volume is impressive itself.
The result of these cymbals shows Zildjian’s commitment to quality and spirit in constant innovation, at the price that any drummer can afford.
Zildjian I is made from B8 Bronze has modern weights, profiles, and several effect sounds.
I series replaced the ZBT line since the company realized ZBT wasn’t delivering all the things today’s drummers were expecting.
Since this line was developed specifically for entry-level drummers on a tight budget, the quality you get for the money is acceptable.
I tried both of these since I was curious about the sound, and I’m positively surprised how Zildjian came up with a better solution.
Planet Z cymbals made from Brass make bright, cutting, and more focused sound. Since the alloy Zildjian uses for these cymbals is Brass, this makes them perfect choice for entry-level drummers.
In honest opinion if I would have to choose for budget friendly cymbals, I’d rather go for I series, because they are slightly better than Planet Z.
Effect cymbal and Low Volume cymbal lines
There are two Zildjian series I could not put on the same list as the previous ones. They are certainly better than those low-ends, but they differ in many things.
Since I already mentioned them before, let’s get into the topic and say a word or two about these remaining two series. Those are FX and Low Volume lines.
The FX Family has a broad collection of various types of cymbals with which you can get different sounds and expand your setup.
The material Zildjian uses for making FX cymbals is varied. There is not particular alloy they used in making several types of Crashes, Chinas, Accents, and Stacks.
FX is rightly an innovative line of cymbals from Zildjian. These cymbals give exotic colors and characters to the sound.
The Stacks are quick and bright, Crashes and Chinas enormous and trashy, while Accents are so distinct it is not possible to describe each one of them.
L80 Low Volume cymbals
The L80 Low Volume cymbals are a perfect choice for drummers who don’t want to have noise problems with other people while playing.
They are not for loud live gigs or studio recordings, but they are precisely the right solution for practice spaces.
Although they deliver quieter sound – up to 80% quieter than the traditional cymbal – they still keep that authentic feel of a full-volume cymbal.