'20s-'30s Cymbal Sound

Way Out Wardell

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2013
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The Solobox thread got me thinking:

I have a pair of very old Ludwig cymbals. They're 10", have a very high bell, and sound very 'clangy' when played. They don't have very prominent grooves cut into them but are faint ridges.

Was that generally how cymbals of this era sounded up close and personal?
When did we start hearing cymbal tone more like what we're used to today?

Tama CW

DFO Veteran
Mar 4, 2018
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SE Connecticut
Small clangy cymbals as you described were possibly early foot/sock pedal hi hats or FX clangers. There are a lot of Asian cymbals from the 20's and 30's as you describe. More like big-bells than cymbals.

While cymbals of the 20's to mid-30's were probably most often on the heavier side, and rarely above 15"-16" in size, there was a new trend beginning towards thinner cymbals. And you can easily find paper thin, thin, and medium thin Zildjians from the 30's. Again, most of these were splashes, accents or very light crashes. And they often have pleasing tones that could fit in with more modern kits. The sounds of the 30's Zildjians are a bit different than the modern ones of the 60's and later. They were lathed and hammered differently too. It probably isn't until the Trans stamps of 1946-1953 that cymbals of all sizes better approximate modern sounds. Up until Zildjian put out the new "AVEDIS" line, they didn't have anything closely matching the dark, dry vibe of the later 50's. They do now though. The paper thin and thin Zildjians of the 30's to early 50's (1st and 2nd stamps, and most trans stamps) are not matched by anything "modern" I've run across.
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