Can someone explain all the "prototype" cymbals?

Sprice

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I have an Istanbul Mehmet prototype cymbal that has no logos or stamps and just some notes scrawled on the back in marker. It's not like anything in their product line that I see. I'm confident in the lineage since I got it from a reliable source. But when I was googling "prototype" cymbals I found a bunch especially by Sabian and Zildjian that are called prototypes but they seem to be part of complete lines with multiples available of each model complete with logos. Is there something in the cymbal industry where there's a broader definition of prototype?
 

Mcjnic

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That is a very wide and ethereal definition where cymbals are concerned.
Some Prototypes are genuine one off cymbals created specifically for a customer.
Some are experimental cymbals at the factory.
Some are subjects that are created in the process of setting up a new line of cymbals.
Some are stamped that way when customers send their cymbals back to the factory for work.
… and on and on and on.
 

tomo221

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To me, "prototype" has evolved to be kind of the latest marketing buzzword among cymbal manufacturers for any non-catalog model. Regardless of exactly why the cymbal was made in the first place (lead-up to a new model, attempt at a custom request, someone in the factory just messing around, etc), any cymbal that's not in a manufacturer's catalog is usually sold off under the "prototype" moniker. The marketing strategy seems to be:

"Hey, if you want something really special, don't settle for a model that anyone can get. Buy this one-off prototype that'll sound completely different from anything else that anyone has!" (That's not a criticism. I've fallen for it many, many times. It's fun to get something totally unique and extremely limited.)

Also, there have been some 'mini lines' labeled "Prototypes" along the way. When he was still at Z, Paul Francis would do short runs of replicas of old cymbals (I remember the "Nefertiti" ride, a Billy Higgins ride, 15" K Con hats, and a 24" Kerope, to name a few). He would make a handful of whatever design he was into at the time and let a dealer/dealers blow through them, but never with the intention of making them permanent fixtures in the Z catalog. Calling them "prototypes" sort of tacitly assured people that these models were very limited and not technically part of Z's standard offering. You'd never see an ad in MD for them. They wouldn't be at NAMM. You only knew about them from a dealer advertising that they were in stock, and once they were gone, they were gone. An easy way to sell a handful of cymbals indeed!
 

CC Cirillo

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I recall Mr. Francis explaining sometimes they’d make a special cymbal for an endorser and if he thought other drummers might like it he’d make a batch and take them to trade shows and such to see what other drummers thought of them for either feedback or to test marketing viability and if all systems were go, they’d possibly make it into the line, or some line.

The cymbal he was discussing was Russ Miller’s that is now the Concept Shop Staccato Ride.

5E3DDD0C-0378-4C29-ABFC-6C0246049559.jpeg
 
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JDA

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I have an Istanbul Mehmet prototype
that would be an odd one like to see it.
the usual companies are big companies (Z , S , P) that do prototypes So.. let's see it if you can
 

bpaluzzi

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I have a Sound Lab Prototype (with the same stamp as on CC Cirillo's Russ Miller ride above) from the early 2000s. It's a 22" A Custom that is unlathed, and with large circular mechanical hammer marks (similar to the Breakbeat / Uptown ride). It's thin enough to get significant flex just from bending it, with a killer bell. Very crashable. Absolutely love it. Apparently it was the test run for a proposed Smitty Smith ride that never came to fruition. Drum World in Pittsburgh had about 5 of them along with some K Constantinople.
 

TPC

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There was a huge run of Paiste Prototypes from about 10-15 (?) years ago. I'm no expert, but what I heard was that Diril made a bunch of hand-hammered cymbals from Paiste B20 that were precursors to some of the Twenty and/or Masters models.

For a time, these were selling on eBay very cheaply. I bought a handful. These are generally very nice cymbals. I have 20" and 22" "Ride" cymbals that are particularly nice. Medium-thin and quite dark, but have just a touch of that Paiste sparkle.

paiste prototypes.jpg
 
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Fibes

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To me, the word prototype always meant a non-production research or experimental effort. Now Zildjian and Sabian and probably others have muddied the waters by making it a product line. And that type of jive is why I haven't bought anything newer than a late 50's Small Stamp
in 40 years. But I do like to dabble in the small Turkish companies.


I have an Istanbul Mehmet prototype cymbal that has no logos or stamps and just some notes scrawled on the back in marker. It's not like anything in their product line that I see. I'm confident in the lineage since I got it from a reliable source. But when I was googling "prototype" cymbals I found a bunch especially by Sabian and Zildjian that are called prototypes but they seem to be part of complete lines with multiples available of each model complete with logos. Is there something in the cymbal industry where there's a broader definition of prototype?
 

dtk

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I don't think anyone's made Protype an actual line...I do think they're making small batches to test and rather than melt them down...they sell them as collectables...sort of like small batch whiskey or beer.

I have an 18" HHX Proto Roctagon Crash and a Meinl 18 sizzle crash ride that has factory paint that says "one of a kind" which leads me to believe it was a special order (to me it looks like foundry reserve...).
 

mattr

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Ok, here was deal at Z: There we’re about three scenerios where Sound Lab short production runs were produced…

- Market testing: especially for a new cast product lines or expansion of existing lines. Line introductions or request to expand a line were usually developed from Marketing feedback (i.e. dealers or analysis telling us good selling lines or models) . We would have test batches (“ovens”) created to preliminary prove out the manufacturing process. Then they we’re brought typically to PASIC or Zildjian Days and get some further customer/artist feedback. Typically, these models were pretty wrapped up and ready to be released at the next NAMM for introduction. These were never made in big qtys… 2-3 dozen max. per model/size.

- Artist Model: Z continuously makes special requests for endorsers. These very small batches (< 10 typically) get the Sound Lab print before leaving the factory. If any of these artist creations are deemed as “happening”, from other artists or internally, limited batch ovens were created and the market tested at PASIC and Zildjian Days at dealers. Artist actually have to “drum up” support for their prototypes from other artists or the public to get “their” model in the catalog… if it’s not an obvious “hit”. Case in point, the Organic Ride took years and the Staccato ride had been “in development” for over a decade… so, a long slog for any real market interest. But they got brought out year after year to make sure Z shows “in works” ideas at things like PASIC. But always made in very limited qtys (2-3 dozen per year).

- R&D creations: we got to work on our pet ideas. My only creation still in production was the UltraHammered chinas. But I had to find interest in it to get it to market. When Carter Beauford said he loved them and send more!!… well, couldn’t get a better endorsement than that…. and we were trying to inject some interest in the stillborn Z3 line… alas. My coworker created the K Light line off of his tinkering with making 24in. Rides. That organically took off from artists that played them at the time (24s we’re REALLY an “in” thing at the time) and the process then worked its way into a full line over time.

Now, limited production runs (K Darks, Project 391, Rarities, etc.) are different that Sound Lab prototypes. They are a way to get a product out there that has limited appeal, boost some brand excitement, and sell the whole production run immediately and not fill your warehouse with unmoving inventory…. And no permanent catalog SKU.

So, anything with a “Sound Lab” print on it is a pretty rare cymbal…
 

musiqman

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I love the Sound Lab prototypes.

They are as stated not released and promoted lines, so they are the real deal regardinf being a one off prototypes and quite rare.

Actually the last few years I have scaled down my setup to only K Constantinople prototypes (now 20/24, and 15 hats).

40E51BB5-C2DC-4708-B355-8B68BE747BE8.png


You can see that the 20” doesn’t have the Sound Lab writing (but is a Sound Lab model).

I had a hihat set made specially made for and played by Dennis Chambers in 12” too that I sold recently.

1627683689615.png



My first Sound Lab was an early 2000 22” brilliant K Crash made for Zak Starkey.

1627682914177.png


I loved it and hated it at the same time as it wasn’t reallygood at crashing, but also not really at riding. I sold it, bought it years later, and last year it went for good.

Another Sound Lab set (14 hats, and 22 ride) I had (and never should have sold) was the Old K inspired run from 2013.


Those were probably the best I have ever had (next to the ones I have now) and always found it a shame they weren’t released.

But I could see why as they would drop the sales of the Kerope line (that would be released the next year) instantly.
 
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equipmentdork

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Prototype is NOT a line of cymbals. In my case, I used Sabian's "sound matching" service to duplicate what I loved about a particular AA 18" Medium-Thin Crash that I cracked. What Mark Love picked out was not made to any particular specs....therefore....a prototype. I sent in the cracked cymbal, told them everything I liked about it including the playable bell, and that is EXACTLY what I got. In fact, the new cymbal's bell was even more focused than the old one. Those guys are awesome.

I did buy other cymbals that were prototypes but were clearly one-offs. I have what I think is a 16"AA thin crash that has a raw, hand-hammered bell. It was decided not to produce it. It's an enigmatic one that takes just a second to open up. Maybe they couldn't think of what to call it. An AAHHXXX?


Dan
 

cruddola

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That is a very wide and ethereal definition where cymbals are concerned.
Some Prototypes are genuine one off cymbals created specifically for a customer.
Some are experimental cymbals at the factory.
Some are subjects that are created in the process of setting up a new line of cymbals.
Some are stamped that way when customers send their cymbals back to the factory for work.
… and on and on and on.
And some are odd-ball seconds. I have a couple of them and they're nothing short of phenomenal-sounding cymbals. Their lathing is all over the place. Non-symmetrical grooves on the same line. Got them in Lyon, France back in the early 80's. A 17.5 heavy and a 20.5 medium. I used them as rides as they are easy on the wash. Very bright-sounding to me.
 

JimmySticks

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Here are my two Paiste Prototypes. These really are nice cymbals that can be had for good prices. Truth be told, I'm to cheap to go for a set of Masters, at least for now, so these Prototypes fill the need for some of that nice Paiste shimmer.

To the left is a flat 20" that I believe is most closely related to a 602, and the other 20" appears to be part of the Signature series. It's hand hammered all the way through the bell, which I've never seen before. Funny though, the almost flat bell is it's weakest point! But I love this cymbal and it's normally my main ride -
16277273029932780645245512797901.jpg
 

bolweevil

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I picked up a Sabian ride and crash this spring, both labeled as 'prototype'. The crash was from mycymbal.com so there was video to evaluate; I bought the ride based on weight and look, and lucked out as I love it.
In the pic: the ride and the crash on the right are the protos. (edit--sorry, I did not explain the prototype thing at all, just tried to show off my stuff lol).

hhprototypes.jpg
 
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GiveMeYourSmallestSticks!

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I love the Sound Lab prototypes.

They are as stated not released and promoted lines, so they are the real deal regardinf being a one off prototypes and quite rare.

Actually the last few years I have scaled down my setup to only K Constantinople prototypes (now 20/24, and 15 hats).

View attachment 510797

You can see that the 20” doesn’t have the Sound Lab writing (but is a Sound Lab model).

I had a hihat set made specially made for and played by Dennis Chambers in 12” too that I sold recently.

View attachment 510799


My first Sound Lab was an early 2000 22” brilliant K Crash made for Zak Starkey.

View attachment 510798

I loved it and hated it at the same time as it wasn’t reallygood at crashing, but also not really at riding. I sold it, bought it years later, and last year it went for good.

Another Sound Lab set (14 hats, and 22 ride) I had (and never should have sold) was the Old K inspired run from 2013.


Those were probably the best I have ever had (next to the ones I have now) and always found it a shame they weren’t released.

But I could see why as they would drop the sales of the Kerope line (that would be released the next year) instantly.
Those sound amazing, I'd take them over Keropes any day of the week (if that was an option).
 

Deafmoon

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I don’t seek these out cause I am not in the market, but how do Protos compare with their In Line cousins?
 

JimmySticks

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I don’t seek these out cause I am not in the market, but how do Protos compare with their In Line cousins?
I don't think my Paiste's stray to far off of their lines. My Signature inspired 20" sounds close, maybe abit darker due to the over-hammering, and I think my flat does a decent 602 imitation.

I've been happy with both.
 


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