Commissioning Custom Cymbals

TPC

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So I was going to post a thread about a new cymbal that I have coming in the next week or so from Matt Nolan.

Then, instead of just focusing on this one cymbal, I figured it'd be interesting to hear about others' stories regarding their experiences with ordering a custom cymbal, from the initial description of the sounds, to the cymbalsmith's process and how he/she interpreted your descriptions, and what techniques they used to achieve the sounds, etc.

I have a handful of Matt's cymbals. I love them. A lot. This latest commission is a 24" thin swish to compliment the other Nolan’s I have. This was my third commission from Matt, so my request was simple: 24", thin, swish, rivets. Matt took it from there. Matt is a very busy man, so the lead time on this was fairly long, but it's finally coming together and I couldn't be more excited.


Nolan 24 swish 2.jpg


Nolan 24 swish 1.jpg


20220717_210749.jpg


20220717_214120.jpg


Let's hear about yours. Thanks
 
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jmele2

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looks beautiful! I've had a number of my cymbals modded by Jesse Simpson when he lived in Bklyn and am very impressed with the black art of metallurgy!

Can't wait to hear some video of that china
 
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owr

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Beautiful Tom, one of these days we need to have a bay area hang, and I want to check out that swish when its done!

No stories of my own to share yet but I'm 6 months into the one year waiting list for Craig (Lauritsen). I plan on having him make me a full set since he seems to do such a beautiful job matching up sounds. Will do hats, a 19-20" and a 22". If the budget is right I may throw in a 4th as well. I've been listening to a lot of his videos lately and am enamored with his brushed OSC cymbals + most of my purchases in the last year have been Funch of a similar vibe. For the custom set from Craig, I plan on seeing how much he can push these in the direction of the medium weight brilliant trans stamps I'm so found of and get the most use out of. We'll see how feasible this turns out, but still got 6 months before serious conversation.
 

Fat Drummer

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SACRED BOVINE! That is 100% freakin' awesome that you have a vid of your cymbal in manufacturing! Thanks for posting this and what a lovely cymbal, enjoy in happy playing for years to come!
 

Esotericdrums

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Beautiful Tom, one of these days we need to have a bay area hang, and I want to check out that swish when its done!

No stories of my own to share yet but I'm 6 months into the one year waiting list for Craig (Lauritsen). I plan on having him make me a full set since he seems to do such a beautiful job matching up sounds. Will do hats, a 19-20" and a 22". If the budget is right I may throw in a 4th as well. I've been listening to a lot of his videos lately and am enamored with his brushed OSC cymbals + most of my purchases in the last year have been Funch of a similar vibe. For the custom set from Craig, I plan on seeing how much he can push these in the direction of the medium weight brilliant trans stamps I'm so found of and get the most use out of. We'll see how feasible this turns out, but still got 6 months before serious conversation.
Be patient, I am 15 months into my wait on Craigs queue. I’m hoping for a 24 OSC. I think he really nails it with those. I did pick up a 21 at 2286g from @curly not to long ago that I am thoroughly enjoying. Look forward to my first custom order!
 

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Phantomlimb777

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When I ordered my set from my buddy John, he was two or three batches into his process.

We’re both big fans of Jack DeJohnette and John Christiansen, so we wanted them to be weird and dark sounding.

The budding name for this brand of cymbals is JMV Bronzeworks. I guess at the beginning of the pandemic, my friend John started learning about cymbal making from Heather Stine, and let me know he had his first batch for sale.

I missed out, but got to play a couple. They all had this underlying crazy roar that was intriguing, so I asked him to make a set that leaned into the trash. I’m a big fan of Jack DeJohnette, Eric Harland, Marcus Gilmore, etc.
So I was kinda going for a very thin version of their general sound.

I got the 18” and 20” first.

The 18 kinda looks like a Paiste Dark energy crash, but is much thinner and trashier. Flat profile, and has a surprisingly pleasant stick for something this thin. Pressed bell.

The 20 is an umbrella profile, hand formed bell.
It’s like someone mixed a pang and a flat ride, I have six rivets in, and it sounds like a broken A/C in the best way.

I waited a bit for the 22, but he came over to show me some new 20s he was working on, and there was a crusty 22 behind them. I asked bout it, and he mentioned that he had worked on it a bunch and didn’t think it was “good enough”.
He pulled it out, and it sounded like a version 1 Dry Complex, albeit with a lot less tension.
I told him it would match with how wild the other two were, so I took it.

The hats were last. I was very happy at this point with my set, and told him to do what felt right to him. The hats are heavier, and have more tension than the rest. They’re dark and dry when the hats are closed/half open, but they brighten up when you separate them more.

It should be noted that all of these were made with pergammon blanks, which were very soft.

John has since moved onto Amedia and Koide blanks (he also is involved with Koide in some capacity.), so the newer cymbals coming from him are more consistent.
 

curly

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I have/have owned a lot of independent cymbalsmith's cymbals. But I've actually only commissioned one, which was a very specific project from Matt Nolan.

A friend has a 19 pre-war Zildjian that another holic had lathed down from about 2200-2300 grams to about 1500 grams and turned it into a remarkable cymbal. Only the bottom was lathed so the top retained the crust. My friend describes it this way: "The feel of the stick on it is just buttery, yet it still has tons of attack...like nothing else I've ever felt in a cymbal. And it crashes beautifully. I use it mainly as a left side crash/ride but I also often use it as the sole cymbal in a tight setup for small rooms. There's just something about that ancient patina/crust on the top surface that gives it such great stick definition, I don't know if that can be replicated without tons of aging."

1658245996586.png


So we sent detailed specs, audio/video, etc to Matt and let him work his craft. The lead time was fairly long, but the results were great.

1658246182405.png
1658246196038.png


 

TPC

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But I've actually only commissioned one, which was a very specific project from Matt Nolan.

I remember seeing/hearing that one. Which one did you end up with (right or left?). Great cymbals.
 

curly

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I remember seeing/hearing that one. Which one did you end up with (right or left?). Great cymbals.
Left. It's a bit closer to the original cymbal in terms of pitch and since my friend has that cymbal, he thought I should have the closer of the two clones. Both are great.
 

ocgvictoria

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My history of cymbal commissions started with Nicky Moon. I had an old Zildjian CIE (2500g, med to med-heavy ride) that came with a drum set I bought. That cymbal was perhaps a 1/2 step in sound quality above a plastic hub cap. It gonged horribly, the crash defied description it was so bad. Not surprisingly the cymbal had not been played much and the metallurgy of the cymbal was good. I sent it to NM and about five weeks later it came back and had been transformed into an actual musical instrument.

In the meantime I had heard online a few cymbals made by Heather Stine. I really liked the sound of her ride cymbals. A 22” ride (2188g) popped up on Reverb and even though there was no sound file, I took a chance and bought it. I loved the sound and it is my main ride. I wanted something quieter and smaller so I commissioned her to make an 18” ride cymbal. I sent her a link to a 22” cymbal she had made and sold on her YouTube channel a few years back, and told he I was looking for something similar, but in an 18” ride. I wanted nice stick definition, that “Stine” wash and an easy bow/edge crash. She said it would be a project but she said she could do it. Even though she is battling ongoing health issues, I had the 18” back in about four weeks and I was very pleased with it. She is very easy to work with.


Right after the 18” ride cymbal was delivered, a DF member was trying to swap a 21” Heather Stine ride (2097g) that was originally a Leon Collection 1/4-Turk ride cymbal. This cymbal is more of a crash-ride, but unique with three Bosphorus rivets and a slightly beveled edge that gives it the faintest hint of a china when you do shoulder crashes. So I swapped the Nicky Moon modified cymbal (above) for this Heather Stine modified cymbal. It is really fun to play but I am still learning how to play it. It certainly sounds different than the 22” and 18” “full” Heather Stine cymbals I have, perhaps due to the metallurgy?

My next commission from Heather Stine will probably be either a crash/ride or a flat ride.
 
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TPC

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The 24" swish arrived safe and sound yesterday from Bath England.

Admittedly, I'm a Nolan fanboy, but I can say that this cymbal is probably the coolest metal thing I've ever seen.

It sounds like the best old A Swish I've ever heard, but lower in pitch and more lush. Six rivets. Amazing.

Here it is with a few other Nolans (20" 1891 g turk-bottom ride, 22" 2600 g ride, and 19" 1452 g "trash-crash").

Nolan BE2.jpg
 
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I've recently spent a lot of time talking about cymbals with Timothy Roberts (https://www.instagram.com/timothy_roberts_cymbals/)

I'm slowly narrowing down what it is that I'm after cymbal-wise and it's been fascinating chatting with him and reading his post history as he's transparent about his approach and philosophy behind his craft. I think that I would require some degree of this transparency should I purchase a cymbal (which I'll likely do from him) as for me, it's quite important to understand the creator's language and approach so that I can more accurately describe my wants and needs in a way that they are immediately able to understand.

Obviously the other side of this is trusting the cymbalsmith to just make you a masterful instrument, but I'm far too much of a picky opinionated (ie controlling) nerd to put that much faith in someone, even if they've forgetten more about cymbals in the last week than I'll likely learn in my lifetime lol.
 
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toddbishop

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When I visited the Cymbal & Gong foundry in Istanbul in July, they finished up some cymbals I special ordered-- three 20" Janavar series cymbals, with K-type hammering and lathing. Janavar are B20 Giant Beat-inspired cymbals-- light hammering and fine lathing. They asked me how heavy I wanted them (I think I said around 1800?), and then they lathed them:


After they cooled down I got to play them-- I thought they sounded fantastic:


They're a regular professional shop, but they do custom orders all the time.
 

Captured Saint

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My history of cymbal commissions started with Nicky Moon. I had an old Zildjian CIE (2500g, med to med-heavy ride) that came with a drum set I bought. That cymbal was perhaps a 1/2 step in sound quality above a plastic hub cap. It gonged horribly, the crash defied description it was so bad. Not surprisingly the cymbal had not been played much and the metallurgy of the cymbal was good. I sent it to NM and about five weeks later it came back and had been transformed into an actual musical instrument.

In the meantime I had heard online a few cymbals made by Heather Stine. I really liked the sound of her ride cymbals. A 22” ride (2188g) popped up on Reverb and even though there was no sound file, I took a chance and bought it. I loved the sound and it is my main ride. I wanted something quieter and smaller so I commissioned her to make an 18” ride cymbal. I sent her a link to a 22” cymbal she had made and sold on her YouTube channel a few years back, and told he I was looking for something similar, but in an 18” ride. I wanted nice stick definition, that “Stine” wash and an easy bow/edge crash. She said it would be a project but she said she could do it. Even though she is battling ongoing health issues, I had the 18” back in about four weeks and I was very pleased with it. She is very easy to work with.


Right after the 18” ride cymbal was delivered, a DF member was trying to swap a 21” Heather Stine ride (2097g) that was originally a Leon Collection 1/4-Turk ride cymbal. This cymbal is more of a crash-ride, but unique with three Bosphorus rivets and a slightly beveled edge that gives it the faintest hint of a china when you do shoulder crashes. So I swapped the Nicky Moon modified cymbal (above) for this Heather Stine modified cymbal. It is really fun to play but I am still learning how to play it. It certainly sounds different than the 22” and 18” “full” Heather Stine cymbals I have, perhaps due to the metallurgy?

My next commission from Heather Stine will probably be either a crash/ride or a flat ride.
I love the third cymbal, the 21". Sounds dark and lush. Enjoy.
 


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