Cymbalholic - The Lost Chapters

Juju

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Hi guys!
I'm trying to look for the Skiba information regarding Cymbalsmithing that was posted in Cymbalholic.
Sadly, I cant find it anywhere.
If someone has any leads, I'd be thankful if you could share it with me!
Stay healthy, Juju.

Information found:

With the help of JDA, owr and hsosdrum -
I present to you the Mike Skiba guide out of the depths of Cymbalholic:
 

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Prufrock

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I would be interested in this information we well. I know a lot of wisdom was shared by Skiba and others in the early days of independent cymbalsmithing. It seems that a lot of the information that used to be available online has expired. It would be a shame for that history and knowledge to disappear.

BTW, this should probably be moved to Cymbal Talk.
 
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JDA

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I think I found it want I post it?

this portion is over 10,000 words...
 
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JDA

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1/
THE ART OF CYMBALMAKING
by Mike Skiba
SHAPING

This is where it all begins! The design goal of a good cymbal starts to take form here in the shape of the disc. There are sonic characteristics (SC’s from hereon out) that can only be achieved through shape. There is no other way to “cheat” them into being by another method. The shape (or profile) is key to the fundamental voice (or “point”) of the cymbal. There is an intrinsic relationship between shape and many other parameters of sound response. They cannot be achieved without FIRST instilling the correct shape.

Do not confuse shape with hammering…they are not synonymous. Most modern cymbals are shaped by pressing rather than by hammering. This produces an entirely different sonic foundation! Many of today’s cymbals are nicknamed “Hand-Hammered” merely due to the minor secondary hammering they receive AFTER the shape is pressed into them. These cannot be compared to true (i.e. shaped by hammer) hand-hammered cymbals. The sonic differences are quite apparent, especially in thinner models…even more so when the piece is hand crafted by an independent maker who pays close attention to detail from start to finish.
 

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Shaping produces tension…the stretching of the metal caused by the force that forms the shape imparts energy into the bonds of the metallic structure. When this is accomplished in one quick pulse by a hydraulic press, the force is exerted in relatively uniform fashion throughout the disc…it is stamped like a coin. The result is a sonic platform that is clean and pure, with little variation. Conversely, when shape is worked by hand the tension is built in localized sections, one area at a time, and can only occur at the rate of potential of the craftsman swinging the hammer. The tension can be formed in “pockets” of the desired size and depth that may be managed by hammer to encompass the entire body or arranged in any manner to pull tighter (or looser) in certain areas. Many SC’s can be created in this fashion as the hammering “artist” draws upon his “canvas”. There is undoubtedly much more complexity available by employing hand-hammering for shape. The number of possible SC permutations available to the hand hammerer is infinite, while the machine press has little to offer beyond the pre-destined profile of its upper and lower set of mating dies.

This is not to say that hand hammering is the only way to go…there is another school of thought that holds in high regard the benefits of secondary hammering using clean (machine pressed) blanks. This offers the production-minded a clear advantage over the hand-crafted guy who is clearly challenged to duplicate his work. It is also in our best interest to develop a good working knowledge of machine made cymbals if we intend to do any modifications to our own.

 

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For this purpose, I recommend a close inspection of a machine-pressed (shaped) raw blank that is not hammered at all. The best example I can think of is the Sabian AA Raw Ride. You’ll learn a lot by spending some time with one of these, available in 20” and 22” sizes. These are perfect examples of modern machine-made pieces of cast B20 that were rolled repeatedly from ingots, then cupped, annealed, and circle-sheared before being pressed by hydraulics into shape. Some of these have a very pure voice while others are a bit more complex. This also demonstrates the variables we covered in earlier sections…these cymbals have not been hammered or lathed, yet have adopted a wide range of behavior from their earliest experiences in formation. This is still my favorite model to modify for obvious reasons. They have a very high profile that holds a good amount of tension from pressing. The result is a relatively high pitch response. This follows a general rule of thumb concerning profile versus pitch…The HIGHER the PROFILE, the HIGHER the PITCH, everything else being equal. The reason for this is tension…stretching the profile higher makes the tension in the metal tighter, thus causing the pitch to go up as well. It’s much like tuning a drum, tighter tension equals higher pitch.

I will not attempt to describe here the many variables involved in pressing shape by hydraulic machines. I’m sure you can imagine the infinite possibilities in profile (from flat to flanged) that can be achieved simply by employing a unique set of specially shaped dies. I know for certain that some makers in Turkey are using presses for shaping some of their newer lines of Rock cymbals, at least to get enough profile into them so as to save most of the laborious hand hammering, as well as to promote the cleaner sonic attributes that are essential to loud, cutting instruments.

I will attempt to describe the process of shaping by hammering, but first we need to understand a few fundamental principles of tension…
 

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In cymbals, tension is energy (from the hammer or press) that is stored in the metal as deformation. The metal has “memory” that resists being deformed and wants to remain in its original shape. A permanent change of shape requires a very large amount of energy, enough to overcome this memory and force the new shape into being.

The ideal musical instrument has at its core a shape that is tight and uniform throughout. We must understand the shape and tension as being separate but united as they combine to produce a good cymbal. It is just as possible to produce a poor cymbal…one that has correct shape but very little tension.

We refer to these as “Wobblers” for obvious reason, and some players prize them for their forgiving feel at the end of a drumstick. The lack of tension produces a reduction of sustain that results in a quieter cymbal best suited for intimate studio and/or acoustic work. At the opposite extreme would be a very tight cymbal that responds instantly with pinpoint definition and greater volume and projection. This “Stage” model would provide a harder feel to the player’s hand and might produce so much sustain to require tape to keep it under control.

From these examples we can see that shape relates to tension in a way that provides a design tool for the cymbal maker to use at his discretion. He can emphasize the aspect he needs to accomplish his goal, all the way down to how the cymbal feels to his sticks. I use this principle in a few ways but generally adhere to a systematic approach. When I start from a raw blank I will alternate top and bottom tension to “tease” the metal into shape, leaving the final tension adjustment for the later tuning stage. When I modify an existing finished cymbal I can make changes to the original tension as a means of controlling spread and/or enhancing definition. Raw blanks offer much more freedom and react more directly to changes in shape and/or tension than do modification cymbals because they are exempt from the limitations imposed by previous work processes. Hammering for modification will be discussed separately in another Article.
 

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I always strive to hammer a consistent and symmetrical shape with equal tension, at least at the start. This gives me the greatest potential for future adjustments. I must respect the metal at the same time that I’m beating it into submission…it is incredibly strong and tough, but I can easily destroy the project with a single misplaced blow of my hammer. Cast B20 alloy can only be worked so much at a time…the more it is worked, the more brittle it becomes. When I plan to make a very high profile, I will invariably concede to letting the piece sit a day or more as I work the shape in stages. The metal is not the only thing that appreciates rest…my arm also welcomes the chance to put away the hammer for a while.

The metal has an innate ability to heal itself from the pounding as long as I don’t ask too much at once. It will regain most of its plasticity in a few days, at which time I can continue to coax it into my desired shape. Each session generally lasts one or two hours at most, followed by at least two days rest. A perfectly shaped high profile 22” Ride takes about four hours of honest labor, over a week’s time span.

The main goal here is to develop a balance between the top and bottom surface memories…the metal wants to return to its original shape as it rests and will therefore get a little tighter over time. The trick is to learn how much is “too much” by studying the after effects of the intensity of hammering as the metal settles. Experience is the best teacher here and I admit to ruining quite a few cymbals in the quest to find the limits…it’s the “cost of tuition” in any craft worth doing well.

Generally speaking, top surface tension is created by hammering the top of the cymbal more than the bottom, and usually as the final step of shape hammering. This enables the craftsman to draw as much tension as desired by “pulling” against the bottom. When I do raw blanks to form a higher profile, I will “flip” the piece inside-out a few times in the process to allow easier hammering and to promote stretching of the metal. The top is hammered with the cymbal flipped…I will flip it back (to normal) to get underneath the bottom and again flip it to draw more tension into the top. As a final shaping step, I flip it back to normal and lightly dress any loose spots to get the edges straight and the tension as uniform as I want.
 

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I usually like to leave the edge a little looser than the main body to promote a quicker Crash response that doesn’t require a lot of “windup” for the stroke. This is a personal preference that just suits my lazy hand style of glancing. I also find this softer edge to produce smoother trash response than other cymbals that have greater rigidity to the very edge. I can make a cymbal either way…this is a good example of the benefit of creative choice using design variables in a positive manner.

The main body should be nice and tight to promote the CLICK of good stick attack. The main playing area should be built for definition and articulation and therefore, it depends heavily on proper tension throughout. This tension will be coupled to the bell through the “Bridge” between the bow and the bell…an area that is critical to making a complete “connection” of the various components of the overall voice of the instrument. The greater part of the curvature of the shape is found in the main playing area, where the metal is stretched to the greatest degree from the bottom and tightened from the top. To achieve this profile, I hammer from the inner circle to the outer edge in a radial fashion, like spokes on a wheel. I repeat this process by filling in the gaps between spokes by adding more spokes until I’ve begun stretching the metal upward in a uniform fashion. I will continue this process until I can feel the metal becoming looser rather than tighter…this means I cannot go any further in this direction. At this point, I flip the cymbal inside-out and continue hammering in a spoke fashion from the other side to stretch the metal even more. I find myself retracing my original hammer marks, but from the opposite side of the piece this time.

Each time I flip the cymbal and continue hammering, I will intentionally begin from a point that is further from the bell than the last pass from that side. I do this to prevent overhammering the critical upper bow zone…I want to preserve this area for final tuning and need to leave some room for future adjustments. This is a small area that serves a major function…it deserves plenty of respect. We’ve all seen too many handmade cymbals from Turkey that have negative issues in this area…I don’t want to make more of them myself. The style I use to get my shape puts a lot of emphasis on the stick playing area to create maximum tension for a strong CLICK. I also try to pay attention to other areas to gain maximum benefit for the SC’s that are to follow. I don’t want to reduce and/or eliminate the potential for any useful response characteristics I may wish to add later. Right now I’m just trying to make a shaped blank from which I can create a musical cymbal. If I hammer too much…too deeply, or too intensively at one time, I risk this potential and may find the piece to be suited for only a single particular type of response, a “one trick pony” kind of cymbal that won’t find much use.
 

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An example of this would be to use a large, broad hammer to attempt to speed up the process of shaping. Each blow from this sledgehammer would certainly aid in making quick work of forcing the metal into shape, but the result would be too much trash in the response of the finished piece. This kind of overworking cannot be undone. The excessive trash would overshadow the tonality of the sustain (wash) and the cymbal would sound distorted and “washed out” at nearly any dynamic level. There is a fine line here that must be respected and crossed only when the design goal calls for it. The finer “old K’s” were made by careful adherence to this principle…the lesser quality pieces of that era stand as reminders of the other side of that fine line. I like to bring the cymbal into shape by using the lightest method possible to avoid any restrictions in the future, thus allowing me to add various characteristics (such as more trash) as I create the finished piece. I also like to make cymbals that have a multitude of different “sweet spots” to provide the player with choices and variety. This is best accomplished by starting out with a shaped blank that is not frought with limitations from overworking.

As you can see, the best cymbals are made through PLANNING. There is little that can be successfully accomplished here by just wacking away at a piece of metal with a hammer. I learned long ago that there is no substitute for time spent on design. There is an order to everything in this craft, especially in the primary learning stages. With this in mind, I put together the following system of diagrams to help demonstrate the basic principles I’ve described so far.

 

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By using an alpha-numerical system to demonstrate the basic hammering pattern for Shape, I hope to give a clear example of the radial spokes that I discussed earlier. Beginning with lettered lines of hammer strokes that start up by the bell and progress out toward the edge, the metal will gain tension in the manner described in the text. These alphabetical lines will leave gaps as they extend to the outer diameter and will be filled in with more radial lines of (numbered) hammer strokes. This procedure will be repeated from the top and the bottom of the piece to stretch and tighten the metal into the desired profile. The best example I can possibly provide would only come from an actual cymbal, so I decided to dig out the blank from the Methods and Procedures section and make a cymbal from it. This will begin in next month’s Article on Hammering…

TIME OUT FOR TOOLS



My hammer of choice for shaping is a standard 24-ounce ball peen hammer with a hickory handle, with the larger (originally flat) side of the head ground to a ball. Other than the shape, this is purely a personal choice…I prefer this heftier weight and minimal leverage on the upstroke for the tedious shaping sessions. The rounded shape is absolutely necessary for effectively shaping the metal by drawing it upward against the direction of the stroke. I find it easiest to shape my hammers on a belt sander, by turning the hammer around in circles against the abrasive belt. There’s not a whole lot of metal to remove and I can easily control the pressure to achieve the smoothest results this way. I will lock the hammerhead in a bench mounted vise to finish the surface with a fine file and polish it smooth…any grain marks that remain from grinding will be transferred to my cymbals when I work with the hammer. I will sometimes use a smaller 16-ounce version of the same hammer for smaller or thinner cymbals, where less impact force is required. Other hammers (for other purposes) will be discussed in a separate future Article.

 

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My anvil is simply a “steak” of tool steel that has been ground to accommodate various curved shapes found along the top and bottom of cymbals. I may periodically regrind a section of its edge as I deem necessary for a particular project, but I’m generally happy with the current contours and have learned to work within their available range. The overall diameter of this piece of steel is 6 inches and it is 2-1/2 inches thick. I also use another smaller anvil that measures 4 inches diameter and 1-3/4 inches thick. These began as cut pieces of steel rod purchased from www.mcmastercarr.com. They cost from $40.00 up to about $75.00 each, depending on size, shipping charges and destinations. Keep in mind these are HEAVY chunks of dense metal…shipping is not cheap. The greatest investment in anvils is actually the time and labor for grinding the various contours…I allowed myself at least a full day to work the steel down to a useful shape. As with hammers, I was sure to remove all grain marks from the ground surfaces to avoid imprinting in my cymbals when hammering. I started with a coarse abrasive disc (36-grit) as a roughing tool and subsequently progressed to finer (80 to 100-grit) discs when I achieved the desired contour. I finished the surface with a smoother (150-grit or finer) grade and polished it by hand with a Scotch Brite pad.

My steel anvil sits atop a wooden platform that I constructed from landscape lumber (4x4’s) to be stronger and more stable than the old piece of a tree that I used to have. The notion of an old wooden log is indeed nostalgic and romantic, but not very practical in the long run. Unless you procure a properly aged and dried piece of an old-growth oak tree (and manage to seal and preserve it correctly) you will undoubtedly manage to beat it apart over time…once it splits, its’ days are numbered.

There’s been a lot of chat about different methods of making these tools…some have found fairly creative substitutes that may serve well even in the long haul, but I caution you to be aware that the quality of your work will reflect the quality of your tools. We’ve all heard the adage that “a poor craftsman blames his tools”…well, this works just as well for the GOOD craftsman. His tools are just as accountable.
 

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The contours I prefer for my anvil and hammers are not necessarily the same as others might choose…the best determination is to be made by the type and style of work of the individual craftsman. I occasionally alter my tools just a little to keep in line with slight adjustments I make as I learn more. The trick is to understand myself…to be able to know when I am making changes in the way I hammer, how I grip the tool, etc. A good drummer has an acute awareness of himself on the instrument…it’s the same in the shop. The seat at my hammering station is a drum throne with double-braced legs, set to the proper height at my anvil (on its stand) to allow me to “play” my hammer with ultimate comfort. As with my drum kit, my shop setup will evolve over time.

Mike Skiba

Copyright © 2006 Mike Skiba

ANYONE CHOOSING TO ENGAGE IN ANY CYMBALMAKING ACTIVITY DOES SO AT HIS/HER OWN RISK.

MIKE SKIBA AND/OR CYMBALHOLIC.COM™ ASSUMES NO LIABILITY FOR ANY PERSONAL AND/OR PROPERTY DAMAGE OR LOSS INCURRED BY ANYONE ATTEMPTING TO USE THIS INFORMATION.

The contents of this webpage are copyright © 2001-2006 Chad Anderson. All Rights Reserved.
Web Design & Development by Patrice and Chad Anderson of Redmagnet, Inc.

http://www.cymbalholic.com/articles/...fC-shaping.php
 
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JDA

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that above was found in the 9th Post here->

 
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Juju

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That. Was the 9th Post here:


Was that the right Skiba Article? Like, this post if So. Thanks
NO use adding Any more words to the thread

that was already over 10,000!!! and
I don't want to get pitched.
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time and answering -
this specific article was the only one I found after searching the web, hence the reason I opened this thread.
Other then that I heard there was a huge chunk of other information and maybe other articles by him and other Master Cymbalsmiths.
If I'm wrong or if I misunderstood something, please let me know.
Does anyone here was a member of Cymbalholic and can testify about the content of this holy grail?
And thank you again JDA.


premierplayer - that's insane BTW, but I can't see anything inside the forum because it asks me to login.
but this is the farthest I have ever gotten to know what is inside that forum, so I thank you as well!


TPC - Oh man, please do chime in!
 
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JDA

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There was a very esoteric one I recall about deserts and sand... I seem to recall..maybe its in the above Owr just uncovered.
 
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