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Mel Lewis' Old A Zildjian

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RickP

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Mel in action with the Terry Gibbs Dream Band grooving with the
Old A Zildjian
 

RyanR

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Some dogs can be best in show!

I've got an Istanbul Mehmet 19" Legend ride that should be a dog. Ironically, the "Mehmet Legend (ML)" line is Mehmet's name for what was the pre-split "Mel Lewis" line after Mel's family gave Agop the rights. Anyhoo.... this cymbal is kinda "meh" by itself..... but a few light brass rivets in some of the many holes the previous owner rather carelessly (with a power drill, and the bit skipped all over the underside ) put into the cymbal, it's an unbelievably wonderful cymbal. Lotsa sounds from one cymbal. Strangely dark, with a bright stick.

-Ryan
 

Scott K Fish

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This is the youtube vidoe of Danny Gottlieb playing this cymbal - There are vidoes of Mel playing it
and it sounds really nice.
Mel mentioned that cymbal when I interviewed him around 1976 for his first MD feature interview. He told me he wanted to will it to the Zildjian Company as a museum piece of sorts.
 

Morello Man

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Re: Gottlieb taking Mel Lewis' cymbals to get them copied, in the February 2012 issue of Drum!, Gottlieb wrote, "In 1995, I worked out a deal for Istanbul to market a Mel Lewis series that would be modeled after Mel's Vanguard cymbals, and would give the Lewis family a royalty. John Riley packed the cymbals and sent them to Turkey, and I got them back at a NAMM show, and brought them back to New York...Mel used copper rivets."
 

zenstat

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Some pictures of the cymbal to liven up an ancient resurrect.

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The trademark is a Trans Stamp Type IV. The bell looks a little smaller than the Medium Cup to me. That would make it the Medium Small Cup which is starting to appear on more 1950s and early 1960s cymbals now that we have recognized it. I'm looking to retrieve more info on this. It comes from Cymbalholic back in 2018, but as the site is now offline I can't remember if I had the weight at the time. I'll keep looking in my notes. Also somebody was trying to make a clone of it by doing those cutouts on a more modern A Zildjan cymbal. I can't remember who. @egw was it you or do you or any other Cymbalholics remember?
 
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toddbishop

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A friend of mine studied with Danny Gottlieb, and he said something like "I played it and it sounded like s*t, Danny played it and it sounded like s*t-- it's the player."

It does sound great when Mel played it.
 

Seb77

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Does anybody know how much it weighs?
I remember seeing a video of Danny Gottlieb with a newish cymbal with similar cuts. Just maybe, they made a clone at Z? Then the should have the weight. Maybe Paul Francis knows?

Edit: just found a new-to-me video!
 
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zenstat

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I remember seeing a video of Danny Gottlieb with a newish cymbal with similar cuts. Just maybe, they made a clone at Z? Then the should have the weight. Maybe Paul Francis knows?

Edit: just found a new-to-me video!

Great find Seb. Looks like 2 x clones made from doing cutouts on K Constantinople cymbals. (see amendment below) The two rivets are there to be heard and seen on the closer one. The photos I posted earlier don't show rivet holes and/or rivets in place very well. There are a few models the 20" K Cons could be, but I can't really narrow it down. Based on my weight data that puts the likely weight as somewhere between 1800g and 2000g for the clones, which covers a bit of territory. So yes, best to follow up with Paul Francis and see what he remembers. I don't tend to remember that level of detail which is why I have to write everything down. Brain like a sieve. :blink:

And my eyes weren't working well either. Thanks to others I went back and they clones are based on A Zildjan & Cie Vintage. :blink:
 
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zenstat

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@zenstat
Yeah - I think it was @egw who did a bunch of research on the cymbal and did the Mel cutouts on an old A. I think he started with around 2000 g and ended up at 1900 +/-. Can't find the thread. Was that CH?

Yes on CH. I have the links, but of course they don't go anywhere. :-( I'm pretty sure it was @egw as well, and the cymbal might have been one of those suspended or symphonic models. I saved lots of stuff from CH, but not quite enough.
 

egw

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Some pictures of the cymbal to liven up an ancient resurrect.

View attachment 594002

View attachment 594003


View attachment 594004

The trademark is a Trans Stamp Type IV. The bell looks a little smaller than the Medium Cup to me. That would make it the Medium Small Cup which is starting to appear on more 1950s and early 1960s cymbals now that we have recognized it. I'm looking to retrieve more info on this. It comes from Cymbalholic back in 2018, but as the site is now offline I can't remember if I had the weight at the time. I'll keep looking in my notes. Also somebody was trying to make a clone of it by doing those cutouts on a more modern A Zildjan cymbal. I can't remember who. @egw was it you or do you or any other Cymbalholics remember?
Yes, Steve. That was in fact me. Thanks for remembering.
 

egw

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@zenstat
Yeah - I think it was @egw who did a bunch of research on the cymbal and did the Mel cutouts on an old A. I think he started with around 2000 g and ended up at 1900 +/-. Can't find the thread. Was that CH?
TPC, yes it was I on cymbalholic who was doing that project. As Steve suggested, it started as a Symphonic French cymbal that already had a few edge cracks. I don't remember the before and after weights off the top of my head, but I recall being surprised that those big chunks coming off only took 60 or so grams off the total weight.

Concerning Mel's original, I had an email somewhere from either Riley or Gottlieb with the weight, but I haven't been able to find it all these years.

I wonder if Steve Maxwell would have that info? He had it in his shop for a while before it went to Charlie Watts.
 

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egw

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Great find Seb. Looks like 2 x clones made from doing cutouts on K Constantinople cymbals.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but those (or at least the one on the far right) look like the short-lived A&Cie series, not K Con.
 

zenstat

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but those (or at least the one on the far right) look like the short-lived A&Cie series, not K Con.

I'll have to go and check again. Yes A Zildjian & Cie Vintage. Time for new reading glasses. :)

I've got one of those A&Cie Vintage 20" rides so you would think I would recognize the ink and hammering. If the clones were based on A&Cie Vintage then the likely weight range is 1790g to 1949g with the median weight at 1888g. The production years were 2000 - 2007, plus that extra reprise year in 2010. Mine is the svelte 1790g and is from the reprise year 2010.

Using an A&Cie Vintage makes sense because the ride is based on a cymbal from the swing era. I was thinking early Trans (1949ish) but after recent discussion in another thread it seems Pre Trans (early 40s?) may be more likely. Not that we really need to know. I'm content to know that they sound nice to my ears.

 
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egw

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I was thinking early Trans (1949ish) but after recent discussion in another thread it seems Pre Trans (early 40s?) may be more likely. Not that we really need to know. I'm content to know that they sound nice to my ears.
He can be seen in photos and heard on recordings playing that cymbal in the modified state as early as the mid 50's, so it seems likely that it was a 40's cymbal. Otherwise, it would have had to develop those initial cracks rather quickly.
 

paulwells73

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Come on, guys - two pages of geekery and nobody has posted a link to a recording of Mel actually playing the cymbal?!? All we get is that terrible sounding video of Danny playing it in a small room at the Zildjian factory. Zildjian should be embarrassed for making such poor videos demoing legendary instruments. I’ve made better cymbal demos with a $80 Zoom mic. The video of Kenny Washington comparing a Bounce Ride to his Old K is equally terrible sounding. (No offense to Danny or Kenny - both amazing drummers, but the recording quality is abominable.)

Here’s a start - Art Pepper Plus 11 (the cymbal first appears at the 42 second mark)

 


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