The art of cymbalmaking

The traditional process

Historically, cymbals were made from individually cast cymbal blanks which were then hot-forged, often with many annealing processes, to form the rough shape of the cymbal.

The finishing stages consisted of cold-hammering to unevenly harden the metal, then turning on a lathe to reduce the thickness, and then often a final cold hammering.

The hot and cold hammering were all performed entirely by a highly skilled hand and was a labour-intensive process. The only machine to touch the cymbal was a hand-held lathe.

This lathing step could decrease the weight of the cymbal by two-thirds or more, and resulted in further uneven hardening which produces much of the tone of a traditionally made cymbal. This effect was deliberately enhanced by use of a coarse lathe tool, and sometimes by a very limited final polishing, leaving the lathe tool marks as "tone grooves". Traditional cymbals are lathed over the entire surface top and bottom.

Modern developments

Each stage of this process has been modified by the use of recent technology.

One of the main effects has been that far closer manufacturing tolerances can be achieved, resulting in more consistent sounding cymbals.

This has also provided the opportunity to omit some of the traditional steps completely, and so unlathed, partly lathed, and even unhammered cymbals have entered the catalogs of major makers, and achieved widespread acceptance.

Many modern cymbals are stamped or, less commonly, hammered from sheet metal.

Many manufacturers claim that their cymbals are "hand hammered", but again these words may not always mean the same thing.

Some hand hammered cymbals are hammered using a hammer held in the cymbalsmith's hand. Others are hammered using a proprietary machine, but are still described as "hand hammered" because the hammering is under the control of an individual craftsman. Many drummers are angered when they realize that their hand hammered cymbals aren't actually hand hammered.

In general, truly hand hammered cymbals tend to have darker, lower, richer tones, and there tends to be far more variation in character between cymbals of supposedly identical models.

Conversely, cymbals hammered by automated machines tend to be brighter, higher in pitch, and more cutting. Most significantly, the variation between supposedly identical cymbals is noticeably reduced, assuming adequate quality control.

The difference in sound is due mostly to the nature of the hammering: hand hammering is done randomly (that is not in a regular pattern) and thus the cymbal has a darker sound-even if this "random" style is dictated and executed by a computer. Symmetrical hammering- which is almost always done by a machine- gives the cymbal a brighter sound. So it is random hammering versus symmetrical hammering that accounts for the major discrepancies between the sounds of various cymbals.

The Making

The finest copper, tin and silver are melted in the traditional melting spot.( pool) 2200 Fahrenheit, 1200 C

The best quality alloy is poured in small round molts, one for each cymbal.

The process of heating the cymbals below their melting point at traditional wooden oven.

Rolling and reheating the casts for multiple times is a must to have the exact size and thickness. Cross-rolled casts transmit the sound waves more quickly around the body.

Different cup types are pressed in to entirely heated casts.

Tempering process is used to make the material harder, in other words the cymbals are brought into a phase where they are malleable.

The difference of one of a kind cymbal is that the shape is given by hammering, the trick of the old world cymbal making most probably is hidden at this step.

The most important step in cymbal making is shaping. Random Hand hammering.techniques gives the cymbal its unique character and shape.

Hand lathing forms the tonal grooves and finalize the cymbal at perfect thickness. Different lathing techniques helps to bring endless possibilities of countless looks and sounds.

Because of the excitement in their molecular structure the cymbals need to rest for a particular time before shipping.