The Paiste
Cymbal Production


Traditional Hand Manufacture

The Art of Cymbal Making

There is much conflicting and nebulous information circulating about how cymbals are made. Cymbal companies have different ways of doing things, and naturally they all maintain that their way is the best, while their competitors’ ways are not so good. Since they all have great marketing departments that excel at semantics, everyone usually comes out smelling like a rose. We will limit our statement in this regard to the fact that we do things our way because it works for us and we get superior results. Besides, explaining our methods in too much detail would reveal our secrets, and we would rather not substitute such revelations with misleading and trivial simplifications. Still, our methods are interesting and our story worth telling. Our manufacturing philosophy is simple: we know that a human being has the intuition and ability to create superior musical instruments. To mimic this ability with a machine would require a highly sophisticated robotic device controlled by advanced artificial intelligence. This is a very interesting concept but unfortunately still within the realm of science fiction. So we do things the tried and true way. We make cymbals by hand. And since the results are magnificent we see no reason to change. In our professional series, we craft cymbals by hand exclusively. We will use mechanical devices sparingly and only as aids to hand manufacture, but never at the expense of sound and quality. Such devices help remove strenuous labor from our artisans, and allow them to concentrate their talents and energy on creating instruments of the highest sound quality and consistency. In the creation of our mid-range cymbals we will introduce automation. Our value class cymbals are entirely machine made, because this helps us lower the cost of such cymbals. The true art of cymbal making is to select the right methods to achieve the desired goal, whether it is ultimate professional sound quality or whether we strive to achieve the best price/value relationship.
  The Master Cymbal
The master cymbals created by Sound Development form the basis for production and are kept as references in the different production departments. Each department’s goal is to contribute to producing faithful copies of these reference cymbals. This is the principle that ensures the ultimate in consistency and quality.

The Firing Department
The firing department prepares the round disks for later stages of production. A visual inspection ensures uniformity and sorts out flawed disks. The center of the cymbal is then heated to soften the metal, so that a bell can be pressed into it. A hole is then punched through the center of the bell. Some cymbals are sent through a high temperature oven in order to anneal them.

The Hammering Department
The hammering department gives the cymbal its shape. To conserve human energy, we utilize a pneumatic hammer. This tool aids the craftsman in the initial shaping of the cymbal. With his feet the craftsman controls the velocity and force, and with his hand the spacing and pattern of the hammering. The process is comparable to mastering four-way independence in drumming. Extensive and careful hand hammering using only hammer and anvil accomplishes the fine-tuning of the shape. An important aspect of this process is the truing, ensuring uniformity in shape throughout the cymbal.

The Lathing Department
The lathing department reduces the thickness of the cymbal to the correct parameters which usually also involves a thinning of the surface towards the edge of the cymbal. Our tolerances are minute, and measuring by micrometer is necessary to achieve them.

The Finishing Department
The finishing touches are then applied by smoothing the cymbal's edges, silk-screening brand marks and model designations on the instrument and then coating it with a special protective solution to prevent oxidization.

The Quality Control
Quality control procedures are implemented frequently throughout the production process. This involves checking the production cymbals repeatedly against the reference cymbals to ensure that the precise parameters are executed to perfection. The final - and arguably most important - step in production is to hand test each and every finished cymbal against the master cymbals produced by Sound Development. If a cymbal does not conform to our exacting standards, it is destroyed. Only instruments of perfect quality and consistent sound character are allowed to leave our workshop.

The Paiste Philosophy
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