Frustration with Paiste Selection

  • Posted on: 8 October 2015
  • By: sheldonkreger

Above: A used Paiste Signature Traditionals 20 inch Light Ride selling for over $500 used on Ebay. PAISTE DISCONTINUED THIS . . . ?

This year, I have been able to expand my cymbal collection. It's a BIG DEAL, considering the prices of cymbals and the fact that cymbals are my FAVORITE instruments.

Being a long time Paiste owner, I of course had to expand my collection. There are no cymbals which sound anything like Paiste cymbals. The Signature collection in particular has a unique tone which stands out, in my opinion, above all other cymbal lines available today.

Too Heavy

When I started shopping around, I noticed that I could not find any of the cymbals I needed. Because I play mostly jazz fusion, I need relatively thin cymbals in order to have the freedom of dynamic expression that the genre requires. Looking to Paiste's flagship jazz line, the Signature Traditionals, I found that nobody had the sizes I need in stock. Digging deeper, I realized that Paiste had discontinued many of their best cymbals from this series - such as the extra thin rides, and the 19 and 20 inch thin crashes. 13 inch hi hats? Nope. 15 inch hi hats? Nope. Chinas? Nope. Effects cymbals? Nope.

Meanwhile. Paiste continues to manufacture the Stewart Copeland signature ride cymbal, which weighs in above 4000 grams. I repeat, a whopping 4000 grams! Fun fact - unless you are playing mic'd up in a stadium or very large recording studio, a cymbal like this is pretty much useless. Most drummers aren't doing that!

4000 grams - most guitarists can't even bench that much!

I began exploring the other cymbal lines to find only a few options. The Signature Dark Energy suffers the same problem - most of the cymbals are simply too heavy. As much as I love the new 602 Modern Essentials, again, I found nothing truly lightweight available.

Laser Tight Used Market

Ultimately, I had to fight for months, tooth and nail, to find used cymbals. Finding used cymbals is VERY hard, even harder with thin cymbals, which are more easily damaged. Factor in the high demand for discontinued cymbals from Paiste's top line, and the fact that lots of people are doing silly things like drilling holes in them, and I must say . . . it has been very hard to get the cymbals I need. I recently watched an extra thin 22 inch Signature Traditionals light ride sell on ebay for nearly $500, used.

Meanwhile, heavy cymbal lines like the 2002, Rude, and Alpha are abundant in the used market. Even the heavy Signature cymbals are selling for pennies on the dollar. Guitar Center lists a 20 inch Signature Dry Heavy Ride cymbal for only $99.

The Paiste Traditional series, in my opinion, is one of the greatest cymal lines ever created. The unique alloy gives them a shimmer which you will not find from any other company. The brilliant finish combined with the extra hammering makes them also look as gorgeous as they sound. The light weight of the cymbals gives them an excellent feel and wide dynamic range. All of these details combined provide for what I believe to be the greatest cymbal tone today - dark and complex, with an icy shimmer and a slightly trashy attack. For a long time, this series was what I dreamed about at night.

Today, Paiste only offers a handful of cymbals in this series - a 22 inch light ride, 14 inch hats, and 16, 18 inch thin crashes.

Speaking with several dealers now, I have learned that many musicians share this frustration with Paiste. It appears they have all but given up on catering to the needs of jazz drummers, despite the fact that the dealers I have spoken with have seen high demand. Not only did I hear this from cymbal dealers, but from my fellow drummers as well. Many people have jumped ship and switched to other brands for this very reason.

While I did decide to fight for the used collection, I did so only because I had no choice.

Switching to Meinl

After finishing my jazz fusion cymbal setup, it was time to move on to my prog rock setup. Did I want Paiste cymbals? YES. Did I get them? NO. They simply don't have anything dark and complex enough for the jazz influenced progressive rock music I listen to.

Meanwhile, we see video after video from Meinl, where heavy prog artists are using lighter and lighter cymbals. The notion that thin cymbals are only for jazz musicians is fading. Playing heavy cymbals just doesn't feel right to a lot of drummers. Companies like Meinl are catering exactly to the needs of people like us - unlike Paiste. Practically every Byzance series offers cymbals in two or three weights, including thin and often extra thin.

A fantastic example of the wide selection of medium and light weight cymbals from Meinl. Credit to Sarcon on the Pearl Drummer Forum.

This is why you see drummers like Matt Garstka and Matt Halpern playing on a combination of light and light-mid weight cymbals. Do these guys play heavy? Hell yes. Do they use light cymbals? Yes. It turns out that using lightweight cymbals in heavy progressive music sounds - and feels - great. Meinl has paid very close attention to the needs of these musicians and has a huge selection of dark, complex, thin, dry, and trashy cymbals.

Halpern is playing the 20 inch Byzance Traditional Thin Extra Hammered crash. These weigh between 1600 and 1700 grams and have been described by top artists as "Thunder Butter".

This morning, I placed my order for an incredible set of Meinl Byzance cymbals. I will write more about it when they arrive. Sorry Paiste, you're going to have to do better if you want to keep customers like me around in years to come.

My Dream Paiste Cymbals

Although none of these are being manufactured, here is what I'd love to see Paiste produce in years ahead.

- Signature Traditionals: Thin crashes (19, 20). Extra thin crashes (17, 18, 19, 20). Extra thin ride (20, 21, 22). Medium hats(13, 15). Light hats (13, 14, 15). Thin china (20, 22).
- 602 Modern Essentials: Same as above.
- Signature Dark Energy: Same as above.
- A new series similar to the Meinl Byzance Extra Dry series.
- Effects cymbals of any kind. The PSTX line is a good start, but they are not on par with the professional series that Paiste usually offers.

I really feel like I'm speaking the obvious, here. But, based on what Paiste has been offering the last few years, I feel like I need to speak out in hopes that things will change.

Paiste sent me a note on Twitter explaining that they believe the Master's series is their replacement for this kind of cymbal. Check them out and be the judge!