Around this time last year, I stumbled upon some youtube videos by mycymbal.com (an online cymbal retailer). I think at the time I was searching for some new thin hi-hats, something with a bit more crisp and sizzle than my previous pair. What's great about the site is you can browse forever and listen to different versions of the same cymbal (since no two cymbals, even the same make/model, sound the same) and then purchase that exact cymbal from their website. Really smart idea, especially since trying out cymbals in the store is really time consuming and the inventory is usually limited. I fell in love with two cymbals, the Istanbul Agop 24" Signature Joey Waronker Ride and a used pair of Meinl 14" Byzance Jazz Thin Hi Hats. The Joey Waronker was especially interesting because it seemed to have a sense of *color* and *shimmer* without being too clean sounding.
Partly inspired by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof's minimal setup, I've been thinking about selling my current kit and stripping down to a smaller setup with a 20"x14" kick, 13"x7" snare, cheapo GP hi-hats, and a (new?) ride cymbal. I originally wanted to get Emperor cabs to build a custom kit for me, or possibly even Precision Drum with their split/latch bassdrum, but both quoted me over $1000 for the job. So I went to craigslist and stumbled upon an amazing find: a guy named Terry selling a 1964 Slingerland Mahogany-poplar-maple 3ply 20"x14" kick and a 16"x16" tom shells. I had read really good things about these old mahogany kits and the price was right (super cheap!), despite them needing some work.
Terry is a walking encyclopedia of drum knowledge. He can tell you what type of wood each company used in what decade and when they switched their factory line to China and where the wood comes from. He spoke to me for over an hour and a half, first telling me the history of the drums I was buying from him, and then he showed me his basement which was filled to the brim with drumkits from Gretsch, Slingerland, Ludwig and more, all made of various materials and from various decades. Terry obviously had a problem, he was obsessed with collecting drums! In the end he gave me 3 amazing vintage mahogany shells for less than the price he asked for on craigslist (without me even haggling). Awesome, awesome guy. He has some videos on youtube under the username bonzoleum where he demonstrates and teaches how to play Jon Bonham / Led Zeppelin songs.
Since I was already out in the suburbs, I headed over to Steve Maxwell's Vintage and Custom drum shop. I tried out about 20-30 cymbals and ended up selecting a few favorites: A Spizzichino 18" ride, a vintage K Zildjian 18" ride, and an Istanbul Agop Traditional 22" ride. The guy in the store (who turned out to be Steve Maxwell himself) schooled me on how they order cymbals for the store, even getting down to the number of grams the cymbal weighs and how that affects the sound. He told me about Spizzichino which was my favorite, and unfortunately one of the most expensive cymbals they had. The vintage K was the only cymbal more expensive than the Spizzichino. Apparently I have an expensive ear. Dammit...
Spizzichino is one guy - a cymbal maker in Italy hand hammering his cymbals from bronze blanks. He has a really unique perspective on the craft and after watching this video I have only become more obsessed with these cymbals. The only way I can describe the sound is...colorful...complex. I almost wish I had never heard these cymbals, because they are that good. Some say he makes the best cymbals in the world.