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I must admit, I have been excited about writing this post all day. Not only am I a drummer*, but I also think that Zildjian has a fascinating history. At fifteen generations, it is the oldest family-owned business in America. It all began nearly four hundred years ago…

Avedis was an alchemist living Constantinople in the 17th century. Like all alchemists worth their salt, he was working on a formula for turning base metals into gold. By combining copper, tin, and traces of silver, Avedis created an alloy with unique sound qualities. In 1618, he used this alloy to create cymbals of such quality that he was eventually invited to the court of the Sultan. It was here that Avedis was given the name Avedis Zildjian (meaning cymbal smith) and asked to create cymbals for the Janissary Bands.

The details of making the cymbals remained a family secret for many generations. As time went on, Zildjian’s reputation grew. European composers began using them in the 19th century and Richard Wagner reportedly requested that only Zildjian cymbals be used in his operas.

In 1929, Avedis III moved the company to Massachusetts, where it remains today. When his son Armand returned from the war in 1945, he begins experimenting with new sounds. With the post war economy and the growing popularity of modern jazz, sales of cymbals exploded.

For the last 60 years, Zildjian has remained on a very short and competitive list of cymbal brands. Every drummer has his preference. My favorite was always Zildjian. As was that of Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Tutt, Mick Fleetwood, Ginger Baker, Phil Collins, Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich, and Dave Grohl, just to name a few rogues from a very large gallery.

Today, the Zildjian company has reached iconic status in the drumming community. They now sell hundreds of varieties of cymbals, as well as sticks and other drumming gear. In his own way, Avedis Zildjian did turn base metals into gold.

Zildjian Cymbals

*perhaps you have heard of a little band called the Demon Seed Lovers…? No? Never mind.