MadeInZUSA is a compilation of our Zildjian “How Its Made” Series on Instagram which takes you through each step of our cymbal making process.
You can watch what happens to those castings in the fascinating 10-minute video above. “Only 4 factory employees and the owners of the company are allowed inside” the Melting Room, notes the video’s YouTube page, “due to their knowledge of the ‘Zildjian Secret.’”
Watching the Zildjian process adds a layer of historical legend and intrigue, and the allure of seeing raw materials transformed into objects of visual and aural beauty.
The Cymbal Making Process:
Part 1: 0:11 – The process begins with Zildjian castings being created in the Avedis Varteresian Melting Room, where only 4 factory employees and the owners of the company are allowed inside due to their knowledge of the “Zildjian Secret.” Once the castings have cooled down, the castings are weighed, sorted and then brought over to the ovens.
Part 2: 0:32 - The castings are heated in a 1400 degree oven to prepare for rolling.
Part 3: 1:10 – Immediately after coming out of the oven, the casting are rolled flat. This process of heating and rolling is repeated 5-6 times, until the castings are thin and malleable enough for the next steps of the process.
Part 4: 2:14 – Once the castings are thin enough, they are cupped with the proper bell shape and hole.
Part 5: 2:38 – The cymbals are then cut into a perfect circle, based on the desired diameter of the specific model being created. Once a cymbal is cut to the proper size, any extra metal edging that is cut off is then chopped up into smaller pieces and added back to the original melting process.
Part 6: 2:56 – Hammering is the first step in the process that really begins to change the sound of the cymbal. There are various ways to hammer a cymbal. Rotary hammers roll specific hammer designs into the cymbal such as on an A or A Custom cymbal, while impact hammers use a greater force to hammer cymbals such as a K Cluster Crashes or a Crash of Doom. Each unique hammering pattern contributes to the wide range of Zildjian sounds.
Part 7: 3:57 - After Hammering, the cymbals are shaped to the proper taper using specifically designed die presses for each cymbal. The cymbals are bent backwards first before pressing the cymbals into shape in order to make it easier to form the curvature of the cymbal. The machine that presses the cymbal into shape uses 80-90 tons of pressure per cymbal!
Part 8: 4:23 – Lathing a cymbal is the process of taking layers of metal carefully off the cymbal with proper tooling while the cymbal is being spun, to remove the dry oxidized layer of metal and to get the cymbal to a specific weight range. Each cymbal that is lathed has a designated weight spec range allowing for slight variations in the sounds of each cymbal produced. Once lathed, the cymbal’s beautiful natural finish is revealed and the desired sound of the cymbal is achieved. All of the extra shavings that come off of the cymbal during this process are then collected and added back to the original melt.
Part 9: 5:29- At this point of the process the edge of the cymbal is still very sharp from being cut and lathed so the edge needs to be smoothed with proper tooling.
Part 10: 5:58 – Now it is time for the finishing processes. If the cymbal has a brilliant finish such as an A Custom cymbal, it is buffed. If the cymbal does not have a brilliant finish it receives a light polyurethane solution coating to prevent tarnishing during transit from our factory to stores around the world. This coating is super this so it won’t affect the sound of the cymbals.
Part 11: 6:56 – After coating/finishing the cymbals are then stamped with the Zildjian Logo as well as the model/size of the cymbal. The cymbals are also laser engraved with the Zildjian Trademark and a unique serial number.
Part 12: 7:47 – All of our cymbals are tested by ear by one of our official cymbal testers before being shipped out the door! Mr Leon Chiappini has been the Head Cymbal Tester for 57 years and Jeff Westhaver has been an Official Cymbal Tester for 29 years! Since 1962 all cymbals have been tested for sound quality and checked cosmetically for any problems before being officially named a “Zildjian Cymbal.” Leon started selecting cymbals for artists in the 1960s by ear and matching up hi hats and crashes by selecting by weight and pitch, which was how the testing process all began! Cymbals then started to be categorized by specific models based on weight and sound specifications. Today if a cymbal does not meet the standard sound or cosmetic quality once inspected and listened to by one of our cymbal testers, then the cymbal is rejected and melted down again to be recrafted into a new cymbal. All of our cymbal testers have their ears checked each year and they always pass with flying colors due to the fact that they are properly exercising their ears with listening to fluctuating pitches each day.
Part 13: 8:53 After all of the cymbal processes are complete, the cymbals are packaged and shipped all over the world!
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