One hundred percent handcrafted instruments for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

NickyMoon is a New Jersey-based one-man custom shop owned and operated by traditionally trained cymbalsmith Nicholas Margarite. In the “about” section at nickymoon.com, Margarite explains why he decided to take on the difficult task of hand hammering and lathing cymbals himself. “I started making cymbals because I could never find the sounds I heard in my head anywhere in the stores. Even with the vast amount of choices on the market, there’s a particularly human element missing. I decided to change that and create my own unique instruments.”

Nick learned the basics of cymbal hammering from California-based artist Heather Stine, then traveled to Brazil to study classic Turkish methods with master craftsman Francisco Domene. NickyMoon’s catalog includes a range of uniquely designed b8, b20, and stainless-steel splashes, crashes, hi-hats, Chinas, and rides.

What He Does
Margarite imports raw bell bronze and phosphor-bronze cymbal blanks, with preshaped bells, from Turkish foundries. He then hammers them into shape, lathes them to the desired profile and thickness, and applies a finishing patina, polish, or protective coating. (Stainless-steel cymbals are hammered entirely from a flat sheet of metal.) Margarite also offers repairs and modifications to existing cymbals, whether that involves fixing cracks, additional hammering, lathing, custom patina finishing, or venting.

Relic ChinaNickyMoon China

Immaculate crash-ride

NickyMoon Ride

 

Our Sample Set
The sampling of cymbals we received for review provided an overview of the more traditional sounds NickyMoon currently offers. The set included 14″ B20 Modern Angel hi-hats ($349), a 12″ B20 Half Naked splash ($150), an 18″ Half Naked crash ($315), a 20″ B20 Relic China with an inverted bell ($339), a 20″ B20 Limited Edition ride ($339), and a 20″ B8 Immaculate crash-ride ($315). Because they’re each handcrafted from start to finish, there’s no way for Nick to duplicate these models exactly, but the basic design, weight, lathing, and finish can be closely matched to provide a similar look, sound, and feel.

The 14″ Modern Angel hi-hats comprise a heavily hammered 963-gram top cymbal with wide lathing bands across the bow. The bottom cymbal weighs 1,095 grams and features more pinpoint hammering and tight lathing from the base of the bell to the outer 1″ of the edge. Despite their boutique aesthetics, these hi-hats were envisioned to provide a great all-purpose sound, complete with a tight foot chick, a warm and articulate stick tone, and an open, rich wash. They had a bit of the breathiness you get from thin, vintage cymbals while retaining the power and crispness of modern models. Jazz, funk, rock, pop, electronica…they can do it all.

Half Naked crash

NickyMoon half naked crash

 

The 12″ Half Naked splash and 18″ Half Naked crash both feature a raw bell and inner bow and a tightly lathed outer section. The splash weighs 489 grams and produced a quick, bright, and flashy attack and a short, dark decay. It’s not a glassy splash sound; it has a dark, complex tone designed to blend into a mix rather than sparkle atop it. The 18″ crash has a raw bottom and weighs 1,438 grams. This is an explosive and dark-sounding crash that provides a lot of complexity on impact but gets out of the way quickly. There’s a touch of trashiness in the tone, but not so much as to limit its versatility and musicality. You can also ride on this cymbal when playing in lighter situations. You know that super-comfortable sound and feel of a crash that’s been broken in over years of use? Yeah, this one has that…right out of the box.

The 20″ Relic China is a specialty of Margarite’s and features an inverted bell that points in the same direction as the flanged edge. This allows for a more natural position on the cymbal stand, and it makes it easier to strike the bell for different tones. Jokingly referred to by Margarite as “the neighbor hater,” this large China is actually surprisingly rich and musical. It has a dark, complex tone and clean articulation, which makes it a good choice as an alternative ride voice for lighter playing. But when you really smack it…look out! The decay is quick but not choked, and the attack is clean and powerful.

Modern Angel hi-hatsNickyMoon hi-hats

 

The 20″ Limited Edition B20 ride weighs 2,313 grams, is hammered and widely lathed, and has a beautiful striped patina finish on the inner half of the bow. It has the dark, complex tone and woody attack of an old-school-style jazz ride but with more high-end shimmer and a tighter decay. The bell has a nicely integrated tone, and the crash sound is explosive yet controlled.

Limited Edition ride

NickyMoon Limited Edition

On the opposite side of the tonal spectrum, the 20″ Immaculate crash-ride is handcrafted from B8 bronze and has a much brighter, glassier tone. It weighs 1,913 grams and has sparse pinpoint hammering and tight lathing. The center half of the bow features a copper-colored patina, while the outer edge is traditionally finished. This is a very smooth, crystalline ride with clean, clear attack and shimmery sustain. If you want a bright yet tonally rich ride that skates atop the mix with minimal murky overtones, like the sounds often used by jazz greats Al Foster and Paul Motian, this is it. It also doubles as a big, powerful crash.

If you’re interested in learning more about these cymbals as well as some of the other creations NickyMoon has hammered out, visit nickymoon.com.