While current trends continue to lean toward bigger, darker, and trashier sounds, some drummers are looking for smaller, easy-to-carry cymbals that offer crisp, clean, and controlled tones for use in tighter, quieter clubs or in denser electronica-inspired music. Zildjian recently released two models to service the latter: an 18″ Uptown ride ($259.95) and a pair of 12″ New Beat hi-hats ($289.95). Both are within the company’s legendary A series.
18“ Uptown Ride
The 18″ A Uptown ride, which is essentially a reworked version of the discontinued Breakbeat model, is a thin-rolled B20 cymbal that’s unlathed on top and bottom and has a raw, natural finish. It’s heavily hammered with golf ball–sized indentations deeply embedded across the entire bow. This cymbal is designed to deliver a super-tight stick sound with a medium pitch and very short decay. It also provides clean, controlled crashes that have a puffy attack and breathy sustain. The small bell has a clear and bright tone that’s not overly loud. Players who dig the really dry, articulate ride sounds of modern jazz greats Jack DeJohnette and Joe Chambers will appreciate how far you can push this little ride without it roaring out of control. I can see this cymbal being a perfect choice for other dense and syncopated playing styles as well, including modern fusion, Latin jazz, hip-hop, and various forms of electronica.
12“ New Beat Hi-Hats
I have a soft spot for small hi-hats, which harkens back to a period in the mid-’90s when Dennis Chambers’ Serious Moves instructional video was on constant repeat in my house. Dennis used a set of Zildjian 12″ Special Recording hi-hats in that video, and they were a perfect match for his lightning-fast rolls and multilayered grooves. The Special Recording hi-hats feature a medium-weight top and a medium-heavy bottom, which accounts for their wispy, controlled sound. To offer a more robust sound, Zildjian is now applying its tried-and-true New Beat formula (medium top over extra-heavy bottom) to 12″ hi-hats.
New Beats are some of the most revered and versatile hi-hats in the world because of their clean, articulate stick sound, warm yet bright wash, and strong foot chick. These traditionally finished cymbals are symmetrically hammered by machine and have wide lathing grooves. Being just 12″, they have a high pitch and super-fast, flashy bark. The stick attack is crystalline and quick, which helps articulate quick rolls with ultimate clarity. The partially open sound might be too chime-like for extended riding, but it has plenty of cutting power when needed. The foot response is also super fast and crisp. I found myself exploring a variety of open/closed patterns that never would have been possible on a set of papery 14s or 15s. Like the Uptown ride, the 12″ New Beat hi-hats are an excellent choice for players who require ultimate articulation without sacrificing the clean, pure, and expressive tone that has made the Zildjian A series the go-to for so many different types of drummers throughout the years.
If you’re interested in getting both the 18″ Uptown ride and the 12″ New Beat hi-hats, then you might want to check out Zildjian’s City Pack box set ($534.95), which also includes a 14″ Fast crash.