Istanbul-based Turkish Cymbals recently brought in twenty-year endorsing artist and jazz/rock/pop international road dog Chris Wabich to develop a set of small yet versatile cymbals that will fit in a suitcase or carry-on case to minimize issues when flying with them to gigs. “What’s cool about this set is you can go on the road and you won’t be in danger of being forced to check it by the airlines,” says Wabich. “You can backline whatever other cymbals you need and not worry too much if they’re decent or not, since you’ve got the gig covered with these.” The series, called the Travel Set, comprises a pair of 13″ medium-weight hi-hats, a 17″ medium-thin crash, and a 16″ flat ride with two rivets.

The Specs

The Travel Set doesn’t represent the first time Wabich has worked with Turkish to design cymbals. Several years ago he helped create the Vintage Soul series, which adapted classic manufacturing techniques to give drummers modern-made options with warmer, richer, and jazzier sounds. The 13″ hi-hats and 17″ crash of the Travel Set look similar to those in the Vintage Soul series; they have the same traditional finish, hand hammering, and wide lathing patterns. The 16″ flat ride, however, is unlathed and raw, like the cymbals in the company’s dark, dry Kurak series.

One concern Wabich had when developing the Travel Set was in regards to consistency. “Often handmade cymbals have too much variance,” he says. “The Travel Set, however, can be played confidently—in any performance—right out of the box.”

The Sounds

The 13″ hi-hats are of a medium weight and are pitch-paired at the factory to ensure a balanced, musical sound that will fit any style of music, from classic to contemporary. The foot chick is crisp and strong, and splashes have a nice spray without an abundance of mid-range overtones. The closed stick sound is woody and tight, providing super-clean articulation when played on top with the tip of the stick and a denser and slightly broad “chunk” when struck on the edge with the shoulder. They’re soft and expressive enough to play smooth swing patterns, yet bright and robust enough to cut through in louder amplified situations. Think equal parts Papa Jo Jones and Stewart Copeland.

The 17″ crash is medium-thin and has a soft, flexible feel. The wash is controlled enough so that the bow can be used for light ride patterns, while delicate and aggressive accents elicit a quick, flashy crash with a full-frequency shimmer. The bell is clean and musical as well, and there’s some subtle sibilance in the decay that echoes the complexity of a well-worn vintage cymbal.

The oddball in the series is the 16″ flat ride with two rivets. Wabich describes it as having “the perfect mini Elvin [Jones] in-your-pocket” vibe. Played lightly, the stick attack interacts with the sizzle of the rivets in a very balanced and satisfying way. I found myself wanting to explore broken Jack DeJohnette–style ride patterns when I had this ride on my kit. It can also be crashed and hit aggressively to produce quick bursts of dark color within a controlled dynamic. If most of your performances live in the lower dynamics, you’ll love the soft, gritty vibe of this ride. If you need more power, you’ll likely want to swap out the 16″ flat ride with something more standard, but you’ll be able to roll with the 13″ hi-hats and 17″ crash in any situation.