2002 Big Beat Cymbals

by Mike Dawson

Thinner, warmer, and more complex sounding than their classic-rock counterparts.


Paiste’s first B8 bronze cymbal line, the lightweight and bright-sounding Giant Beat, was launched in 1967, which was right at the time when British rock was beginning to dominate the airways. Many of the genre’s drummers used those cymbals, including Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. But as the bands became more successful and began playing to bigger crowds in larger venues, the stage volume eventually surpassed the point where the Giant Beats could keep up. Paiste’s answer was to develop a sturdier line, called 2002, which debuted in 1971. The 2002 series has since become a top choice for drummers playing all types of rock, punk, blues, modern country, metal, and more.

To round out its professional-grade B8 bronze offerings, Paiste developed a new subseries, called Big Beat, which provides the soft, buttery feel of the Giant Beats and the precise, powerful tones of the 2002, with additional complexity and warmth created by a semi-matte finish and a new traditional-style hammering pattern. These cymbals are said to be ideal for soft to loud playing—either live or in the studio—in classic rock, indie-rock, blues, country, R&B, and soul. Big Beats are available in limited sizes, which include 15″ and 16″ hi-hats and 18″, 19″, 20″, 21″, 22″, and 24″ crash-rides.

Paiste 2002 Big Beat hi-hats

15″ and 16″ Hi-Hats
I like to use larger hi-hats whenever possible; the wider wash and lower pitch usually sit better in the mix, and I like having the larger surface to strike. The problem with some 15″ and 16″ hi-hats, however, is that they’re often too heavy and clunky, or they sound overly dark, mushy, and undefined. The 15″ and 16″ 2002 Big Beats sit right in that sweet spot where you can get plenty of clarity and articulation from them, but they’re also super-expressive and open up very nicely to provide a luscious wash.

I’ve owned a pair of 15″ Giant Beats for over a decade, and while they’re perfect for whenever I want to elicit that soft-yet-bright hi-hat sound heard in ’60s-era rock, they don’t have enough low end or rich overtones to make them applicable to most other genres. The Big Beats, however, have all the complexity and expressiveness you’d need to dig deep into the nuances for a delicate acoustic jazz gig, while also being able to roar like a lion in more bombastic playing styles. The 16″ hi-hats are equally
as impressive, albeit at an expectedly lower pitch.

Paiste 2002 Big Beat crash

All of the 2002 Big Beat crash-rides provide amazingly smooth, rich tones with a great balance of bright, brilliant attack and warm, deep sustain. The 18″ has a near-perfect clean, fast crash sound, while the 19″ has a touch more complexity.

The 20″ and 21″ Big Beats can serve double-duty as light rides and washy crashes, with the 20″ favoring crash-riding while the 21″ has better articulation and a deeper and more dramatic crash.

The 22″ Big Beat has the most traditional jazz ride sound and a slower, more gong-like crash. The 24″ has the lowest pitch, most controlled wash, and clearest stick articulation, and it produces a big, roaring crash. All of the bells on the Big Beat crash-rides have very musical tones and are well-integrated within the overall cymbal sound, so striking them brings out a nice bed of overtones in addition to the chime of the cup.

The 2002 Big Beat series is a stellar addition to Paiste’s high-end B8 lineup. While they remain true to the clean, precise, clear sound that the 2002 series is known for, the new manufacturing techniques used to create the Big Beats introduce some of the complexity and richness that taste-making drummers covet in vintage cymbals, minus the fragility and muddy overtones.

Alloy: CuSn8 bronze
Sizes: 15″ and 16″ hi-hats, 18″–22″ and 24″ crash-rides
Weight: medium-thin