Over the past few decades, the cymbal-making process has become mostly automated. While automation has its advantages, some still favor the more one-of-a-kind nature of handcrafted instruments. Symrna is one of a handful of Turkish companies that strive to uphold centuries-old manufacturing traditions.
Symrna’s mission is to produce consistent-sounding cymbals using traditional Turkish methods. In addition to consistency, Symrna aims to offer a variety of cymbals that balance sound and style to complement modern music across genres. For review, we received a sampling of models from the Neoclassic and Araf series, including 14″ hi-hats, 18″ crashes, 20″ rides, 17″ Chinas, and 10″ splashes. We tested them with Vic Firth 5B and Benny Greb signature sticks, which have a slightly smaller tip for more definition. All of the cymbals were used in a live setting with an alternative rock band with multiple electric guitars and vocals.
The Neoclassic series is described as a “renewed interpretation of traditional Turkish cymbals.” They’re completely lathed on both sides and have a traditional finish. The line is bright and cutting, making it suitable for rock, metal, funk, and fusion.
The 14″ hi-hats sounded crisp when played with sticks or when closed with the foot. When struck in the open position, they produced a washy, pleasant midrange tone. We’d put these up against any other medium-weight, general-purpose hi-hats.
The 18″ crash was medium-light and produced a glassy tone. Its decay was a little quicker than what one would normally expect from an 18″ crash. The 20″ ride had a bright, even sustain with some moderate crash capability and a pleasant wash. Stick definition was articulate with both stick types we used. The bell was low in pitch yet had a strong tone.
The 10″ splash was bright and very quick, although I had to smack it fairly hard to get it to sing. (Its tone wasn’t as nuanced at lower volumes.) The 17″ Neoclassic China was my least favorite cymbal of the group. Its tone was harsh in the high end, and it felt a bit stiff despite its medium weight. However, it was still suitable for loud situations, as it had plenty of cutting power.
According to Symrna, the Araf series is the embodiment of “balance developed by contrast.” All cymbals in this line are heavily hammered
and are only lathed at the edge. The 14″ hi-hats were a pleasure to play and had a light, buttery feel. Their closed sound was crisp, yet a bit trashy. Their open sound was very complex and dry. Since these hi-hats are on the lighter side of the spectrum, they were best played in low- to medium-volume settings.
The 18″ crash was explosive and had a quick decay. It had a dry character overall, but there was a bit of shimmer in its sustain, and it had a very buttery feel with a lot of visible flex when I laid into it. The 20″ ride was my favorite of the entire test group. It felt great, and striking its body and bell produced a dry, articulate sound. The cymbals I enjoy the most are the ones that seem to play back at you. This ride had that characteristic. It also had a great crash sound.
The 17″ Araf China wasn’t as harsh-sounding as the Neoclassic, but it lacked volume, performing best at lower volumes. The 10″ Arafsplash was enjoyable to play. It wasn’t particularly dry, and it opened a lot easier at lower dynamics than the Neoclassic. I also tried placing the splash on top of the 18″ crash, which resulted in an appealing stack option.
Overall, Symrna has accomplished its goal to produce unique cymbals that have a distinctive, handcrafted vibe but with more modern looks and sounds. The Neoclassics would be a good choice for rock and funk situations, and the Araf series has a more complex character that could work in almost any gig. If you have the opportunity, don’t pass on trying these out.