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Hi-Hats, Crashes, Rides, and Jingle Splashes

Steeped in history and tradition while keeping an eye on the future.

V-Classic is a Turkish company, founded by eighteen-year-veteran cymbalsmith Torab Majlesi, that specializes in bringing the warm, dark tones and soft, buttery feel of cymbals made in the 1960s into present-day applications. These new designs stay true to the classic aesthetic, while being updated for use in most soft to medium-loud musical styles, including jazz, fusion, classic R&B, Latin, and light pop/rock. They’re also excellent for recording situations, where you want to keep the cymbals from overpowering the microphones and washing out the mix.

Helping to explain their old-school tone and worn-in feel, V-Classic cymbals are made from ancient-formula B25 bronze, which has 5 percent more tin than the more common B20 alloy. They were just as expressive and rich sounding when played at lower volumes as when hit with full strokes, and they responded very well to brushes, mallets, and even bare hands. Aesthetically, they had an antique appearance that was developed via a proprietary maturation and coating process. The coating also helps to improve stick definition and squelch excessive overtones and sustain for a slightly drier voice.

Our review batch of V-Classics included more conventional models (15″ Light hi-hats, an 18″ crash, and 20″, 22″, and 24″ rides), as well as more adventurous and innovative options (20″ Light sizzle crash, a 22″ ride with three 2″ holes, and 6″ and 8″ jingle splashes).

The 15″ Light hi-hats are very thin and soft, yet they had a pleasing “sticky” response and a warm, dark tone. Had I not known they were brand-new cymbals, I would have sworn they had spent decades chomping away in dark, smoky jazz and R&B nightclubs. The same is true of the 18″ crash, which had a husky, explosive voice that hit strong (but not harshly) and got out of the way very quickly. Over the years my ears have become very sensitive to the brighter overtones associated with most crash cymbals, to the point where I’ll often forgo crashes entirely, but the V-Classic sounded just as fantastic when hit aggressively to punctuate phrase endings as it did when struck with a light, glancing blow for delicate bursts of color.

The three rides on review (20″, 22″, and 24″) matched perfectly with the hi-hats and crash, and they sounded, looked, and felt as vintage as any truly vintage cymbal I’ve ever encountered. The 20″ has a very small bell, which helped to give it a tighter overall sound with clear articulation, a warm and balanced sustain, and a rich, bellowing crash. The 22″ has a larger bell, a bigger crash sound, and a stronger stick attack. Of the three, this was the most versatile and the most reminiscent of the coveted tones heard on classic jazz records from the ’60s.

The 24″ has an even broader bell, which brought in slightly more metallic overtones when hit with the shoulder of the stick. Its crash was thunderous and larger than life, but it still opened up easily. The stick sound was clean and sparkling, and the sustain was even and tamable. This extra-large ride provided a ton of surface area for dancing and tipping all over, à la modern jazz great Brian Blade.

Also in the Brian Blade vein is the 20″ Light sizzle crash, which is a paper-thin cymbal with twelve rivets that had a super-cool, snarling attack, while remaining incredibly balanced and controlled. Again, there wasn’t one iota of harshness here, even when hit with my best karate chop. The aggressive/expressive spirits of Elvin Jones and Art Blakey live on in this bad boy.

Unique pieces in V-Classic’s catalog are the 22″ ride with holes and the 6″ and 8″ jingle splashes. As Majlesi explains, “holes are generally used to break the sound waves and create a new sound. In my rides, they decrease the crashing sustain and give a bit of trashy lows.” Our review cymbal had three 2″ holes in the bow, equidistant from one another. Its tone was a bit trashier and more complex than the regular 22″, which translated into a funkier and more modern sound. It still had a clear stick attack, a musical bell, and an expressive crash; it was just a bit more raw and aggressive.

The two jingle splashes have sets of tambourine jingles riveted to them (the 6″ has three sets, and the 8″ has four). These models had a very short sound that was a combination of a tiny, throaty crash and a jingly rattle. They provided an interesting short, noisy effect when hit by themselves, but I found that they also worked very well when placed on the snare drum to create a layered, electronica-type tone for jungle, EDM, and hip-hop grooves. The 6″ had a subtler effect, while the 8″ added a more prominent jingle. Both showcased the more creative side of V-Classic’s designs, while the hi-hats, crashes, and rides demonstrated the company’s passion, skill, and dedication to re-creating some of the most venerable cymbal sounds of the twentieth century.

Michael Dawson