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Don't throw them away!


Dave Collingwood hand-hammering a cymbal blank.
Photo by David La Mela

Having worked as an independent cymbalsmith for nearly 10 years, I find I often forget that for many drummers, the idea of making a cymbal by hand simply never crosses their mind.


I remember talking to a fellow drummer saying he had a Sabian 16" Crash with a tiny crack on the edge, so he threw it away and bought another.


I stopped for a moment thinking there was a perfectly good cymbal that just needed a small scoop cut from the edge, but of course it's only because this is work I do each and every day that I'm able to even consider this as a possibility.


And that's just a basic repair!


The fact that any and all cymbals can be modified, whether for subtle tweaks in the characteristics or complete overhauls into something new, still takes people by surprise. I need to remember that these considerations are not automatic, especially in a world that promotes spending, upgrades, obsolescence and gimmicks, broadly speaking.


So actually making a cymbal from a blank, using hand-hammering and lathing to create a lush, unique and dynamic instrument, is not the go-to thought for most.


Thankfully, with social media making this and other crafts more visible and as a result, hopefully, more accessible, I'm finding more and more drummers and craftspeople are becoming aware of the possibilities.


The sonic pallet available to drummers these days is huge, even just thinking about independent cymbalsmiths. And mixing-&-matching between brands and / or artisans is something which, in my view, should be encouraged.


There was a time some years ago when I counted myself as one of maybe 10 independent cymbal makers worldwide. Granted, it's still a niche pursuit, but that number is rising steadily, with some extremely talented makers emerging. It's an exciting time, and I for one hope it continues to be an inclusive, welcoming and sharing community.


Please comment below with your thoughts on the emergence of the independent cymbalsmith into wider view. Perhaps you think there's a danger of saturation, or maybe you're excited by the new talent and opportunities for drummers of all genres.

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