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  • Zildjian K Constantinople Hi-Bell Rides, Flat Rides, And 13" Hi-Hats

    By hcadmin |

    High Bells, No Bells, And A "Chick, Chick, Chick"

    by Martin Patmos


    • Hi-Bell design increases frequency range
    • Unique lathing adds tonal colors
    • 22" flat ride felt great to play
    • 13" hi-hats have higher-than expected pitch and projection


    Not long after their release, Zildjian's K Constantinople cymbals established a reputation. Perhaps the highest of high-end Zildjians, these traditional-styled cymbals generated a good deal of enthusiasm among jazz drummers, including notable artists like Brian Blade. Recently, a certain turn of events and a little experimentation led Zildjian to expand the K Constantinople line of ride cymbals. And with a total of nine new rides joining the series, it seemed like a good time to add a set of 13" hi-hats too.

    The Hi-Bell Concept

    When I heard that the bell on the new Hi-Bell ride model was based on a 100-year-old cymbal, I inquired for details, which Zildjian R&D specialist Paul Francis was kind enough to share with me. According to Paul, Joe Adato of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra was seeking a new pair of orchestral cymbals that were like his old pair. "The unique thing about his old Ks was that they had really high bells," Paul said. "In order to recreate his old cymbals, I had to build a die with that bell shape. As I was making the orchestral cymbals, I decided to try that same shape in some K Constantinople drumset cymbals."


    Paul found that the new bell design—which was significantly higher than that on existing K Constantinople models—gave drumset rides a wider frequency range. He then employed different lathing techniques to see how the sound would be affected with the new cup. The resulting half-and-half lathing creates a wealth of sound possibilities and a striking appearance, and is said to keep the rides controllable while still maintaining crashability and wash.

    Hi-Bell Design

    The Hi-Bell rides come in 20" and 22" sizes, in thin-low, thin-high, and medium-thin-low designations. On each, the bell measures about 43/4" in diameter and 1" high from where it meets the body of the cymbal (resulting in a steeper angle to the overall bell than might normally be found). The bow of the cymbal is also noticeably pronounced. On the top and the bottom, spiral lathing radiates out from the center to a 10" diameter on 20" rides and an 11" diameter on the 22" rides. Full lathing covers the outer half.

    Hi-Bell Sound


    The different Hi-Bell rides are variations on a theme. The thin-high models are roughly a whole step up from the thin-lows in pitch, and the 20" cymbals are around a third higher than their respective 22" counterparts. The medium-thin-low cymbals lie somewhere between the thin-low and thin-high models in pitch. All this said, these cymbals have such colorful harmonic spectrums that various tones and pitches may come to the fore in playing, making these pitch comparisons somewhat tenuous.


    When I struck each cymbal with my finger and put my ear near the edge, a remarkably low hum tone could be heard—with a wide range of overtones ringing above. When I played the cymbals normally with a stick, they had a classic ride sound that was warm, dark, and musical, with a touch of trashiness. Riding toward the edge created the most wash, while playing towards the spiral lathing heightened stick definition. Crashes were full and robust, creating a wash of sound from which the ride pattern could emerge. The bell sound was fairly isolated and rich.


    Each Hi-Bell ride had a wide dynamic range. Even when the volume built up, it was easy to bring things back under control. The medium-thin rides produced a little less wash than the thin models did, and they had a little less "give" under the stick. The thin models, meanwhile, had a softer feel.


    Each of the Hi-Bell rides offered opportunities for great expression, with a multi-dimensional sound. Each cymbal had notable depth and tonal color. Choosing one ride from this group would be a matter of taste and musical style, but the 22" thin-low was my favorite.

    Hi-Bell Dry Ride

    The 22" Hi-Bell Dry ride features spiral lathing across the entire body of the cymbal. In all other physical respects it's identical to the 22" medium-thin Hi-Bell ride.


    Aside from giving the cymbal a cool look, the spiral lathing also gives this model a great sound: dry, with great stick definition and control. I could build up or maintain a sound cushion as I saw fit. The articulate definition was especially noticeable when I played rapid and complex figures.


    The ride also produced a full, dry crash that was effective for accents and for bringing forth the harmonic range. Meanwhile, the bell sound was more integrated with the overall cymbal sound when compared to the other Hi-Bells. Playing this cymbal was inspiring; I loved its response, feel, and sound.

    Flat Rides

    Having seemingly exhausted the possibilities for bell design, Zildjian has gone the other way, offering K Constantinople Flat rides in 20" and 22" sizes. The 22" flat was actually the first cymbal I played of all the new rides, and while I switched rides in and out on three other stands, that 22" flat stayed in place practically the whole time. I was captivated by its sound.


    The 22" flat had a slightly sizzly, smokey, dark sound that seeped forth into the overall rhythm. It sounded neither above nor below, but rather through the music. While I was playing it I could see the edge wobbling—to the point where it looked like a rippling pool of water.


    The flat ride was soft and warm to play on, and very easy to control. It had minimal buildup, and it possessed a great "tick" sound with an attractive cushion that spread forth once the sound got going. Even when I crashed an accent, excellent stick definition was maintained.


    Obviously I really liked the 22" flat ride. The 20" model was about a third higher in pitch and comparably effective. (But it didn't quite evoke a pool of water when played.)

    13" Hi-Hats

    Zildjian added a 13" set of hi-hats to the K Constantinople line as an alternative to the existing 14" size. The hats were a bit heavier than I expected, despite the thin/medium pairing. However, this helped them to produce a solid, warm "chick" that cut through when played with the foot.


    When played with a stick, the hats were high in pitch, with a fairly wet, dark sizzle. They sounded very precise when played tightly closed, and they offered increasing sloshiness as they were opened. Foot splashes were particularly effective with these cymbals, with enough body to stand up against the various rides.


    The relatively high pitch of the 13" K Constantinople hi-hats may not suit every player. But once I got accustomed to it, they proved quite effective.


    Whether it's the organic, full sound and versatile ride surface of a Hi-Bell ride, or the smokey warmth of a flat ride, all these cymbals would do well in a jazz setting. In fact, they'd do well in any situation where a dark, dynamic, and colorful ride cymbal is demanded to shape the music. The Hi-Bell Dry ride in particular ought to find fans beyond jazz players.


    There's no denying that these cymbals are quite expensive. They're lathed by hand and are therefore not easily mass produced. So while many of us may desire the quality of a K Constantinople, it's likely going to take a bit of saving to pay for one.



    • 20" Hi-Bell and flat rides $612
    • 22" Hi-Bell and flat rides $723
    • 13" hi-hats (pair) $648


    (781) 871-2200, www.zildjian.com

    © 2006 MODERN DRUMMER Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
    Reproduction without the permission of the publisher is prohibited.

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