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  • Sabian HH Vanguard

    By Dendy Jarrett |

    Sabian HH Vanguard

    Anyone for Hand-Hammered Butter? 


    by Dendy Jarrett





    When Sabian asked if I wanted to do a review on the new HH Vanguard cymbals, I thought, “What could be so different? I already have an entire set of Sabian Hand-Hammered (HH) cymbals that I've used for years." But being addicted to cymbals, I figured I might as well check them out.

    After I  unboxed them, I was was struck at how smooth they looked. The lathing is very tight (pin-point) in application and the hand-hammering isn’t aggressive, but rather very subtle. I’d best describe them as shimmery in appearance. Then I played them.


    The Sound


    Butter. Who doesn’t like butter? I love it on waffles or pancakes, corn on the cob, and even enjoy a good dob of it on my steak—Hot, runny, yummy, high-cholesterol-causing goodness. To me, the way butter tastes on these favorites, justifies and outweighs any negative implications of consuming butter. And why do I bring up butter? Because that is the way these cymbals sounded to me. Like soft, warm smooth, creamy butter—let's just say they were indulgent.


    The Specifics


    Sabian's package included the following:


    • 14” Hi-hats pair
    • 16” HH Vanguard Crash
    • 18” HH Vanguard Crash
    • 20” HH Vanguard Ride
    • 21” HH Vanguard Ride
    • 22” HH Vanguard Ride


    Note that the HH Vanguard line is not assigned the names "crash" and "ride," instead they're simply called (for example) HH Vanguard 16".


    The hi-hats are my new favorites. Although they're smooth, they have a defined “chick” but remain “phat” when played. They also produced a masterful half-open “slushy wash.” These hi-hats have a lathe pattern that's "raw" in appearance and begins about an inch off the outer edge. It is distinctive and only on the hi-hats. This raw lathing allows for great stick definition.




    The crashes were the “butteriest” of the bunch - brilliant sounding, yet “soft.” Even playing them felt like the stick was playing through them like soft butter. Both the 16” and 18” were only distinguishably different in tone. The other characteristics were matched in timbre.


    16" HH Vanguard -



    18" Vanguard -



    The 20” and 21” were also very "soft" (not necessarily in volume, but in personality). They had small bells, but were able to produce a gratifying bell sound; they could have been more appropriately labeled as “Crash/Ride.” I felt very comfortable playing a ride pattern, and then crashing the edge of these two cymbals. Either one could serve as both.


    20" Vanguard-



    21" Vanguard-


    The 22” Vanguard was a little “large,” seemingly to serve double duty. It could, but just didn’t lend itself for both uses to my ears. If you do use it for a crash, it's huge! While it still features a very small bell, it did produce a solid ping when played on the bell. When used for a ride pattern there's plenty of definition, but it also develops a nice controlled wash; again,  while you can (of course) crash this 22”, it yields quite a large crash which I found “larger” than what's ideal for my particular application.


    22" Vanguard - 





    Sabian’s marketing refers to these as “darker” cymbals that produce quick response. “Dark” seems too negative a term for these cymbals. Smooth “butter” hits the mark. They're a thinner cymbal so if you're a heavy hitter, these aren’t for you. I found these cymbals very defined considering their thinness, but they really spoke to me. I loved the sound of the crashes and hi-hats best. And while they are within Sabians “Vintage Dark” line, I found them vintage with a modern trend.


    In the end, these cymbals are a new favorite. Then again, I’m a sucker for butter (who isn’t) and these cymbals left my mouth watering for more.


    Please join the discussion about the Sabian HH Vanguards in the Drum Forum at Harmony Central





    Sabians Official Website





    To purchase Sabian's HH Vanguard


    Amazon Music

    Musician's Friend

    Guitar Center






    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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