Zildjian Project 391 Limited Edition Cymbals — Ride Cymbals
By Dendy Jarrett |
ZILDJIAN Project 391 – A limited SoundLab offering.
In this installment, we’ll groove the Avedis Zildjian Project 391 Ride Cymbals.
by Dendy Jarrett
The history behind the project
Zildjian has been building cymbals for 391 years. In the musical instrument world, the Zildjian logo is as recognizable as Coca-Cola is to the rest of the world. After 391 years, what makes these cymbals different?
For the answers, we turned to Paul Francis, Director of R&D at Avedis ZIldjian. He explains that in their pursuit of developing new sounds and new alloys, they decided to work with a totally new copper/tin combination never used by Zildjian. “As this alloy is 85% copper and 15% tin, it allowed us to use 391 years of cymbal making know how and apply it to an alloy that had different frequency range than the ZBT, ZHT, and Zildjian Secret alloy.” Paul further explains: “The manipulation of the metal is much like that of an ‘A’ series, but where it starts to really differentiate is the two-step lathing process. We called upon our knowledge of how we lathe A Customs, and then we went back and lathed the bottom and top again to take advantage of the smooth glossy sound of a brilliant finish cymbal, and the bite and cut of a regular finish cymbal.” The result is a stunningly beautiful finish that is different from any other Zildjian you’ve experienced. The unique lathing pattern creates grooves in a non-conforming pattern of glossy lathes and regular finish lathes. It is quite striking. In addition to the lathing, they also have a hammer pattern. It appears to be more of a machine hammer pattern but adds to the distinctive appearance.
Other than the look, I wanted to know what else sets them apart. Paul states that the bells are a little shallower on some models compared to an “A Zildjian model.” As the reviewer, I can state that this shallow bell allows this cymbal a very glassy, quick response.
Filling a sound palate void
Soundlab is the “code name” for anything that Zildjian offers that revolves around prototype cymbals, and this Project 391 falls under that blanket. So what cymbals are offered in the series?
Splash — 8”, 10”
Hi-Hats — 14”, 15”
Crash — 16”, 17”, 18”, 19”, 20”
China — 18”, 19”, 20”
Ride — 20”, 21”, 22”
Besides the distinctive look due to the lathing and the shallower bell, the sound is quite different for Zildjian. In the sound spectrum of Zildjian’s offering, these cymbals sit right below the sound of an “A” or “K” and right above that of the ZHT. In the course of development, Zildjian realized that these cymbals fill a void in the sound palate they were offering prior to this development.
These cymbals are best suited for pop, rock and heavier styles of playing. The alloy has a really nice mix of high and low frequencies without favoring one over the other.
In the first installment I covered the Zildjian, 391 Crashes. In the second installment, we explored the Zildjian Project 391 HiHat Cymbals, and in the third, we dug into the Zildjian Project 391 Splash and China cymbals.
Ride the coolness
In this fourth and final installment, we will look specifically at the ride cymbal offering for Project 391.
Let’s dig into the rides:
Project 391 20” Ride Cymbal:
The 20” ride is the more traditional (staple) cymbal in most drummers’ mix; however, lately the trend toward bigger cymbals has been on the rise. I liked the 20” but I am a 22” player, so it took a little extra time for me to warm up to this cymbal. The definition is nice and there will be a nice wash that develops, but it didn’t have the bell presence that I like to have with my ride. This is purely a matter of personal choice, as I like a ride cymbal that is piercing (think old school Steve Smith Journey ride). Overall, the quality and look of this cymbal is exceptional, and it is a professional level cymbal that would really fit well in any playing style.
Project 391 21” Ride Cymbal:
The 21” ride is (for many) another “odd man out” size, but don’t let that stop you from considering this ride. I found it was a great compromise if you want something that will deliver but not overly so.
This ride had a very nice bell sound despite the smaller bell size. It also develops a very nice wash and even (in heavier music formats) could be crashed. I enjoyed this cymbal very much and might be tempted to add a second ride to my set-up.
Project 391 22” Ride Cymbal:
The 22” ride is historically the second “staple” cymbal in most drummers’ cymbal assortment. I loved this cymbal! It was really that simple. As I stated, I am a 22” ride kind of guy. This cymbal really fit that “sweet spot” for me. While the bell is smaller than I typically prefer, it still had a nice ping. This ride can develop a substantial swell, but I never found it overbearing or in the way.
While the 20” and 21” were great, this was the ride for me.
Some people don’t prefer a large ride because they find that the sheer size interferes with their drum and cymbal positioning, but for me this is really a non-issue. Make sure you consider this ride!
391 years shines through
With a 391-year history, it’s clear that Zildjian knows what they are doing. You may first wonder if a cymbal that is a limited edition offering is a professional quality cymbal, and the answer is emphatically yes! These unique Zildjians have a very European flavor, and I really enjoyed them. The crash cymbals cover the sound spectrum quite nicely. It was a great to play Zildjians that fell out of the normal Zildjian sound spectrum.
What’s further cool is that a 391-year-old company can still find new and innovative sounds and approaches to cymbal making.
You really owe it to yourself to give these cymbals a test drive. You’ll quickly realize why great drummers like John Tempesta are claiming the Project 391 cymbals as their new favorites.
Other Expert Reviews:
Zildjian Project 391 Crash Cymbal Expert Review - Click Here
Zildjian Project 391 Hi Hat Cymbals Expert Review - Click Here
Zildjian Project 391 Splash and China Cymbals Expert Review - Click Here
Project 391 Video:
To Purchase Project 391 Ride Cymbals at Musician’s Friend - Click Here
20” MSRP 505.00 Your Price: $289.95
21” MSRP $565.00 Your Price: $319.95
22” MSRP $610.00 Your Price: $349.94
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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.