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  • Zildjian Project 391 Limited Edition Cymbals — The Hihats

    By Dendy Jarrett |

    Zildjian391Header_Revised.jpgExpert Review:

    ZILDJIAN Project 391 – A Limited Edition SoundLab offering.

    In this installment, we’ll groove the Avedis Zildjian Project 391  Hi-Hat 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, you might think that there would be nothing left to discover — yet these cymbals are indeed different, and we had to find out why.

    We asked Paul Francis, Director of R&D at Avedis ZIldjian, for the answers. He explained that in their pursuit of developing new sounds and new alloys, they decided to try 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 a different frequency range than the ZBT, ZHT, or 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, with 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.”  I immediately noticed  that the shallow bell provides 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. Cymbals are offered in the series include:



                                         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 review, we covered the Project 391 Limited Edition Crash Cymbals. In this review we will discover the hi-hats.




    Hi-Hats —

    Sizzle is the Schizzle


    In this second installment, we will look specifically at the hi-hat cymbal offering for Project 391. Hi-Hats are such a personal thing. Either you like they way they sound and feel, or you don’t. That is why I was so surprised at how much I liked these cymbals sent to me (since I didn’t have time to “test drive” multiple pairs to find that “sweet” set I liked).

    Let’s look at how the sizzle is the schizzle.


    Project 391 14” Hi-Hat Cymbals:

    The 14” Hi-Hats at one time were the more traditional (staple) cymbal in most drummers’ mix; however, lately there has been a trend towards larger hi-hats.


    These 14” hats have a nice crispness to them that really cuts through. I still tend to lean to the traditional 14” hats anyway, so these really would suit me for most general playing applications. These have a great European characteristic to them. They have plenty of cut, but a nice sizzle. It isn’t too brassy or “generic” in my opinion, but some may find when played completely open, that the top cymbal is “kangy” for their taste. I preferred the wash that they created.


    Project 391 15” Hi-Hat Cymbals:

    The 15” hi-hats are (for many) an “odd man out” size, but out of the two, I much preferred these 15” hats. They have a great stick definition and a sizzle that IS the schizzle. The wash created by these cymbals is not ostentatious. Most drummers may find that the 15” hats give you a little more diversity than the 14” in today’s music genre variety.


    If there was one disappointment in the Zildjian Project 391 Limited Edition cymbal offering, it was the lack of a pair of 16” Hi-hats. As stated in the crash cymbal review, larger cymbals are becoming popular, and 16” hi-hats seem to be everywhere. As great as the 14” and 15” cymbals sound, it would have been great to have heard what 16” hi-hats would sound like in this fantastic line.




    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 hi-hats have a great distinctive sound for Zildjians and it was great to play Zildjians that complement and supplement the traditional Zildjian sound spectrum.

    What’s further cool is the fact 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 audition these cymals. You’ll quickly realize why great drummers like John Tempesta are claiming the Project 391 cymbals as their new favorites.




     Project 391 Crash Cymbal Review

    Project 391 Video:


    To Purchase Project 391 Hi-Hat Cymbals at Musician's Friend: 


             14”  MSRP   $600.00  Your Price: $323.96

             15”  MSRP   $660.00  Your Price: $341.96


    To Discuss Cymbals, Drums and Percussion at Harmony Central 




    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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