Avedis Zildjian Company

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Avedis Zildjian Company
Industry Cymbal manufacturer
Founded Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (1623; 394 years ago (1623))
Founder Avedis Zildjian
Headquarters Norwell, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Avedis Zildjian, Founder
Armand Zildjian
Craigie Zildjian, Current CEO
Debbie Zildjian
Products Cymbals, Drum sticks
Owners Craigie Zildjian, Current CEO
Debbie Zildjian
Website www.zildjian.com

The Avedis Zildjian Company, simply known as Zildjian /ˈzɪliən/,[1] is an American cymbal manufacturer founded in Istanbul by Armenian Avedis Zildjian in the 17th century. It is now based in Norwell, Massachusetts. Being nearly 400 years old, Zildjian is one of the oldest companies in the world. Zildjian also sells drum-related accessories, such as drum sticks and cymbal carriers. It is the largest cymbal manufacturer in the world.[2][3][4][5][6]

On December 20, 2010, it was announced that Avedis Zildjian Company had merged with Vic Firth, Inc.[7] According to the announcement, both companies will continue to run autonomously.[7]



The first Zildjian cymbals were created in 1618 by Avedis Zildjian, an alchemist who was looking for a way to turn base metal into gold; he created an alloy combining tin, copper, and silver into a sheet of metal that could make musical sounds without shattering. Avedis was given the name of Zildjian (Zilciyân) by the Sultan Osman II[8] (from the Turkish word zil – cymbal, dji – maker-seller, ian – a common suffix used in Armenian last names which means same as in English[clarification needed]) and began an industry in 1623, the details of whose main product remained secret for generations. It became family tradition that only the company's heirs would know the manufacturing process.

The Zildjian Company moved from manufacturing noisemakers that frightened the enemies of the Ottoman Empire to manufacturing its cymbals as musical instruments in the 19th century.[9]


Avedis Zildjian III in front of Zildjian Quincy Factory

Around 1928, Avedis III, his brother Puzant and his uncle, Aram Zildjian began manufacturing cymbals in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the Avedis Zildjian Co. was formed on September 19, 1929, the month before the Great Depression began, in competition with the K. Zildjian company in Turkey. Avedis made many innovations in cymbals that are still around today; he was the first to develop drum-set cymbals and gave cymbals names such as ride, crash, splash, and hi-hat.

Avedis III's son Armand Zildjian, also known as the "Father of Artist Relations," also began hand-selecting cymbals for all the top drummers. In 1968, the K. Zildjian Co. and all European trademarks were bought back on behalf of the Avedis Zildjian Co. Also in 1968, Avedis split production into two separate operations, opening the Azco factory in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada.

From 1968 to 1970, the Azco factory produced Zilco cymbals. There were two types of Zilco: one was a thin rolling produced without any hammering, which cut costs. At about this time in the Azco factory, the modern process for pressing cymbals into shape came about. Before this it was done by bumping with the Quincy drop hammer.[citation needed]

Gravestone of Puzant and Arpine Zildjians, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Watertown, MA

In 1970, Zildjian needed all their production capabilities at Azco for their regular Zildjian line, so the factory in Quincy (the then location of Zildjian) would send up castings to be finished into cymbals at Azco.

In 1975, Zildjian began making K. Zildjian cymbals at the Azco plant. This was an interesting time for the Zildjian clan because it was the first time that K. Zildjian Istanbul and the Avedis Zildjian Company had worked together to make the same Zildjian cymbals after years of competing with each other. These were made until 1979. Within four years (1980), all K Cymbals were being made in the Norwell USA plant, because the Ks demanded far more oversight. Armand worked with friends, the great Elvin Jones and Tony Williams to relaunch the K Series.

In early 1977, Armand Zildjian was appointed President of the Avedis Zildjian Company by his father. Soon after, Robert Zildjian split from the company amidst conflict with his brother, Armand. Shortly thereafter, in 1981, Robert started making Sabian cymbals in the Meductic Azco factory.[citation needed]

Recent history[edit]

In keeping with tradition, Armand passed the Zildjian Secret Alloy to his daughters, Craigie and Debbie (14th generation), both of whom continue to run the family business from the current factory in Norwell, Massachusetts.

Other than cymbals, the Avedis Zildjian Company produces products such as drum sticks and other drum accessories. The Artist Series drum sticks allow these endorsers to personalize their drum sticks, and these sticks are sold to the public.

Current cymbal products[edit]

Armand Zildjian "Beautiful Baby" Ride Cymbal
[Zildjian A Custom Cymbal]
Zildjian A Custom
22" Ping Ride Cymbal
Zildjian A 18-inch China Low cymbal

Sheet bronze cymbal lines[edit]

Zildjian's sheet bronze cymbals are made out of identical bronze discs, which are shaped, hammered, and lathed to their direct specifications. These cymbals have a higher pitch than their cast bronze counterparts and produce a more consistent sound.

  • ZBT ("Crisp, Clean, and Defined") – Zildjian's low-end line of sheet bronze cymbals. The ZBT alloy contains 92% Copper and 8% Tin and comes in a traditional finish.
  • Planet Z – The least expensive line of cymbals made by Zildjian made for beginners and practicing. These cymbals were made of copper and zinc and came only in a brilliant finish.

Cast bronze cymbal lines[edit]

All of Zildjian's cast bronze cymbals contains 80% copper and 20% tin with traces of silver in its alloy.

  • FX ("Ethereal, Atmospheric, and Creative") – Special effects cymbals that include the Oriental and Azuka lines (designed by Alex Acuna), the spiral trash cymbal, and sound effects such as China cymbals, Zil-Bels, finger cymbals, and others. The FX series comes in both traditional and brilliant finishes.
  • Avedis Zildjian (A Zildjian) ("Bright, Full-bodied, and Natural") – The original line of Avedis Zildjian cast bronze cymbals. These cymbals come in both traditional and brilliant finishes.
  • Armand Zildjian – A sub-series of the A Zildjian line introduced in 2007. They are similar to the A Zildjian line but they are made with a slightly lower profile to approximate the classic cymbal sounds of the late 1960s. The Armand Zildjian cymbal line only comes in a traditional finish.
  • A Custom ("Fast, Modern, and Shimmering") – Cast bronze cymbals developed with Vinnie Colaiuta. Based on the original A Zildjians, A Customs have a particularly medium-thin to thin weight, making them very responsive and bright. These cymbals come in a brilliant finish. Also has a sub-series itself, ReZo; which is featured to have sounds of the Jazz era/1920s to 1970s.
  • K Zildjian ("Dark, Warm, and Expressive") – Cast bronze cymbals that stem from Kerope Zildjian's original hand-hammered line. The machine hammering on the K Zildjians makes them dark and dry. These cymbals come in both traditional and brilliant finishes.
  • K Constantinople Made in order to duplicate the looks and sound of Zildjian cymbals made in the early to mid-1900s.
  • Kerope The new Kerope from Zildjian draws upon all of Zildjian's rich history and cymbal-making expertise to bring forth the most authentic vintage K recreation to date. Each cymbal is meticulously hand-crafted using a 14-step process that encompasses the best of everything we have learned in 390 years of cymbal making.
  • K Custom ("Rich, Dry, and Complex") – Cast bronze cymbals based on the original K Zildjians but are made with very complex machine hammering techniques. K Customs are popular among jazz drummers, and come in both traditional and brilliant finishes.
  • K Custom Hybrid – A subseries of the K Custom line developed with Akira Jimbo. K Custom Hybrids come in a traditional/brilliant finish, with the lathed outer edge in a natural finish and the unlathed inner part and bell in a brilliant finish.
  • S Family


  • Gen16 is Zildjian's acoustic-electric cymbals for electric drumkit users, designed to offer the same feel of acoustic cymbals, but at only one-fourth of the volume. Originally these cymbals came in a polished nickel chrome finish with blue logos. Recently, Zildjian introduced the "Buffed Bronze" Gen16 Series. Gen16 includes a Digital Cymbal Processor (DCP) with a library of various sound samples of Zildjian cymbals, with optional expansions to the sample library available for purchase. Notable endorsers of this line include Carter Beauford and Kenny Aronoff.[10]

Discontinued cymbal products[edit]

Sheet bronze cymbal lines[edit]

  • Amir/Amir II (mid-1980s): Moderate/higher-end sheet bronze cymbals when compared to Zildjian's present-day lines. Amirs were released alongside the Impulse line.
  • Impulse (1982–1986): Non-Cast bronze cymbals designed for hard rock. The Impulse line were replaced by the original Z Zildjian line several years later.
  • Scimitar/Scimitar Bronze (late 1980s/early 1990s): Scimitars replaced Amir line.
  • Edge/Edge Plus (1990s): Higher-end sheet bronze cymbals; preceded ZXTs.
  • ZBT Plus (early 2000s): Released alongside ZBT, ZBTs, and ZBT Pluses, which replaced the Scimitar line. ZBT Pluses were discontinued shortly after Edge was replaced by ZXT.
  • ZXT Titanium (2003–2006): Silver-colored cymbals made without any titanium in the alloy, rather there was titanium plating. ZXT Titaniums were discontinued shortly before ZHTs entered production.
  • Pitch Black (2008) – Sheet bronze cymbals covered with a black proprietary coating process. The Pitch Black alloy contains the same alloy as the ZHT line (88% copper and 12% tin) and comes in an all-black coated finish. The cymbals were entirely coated, except for the hi-hat versions which were uncoated on the bottom. They are the first cymbals from Zildjian that are color coated, and were, for the most part, poorly received by the drumming community.
  • ZXT ("Clear, Musical, and Powerful") – Zildjian's mid-level line sheet bronze cymbals. Like the ZBT alloy, the ZXT alloy contains 92% Copper and 8% Tin and comes in a brilliant finish. (Discontinued in 2013, with the Trashformer cymbals being incorporated into the FX line, and 7 other cymbals being incorporated into the Avedis line)
  • ZHT ("Bold, Bright, and Melodic") – Zildjian's high-end line of sheet bronze cymbals. The ZHT alloy contains 88% Copper and 12% Tin and comes in a traditional finish. (Discontinued in 2016)

Cast bronze cymbal lines[edit]

  • Z Zildjian (1986–1994): Heavy, unlathed cymbals designed for heavy metal and punk. Replaced in 1994 by the Z Custom series.
  • Avedis Platinum (1980s and 1990s): A Zildjians with a silver-colored coating and a blue or black logo.
  • Z Custom (1994–2009): Cast bronze cymbals made specifically for louder music. Z Customs had a particularly heavy weight, which made them very loud and bright. Replaced in 2009 by the Z3 series.[citation needed]
  • Z3 (2009-2013) – Cast bronze cymbals made specifically for louder music. Z3s have a particularly heavy weight, which make them very loud and bright. They were introduced to replace the Z-Custom Series. The Z3 name originates from this new series being the third range of Zs introduced by Zildjian. They were also named after their motto "Power, Projection, and Playability". (Discontinued in 2013 and incorporated into the A Zildjian Line)

List of notable Zildjian players[edit]


Sister companies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pronunciation of zildjian". howjsay.com. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  2. ^ Robert Kreitner, Carlene M. Cassidy (2011). Management (12th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage. p. 35. ISBN 9781111221362. Company, based in Norwell, Massachusetts, is the largest cymbal maker in the world and the oldest continuously family-run business in the United States. 
  3. ^ Lamb, Charles W. (2002). The Subject is Marketing (2nd Canadian ed.). Scarborough, Ont.: Nelson Thomson Learning. p. 26. ISBN 9780176169558. Avedis Zildjian of Norwell, Massachusetts, can trace its history back to 1623 in Constantinople. It is the world's largest maker of cymbals for drummers and musicians. 
  4. ^ Newsweek, Volume 71, Issues 1-9, 1968, p. 71 "As the only producer of cymbals in the U.S., the Zildjian company dominates a world market rapidly expanding with the proliferation of per- cussionary rock 'n' roll bands."
  5. ^ The Music Trades, Volume 135, Issues 1-6, p. 90 "Maintaining its position as the world's largest cymbal producer, the Avedis Zildjian Company has announced an exciting joint venture with Barcus-Berry, Inc."
  6. ^ "Robert Zildjian Dead: Founder Of Sabian Cymbal Company Dies At 89". The Huffington Post. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Vic Firth Company and Avedis Zildjian Company Announce Merger". VicFirth.com. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  8. ^ "Zildjian Historical Timeline". Avedis Zildjian Company. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  9. ^ "Zildjian Bios-Avedis Zildjian I". zildjian.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Welcome!". gen-16.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Sound Legacy - Matt Kelly. YouTube. 19 June 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°9′42.30″N 70°53′11.15″W / 42.1617500°N 70.8864306°W / 42.1617500; -70.8864306