Istanbul Agop Cymbals

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Istanbul Agop
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1980; 39 years ago (1980) in Istanbul, Turkey
FounderAgop Tomurcuk [1]
HeadquartersIstanbul, Turkey
Key people
Agop Tomurcuk, Arman Tomurcuk, Serkis Tomurcuk, Mel Lewis

Istanbul Agop Cymbals is a cymbal producer based in Turkey. Its products are well respected for their unique sound,[2] which is formed by the method and the alloy used, the formula of which is known only to the owners of the firm, Armenians Arman and Sarkis Tomurcuk. It is one of two companies that formed after the split of Istanbul Cymbals.


The art of Turkish cymbal making dates back to the 16th century, the time of the Ottoman Empire. The very first cymbals manufactured in Turkey were actually bells, created for the use in churches. Later on, as the story goes, cymbals were produced for the Ottoman military band. In the 20th century, it had become well known that Istanbul had evolved into the cymbal-making capital of the world.[3] Generations of master cymbalsmiths developed, refined, and redefined this art in their endless search for perfection. They formulated the most musical alloy and developed and tested hand-crafting methods which had been used for centuries. As the 20th century drew to its close, the traditional Turkish method for hand crafting cymbals had all but been abandoned due to the efficiencies and mass production facility provided by machines. In 1980, the first Istanbul Cymbals began to be produced by Agop Tomurcuk, who had been working in the business of hand-made cymbal manufacture since the age of nine and had worked at the original K factory in Istanbul as the foreman until the factory's closure in 1978, and his partner Mehmet Tamdeger, under the name "Zilciler." Shortly afterwards the company Istanbul was founded.

During the following years, they also developed many original designs, while still employing the traditional methods. Many of these inventive designs are in their production-line today. In 1996 Agop Tomurcuk died in an accident, and as a result the company began to be pulled in two separate directions. It was determined that the company must be split. Agop's sons, Arman and Sarkis, continued their way by following in the footsteps of their father, and Mehmet was free to run his own separate company as he saw fit. Both companies had the benefit of the well-respected "Istanbul" name, but differentiated by the addition of "Agop" and "Mehmet," which can be seen on their respective logos.[4]


"Alchemy Cymbals" is a brand of hand-made cymbals belonging to Istanbul Agop; the brand has its own production line. The main difference between Istanbul Agop and Alchemy Cymbals is the finishing process, which gives Alchemy Cymbals a brighter look and a distinct sound. Alchemy Cymbals also has low-cost cymbals in its production line for beginners and semi-professionals.[5]


  • 30th Anniversary series
  • Traditional series
  • Xist series
  • Special Edition series
  • Sultan series
  • Turk series
  • MS-X series
  • Band & Orchestra line
  • Art series

In addition, Istanbul Agop also produces "signature" series of cymbals designed in collaboration with some of their top and long lasting endorsers. These include:

  • Agop Signature series
  • Sterling series
  • Mel Lewis series (a series replicating the cymbals used by Mel Lewis)
  • OM series (designed in collaboration with Cindy Blackman)
  • Mantra series (also designed with Blackman)
  • Epoch series (designed for Lenny White)

Istanbul Agop also offers individual cymbals designed by artists, rather than whole lines. These are:

  • Joey Waronker signature hi-hats and ride
  • Idris Muhammed signature ride
  • Trevor Lawrence clapstack (a stacked effects cymbal set)