Tony Williams Prototype Project

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In the quest for the perfect cymbal, many Jazz drummer have noted that Tony Williams’ ride in the Miles (60’s) era was the best sounding cymbal ever recorded. It is now seen as THE sound for a Jazz cymbal. In my efforts to capture this sound, I (with great help from cymbalholic members such as: Patrick Wiseman and Mike Skiba…thanks guys!) took the initiative of asking Istanbul Agop to produce a ride that was similar to the revered Tony Williams sound.

Through extensive research and listening, we were able to determine the specific caracteristics that produce the Tony Williams. Obviously, it is firstly Williams’ masterful technique and feel that makes this cymbal sound gorgeous. Nonetheless, it is secondly the craftsmanship of the old K. Zildjian Istanbul factory that is at the base of his sound. This old K sound is what we have attempted to capture. With the supreme talent of the cymbal makers at the Agop factory and the input of my fellow drummer fiends, I beleive that the product that we have here comes very close to the recorded sound of Williams’ ride.

There were two batches of these rides made. Only two were made of the first batch. This first batch was the original and Istanbul made the ride according to the document I wrote. Here are pictures of the original ride:

The original prototype is much heavier than the second batch. This ride weights at around 2680g. But because of its bowed profile and thinner edges it crashes very nicely. Notice how the lathing gets thinner at about 3″ from the edge?

Its bowed profile is responsible for the controlled wash. This ride never gets out of control. It always has the prominent woody stick tone with the dark wash underneath. Unless you shoulder crash it, it never opens up to the point of being overly loud and washy. Once crashed though, this ride opens up to a nice trashy splash sound. But because of its bowed profile, the crash quickly diminishes.

Hear and compare the original ride with the original Tony Williams Nefertiti ride (courtesy of Patrick Wiseman)

ride crash

The second batch was made considerably different. Much of the sonic qualities of the original Tony Williams ride was retained. The only difference is that it is lathed like an Agop Jazz ride. The profile is still bowed with a slight edge upwards edge flange. The bell is not as big and thick. These were also made much thinner.

Notice how the edge flanges a bit upwards?

The hammering is also a bit less heavy than the original. These rides have a darker and more shimery sound. They are reminisent of the old K sound we all love. Check out the clips on the main page and hear for yourself!

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