Mehmet Tamdeger and Agop Tomurcuk founded the company Istanbul Cymbals in the ’80s, naming it after the city in which it was located. Their knowledge and expertise in the craft of cymbal making had been passed down through many generations and their company became known for creating superb cymbals. After the death of Tomurcuk in the mid-’90s, Tamdeger continued the company under his sole leadership and renamed the company Istanbul Mehmet, broadening the offerings considerably.
Jazz drummers have been fans of Istanbul Mehmet’s cymbals for a while, but they’ve remained under the radar of many younger rock drummers. If you checked them out a few years ago and still think of them as just a maker of dark, complex jazz cymbals, we have an update for you; Mehmet now offers more than 30 lines of cymbals covering the full spectrum of modern music, from traditional jazz to extreme metal and even orchestral and marching-band lines.
We were curious about some of the company’s more contemporary offerings and were sent the seven hand-hammered cymbals that comprise the new Carmine Appice signature line. If you’re under 30 years old, you may not know that Carmine Appice has been an iconic drummer since the ’60s, when he played with Vanilla Fudge (and later with Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent, and others), becoming noted not only for his superb drumming but also for helping to bring personality and showmanship to rock with his incredible stick twirling and tossing. Countless rock drummers have been influenced by him through his clinics (he was a pioneering clinician) and many more have learned through his ground-breaking Realistic Rock books Whether you know it or not, you probably play a few of his licks. And at 65, he’s playing better than ever.
I was sent 18" and 20" crashes, 18" and 19" Chinas, a 22" ride, an 8" splash, and a pair of 14" hi-hats from his signature line. Let the fun begin!
All the cymbals are printed with the Istanbul Mehmet logo and had another smaller icon of Appice’s face with his name printed above “Realistic Rock.” On the underside of the cymbals are printed the company logo, Mehmet’s signature, and the cymbal type (i.e., “35cm 14" Hi-Hat Bottom”). The lathing and hammering patterns differ between cymbal types and are designed to enhance the function and musicality of each.
The ride is a hefty rock model with a medium-sized bell and very fine lathing marks across its top and bottom surfaces, punctuated with wider and more defined pin-lathing marks about every 0.33". This 22" is a versatile rock cymbal with a defined ping and just a little bit of musical wash. The cymbal has a slightly deeper-than-medium pitch with a very nice bright and cutting bell. The bell spoke quickly and easily. The cymbal always seemed to offer more ping than wash while riding it and I liked it for that reason.
Perhaps it’s because I’m always on a bit of a budget but I always like testing the versatility of gear in ways it might not have been specifically designed for, so I’m happy to report that this ride would also work quite well as a big band ride or in any situation where you want stick attack and a great bell. It felt good played with lighter sticks and its stable mass offered me a nice quick stick rebound.
The two crashes had very similar sound characteristics and sounded virtually identical to each other in every respect other than pitch. Since these are heavier crashes you’ll probably want to use a rock model or larger stick with these cymbals unless of course you enjoy buying lots of sticks. These are not subtle cymbals that respond to your lightest touch. These are meant to be played loudly so it takes a little force to get them moving compared to thinner and faster crashes. At higher volumes these projected well and sounded great, with a good initial explosion followed by lots of sustain.
Jobbing drummers take note; they also offer very cutting bells and each can work surprisingly well as a jazz ride if you use light sticks. I tried both crashes and especially liked the 20" when repurposed that way. The 18" could work as well but offered less wash than its larger sibling.