TRX: Not Your Dad's Turkish Cymbals
Until the last decade or so, I always viewed Turkish cymbals as sort of a Holy Grail of jazz cymbals for older professional players or younger jazz nerds. Times, however, are changing. Today, drummers both young and old and from every genre are incorporating Turkish cymbals into their setups, and with good reason. There’s a certain expressiveness and musicality that emanates from a handmade cast plate of B20 bronze that’s hard to deny. Still, modern amplified music often requires drummers to play at a volume level and with a degree of physicality that can overwhelm the dynamic capabilities of the thinner, more delicate jazz cymbals that we used to associate with Turkish manufacturers. Here’s where the TRX Young Turks cymbals enter the mix.
TRX has been around for six years or so, with its international headquarters in Studio City, California. TRX cymbals are made at already-existing Turkish cymbal manufacturing facilities that also make cymbals for other brands. TRX differentiates itself by developing specific, unique designs with specifications geared toward younger and/or modern players. As a consumer, this means you get a cymbal made by someone who already knows what he or she is doing, but with a sound that, at least in theory, has a more modern sensibility.
The TRX set I received consisted of a smattering of new cymbals TRX has released over the last year: (1) from the ICON series, an 11" splash, a 12" China, a 16" Stacker crash, and a 22" heavy ride; and (2) from the other series, 15" BRT/DRK hi-hats, a 19" LTD China, a 21" MDM crash/ride, and a 22" BRT crash/ride. Although not necessarily designed to go together, I tested these cymbals as a set and found that they blended together exceptionally well — both sonically and visually.
Old Soul With A New Face
All the TRX cymbal series I received are cast from B20 bronze (80 percent copper/20 percent tin) and completely handmade. From there, manufacturing techniques differ slightly. The ICONs and the MDM crash/ride utilize traditional lathing on top and bottom. The ICONs have a brilliant finish that comes from buffing (no lacquers or other finishes), whereas the MDM has a non-brilliant (i.e., classic, or less shiny) surface. TRX perforates the 16" ICON crash with six large holes for air venting, each approximately 2" in diameter. The surface area of the 19" LTD China receives micro-lathing top and bottom with a raw (unlathed) bell, brilliant edges (from where the cymbal inverts), and a remaining non-brilliant/classic surface area.
The BRT 22" crash/ride has an unlathed top and bottom with myriad scattered hammer marks and one of the most gorgeous brilliant finishes I’ve seen on a cymbal. The 15" BRT hi-hat top has the same gorgeous brilliant finish. The 15" DRK hi-hat bottom has an earthy, non-brilliant look that comes from virtually no lathing — except for a series of approximately eight spaced lathed stripes near the cymbal’s edge.
All of the TRXs I received have expertly applied black logos with eye-catching, modern bold fonts. The all-caps large “ICON” black logos that adorn the cymbal playing surfaces have some purposefully missing paint on some of the letters — giving them an already-worn jeans look that says, “I may be young, but I’m not inexperienced.” The BRT, MDM, and LTD logos — also in all-caps, in what appears to be a bold Times New Roman font — are a nod to the acronym obsession that seems to pervade everything modern. (Does anyone remember when KFC actually used to be called Kentucky Fried Chicken?)
The only aesthetic remnant of old fogy Turkish cymbals that the TRXs retain is their black stamped size indicators. For example, the underside of the 22" ICON heavy ride has a not-very-stylish bold black stamp that says, “22" 55 cm.” I’ve come to expect these stamps on most Turkish handmade cymbals, but I’ve rarely seen this sort of size indicator on a Western or Euro-style major-label brand. Those brands use cool fonts and paint applications for size indicators. TRX should do the same (or otherwise, include no size indications at all). Aside from that small nit, I found all the TRX cymbals to be visually impressive and professional on every level.