It’s tough not to get haughty about cymbals like these. Playing them, you feel more than a little elitist, like a first-class citizen, the type who walks around in immaculately tailored suits and appreciates the finest in everything. The new line of K. Constantinople ride cymbals is one for the purists, the musicians, those who do the drumming equivalent of antique shopping. It isn’t just about the sound. The analogy toward antiquing is actually appropriate. These cymbals will not only sound better with age, given that the accumulation of wear and dirt mellows the timbre, but they will almost certainly increase in value and prestige over time. I couldn’t wait to uncork these babies and give them a taste.
Zildjian offers six new cymbals to add to the existing K. Constantinople line introduced in the spring of 1998. Whereas previous offerings are designated by familiar weight terminology (light, medium), these new Ks are branded by pitch and thinness. Although inconsistent with the existing Constantinople delineation, the references to pitch make sense once you play them. Zildjian offers three new types for each of two diameters, comprising six total: 20" and 22" Thin High, 20" and 22" Medium Thin High, and 20" and 22" Medium Thin Low.
For those unfamiliar with the genesis of the Constantinople line, here’s a bit of history. Constantinople was, of course, the ancient heart of the Byzantine Empire, what is now Istanbul, Turkey. It’s also the place where the Zildjian K. was created more than a century ago. The sound was rediscovered in the 1950s and ’60s by many of the legendary jazz drummers of the seminal be-bop era. Today’s Constantinople line is the latest effort by Zildjian to recreate the original recipe that became such a signature sound in jazz music.
The first welcome discovery of the K. Constantinoples is the outstanding stick response across the line. The washy character that characterizes some classic rides is a secondary attribute here. Stick patterns played in the middle area of the cymbal are clear and well defined. All six cymbals, in both the 20" and 22" diameters, exhibited a gorgeous, classic “taah, taah…” stick sound. They have the perfect blend of dry and bright attributes, without too much of either.
Overtones are, of course, the other key characteristic of a great ride cymbal. The key with the overtones of the K. Constantinoples is control. This is where the pitch designation makes so much sense. Take the Medium Thin High, for example. There is a defined pitch in the cymbal. But as you play harder and the overtones become more apparent, there isn’t a hint of variance in the note. Naturally, the spread of the frequencies creates tremendous depth and complexity of sound, but there is an evenness and balance without any ringing or tonality issues whatsoever. These cymbals go beyond shimmer; they actually glow. Another important consideration: There is variance in pitch from cymbal to cymbal of the same type. This is often typical of Zildjian cymbals, where each has its own uniqueness. It’s even more apparent in these new Ks, where, for example, one 22" Thin High will sound different from another. Even if you like what you hear, try another of the same type and size to hone in on the exact sound you want.