Istanbul Mehmet: Carmine Appice Cymbals Tested!

istanbul mehmet cymbals

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!

Appearance

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.

22" Ride

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.

18" And 20" Crashes

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.

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14" Hi-Hats

These hi-hats are heavy but are very musical and versatile enough to work across many styles of louder music. The chick is very loud and cuts well without any clangy-ness. Stick definition is good and my hi-hat barks were also very cutting. If you want a sloshy hi-hat sound that doesn’t need a microphone to be heard these cymbals have it. Using lighter sticks and playing with the tip could also work well in a big band context.

8" Splash

The splash had some minor hammering dimples and thin lathing patterns. It isn’t overly bright or clangy like some rock splashes and was always musical sounding, giving a very brief accent and fast decay. I think it would be perfect for jazz or Dixieland. I usually use a 10" splash since 8" splashes never seem loud enough. So perhaps it’s my built-in bias, but I think a 10" model would’ve been a better idea for this line.

18" And 19" Chinas

I was surprised to discover the Chinas were not just two different-sized versions of the same cymbal. Both had a cup bell, but the 18" cymbal was lathed top and bottom and the 19" was lathed on the top surface while the underside was not lathed in the area from the cup to the flange. The 18" had a narrower 3" wide flange and the 19" had a wider 4" flange. Both were excellent China cymbals since neither was gong-like, and both offered lots of white noise trash. I preferred playing faster accent patterns on the 18" since it had more initial bite but I liked crashing the larger cymbal more since it was a bit trashier.

Recording Session

I had a recording session and decided to take advantage of the ride, crashes, and hi-hats while they were in my possession. I didn’t require the splash or Chinas for this session. The cymbals all sounded great through the two overheads and hi-hat mike. The ride wasn’t close-miked and actually sounded less pingy and more washy than I expected yet still was very musical in the recording. If I wanted more definition I’d probably have it close-miked. I usually use lighter and smaller crash cymbals than these when recording but these worked fabulously and didn’t seem to sustain excessively. I may have to rethink my default cymbal choices.

On The Gig

I took this same selection of cymbals to a five-hour long live cover band gig where we play a very wide range of material ranging from country to metal in a small club. (Please don’t ask how little we were paid.) At this venue we only mike the bass drum so the cymbals have to project to be heard and I usually use a selection of heavier cymbals on this gig.

The guys in this band always like checking out the review gear I bring along and were very impressed by these cymbals. They were a pleasure to hear and the more I played them the more we appreciated them. I hope they aren’t disappointed when I bring my regular cymbals out again!

Verdict

These cymbals do not come across like one-trick ponies that are just designed to cut through a wall of sound. These cymbals remain musical while still projecting well (excepting the splash) and are more versatile than you might expect. They seem perfect for alternative, punk, classic rock, old-school metal, etc. The crashes and Chinas could also work well for extreme metal if you’re tired of playing brake drums for cymbals. If you’re considering them for that purpose note they come with a two-year warranty. The ride is a bit too versatile for the genre’s requirements since your blastbeats might lack definition.

I’d gladly use these cymbals on almost any of my gigs but since DRUM! pays me to be picky, the only minor thing I didn’t like about the cymbals was the little comic-strip caricature of Carmine Appice that’s on all the cymbals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Appice’s drumming and nothing against him, but I wouldn’t want anyone’s picture on my cymbals – even my own!

Details

Features Unique lathing and hammering patterns for distinct musical enhancement of each cymbal; versatile crashes and rides suitable for many styles.
Model & List Prices
8" Splash $239
14" Hi-hat $699
18" Crash $509
20" Crash $769
22" Ride $899
18" China $565
19" China $675

Contact
Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals USA
istanbulmehmet.com
310-927-8502