Paiste unofficial** cymbal production/history timeline: 1900 - 1986

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Paiste "unofficial" cymbal production/history timeline: 1900 - 1986


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1901-1916: Russia

Michail Toomas Paiste, a composer and musician, whose father had come from Estonia to serve in the Tsarist Guard, founds a publishing business and music store in St. Petersburg.
The operation, which also includes modest instrument manufacturing and repair facilities, flourishes for many years until the upheavals of the Russian Revolution force its closing.

1917-1939: Estonia

Michail Toomas returns to his native country, and re-opens his business in the city of Tallinn. It is here that he begins to design and manufacture cymbals for concert and marching bands together with his son, Michail M. Paiste, who quickly becomes the driving force and eventually takes over the business.
Seeking to meet the rapidly evolving demands of “modern music” and the emerging drum set, the son begins to develop his own special concept for Turkish style cymbals, which he prefers over the Chinese style as a starting point.
It is during this time that he also develops the first gongs. The resulting instruments receive awards and international recognition as they begin to be exported to Europe, the USA and overseas.

1932 - 1977: STAMBUL series

A brave new world: The STAMBUL enters the market in 1932.
One of Paiste's longest running series: The Stambul was an upper class cymbal for the era up to the Second World War and prior to the F602 release, where it took a second place position after 1959.
Stambul's are made of nickel silver "NS12" until approximately 1970, it was then produced from CuSn8 "B8" bronze until phase out and transition in to the 505 series in 1978.
Production timeline:
1932-1940 (Estonia)
1940-1945 (Poland)--relocation from WWII, small production
1945-1948 (Germany)--relocation from WWII, small production
1948-1957 (Germany)--expanded production once again
1957-1978 (Switzerland & Germany)

1940-1944 Poland

The events of World War II force Michail M. to leave Estonia for Poland, where he re-establishes the family business.
The company struggles with a wartime shortage of raw materials and difficulty in maintaining international relations, but manages to survive.

~1946: German production facility

Towards the end of the war, Michail M. and his family escaped Poland as refugees, bringing him to Northern Germany where, for the third time, he begins to produce cymbals and gongs.
The instruments superior reputation help revive business relationships and ensure development of a robust export business throughout the Fifties.
Today all Paiste gongs and budget cymbal series are manufactured in Schacht-Audorf near Rendsburg by approx. 30 employees.
Historically, most of the top lines of cymbals (with the exception of the 602 series) were produced in the German factory specifically for the German market (the lower lines were distributed worldwide).
This would include: 2002's, 404's, 505's, Stambul65's, Stambul's, Dixie's, Stanople's, Ludwig / Ludwig Standard's, Super, etc.

1947 - 1960/1969?: ZILKO series

Paiste needs a beginner's cymbal: In 1947 Paiste launches the lower-priced ZILKO series, making it the first cymbal manufacturer in the world to offer more than one level of cymbal quality.
These new cymbals are made in Estonia from brass MS63 (1947-1953), then in Germany (1953-1960) from nickel silver "NS12" as ZILKO STANDARD.
It is possible the line was discontinued in the 50s and then they revived the Zilko (and Zilket) name in the 60s for sales through Dallas Arbiter for distribution in England.
This would seem to make sense since the Zilko name doesn't seem to appear in any of the 60s Paiste catalogs.

1949: Chinese Cymbal production

Paiste is the first company in the world to produce and integrate Chinese cymbals into the setup of drummers for modern music.

1957: Swiss production facility

In 1957 Michail M. founded a new production workshop in Switzerland with his two sons Robert and Toomas (the 3rd generation).
A new era began under the direction of Robert and Toomas at Nottwil, located on Lake Sempach in the district of Lucerne Switzerland.
In 1970, a new factory was built next to the existing one. In 1995 Toomas took over the role of President from Robert.
Since 2003, the company is headed by Toomas’ son, Erik.

1957 - 1965: "Ludwig" series, Sales/distribution in the U.S.

Coming to America: With its new production facility in Switzerland, Paiste intends to eliminate trade restrictions and enter international markets: The Ludwig Drum Company becomes the distributor for the US market.
This can be described as a great business success for Paiste: Ludwig had sold only Zildjian cymbals from their first catalog starting in 1912 until now.
From 1957: a less expensive PAISTE series is offered in addition to the higher-quality Zildjian, under the name "Ludwig".
Ludwig cymbals are first made in Germany (with the addition of "CHICAGO" on the stamp), then later in Switzerland, all are made of Nickel Silver alloy NS12.

1965 - 1975?: "Ludwig Standard" series

Around 1965, the Ludwig STANDARD series (with the new logo) were added to the catalog and these can be classified as an upscale entry-level line.
Ludwig STANDARD cymbals are initially made in Switzerland and then from 1960 onwards in Germany, they are also made of Nickel Silver alloy NS12.
By 1975 we see the Last appearance of Ludwig Standards in limited size options (probably leftovers after the companies parted ways).

1957-1959?: Standard series

The "Standard" used Nickel Silver alloy NS12.
It's assumed they were the lower budget line at the time, as Stambul was the higher quality line.
The official Paiste '09 timeline doesn't list a "Standard", yet there is a "Zilko Standard" around this time frame.
We have proof of its existence from the cover of the 1957 catalog, which only identifies three lines: Super F602, Stambul and Standard, this was when the Swiss factory first opened.

1957-1959: SUPER FORMULA 602

The shape of things to come: Paiste had been experimenting with cymbals made of B20 bell bronze for a while.
In 1957 this (new to Paiste) alloy first came onto the market under the name "SUPER FORMULA 602", the stamp of this series still looks very similar to the STAMBUL stamp.
It's likely that the "super 602" was more of a prototype development, which was refined over those 2 years.
Just over the horizon was the iconic formula 602, I wonder if Paiste knew this would turn out to be thier longest running series?
Today, "Super formula's" are extremely rare, extremely valuable and extremely collectable!

1959 - 1977: DIXIE series

The Fledgling: The DIXIE series is a new entry-level series and made of nickel silver "NS12". The Dixie was introduced as a lower-priced NS12 series below the Stambul.
Production of the Dixie in Switzerland seems to have started in late 1958 and the line makes its first appearance in the 1959 Paiste (Swiss) Catalog.
According to Paiste's official production timeline, the Dixie started in Germany in 1954 but recent discoveries seem to refute this beyond a shadow of a doubt.
At some point post-1966 (probably in or closer to 1970), the Dixies were upgraded to the new CuSn8 "B8" bronze.
DIXIE's were phased out and transitioned into the 404 series by 1978.
The logo doesn't contain the word “Paiste”, only “DIXIE” and the crescent moon with a star, below it: “Made in Germany” or “Switzerland”.

1959 - 1994 (reissued 2011): FORMULA 602

The one and only: After two years of experimenting with B20 Bronze, the FORMULA 602 series saw the light of day in the cymbal world in 1959.
This is Paiste's first world class cymbal, it can now compete directly with the current world standard: Zildjian!
These traditional bronze cymbals offer something very special in terms of sound quality and refinement, they overshadow everything Paiste had produced until then.
The FORMULA 602 series, which has its roots in jazz and acoustic music, gave Paiste their first big wave of international fame.
Ludwig introduced and started distributing 602's in the North American market in 1967, this further increased Paiste's sales and exposure to the largest consumer market in the world.

1960 - 1978: SUPER series

It is believed that the SUPER was first made in Germany sometime between 1960 and 1964, after the Paiste Standard line was discontinued.
The Swiss factory also made "NS12" Supers for a short period of time (1967-1971?) before both factories switched to B8 version starting sometime in 1971.
Production of the B8 Super ceased by 1974 in the Swiss factory, the cymbal was still available from the German factory until 1978 when it was replaced by the 101.
The name “Paiste” is not found in the logo, the word “SUPER” is to the left of the crescent moon and star and below it: “Made in Germany” and later “Switzerland” (some logos just show the name "Super").

1963: CuSn8 "B8" bronze:

In 1963 Paiste began to experiment with CuSn8, a bronze alloy with a high copper content (92% copper and 8% tin), also called B8.
In the 1970s, this somewhat more reddish alloy became known as the "2oo2 bronze".
The B8 alloy is more elastic and malleable than the traditional B20 bell bronze, it is also easier to work (roll, hammer, turn) than B20.
B8 has unique sonic qualities compared to any other alloy: the large amount of copper gives a "sweetness" to the fundamental pitch and overtones, a definitive high frequency "ring" is also present that cuts through and makes this alloy instantly recognizable to the trained ear.
B8's unique sonic qualities are perfect for cutting through loud amplified music!

1965 - 1973: STAMBUL65

A star is born: The Stambul ’65 was Paiste's first series entirely made of the B8 (2002 bronze) alloy.
Released in 1965, the series was an important development that paved the way for the groundbreaking Giant Beat line and subsequently, the crowning achievement of Paiste’s use of B8, the legendary 2002.
The majority of Stambul ‘65s were made in Nottwil, but it’s not uncommon to see examples from the German factory as well, especially the marching cymbals.
In addition to the stamped logo, Stambul65's made after 1971 will have a black ink Paiste logo and series name stamp at the 12 o’clock position above the bell.
The red ink type stamp at 3 o’clock should be on all examples, no matter the year of the production.
Hammering and lathing closely resemble the 602 series of that era. Considered very collectable and still modern sounding, a great addition to one's current cymbal setup.

1965: Ludwig starts distributing Formula 602's in the U.S.

The largest consumer market in the world now has access to Paiste's premier line of cymbals: the Formula 602.
Key in getting the partnership off the ground was Robert Yeager from the pro drum shop in Hollywood California.
He acted as technical adviser and actually hand picked the cymbals for his shop and for Ludwig to distribute.

1966 - 1973: STANOPLE series

Paiste brings the STANOPLE series onto the market in 1966 (The 2009 Paiste timeline gives the start date as 1950, but the line isn't listed in any of the 1950s era catalogs we have seen).
These cymbals are initially made in Germany, later in the new Swiss production facility.
All evidence points to them being made from "NS12" until possibly the last couple years of production, there is evidence that some late model Stanoples were made from CuSn8 "B8" bronze.
Stanoples are mainly offered in the USA, from 1966 through the Ludwig Drum Company. We don't know exactly how long they were produced, but STANOPLE cymbals can be found listed in the Ludwig catalog until 1973.
The stamp has either: "STANOPLE, Made in Germany, Paiste" or "STANOPLE, Made in Switzerland, Paiste" under the crescent moon and star.

1966: Paiste's first "golden era"

There was a huge explosion of creativity and new models starting around 1966 through the mid 1970's along with the development of the B8 alloy into Paiste's crowning achievement: the 2002.
Ludwig opens the north American market for the Formula 602 and several other series
Creation of the STAMBUL65 series
Creation of the Giant beat series
Formula 602 Joe Morello Set
Formula 602 Sound Edge hi-hats
Chinese Cymbal with Turkish bell
The Formula 602 flat ride
The Seven sound set (includes 1st. bell and splash)
Creation of the 2002 series
The Formula 602 22" Dark Ride
Formula 602 crotales
2002 crotales
2002 cup chimes
2002 flatride, bell and splash
Paiste drummer service

1966 - 1979 Formula 602 Joe Morello Set

Hey Joe, what do you know?: Late '65, early '66: Once Ludwig took over the distribution of Paiste cymbals, Joe Morello was approached by Bill Ludwig to endorse Paiste.
Since Joe played and endorsed Ludwig Drums, he was the obvious choice for a signature cymbal set baring his name.
Paiste catalog: "In personal collaboration with Joe Morello, this beautiful melodically coordinated set was created"
A custom set of Formula 602 cymbals made to Joe's specification (the 1st. artist model!) comprising of 14" sound edge hi hats, 17", 18" and 20" sizes.
Visual cues show much finer lathing and possibly different hammering compared to the standard 602's

1967: Formula 602 Sound Edge hi-hats

Invention of the wavy edge hi-hat bottom cymbal - The Sound Edge hi-hat
Another Paiste invention that defined rock drummers sound from the early 70's through the 80's.

1967: 1st. flat ride

Invention of the bell-less flat ride cymbal (originally called the "space sound"). Included in the "seven sound set"

1967: Chinese Cymbal with "Turkish bell"

For the first time in 1967, Paiste uses a Turkish bell on a Chinese cymbal, included in the "seven sound set" another Paiste innovation.

1967: 1st. splash and bell

Included in the "seven sound set"

1967 - 1976: Seven sound set

Seven sound set: "A set of seven cymbals each in a new unusual sound-color. Sound colors the demanding drummer is looking for to enrich his personal cymbal set."

1967 - 1974 (2005 reissue): GIANT BEAT series

We will rock you: The sound of early 70's rock, John Bonham recorded more Zeppelin albums with Giant beats than he did with 2002's!
1967 Paiste launched the Giant Beat cymbals, which are characterized by warmth, strength and brilliance drummers had not known before.
The first generation of Giant Beats were printed with white ink at 9:00 O'clock starting in 1967 until early 1972.
The second generation of Giant beats featured Black ink (at 12:00 O'clock) and a slight change to the way they were stamped from 1972 to early 1974.

1971: Ludwig starts distributing the Seven sound set and Giant beat series in the U.S.

1971 - 1986**: The 2oo2

A new world order: Paiste's crowning achievement, thier pinnacle of B8 development: the 2002 series.
No other cymbal manufacturer has matched the refinement and sonic balance of this series using B8 alloy.
Over the last half century or more, Paiste's ability to produce top of the class sounding multiple lines of B8 cymbals will never be matched by any other manufacturer.
The most successful line of Paiste cymbals reflected in sales numbers, unrivalled by any other line.
Top Rock 'n' Roll drummers of the '70's incorporated 2002s into their set ups; virtually every English rock drummer from that era used 2002's with few exceptions!

(**)The outcry from drummers and dealers was substantial, many were still asking for and still ordering 2002's.
The 2002 line was actually still available and never officially canceled, it was even listed on US/European dealers paperwork and available for order.
What Paiste did was to scale back the production of 2002's to a limited amount of stock, this allowed their factory labor to focus on the new lines.
The 2002's were still available and could be ordered in from Swiss factory; they just weren’t marketing them in ads, the 3000/2000 etc. were the new thing.
By late 1987, Paiste put out an updated flyer to dealers mentioning the line was still active. In 1988 it even made an appearance in Modern Drummer, listed in some drummer's setups.

1971 - 1977: Formula 602 22" Dark Ride

The enigma: The infamous, the one and only, the Formula 602 Dark Ride: by far the most desirable collectable cymbal Paiste has ever produced.
Heavy hammering and a darker tone are some of the characteristics that hark back to the old Zildjian K's, Jon Hiseman and Jack De Johnette are credited with early development.
Quote from the 1976 catalog (translated from German): "The basic character of the cymbal is deep and dark with a lively, constantly mixing, full, deep cooking bottom. The ride intensity can be increased by strong hits with the stick flat on the cymbal surface to short, sharp crash effects."
When Rogers started distributing Paiste cymbals, they listed the dark ride with the 2002's, because of that, they asked Paiste to remove the "Formula 602" name from above the bell of the cymbal.
These versions are called "transition" models because they were sold after Rogers started distribution but before the inception of the Sound Creation series.
In 1978 the Sound Creation series appears and the Dark Ride is included in that series from then on.

1975: Distribution in the U.S. by Rogers

After Ludwig's withdrawal around 1973 (word has it that the relationship didn't end well: Ludwig had to cover all the cracked and broken cymbals because Paiste would not accept returns!), Rogers, or rather its owner (CBS), takes over the distribution in the USA. There's a two year gap during this time where it must have been very difficult to buy any Paiste cymbal in the U.S.
Initially, you will only find a limited selection of the 2oo2 series listed in the Rogers 1976 catalog.
Subsequently, the 1979 catalog also listed the new SOUND CREATION series along with a very limited selection of the 404 series.
In addition, the Formula 602 series was listed as "special order only, 100 day turnaround", the new 505 series was not listed at all.

1976: 2002 bell, splash & flat ride

The '76 catalog lists a 2002 bell, splash & flat ride for the first time.

1978 - 1986: 4o4 series

The little cymbal that could: The successor to the Dixie series, Paiste 404s were released to the general public in 1978. It appears the line was first developed in the Swiss factory staring sometime in 1974.
Most experts consider the 404 superior to any lower line/entry level cymbal Paiste has produced since.
Multiple sources state that Paiste was losing money on the 404 line because they still required a substantial amount of hand labor to produce (subsequent models had thier lathing "stamped" into them!).

1978 - 1986* (German factory offered 505s until 1993!): 5o5 series

The poor man's 2002: The 505 is very close sonically and in production quality to the 2002.
The successor to the long-running Stambul series, Paiste 505s were released to the public in 1978 and slotted in under the 2002.
505's were not available in the U.S until ~1981 when Paiste opened their North American distribution center (Brea), by then they had the printed "green stamp" logo along with an expanded selection of models and sizes.
The same sources state that Paiste was also losing money on the 505 line because they required a substantial amount of manual labor and skill to produce (they were 35% cheaper than an equivalent 2002!).

1978 - 1984: Sound creation series

What's old is new again: a whole new series is developed along similar lines of the 602 dark ride, the Sound creation series.
Heavy hammering and a darker tone are some of the characteristics that hark back to the old K Zildjian's.
Paiste beat Zildjian to the punch by three years (10 years if you include the 602 dark ride) with thier dark sounding heavily hand hammered new series.
Zildjian had to buy the "K" rights and import the cymbal smiths who were making them from the Azco plant in Canada (at the time they were producing "Azco Canadian K's")
"Sound creation is an entirely new collection of individual cymbal sounds which has unmatched variety in pitch, texture, color and feeling, these sounds cooperate with the drummer in his efforts to express himself in music and thereby stimulate musical creativity".
"The name on each Sound Creation cymbal describes the sound, type, feeling and character for which it was created".
The 602 dark ride is renamed an included in the series.

1979: 101 series

The original 101 was an entry-level Nickel-Silver line made in Paiste's German factory replacing the SUPER as the company's low budget offering.
The 101s received an embossed logo with black ink type stamps for the first two years of production.
Starting in 1981, the cymbals got silk screened logos in a pretty teal color for the rest of the run. Paiste would later revive the 101 name for its budget brass cymbals.

1979: Paiste Percussion set

1980 - 1986: Paiste's second "golden era"

Subjective opinion: this era contains the most diverse, highest overall quality and easily available models (virtually every model and size is still attainable used in good condition) for the vintage enthusiast/collector.

1980: Invention of un-lathed cymbals: RUDE

Combat rock: Under Robert Paiste, the policy of constant development pushing the boundaries of the products further creating cymbal sounds for every drummer's needs saw the birth of this legendary series.
This gave the modern drummer another tool to further explore with its raw, forceful character and its unrefined looks to match the loud, vigorous nature even of today's heavy music: hard rock, heavy metal, punk, new wave.

Early 1981: All series: end of the Black Label era

1981: North American distribution center, Brea, CA. (greater Los Angeles area)

We love L.A: Paiste's availability, use and popularity increases dramatically in the U.S.
In 1981, Paiste gained a foothold in the world's largest music market in the world with the founding of Paiste America, Inc. in Brea, California (north east of Los Angeles).
Toomas lived in the U.S. (possibly Yorba Linda, close to the dist. center) for some time in the 80s and was instrumental in founding and developing the sales/distribution branch.
Formula 602's and 505's are now fully available in the U.S. along with the full range of 2002's and 404's. this coincides with the "colored label" era.

Mid 1981: Beginning of the "colored labels", all series

Taking cues from the new 1980 Rude models with it's large printing of the logo, size and model name; Paiste applies the same labeling format to all it's current models at that time.
Many users and collectors believe this was Paiste's second "golden era": all of their classic lines had expanded models and sizes, every model from the 404 to the Sound creations are considered collectable today.
All lines (with the exception of the 101) included substantial hand labor to manufacture them (later lower line cymbals had some processes automated by a computer instead of manually operating a machine).

1981 - 1983: Expanded models

All the lines had an increase in selection: creating an incredibly diverse choice of models and sizes.

1984 - 1986: Colorsound 5 series

In living color: Origins: Nick Mason requested Black cymbals for the The Wall tour during 1979 that had possibly led to it’s inception.
"Paiste first pioneered color coated cymbals with COLORSOUND 5 in 1984 as a means for artistic expression during the time period when popular music became visual in music videos on television."
With the creation of MTV, new music trends and the explosion of "music videos", Colorsound cymbals were created at the right place and the right time!
Initially there were only four colors: black, blue, green and red, later as custom orders: white, yellow, turquoise and purple.
It seems the line was absorbed into the 2000 line during the "great phaseout" of 1986.

1985 (1984 based on serial #)- 1991 (1994 based on serial #): Sound Creation New Dimension series

Last of the greats: The last of the second "golden era" cymbals to be released.
Cymbals with the specification * New Dimension * are a "special further developments intensifying existing sounds keeping up with the development of styles in music".
Comparing lines side by side: the original series tend to be unevenly spaced hammering with deeper hammer marks. The new dimension version are more evenly hammered using wider hammer marks.
The exception being the dark china: in the original series they are hammered very evenly, new dimension version they have deeper hammer marks and are more unevenly hammered.
It is believed that the larger hammering and pattern carried on in later generation series in the late 80's and 90's. This was Paiste's most expensive line: 54% more expensive than the 2002's, 20% more expensive that the 602's!

1986: End of an era, the great phase out

The end of Paiste's second "golden era", gone are the 2002*(see footnote in the 2002 section), Rude, Colorsound 5, 505, 404, even the 101 series, all to be replaced by the 3000 (the "new Coke"), 2000, 1000, 1000 Rude, 400 and lowly 200 series.
The Formula 602 and Sound creation lines run until about 1993 (both lines were very expensive to produce). With the new B15 alloy and several lines based on it, it seems Paiste was ready to move on.
There was also the cost saving factor: subsequent lower level replacement lines (200, 400, 1000) required much less skill, labor and most importantly, cost to produce.
Some of the lowest models had thier lathing "stamped" into them, and hammering was done with a computer (automated process).

This is where we get off the Paiste train: the author had grown up during this era and had discovered/played each model when new (and purchased many as well), he doesn't think Paiste's subsequent replacement lines offered the model sizes and value for money (quality) especially of the lower lines that this "golden era" did.
Of course they went on to do great things over the next couple of decades and now endure intense competition, but the music of my youth was created with these groundbreaking classic lines of cymbals, music that will never be replicated again!

(**)All the info, dates and history were carefully researched from dozens of sources and to the best of our ability, that said, we cannot guarantee %100 accuracy of this timeline.**

Credits: Todd Little, Steve Black (owner of wiki page), George Fludas (Bonham info), Mark Carlson, Nils Lillig, Daniel Plasko, DeSeven S Opitz ("Paiste Line History WIKI-non-official Facebook page"), Franz Neuwirth at NF Drums, Ed Clift, Fritz Steger, Sean Walton, Paiste's official page, google, Getty images.
Thanks to Pierre Favre and Freddy Studer who took time out to answer a few questions to clear up a an old mystery or two!

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