Identify Your Paistes
- 1 Alloys
- 2 B20 "Bell bronze" Alloy
- 3 B15 "Signature" Alloy
- 4 B8 "Malleable bronze" (2002) Alloy
- 5 NS12 Nickel Silver - CuNi12Zn24 (CuNi12 for short)
- 6 MS63 Brass
- 7 Serial Numbers
- 8 Series Logos/stamps/emboss
- 9 1981 transition to Ink Stamps
- 10 Size Stamps
- 11 Prototypes
- 12 Artist Model Stamps
- 13 Lathing
- 14 1992: Revival of the black labels and Mr. Paolo Sburlati
- 15 Factory refinishing
- 16 European, English & Japanese distributors
- 17 U.S. distributors before 1965
It is not uncommon for people to come across Paistes that are not completely identifiable. This includes vintage cymbals which the ink stamped logos and labels have been removed or faded.
More modern cymbals can be rendered ambiguous if cleaned improperly.
This page includes points used to identify cymbals that do not have proper labeling that has survived (more info is also available on the serial # page).
Please note that for this conversation, the term "embossed" refers to anything pressed into the metal of the cymbal, and the word "stamped" refers to any wording applied in ink.
In other arenas these terms may not be used in the same way.
There are several alloys used in the production of Paiste cymbals.
The easiest way to determine the alloy of an unknown cymbal is visually. However, the color may be difficult to judge in digital photographs.
It is recommended that when trying to identify a cymbal that it be done in person. Comparing to a cymbal of a known alloy is helpful if one is not familiar with the hues of the different alloys.
The formulae noted below refers to the amount of tin is mixed in with the main ingredient copper so for example, the B8 formula would be 8% tin to 92% copper.
B20 "Bell bronze" Alloy
Bell bronze, also known as bell metal, is the traditional alloy used for fine cymbals:
- B20: 20% tin / 80% copper tends to have a silver/yellow or white/yellow color hue, it is more pale than either the B15 and B8 alloys.
- Bell bronze is a "two-phase" alloy: meaning some of the tin is not dissolved in the copper grains but exists between them.
- This makes the metal harder and more brittle than a single-phase alloy, it must be "hot rolled" (Hot rolling is a metalworking process that occurs above the recrystallization temperature of the material).
- It can be difficult to work with, requiring extensive reworking, tempering and annealing due to its natural brittle state, but it has been used longer than any other alloy (almost 400 years by Zildjian alone!).
- B20 is still the most commonly used form of bronze.
- The copper in the alloy will oxidize when exposed to excessive moisture.
B15 "Signature" Alloy
Paiste "Sound Alloy": 15% tin / 85% copper, is the first bronze formula ever developed specifically for making cymbal sounds:
- In 1989 Paiste released this professional cymbal series bronze with 15% tin content.
- Though the manufacturing requires the metal to be hot rolled (like B20) at certain stages, it is not tempered like traditional B20 cymbals but is annealed: Annealing.
- Using this alloy allows for greater consistency between blanks compared to traditional cymbal alloy, and is more inline with Paiste's B8 production methods.
- B15, or Proprietary Signature Bronze (PSB) alloy, can be identified by lustrous yellow coloration.
- Like all bronze, a blue/green oxide will be found when exposed to excessive moisture. This cupric oxide is what gives the Statue of Liberty its characteristic color.
- In early promotional materials, Paiste referred to this alloy as "PSA" - Paiste Sound Alloy.
B8 "Malleable bronze" (2002) Alloy
Malleable bronze is an alloy of tin and copper comprising 8% tin / 92% copper:
- It is a "single-phase" alloy and can be cold rolled into sheets (Cold rolling occurs with the metal below its recrystallization temperature, usually at room temperature)
- Unlike B20 bell bronze, it is readily available as commercial sheet metal in many grades and thicknesses.
- Top of the line malleable bronze cymbals proved exceptionally suitable for the louder music, the best of them equal the best bell bronze cymbals in quality and sound characteristics.
- B8 has a noticeable orange hue to it, this is readily seen in clean cymbals, but is also present in cymbals that have developed a patina.
- One noticeable exception is the RUDE line: the color of a RUDE may have a green or brown tint but the lack of lathing and the raw color from the annealing process give them away.
- Moisture will cause B8 to develop a tell tale blue/green oxide.
NS12 Nickel Silver - CuNi12Zn24 (CuNi12 for short)
Composing roughly of 64% copper / 12% nickel / 24% zinc:
- Paiste's go to alloy from 1947 to 1970/71 for some of the top line and all its lower line cymbals.
- Nickel silver is malleable and available as commercial sheet metal, and gives a bright tone but without the shimmer and sensitivity of tin bronzes.
- In the early to mid 20th century nickel alloy cymbals were far more widely produced and used, and so many older recordings were probably made using cymbals with a significant nickel content.
- A very few specialised high-quality cymbals are also made from nickel silver, as are some top-quality gongs producing more modern and exotic sounds.
- Cymbals made of nickel silver have a steely silver color, this color tends to be more sterile looking then B20 alloy, resembling steel in many cases.
- Nickel silver is known for not corroding easily and may only have a light surface patina, rendering them more of a grey color.
- If exposed to moisture, they will not develop the blue/green oxide indicative of cupric alloys.
Brass is a copper/zinc alloy, most commonly in a 63% copper / 37% zinc ratio:
- It is very easily worked, readily available as sheet metal, and easily the cheapest metal stock normally used for cymbals.
- The tone of brass cymbals tends to be warm but dull compared to any sort of tin bronze.
- This alloy is almost exclusively found in beginner lines of instruments.
- If your store carries entry-level kits that come with complimentary cymbals, they’re likely to be brass.
- Used in some entry level Paiste cymbals.
Please see the special "serial number page" that examines these in detail.
Prototypes may or may not adhere to the serial number patterns in all respects.
The other important embossed information is the series stamp. Early Paistes used this method exclusively for identification of the cymbal. The typical embossed logos can be see on the various series pages.
In many cases this was later replaced with ink stamped logos. Embossed logos are usually found at the 12:00 position on the cymbal (3:00 for vintage giant beats).
Spotting details include:
Very early 2002 cymbals used a logo with a border that is not seen in later examples. It is thought that this indicates cymbals from 1971. Examples have not included serial numbers indicating that they were from 1971 or early 1972.
Early Traditional models had an embossed or stamped Paiste script logo. This was discontinued after the first or second year: cracking about the embossed logo has been sighted as a reason for this change.
1981 transition to Ink Stamps
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 the following year.
Paiste started to use ink stamps to identify their products mid 1981. These are used to identify the series, type and size of the cymbals.
At the same time Paiste also changed the serial number format adding "Paiste" and the series name above the serial number: detailed info here.
As with all of Paiste's production through the years; there was a transition period, it was common for Paiste to "restamp" black label cymbals with the new printed logo, the old emboss/stamp can be clearly seen under the printing (see examples below).
There is some confusion as to when a cymbal is made because it has a printed logo, the serial number and formatting of the serial number is the most accurate way to determine that.
During the "black label" era, size stamps appeared under the bell. During the "printed or colored label era" (starting in 1981) they were moved to the front of the cymbal and placed below the "type" identifier at the 03:00 position.
Like the "type" label, they are usually in a sans serif font. When using the sans serif font, the number is in a bold typeface.
There has been subtle variation in the font over the years, such as the inch size being in either a bold or non-bold font: detailed info here
Spotting details include:
- RUDES uses a stencil font for the type label, but the standard sans serif font for the size.
- In the 1990s the size has become part of the type label for the Traditional and Signature series
- Like the type label, the size label of prototype have been found in the 03:00 position and 12:00 position.
Prototypes tend to be a bit non standard in their labeling. It is common practice for the 12:00 position to contain the word "Paiste" in large print. In smaller print, at 6:00 the word "Prototype" normally appears in a smaller size. Examples exist the do not include the word "Prototype".
Spotting details include: Prototypes do not contain any production series identifiers, except for a small sticker often found on the back of the cymbal. It is unclear whether this is an indication of what series the cymbals was designed for or if it is only used as a guide for pricing the cymbal by retailers. Prototypes often use "generic" model designations, i.e., "Crash", "Ride", "Hi-Hat", et cetera.
Artist Model Stamps
There have been a limited number of artists model stamps ranging from simple sans serif text to graphics.
Spotting details include:
- The Formula 602 Joe Morello cymbals included his name stamped in the 03:00 position with the type identification.
- The phrase "Seven Sound Set" and the corresponding type number is stamped in the 03:00 position in red ink.
- The RUDE 24" Mega Power Ride (John Dolmayan) includes the "Eclipse" moniker in the 03:00 position just above the type label.
- The initial release of the Black Alphas use a unique gold tones ink and include the Slipknot logo in the 09:00 position.
- The Signature 22" Blue Bell Ride (Stewart Copeland) features white "The Rhythmatist" logo in the 06:00 position under the cymbal type label.
- The Signature 22" Reflector Bell Ride (Nicko McBrain) has "Powerslave" written in Iron Maiden font together with Eddie stencil in 06:00 position under the cymbal type label.
- The Reverend Al's "big ride" Developed in cooperation with the legendary Alex Van Halen.
In the absence of embossed or stamped logos, cymbal identification can be performed by evaluating the lathing. Many series have very distinct lathing.
For example, RUDES are known for not being lathed at all (with the exception of the 24" Mega Power Ride, and Innovations have the "Sound Texture" lathing that looks as if the lathing tool was allowed to skip across the surface.
Spotting details include:
1992: Revival of the black labels and Mr. Paolo Sburlati
(Paolo Sburlati worked many years for Paiste in Italy, he ended up distributing Paiste cymbals in Italy from 1984 to 1987, at that point, Toomas decided to switch to a larger distributor (Aramini) and moved Paolo over to a promoter/endorser for Paiste.)
Paolo Sburlati: "In 1992 Ian Paice gave me an old Ludwig drum set that he had used with Deep Purple and Whitesnake. Since it was from 1975, I wanted to match it with 2oo2 cymbals from the same era, the ones with the hand stamped black ink lettering.
I asked Toomas Paiste if it was possible to have a set of 2oo2’s stamped with the old ink stamps. Toomas immediately liked the idea of the 70’s Ludwig/Paiste pairing, unfortunately, the old ink stamps were on a stamp holder at the home of his brother Robert who was not entirely in agreement on this "revival" plan.
So, one evening after Toomas visited his brother (who lived next to the factory in Nottwil), he took the stamp holder with the stamps from his house to the office!
The next day he had the set of 2oo2’s that I had ordered for the occasion were hand stamped with the old labels. There were about forty cymbals in total made, they were to be used with other vintage Ludwig drum sets that I had in my collection."
Subsequently, to celebrate the 2oo2 line in the year “2002”, Toomas decided to once again stamp new 2002’s with the old ink stamping, these were special order versions with a cost increase of 30%.
We understand that with these versions made in the year 2002, Paiste used the current technique and machines to label the cymbals, this is evident by the very sharp and clean edges of the ink labels compared to ragged and inconsistent labels of the original hand stamps.
There may be others out there identifiable from the 1992 serial numbers.
Details are scarce, but from a few 2007 online posts from a German drum forum, it seems Paiste offered a "refinishing service" where they would clean, recoat and then print new logos using modern methods (no rubber ink stamp!).
Results are outstanding considering the reasonable cost associated for the service (see correspondence below), both the the German factory and Swiss factory offered this service.
According to correspondence; if you want new logos printed, only the Swiss factory can do it. Also, we don't know if Paiste is still offering this service.
If you find a 70's black label cymbal based on the serial number but it looks brand new, this could be the reason why.
"Thank you for your email and your interest in Paiste products.
Please note that we are offering this service free of charge until further notice. Please send the cymbals directly to us in Switzerland.
Thank you for your understanding and your continued support!
Best regards, Paiste AG
Customer Service: Switzerland"
"Thank you very much for your email. The Paiste company calculates the refinishing as follows:
Cleaning and preservation 20, - Euro net / pc.
Cleaning, stamping and preservation 30, - Euro net / pc.
Shipping costs are calculated at 3.80 euros net.
In your case, I need to know what color the 2002 logo is and whether it needs to be renewed.
If this is the case, we will send the cymbals to Switzerland because we do not have the appropriate logos here in Germany, then you would have to accept a longer waiting time.
Please send the cymbals to the following address:Paiste GmbH & Co.KG, Gorch-Fock-Str. 13
European, English & Japanese distributors
Collectors may run across odd looking logos from vintage Paistes during their online searches, below is some background detail and history on what one might find:
"Arbiter Ltd." and "Dallas–Arbiter" were the UK importers and distributors for Paiste. Ivor Arbiter wikipedia
Ivor Arbiter was a British-American drum designer, manufacturer, instrument salesman, and entrepreneur. In his early career, he was the owner and operator of a specialty drum shop in the West End of London.
Later, Arbiter founded or co-founded several instrument companies, including Arbiter–Western, Dallas–Arbiter and CBS–Arbiter. "Arbiter Ltd." was sold to Dallas in 1969 the company was renamed "Dallas–Arbiter".
There were 4 different Arbiter stamped Paiste lines starting in 1962 before they stopped and carried the standard Paiste branded lines in the late 60s: Arbiter Custom Formula 602 (602) Arbiter Custom (most likely Stambuls) Arbiter Zilko (most likely Dixies), Arbiter Zilket (most likely SUPER or an Arbiter only student line).
These were sold until as late as 1968. By 1969, Arbiter started carrying standard Paiste branded product lines except for the Zilkets which were sold until the early 1970s.
Hayman standard cymbals
Introduction 1968* / Discontinued 1975* (*) Pending further research Hayman was a UK-based drum brand that was produced from 1968 - 1975.
Hayman drums and cymbals were the brainchild of Ivor Arbiter: "The Hayman Standard is a cymbal with the Hayman name made by the Paiste Cymbal Company in Switzerland. These fine cymbals will more than meet the requirements of the drummer who is not yet ready to purchase a top of the line cymbal". (from early-mid 70s Dallas-Arbiter catalog). These B8 Paiste-made cymbals are a bit on the rare side.
Our guess is that Paiste made these cymbals for just a few years, most likely from 1973 to 1975 as Dallas-Arbiter carried standard Paiste product lines up until at least 1971/72. The Dallas-Arbiter catalog is unclear on how these cymbals were typed, listing them as hi hats and medium rides, which doesn't make much sense given the available sizes. One cymbal was found and it looks, from what's left of the ink, like it was designated as a Medium Thin which suggests these cymbals could have been relabeled Dixies with a Hayman emboss. It's also possible these are similar or the same as a late period Ludwig Standard. Wikipedia: Hayman drums
Hi Hats: 14", 15"
Cymbals were available in: 16", 18", 20", 22"
It's quite possible they were available in these two weights:
Medium Thin: 16", 18", 20", 22"
Crash Ride: 16", 18", 20", 22"
Sonor drum co.
Sonor sold Paiste Stambuls in their catalogs with a special Sonor logo stamped below the regular Stambul stamp. Paistes are listed in the Sonor catalogs from 1952 to about 1958. We cannot find any evidence that Sonor had a relationship with Paiste prewar, but investigations are ongoing!
Trixon was another German drum company like Sonor, the cymbals listed are Stambuls with an alternate logo stamp.
Luxor drums may have been made in Japan and perhaps sold in Germany...
SISME were the Italian importers and distributors for Paiste from the early 1970's (there are preserial and "transition" cymbals from approx 1970/71 that have the SISME stamp on them) until about 1984 when "Paiste Italia" took over.
Paiste had been distributed in Italy in the ‘60s and early ‘70s by Hans Bauer as "Casale-Bauer distributing".
SISME started distributing probably around 1970, while Casale-Bauer was still distributing at the same time, in order for SISME to distinguish their cymbals from Casale-Bauer, Paiste added "Hi performance" (a favorite phrase of Roberts), in addition, Aldo, the owner of SISME also asked Toomas to add the red "Sisme distribution" ink stamp on the bottom of the cymbals. SISME's distribution ended in 1984 when Paolo Sburlati and "Paiste Italia" replaced them.
There was a time when Pearl distributed Paiste in Japan. From research that time period seems to run from 1969 to 1979.
Below is a page from a 1979 Pearl JDM catalog showing the selection of Sound Creation, Formula 602, 2002, and 404's.
Of note here is the selection of 404s: it contains actual 404s and restamped Dixies as indicated by some of the sizes (12") and the Medium Thin and Crash Ride options.
The Dixie cymbals have a different emboss that includes the Pearl logo (see below).
U.S. distributors before 1965
DynaStar Formula 602s were sold in the USA by Halifax Distribution from 1962 to early 1965 prior to Ludwig taking over exclusive North American distribution later in '65.
Prior to Ludwig's exclusive deal with Paiste in ~1965 it looks like Bonne Music Center in Syracuse, NY was one of "the" places to get a Formula 602 in the early 1960s (printed material exists to confirm a 1962 start date of Dynastar F602).
The cymbals even got an alternate emboss logo with the Dynastar name. Why the Dynastar name? That remains unclear. Around this time, the store also started importing a lot of other instruments from overseas, so maybe they tied them all together under the Dynastar brand name.
As an aside: Dynastar/Halifax also briefly sold the Paiste Dixie and budget SUPER for a short time in 1964/5 before those lines were removed from the market due to the Ludwig deal. Why didn't Halifax carry the Stambul? Because it was already being sold in the USA as the Ludwig Paiste (3-star logo).