Paiste Formula 602

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Formula 602

Introduction: 1959 (4) produced until 1994 (based on serial numbers) then reissued 2011 to present

  • Formula 602 sounds are very precise, very clear and very pure. They are suited to acoustic music, jazz, classical performances and recording. Only a delicate touch is required to produce their distinctive, cool and natural response. (1)
  • One of the world’s most referred and legendary cymbal line in history. Renown and loved for its fine, pure, soft, delicate musical tone, that requirea precise playing. Reintroduction of the most popular models, faithfully re-created in terms of sound and look in 2011. Forged from the legendary «602 Bronze» (CuSn20), handcrafted from start to finish by highly skilled Swiss craftsmen, Formula 602 Classic Sounds cymbals produce a true, pure sound of unique clarity and consistency. (4)

Innovation: First B20 cymbal made by Paiste. In 1976, the Formula 602 Dark Ride inspired a new line-up of dark cymbals in the Sound Creation series. The Formula 602 line also saw the introduction of the Sound Edge Hi-Hat and the Flatride.
Alloy: B20 (CuSn20)
Quality: Professional
Offered as: Formula 602 - Formula 602 Joe Morello Set- Formula 602 Modern Essentials
Production: Hand hammered and hand lathed bronze.

  • Most volume settings • Live and recording • Wide range of music styles such as Pop, Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Funk, R&B, Classic, Avant-garde, Big Band, Country, Blues and Gospel.
  • Low to medium loud settings • especially well-suited for recording, live • Jazz, Fusion, Blues, moderate Pop and Rock, Country, Folk, acoustic music. (2019 website)

Users: Professional musicians and enthusiastic drummers, refined drummers and sound specialists with precise requirements that need a fully developed character in their cymbal sound

  • Musical, transparent, beautiful, rich, colorful, full, clear, expressive sound • The model range features everything from particularly delicate, well balanced and sensitive to expressive, potent and powerful and projective qualities
  • Warm, silvery, mellow, cool, light, fine, precise and controlled • Cymbals with clarity and retro vintage character combined with a velvety, sensitive, very responsive feel. (4)
  • The following description appeared in the 1969 Paiste catalog:

    "The sound of your cymbals and the way they are put together distinguish you from other drummers. In Paiste production, it is decided in advance how the cymbals must sound. Also, whether they are going to be Medium Ride or Thin, Medium or Heavy, Paper-thin or Hi-hat cymbals. These cymbals are made according to precisely determined shapes and to measurements with an accuracy with 1/100 of a millimeter. Several technical controls have been built into the production process. These are executed by specialists, using appropriate measuring equipment. Nevertheless, only the trained ear of a drummer can be the final judge of the sound quality. Every cymbal that leaves the plant is flawless, both in material and in sound.

    Each cymbal has to meet rigorous standards for sound characteristics and quality. There are 5 specific sound qualities from which to choose. The sizes most in use are between 16" and 20". The complete range, however, includes all sizes between 10" and 28".

    SIZZLE cymbals are often discussed among drummers. The important thing is never to use a cymbal of inferior quality, since rivets will not make it better. You should first select the cymbal, MEDIUM or MEDIUM RIDE and then add the rivets. Six of these set about 1 1/4" from the outer edge, give a good effect. Upon request selected cymbals will be delivered with the rivets already mounted.

    Many drummers own several cymbal-sets and more than one Hi-hat pair. They exchange these according to the music's requirements. Studio musicians require several sets as a matter of course."




Chinas (& Swishes)

Splashes (& Bells)


  • Cup Chime - 8" 11"
  • Concert - 20"
  • Concert Medium Weight - 17" 18" 19" 20" 21"
  • Concert Medium-Heavy - 18" 19" 20"
  • Concert Medium-Thin - 18" 19" 20"
  • Marching 13" 14" 15" 16"
  • Marching Sound Edge - 14" 15" 16" 18"

Seven Sound Set

Introduction: 1967
Background: The following description of the Seven Sound Set was printed in Paiste's 1969 catalog:

"A set of seven cymbals each in a new unusual sound-colour. Sound colours the demanding drummer is looking for to enrich his personal cymbal set. Particularly, the SEVEN SOUND SET enables the studio drummer to fulfill the many and often unusual sound demands involved in modern recording and studio work."
Production: Hand hammered and hand lathed bronze. Fine tonal groove lathing

Formula 602 Joe Morello Set

Introduction: mid 1960s
Background: "It is a tribute to the very precise production methods and sound control employed by the Paiste company, that they are able to produce, in quality, exact replicas of the set originally selected. The JOE MORELLO SET fulfills the wish of all those drummers anxious to obtain the cymbal sounds of this fine musician. The JOE MORELLO SET includes"

Production: Hand hammered and hand lathed bronze. Fine tonal groove lathing

Formula 602 Modern Essentials

Introduction: 2013
Background: Forged from the legendary «602 Bronze» (CuSn20), offering a complete new wide and dynamic sound dimension, developed in close collaboration with Vinnie Colaiuta, handcrafted from start to finish by highly skilled Swiss craftsmen, conceived and executed according to Vinnie’s uncompromising sound concepts for a wide all-round application. Formula 602 Modern Essentials cymbals combine the essence of the Formula 602 Classic Sounds models – transparency and stick definition – with the richness, warmth, darkness and a bit of complexity of the Signature Traditionals series besides providing slightly more pizzazz than its Classic Sounds siblings.
Alloy: B20 (CuSn20)
Quality: Professional

Production: Hand hammered and hand lathed bronze.
Applications: Low to medium loud settings •especially well-suited for recording, live • extremely versatile cymbals for a wide range of music styles such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, Fusion, Blues, R&B, Country, Folk, acoustic music
Sound:Deep, full, rich, warm, lively, silvery, dynamic, controlled and precise • Cymbals that combine clarity, consistency with deepness and warmth, yet providing a modern versatile sound character with dynamic, potent, well balanced qualities and a responsive, soft feel




Chinas (& Swishes)

Splashes (& Bells)

Formula 602 Production Eras

This section is still under construction. Examples of the ink styles and how these are associated with other changes like serial numbers are on the way.

Super Formula 602

The time span for the Super Formula 602 is about 1957-1959. It precedes the introduction of the Formula 602 series but uses the same alloy. It is placed here as an honorary stage in the development of cymbals made from Formula 602 alloy. There is an entirely separate series called Super which is not made from Formula 602 alloy and came much later. This has caused a lot of confusion over the years. The B20 Super Swiss Made seems to come in two versions, one with the Formula 602 line and one without. There is also a second style which looks like the Early Formula 602 stamp and has Super written to the upper right. And just to round things off there are embossed stamps which look like the Early Formula 602 stamp but leave off the Formula 602. This variation is thought to represent the evolution of the trademark for the Formula 602 series just as it was coming out.

We can't yet say whether there are any cymbals with the Super Swiss Made stamp (no Formula 602 line) which might be some other alloy like NS12. There are some untested claims to that effect. Untested claims meaning that a piece of the cymbal has not yet gone for lab analysis.

Preserial Era

This is the first true era of the Forumula 602 series.

Early Stamp (1959-early 1960s)

This early era is represented by just a few cymbals which have currently been identified. They have an embossed stamp which is distinct from the later ones.

It is relatively easy to spot the difference between this early stamp and the Solid and Outline forms. The Mixed form is a little more difficult to distinguish from the Early Stamp. The discovery of the late 50s early 50s logos illustrated in a catalog helped confirm the difference. The second confirmation came from the production years of the cymbals which have the Mixed form. The Mixed version is much later (1976-1981).

This Early version is slightly different from the Mixed version documented below. The Early version has a smaller star, TRADE sticks out a bit more on either side of the E of PAISTE, smaller gap before FORMULA 602, and the M of Made is aligned slightly differently compared to the L of formuLa.

Solid Stamp (early 1960s - mid 1972)

More than 99% of preserial Formula 602 cymbals have the Solid Stamp. It is present on 1642 out of 1647 preserial cymbals, compared to 5 Early Stamps and 5 Outline Stamps. The earliest example of the Solid Stamp is on a cymbal bought new in 1965. However, one example is not really enough to show us just when the Solid Stamp first started in use, and when the Early Stamp stopped being used.

Towards the end of the preserial era (1969 or so) we start to see cymbals which have some ink which is associated with the next period. The transition time to serial numbers is also when we find the 5 Outline Stamps. The ink can augment our understanding of the changes during the transition from the preserial era to the black label era, and which embossed stamps are used on which cymbals.

One of the places where ink changes became obvious early in the research was the 602 Dark Rides which do not have serial numbers. Since then the emergence of black ink has been documented on a number of other cymbal models which do not have serial numbers but are known to date to 1969, 1970, and 1971.

Black Label Era

There are three different embossed stamps which are found in this era. This era represents cymbals produced from about mid 1972 to 1981. Almost all Black Label era cymbals have serial numbers but there are a few examples of cymbals from the early 1970s which have Black Label style ink but no serial number.

Solid Stamp (1972-1981)

The Solid Stamp continues to be found on cymbals until the Blue Label era. The Solid Stamp is the by far most common form during the preserial era, but that changes in the Black Label era. We don't currently have enough data examined to know if the the Solid Stamp declined in usage over the years Black Label era. But the Solid Stamp continues to be found on the majority of Formula 602s during this era. The two embossed stamps seem to coexist for many years.

Outline Stamp (1972-1981)

The Outline Stamp is used from just before serial numbers appear until the Blue Label era. If you see a Formula 602 cymbal with an Outline Stamp it is something like 99% likely to have a serial number. There are 71 identified cymbals with the Outline Stamp out of 459 Black Label cymbals. So the Outline Stamp appears on at least 15% of the Black Label cymbals. Please don't take this estimate as highly accurate because early on in data collection this distinction wasn't coded carefully in the database which was devoted mainly to getting weights and prices. Once differences in the embossed trademark became known data collection was amended, but there were already some years of data (2005-2014) which didn't have full information. There are also some cymbals where the seller doesn't give a decent picture of the stamp, or a decent picture of the serial number (and doesn't mention the serial number in the text). So there is lots of missing data.

Mixed Stamp (1976-1981)

The Mixed Stamp appears on "Transitional" Dark Rides from 1976-1977 without the Formula 602 on the bottom. It also appears on a few other Formula 602 cymbals in 1981 just before Blue Label era. So far every Mixed Stamp cymbal has a serial number, and this is another way to distinguish the Early Stamp (preserial) from the Mixed Stamp (1976 on).

Blue Label Era

During the Blue Label era (1981-1993) an embossed stamp was no longer applied. Instead Paiste used blue ink.

Laser Stamp Era

When the Formula 602 cymbals were reissued in 2011 they first came out with 8 digit serial numbers as seen on the last of the Blue Label cymbals. Very soon after this Paiste switched to a laser stamp which is on the bottom rather than the top. The Laser Stamp Era is also referred to as the Reissue Era, although once again there are a very few Reissued Formula 602s which don't have a laser stamp.

Information from:

  1. Modern Drummer Equipment Annual 1988-89
  2. PAISTE/Ludwig Seven Sound Set Leaflet
  3. Paiste "Six Cymbal Lines" Ad 1981
  4. 2019

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