November 16, 2013

Paiste Signature setup

By Darin Soll

I mentioned in a previous post that I had tried out a few Paiste Signature cymbals, and that I was really impressed with their tone and smoothness.  While the point of that post was to share my experiences with purchasing used cymbals on eBay, several of you noticed that I seemed to be putting together a complete setup of "Sigs."

That's exactly what I was doing.  I decided to retire my Zildjian A Custom/K setup and replace them with Paiste Signatures.  In the process, I wanted to see if I could put together a setup with all used Sigs, in very good to excellent condition, for about the same price as a new Zildjian K box set.  Here are the details on that journey...

As you probably already know, cymbals in the Paiste Signature line are extremely pricey.  Fortunately, used Sigs are fairly easy to find on eBay.  Every time I searched for them on eBay, I found a number of examples for sale, so it seemed pretty likely that I would be able to assemble a complete setup.

I recognize that purchasing used cymbals online violates the rule of playing any cymbal before buying it (see "Selecting cymbals," March 28, 2013), so I spent quite a bit of time listening to audio clips of various cymbals on Paiste's website...

From the main menu on Paiste's website, I drilled down into "Products," "Cymbals," and then selected "Signature."  From there, I browsed the types of cymbals in the line (rides, crashes, hi-hats, etc.), and listened to audio clips of specific cymbals that seemed appropriate for my setup.  Like all cymbal lines, Paiste Signatures come in a variety of types, sizes, and weights, so I spent quite a bit of time switching back-and-forth between audio clips of similar cymbals.  While the sound of physical cymbals will vary from audio clip representations, the audio clips really helped me determine the relative differences between cymbals--for example, 16" mellow crash vs. fast crash vs. full crash vs. power crash.  A good set of headphones and Paiste's cymbal-to-cymbal manufacturing consistency helped as well!  The point is that you can use the audio clips to sort out the relative differences between cymbals (pitch, volume, sustain, etc.), but don't expect an audio clip to be an exact representation of the corresponding physical cymbal's sound.

Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl, Dream, TRX, and other cymbal makers offer sound clips on their websites as well.

Paiste allows you to add your favorites to a "Soundroom," so after spending about 30 minutes listening to clips, I had the following cymbals in my Soundroom:
  • 20" Full Ride
  • 13" Dark Crisp Hi-Hats
  • 14" Sound Edge Hi-Hats
  • 16" Fast Crash
  • 16" Full Crash
  • 18" Fast Crash
  • 18" Full Crash
  • 10" Splash

Obviously, I had already decided on a ride and splash, but I wanted to spend a bit more time with the hi-hats and crashes.  My final setup ended up like this:
  • 20" Full Ride
  • 13" Dark Crisp Hi-Hats (I liked the lower pitch of the 13" Dark Crisp hats, and they have a reputation as being "the" hats in the Signature line)
  • 16" Full Crash (I liked higher pitch, which creates more "separation" from the 18")
  • 18" Fast Crash (I liked the thinner weight for "washy" crash rides)
  • 10" Splash

Once I had decided on a setup, I started watching for good used candidates on eBay.  To streamline the search process, I saved a search for each cymbal I was looking for on eBay as a "Followed Search."  This way, eBay did the searching for me, and emailed me each day with new items that met my criteria.  For example, the following eBay search string (text entered into the eBay search field) looks for Sig 16" full crashes, but excludes Reflector, Precision, Traditionals, and Heavy models (the minus sign before the second group of search terms tells eBay to NOT include results with any of those terms):

paiste signature full crash (16", 16 inch, 16-inch, 16inch, 16 in, 16-in, 16in) -(reflector, precision, traditionals, heavy)

Once I refined my search terms, I clicked the link to "Follow this search", and eBay began to automatically send email alerts to my box as eBayers posted cymbals meeting my criteria.  At that point, I simply watched my email each day for cymbals in great shape at a good price.  Check out my August 24, 2013, post "What to look for when buying used cymbals" for details on my experience buying used cymbals on eBay, as well as tips to help you buy online with confidence.

Did I meet my objective of assembling a Paiste Signature setup for the price of a new Zildjian K box set?  Let's see...the Ziljian K0800 cymbal pack currently runs about $900 new and includes a 20" ride, 14" hi-hats, a 16" crash, and a 18" crash.  Including shipping and handling, I paid $250 for my 20" ride, $237 for my 13" hi-hats, $184 for my 16" crash, and $197 for my 18" crash, for a total of $868.  Mission accomplished!

I have included a couple photos of my "new" Sigs below.  I am currently using them with my recording setup.

Used cymbals are a great way to obtain top-of-the-line sound on a drummer's budget.  Happy shopping!

--Darin

Used Paiste Signature setup
Top-quality cymbals purchased on eBay