With cymbals being a vital component of every drum set, I’ve always found it interesting to see what the most premium options are.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of expensive cymbals, delving into the top-tier brands and their priciest offerings, as well as listing some of the most expensive cymbals ever sold which are high-ticket collector’s items.
From hand-hammered wonders to limited-edition pieces that redefine luxury in the drumming world, we’ll unveil the cymbals that have the heftiest price tags.
- Meinl Cymbals
- Istanbul Agop
- Istanbul Mehmet
- Signed Memorabilia and Collector’s Cymbals
- The Most Expensive Collector’s Cymbals Sold
- The Art of Cymbal Making: A Look at Spizzichino
- Wrap Up
I’ve been a huge fan of Zildjian cymbals for many years, and I’ve always known that the Constantinople line has the most expensive options from the brand.
However, those are the most expensive cymbals still in production. Due to their 400th anniversary in 2023, Zildjian put out a few vintage cymbals from their vault, and the Zildjian 20” 400th Anniversary Ride takes the cake.
This thing costs just under $2000, making it one of the most expensive single cymbals from a major brand.
This is an old A Series cymbal that was made between 1930 and 1950. It has all the hand marks of Armand Zildjian who used to test all the cymbals, and it includes a certificate of authenticity. It also comes with gloves and a flight case.
Zildjian’s Most Expensive Cymbal Pack
I also looked at a few cymbal packs when trying to find pricier options. It turns out that Zildjian’s K Sweet Cymbal Pack is one of the most expensive cymbal packs on the market.
Coming in at just under $1600, these are some highly versatile cymbals that I’ve found work well in virtually any musical style due to their sweet and bright sounds. The crash cymbals are especially good.
I’ve heard of a few people buying these and never using any other cymbals again, making the high price tag more than worth it.
Most cymbal companies offer a high-end cymbal pack for around $1500, but this Zildjian pack is slightly pricier than most.
The only cymbal pack that I found that costs more comes from Sabian, which is what we’ll get to next.
From all my research, I found that Sabian is one of the more expensive brands when looking at high-end cymbals that are made in bulk.
The brand offers dozens of cymbals that have price tags even higher than Zildjian’s Constantinople cymbals.
The priciest single Sabian cymbal is the 40th Anniversary Artisan 22” Raw Bell Dry Ride. This thing sells for around $900, which is absolutely crazy for a single cymbal.
It’s one of the crispiest ride cymbals I’ve heard, and it comes with a certificate of authenticity when you buy it. It’s also been signed by the cymbal artisan who made it.
Sabian’s Most Expensive Cymbal Pack
Sabian also holds the title of offering the most expensive cymbal pack available. It’s called the Paragon Neil Peart Complete Cymbal Set.
This was a set that the brand created as a big tribute to Neil Peart. It has a total of 11 hand hammered cymbals, and all of them are what Neil Peart used in his later setups with Rush.
The set also comes with a solid flight case to hold all the cymbals in. To buy this, you’ll be paying just under $4000!
It’s an amazing collector’s option for drummers who are big Neil Peart and Rush fans, but it’s obvious to say that this cymbal pack is out of most people’s budget range.
Paiste has always been known as one of the pricier cymbal brands, but it’s mostly due to there being a larger number of high-end Paiste cymbals than what most other brands offer.
When looking at Paiste’s product range, the most expensive cymbal I found was the Paiste 24” 602 Medium Ride Cymbal.
It retails for around $780, and I think this price tag is justified due to the larger size of the cymbal. With a larger surface area, more materials have been used to make it.
The cymbal itself has a sort of vintage sound. Your strokes are very articulate on the bow, while the edge produces a stronger crashing tone.
The bell of this cymbal sounds very bright and attacking, with all those tonal qualities making this a great option for country, rock, or jazz.
This is also one of the only cymbals on this list that isn’t made from B20 bronze, as Paiste has its own range of alloys that the brand uses to get some truly unique sounds.
Meinl’s most expensive cymbal line is the Foundry Reserve range. These are beautiful handcrafted cymbals that have very complex tones.
The priciest option of them all is the Meinl 24” Byzance Foundry Reserve Light Ride. It’s another 24” ride cymbal, with this particular one costing around $770. It’s slightly cheaper than the Paiste option that we looked at earlier, but the two rides are essentially in the same category.
Even though this ride is large, it’s quite thin and light. This means that it has very washy tones that are slightly higher-pitched than you’d expect.
It’s an amazing jazz ride cymbal, but I’ve seen drummers using it in church worship contexts as well.
The cool thing about this ride cymbal is that it comes with a set of gloves and a pair of drumsticks when you buy it. With it being a premium cymbal, Meinl aims to make unboxing it a luxurious experience.
Dream has often been regarded as one of the go-to brands for cheap cymbals that are high-end. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any expensive Dream options.
The most expensive cymbal I could find was the Dream 22” Dark Matter Moon Ride Cymbal. It costs about $620, which is more affordable than the previous high-end rides we looked at, but it’s still quite pricey.
This cymbal is incredibly dry, cleanly articulating every single note that you play on it. It also has quite an aggressive bell sound.
I mainly think it’s a good option for jazz, as jazz ride swing patterns will come out incredibly clearly when playing this ride.
Other than that, I don’t think it’s as versatile as the high-end rides from the previous brands.
Istanbul Agop is an incredibly underrated cymbal brand, as they offer plenty of good options that easily compete with the best picks from brands like Zildjian and Sabian.
A good example is the Istanbul Agop 24” 30th Anniversary Ride Cymbal. It costs around $700, and it’s honestly one of the most beautiful ride cymbals I’ve ever heard.
It has a dark fundamental tone, but the sounds change depending on where you strike around the bow. It then has a huge washing sound when you strike the edge, making it an excellent cymbal to crash on when you need thunderous tones.
This is another cymbal on this list where I think the high price tag is more than worth it. Istanbul Agop has been one of the top cymbal manufacturers for over 30 years, and this ride is a celebration of that.
Istanbul Mehmet’s priciest cymbal is the 22” Tony Williams Jazz Rock Ride. Costing about $620, this ride cymbal is a tribute to the sound that the great Tony Williams had on his kit in the 70s.
It’s a finely-crafted cymbal that has plenty of ping due to it having a relatively heavy weight. However, it also has a good amount of wash when you strike it.
It’s designed to work well for both jazz and rock settings, but I mostly think it works best as a jazz ride, especially considering that it has a medium volume.
Ufip is the last main cymbal brand to mention that has products that can easily be found around the world. The priciest option from this brand is the Ufip 16” Blast Series Hi-Hats. These hi-hats cost $450, which is much lower than all the other options on this list, but they’re still quite high-end.
These hi-hats have an explosive and trashy sound, and they tend to blend quite well within grooves and fills.
With the cymbals being 16”, they also have a fantastic amount of wash. I’ve been able to try them out before, and I quickly fell in love with their tones.
I think they’d work perfectly in any style of music, and they’re a great option compared to hi-hats from other brands that cost much more.
Signed Memorabilia and Collector’s Cymbals
Signed memorabilia and collector’s cymbals are often highly sought after by collectors, fetching premium prices due to their rarity, historical significance, and association with famous drummers.
These cymbals can include vintage cymbals, limited edition cymbals, and signature series cymbals.
Purchasing signed memorabilia and collector’s cymbals requires careful research into the cymbal’s history, condition, and authenticity. Additionally, one should factor in their budget and intended use of the cymbal, as some collector’s items may not be suitable for regular play.
The Most Expensive Collector’s Cymbals Sold
You’ll often find cymbals being sold by charities for various causes. These cymbals are bid on, and they get purchased for high prices due to the charity being the drawcard. Of course, you also get a cymbal that was played and likely signed by a famous drummer.
Other cymbals may just be incredibly rare, leading them to be sold for higher prices due to their scarcity.
Here are a few examples.
Nicko McBrain’s China Cymbal
This Paiste 22” Reflector Heavy China Cymbal was played by Nicko McBrain on Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls Tour several years ago.
It was signed by every member of the band, and it eventually got sold for $6201! That’s a crazy price for a cymbal that would typically cost around $500 if it wasn’t played by Nicko McBrain.
Zildjian K Istanbul Cymbals
Zildjian had a line called the K Istanbul cymbals that were being produced decades ago. Drummers loved these, and the stamped versions have become highly sought after by drummers who like vintage gear.
Here’s a pair of 13” K Istanbul Hi-Hats that are being sold for just over $2000.
You’ll find plenty more examples like this, as these cymbals often get purchased and then resold for even higher prices.
Dave Grohl’s Crash Cymbal
This Zildjian 18” K Crash Cymbal was sold for $51,200! It sold for so much because it was used by Dave Grohl when he played for Nirvana.
The whole band signed the cymbal, which is most likely the reason for it having such high value. Anything with Kurt Cobain’s signature on it has been incredibly sought after by collectors ever since he died.
Ringo Starr’s Entire Drum Set
This Ludwig Downbeat was the first-ever Ludwig kit that Ringo Starr owned. He played it for countless shows with the Beatles, and it sold for a whopping $2,110,000!
With the entire kit costing over two million dollars, you can just assume how expensive the included Zildjian cymbals would have been.
The Art of Cymbal Making: A Look at Spizzichino
Roberto Spizzichino was a legendary cymbal maker who achieved great success in the industry, creating rare and expensive cymbals in his small workshop in Italy that remain highly esteemed to this day.
His masterpieces often sell for over $2,000, with their rarity and exceptional quality making them available only to the most discerning collectors.
The 22” Tony Williams Tribute Cymbal stands among Spizzichino’s most notable creations. In addition to the Tony Williams Tribute Cymbal, Spizzichino crafted various other masterpieces acclaimed for their sound experimentation.
Although Spizzichino sadly passed away in 2011, his cymbals are still highly sought after by drummers worldwide, and their rarity and quality continue to make them a valuable collector’s item.
As we wrap up our exploration, remember that while these high-end cymbals may come with a hefty price tag, they also deliver an unparalleled auditory experience.
From shimmering splashes to thunderous crashes, these cymbals redefine the pinnacle of percussion luxury.
You would’ve noticed that most of the cymbals I mentioned above were ride cymbals. It’s a common theme across every cymbal brand that ride cymbals are very expensive. The next most expensive option is typically a set of hi-hats.
The key thing I noticed when checking these cymbals out is that they all sound amazing. So, paying a large amount of money for a cymbal is a reliable way of knowing that it’s going to sound good!
Next time you’re at the drum shop or perusing online catalogs, keep these exceptional cymbals in mind!