What Cymbals Did John Bonham Use?

What Cymbals Did John Bonham Use

When it comes to cymbals, drummers have very specific preferences. As the legendary drummer for Led Zeppelin, John Bonham was known for his powerful playing style, and his use of Ludwig drums and Paiste cymbals helped to define the sound of Led Zeppelin’s music. 

While there are many factors that contribute to a drummer’s sound, the choice of cymbals is an important one. As such, it’s no surprise that so many drummers are interested in the types of cymbals that John Bonham used.

Many drummers have sought to recreate his distinctive sound, and in this article, I’ll let you know what cymbals John Bonham used, as well as how you can achieve a similar setup. Read on to learn more!

Who is John Bonham and What Was His Role in Led Zeppelin?

John Bonham was a legendary drummer and a key member of the hugely successful rock band Led Zeppelin. He was born in 1948 in Redditch, England, and grew up in a musical family.

Bonham began playing drums at the age of five, and by the time he was a teenager, he was already gigging with local bands. In 1968, he auditioned for Led Zeppelin and became the band’s drummer.

He quickly established himself as one of the finest drummers in rock music, with his powerful yet superb musical groove and playing feel. Bonham played a key role in the band’s sound, and his drumming can be heard on all of Led Zeppelin’s classic albums, including “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Physical Graffiti.” He sadly died in 1980 at the age of 32, after drinking heavily.

His death brought an end to Led Zeppelin, who were one of the biggest and most influential rock bands of all time. Bonham’s legacy as a drummer remains unsurpassed, and he is still revered by musicians all over the world.

What Cymbals Did John Bonham Use and Why Did He Choose Them?

Paiste 2002 Series

Bonham’s cymbal setup consisted of a 24″ ride cymbal, two 18″ crash cymbals, and a pair of 15″ hi-hats. He favored Paiste cymbals, particularly the 2002 series. 

Bonham’s choice of cymbals was based on two main factors: sound and durability.

He wanted his cymbals to have a bright, cutting sound that would be heard over the rest of the band. At the same time, he needed them to be durable enough to withstand his aggressive playing style.

The Paiste 2002 series offered the perfect combination of sound and strength, making them Bonham’s top choice for both recording and live performances.

When Was John Bonham Endorsed by Paiste?

Bonham was an early adopter of Paiste cymbals, and he became an endorser for the company in 1971, after already recording several albums with them (using the Giant Beat line of cymbals).

In fact, Bonham’s massive cymbal setup was a key part of his signature sound. Bonham continued to use Paiste cymbals throughout his career, and after his untimely death in 1980, the company released a special John Bonham signature line of cymbals. To this day, Paiste continues to honor Bonham’s legacy with their John Bonham signature series.

What Paiste Cymbal Lines Did John Bonham Play?

Paiste 20 Formula 602 Classic Medium Ride

Bonham used a variety of Paiste lines throughout his career. The most notable Paiste line that Bonham used was the 2002 series. The 2002 line was launched in 1971, and it quickly became one of the most popular cymbal lines in the world.

Bonham was attracted to the line for its brightness and projection, and he used it on some of Led Zeppelin’s most famous recordings. 

In addition to the 2002 series, Bonham occasionally used Paiste’s 600 series and 3000 series cymbals. Notably the 20″ Formula 602 Classic Medium Ride from 1978 onwards.

Before the 2002 series was launched in 1971, Bonham used a Paiste range called Giant Beats which consisted of the same CuSn8 bronze, which has a smaller tin content than most professional-level cymbals. The Giant Beats were replaced by the 2002 line which Bonham adopted for the rest of his career.

Ultimately, John Bonham’s use of Paiste cymbals helped to shape the sound of Led Zeppelin, and his contributions continue to resonate with drummers today.

How Can You Replicate Bonham’s Cymbal Setup?

Bonham’s cymbal setup is often replicated by drummers looking to achieve a similar sound. You’ll need two crash cymbals, a ride cymbal, and a pair of hi-hats, all of which are in large sizes.

If you want to replicate Bonham’s cymbal setup, the best way to do it would be to buy the Paiste 2002 cymbal set, which includes all of the cymbals you’ll need to play a setup like Bonzo.

The Paiste 2002 cymbal set includes a pair of 14-inch hi-hats, a 16” inch crash cymbal, an 18” inch crash cymbal, and a 22” inch ride cymbal. 

This set of cymbals is what Bonzo preferred for its distinctively bright and loud projection.

Final Thoughts

Bonham’s choice of cymbals was integral to his sound and his unique playing approach is still an inspiration to drummers everywhere.

His aggressive and physical playing style meant that the Paiste Giant Beats and 2002 Series gave him a brighter, more cutting tone that could be heard over the rest of the band. 

In addition to their unique sound, these cymbals were also able to withstand the rigors of touring and playing shows.

While other companies have since released similar products, it was Paiste who first provided Bonham with the tools he needed to create his signature sound.

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