Istanbul Cymbals: Mantra, Turk, Signature, Sultan Series Reviewed

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Istanbul Agop cymbals are simply fantastic! They offer many different lines of cymbals for different musical contexts. Istanbul Agop cymbals not only hold up to anything the big four (Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian, and Meinl) have to offer but also offer a more artisanal product for your ears to feast. 

I first dove into Istanbul Agop when they released a joint venture with one of my favorite drummers, Joey Warronker. They put out a beast of a 24″ ride cymbal. 

Joey Waronker 24″ Ride Cymbal

At first touch, it has a dark ping with lots of stick definition and control. However, when you crash the cymbal, it swells with intention and has a lovely long decay. 

This 24″ cymbal states only one thing, “I am a drummer; I am here to play.” I love my Joey Waronker ride, and it has lasted many tours of hard crashing. 

Joey Waronker 24" Ride Cymbal

While this cymbal got me into Istanbul Agop, I wanted to explore their products further and find a crash and a set of hi-hats that complimented my beast of a ride, thus introducing me to their Xist line of cymbals.

Istanbul Agop XIST

Istanbul Agop’s Xist line of cymbals may be their best introduction to what they offer. The Xist line of cymbals is not only affordable but also beautifully crafted. I purchased a 22″ ride, a 20″ crash, and a set of 15″ hi-hats, all from their Xist line of cymbals. 

Istanbul Agop’s Xist line reminds me of a slightly darker version of Zildjian’s A cymbal line. I’ve never been a big fan of Zildjian’s A cymbals. Some overtones are too bright and even shrill at times. I’ve also found Zildjian’s A-line only works for me in a rock-type musical context. 

Istanbul Agop XIST Crash

My Istanbul Xist cymbals offer solutions to my issues with Zildjian’s A cymbals. The 22″ Xist ride is dark and pingy with lots of bounce. It is a heavy cymbal and offers much warmer overtones to its ping. Since it is thicker and heavier, it doesn’t have the best crash. 

It crashes with slow wash and brutally gets the job done. If you’re only going to bring one cymbal to your gig, I’d recommend going with a different cymbal. But if you are looking for a great ride with lots of control and ping, this would make a great choice. 

My 20″ Xist crash offers a beautiful shimmering crash with warmer and darker decays. It is an intense crash while staying within the overall mix. Using it as a ride cymbal has excellent stick definition but can quickly swell in the wash and lose control. 

Again, if you are only bringing one cymbal to your gig, I’d recommend going with a different one. But this is a perfect pairing cymbal if you want a nice crash to complement your ride. 

Istanbul Agop Signature Hi-Hats

Lastly, my 15″ Xist hi-hats offer more of that dark warmth I love about the Xist cymbal line. They are nice and sloshy when open and controlled with lots of stick definition when closed. Istanbul Agop’s Xist cymbal line offers an excellent introduction to buying cymbals, and you’d be happy with them in just about any musical situation.

If you still need to figure me out, I like big cymbals with a minimal setup. I like crashing my ride, and bringing a light cymbal bag to the gig is nice. I have found some Istanbul Agop cymbals magical and fit my needs for all situations. 

Let me walk you through a few of my favorite lines of Istanbul Agop cymbals and the basics of what I like about them.

Mantra Series

The Mantra Series is Cindy Blackman’s line of cymbals with Istanbul Agop. These offer a bright and warm cymbal sound. Lots of stick definition and volume control allow these cymbals to shine in all musical situations. In addition, they have a great crash and wonderful wash, making for a fantastic multi-purpose ride.

Turk Series

Istanbul’s Turk Series offers a more delicate and dry tone. These are perfect for smaller gigs that require a lower volume. They have lots of stick definition and are dry as bone. 

Quick decay makes for a fast crash, even with bigger sizes. They have a light and quick bounce with lots of stick definition that flows smoothly when riding. These also record very well with how dry and short they sound.

Signature Series 

Another delicate and dry cymbal, but with more wash and finesse. These have your most expansive range of uses. Great for jazz, and if you like a darker and more defined ride sound, great for rock. 

With lots of stick definition and controlled sustain, these cymbals sing. A great crash that decays quickly makes them great for live settings and recording.

Sultan Series

These are brighter-sounding cymbals with a light wash. The Sultan Series cymbals offer brighter overtones with pleasant stick definition and a little ping. They fit nicely into more jazz and funk musical situations, but could also work for just about any musical context when looking for brighter and washy cymbal tones.

I generally love what Istanbul Agop cymbals offer, but I have had one issue with a few of my different cymbals. Some of my more traditional lathed ride cymbals from Istanbul Agop have cracked along the lathing. I do crash my rides, and this issue only happened after lots of use. 

Luckily Istanbul Agop is a great company, and when I reached out, they offered solutions to fixing or replacing my cymbals that have cracked. If you crash your cymbals nice and hard, you may have to deal with cymbal cracking. But Istanbul Agop is a great company and will help you if you run into these issues.

Istanbul Agop cymbals offer some truly excellent products for all musical situations. Dark and pingy, dry and defining, bright and washy are just a few of the beautiful tones Istanbul Agop has to offer. Istanbul Agop has something extraordinary to provide; all you have to do is decide on your sound.

About Istanbul Cymbals

The Istanbul Agop company, now known as Istanbul Cymbals, was founded in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1941 by Agop Tomurcuk. Over the years, the company has been passed down through the generations of the family and makes some of the most sought-after cymbals for jazz and indie drummers. 

With its long history and deep roots in Turkish cymbal making, Istanbul Agop has maintained a solid commitment to the traditional methods of crafting cymbals and has developed a reputation for producing high-quality cymbals with a distinctive, warm, and musical tone. Today, the company continues to thrive, providing drummers and percussionists with various cymbal options for different musical styles and performance settings.

Some big-name drummers endorsing Istanbul currently include:

  • Ronnie Vannucci
  • Andrew Marshall
  • Aaron Sterling
  • Brandon Toews
  • Brooks Wackerman
  • Jimmy Chamberlin
  • Zac Farro
1 Comment
  1. I’m looking at Agop Sig 30 series 16″ hi hat set, for use in a room that holds 1200 live stream application, more of a quiet setting. Would you recommend the signature series, or another?


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