Turkish cymbal manufacturers are world-renowned for their outstanding craftsmanship, unique design, and unparalleled sound quality. Istanbul, in my opinion, is the world’s center for hand-made cymbal manufacture.
The reputation of Turkish cymbal manufacturers has been created over centuries of musical history and creativity in the region, beginning in the 1600s in the Ottoman Empire.
In this post, I hope to expose you to some of the most prominent Turkish cymbal manufacturers, all of whom contribute considerably to Turkey’s prestigious position in the global music industry. Please accept my apologies to everyone who read the prior version of this post. I updated the content in November 2023.
- 1 Cymbal History, Types, and Definition
- 2 The Leading Turkish Cymbal Manufacturers
- 2.1 Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Istanbul
- 2.2 Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals, Istanbul
- 2.3 Turkish Cymbals, Istanbul
- 2.4 Masterwork Handmade Turkish Cymbals, Istanbul
- 2.5 Anatolian Cymbals, Istanbul
- 2.6 Pergamon Cymbals, Samsun
- 2.7 DIRIL Cymbals Import and Export Industry and Trade Ltd., Samsun
- 2.8 Amedia Cymbals and Music Instruments Co., Istanbul
- 2.9 Bosphorus Cymbals, Istanbul
- 3 Other Websites Selling Cymbals
- 4 Last Words on Turkish Handmade Cymbals
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Cymbal History, Types, and Definition
A cymbal is a percussion instrument that is circular and slightly concave and makes a crushing sound when struck with a stick or another cymbal. Cymbals can be used to generate delicate sound effects or to strengthen rhythm. The users of cymbals are called cymbal smiths, and I don’t know where this “smith” word is coming from.
9 Common Types of Cymbals
The founder of “Istanbul Mehmet” (Mehmet Tamdeger) says, “In the beginning, there were 10–15 types of cymbals, but now there are 200, and I am sometimes surprised.” I will only list the names of the nine most common varieties of cymbals. I am aware that a musician seeking a Turkish cymbal manufacturer is already familiar with these.
- Fx Crash
- China or Swish
- Hand Cymbals
Characteristics of Cymbals
Cymbals are characterized based on their size, thickness, weight, bell size, and curvature. Based on these considerations, I summarized the basic characteristics in the image below.
History of Cymbals in Turkey
Avedis Zilciyan began manufacturing cymbals in Istanbul in 1618 for the Ottoman Mehter Band. This family was given the surname “Zildjian” by Sultan II. Osman. In 1623, they established their first workshop in Samatya, Istanbul, and began selling to countries other than the Ottoman Empire. For a long time, Zildjian supplied the cymbals, but the company relocated to the United States in 1927. Mikael Zildjian, another family member, kept the cymbal factory in Istanbul and continued to manufacture cymbals until 1977. Meanwhile, he had two apprentices named Mehmet Tamdeger (who is the founder of Istanbul Mehmet) and Agop Tomurcuk (who is the founder of Istanbul Agop Cymbals).
After the Zildjians left Turkey and migrated to the United States, those who worked with Mikael Zildjian carried on the heritage of hand-made cymbals in Istanbul, Turkey. According to rumors, these two cymbal smiths obtained the secret formula for cymbal alloys and so continued to provide the same quality. This, however, is not confirmed information. Yet, these two companies are among the top Turkish cymbal manufacturers.
Returning to the Zildjian family, they are the world’s oldest 27th family business. Their signature is also noteworthy. They sign their cymbals “Avedis Zildjian Co. Genuine Turkish Cymbals,” along with an Arabic term that no one here understands. Finally, another member of the family founded Sabian Cymbals in Canada (which is not related to our topic).
The Leading Turkish Cymbal Manufacturers
I’ll start with “Istanbul Agop Cymbals” and “Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals” because both companies’ founders worked with Mikael Zildjian in the 1950s and understood the particulars of cymbal manufacturing. These two Turkish cymbal manufacturers collaborated for almost 30 years under the brand name “Istanbul cymbals” before splitting and going their separate ways.
Therefore, “Istanbul Agop” and “Istanbul Mehmet” are the most well-known among Turkish cymbal manufacturers. They employ the same material, which they refer to as a “secret ingredient,” but their cymbals sound different and unique.
Furthermore, because dads taught their kids and masters taught their apprentices, cymbal making is a sort of tradition in Istanbul, and there are more Turkish cymbal manufacturers that continue the handmade cymbal making profession.
Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Istanbul
The company shares the same beginning as Istanbul Mehmet. After Mikael Zildjian died, his apprentices Agop Tomurcuk and Mehmet Tamdeger established the “Cymbal Maker Collective Company” in 1980 and launched the “Istanbul Cymbals” brand. Following the death of Agop Tomurcuk in 1996, his two sons left the company and founded “Istanbul Cymbal Makers” in 1997, creating the brand “Istanbul Agop Cymbals.” They developed the Alchemy Series in 1998 to address more modern and higher-volume demands.
Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals, Istanbul
Their website contains no detailed company information. However, after the collaboration with the Tomurcuk brothers ended, Mehmet Tamdeger created the “Istanbul Mehmet” brand. They also make one-of-a-kind handcrafted cymbals and are one of the leading Turkish cymbal manufacturers. In 2015, Istanbul Mehmet cymbals were chosen as the “world’s best cymbal” at the Frankfurt Jewelry and Music Fair. Mehmet Tamdeger states in their videos that he learned the work from his masters, Mikael Zildjian and Kirkor Kucukyan. Mr. Tamdeger also has another company named Turkish Cymbals, which is explained below.
Turkish Cymbals, Istanbul
Mehmet Tamdeger, a master cymbal smith, established Turkish Cymbals in 1996 as a sister business to “Istanbul Mehmet” to offer various cymbals. However, this company went far beyond being a sister company and created a strong brand in the Turkish cymbal manufacturing sector. I advise you to check “the multimedia” section on their website. You can learn about the other brands and listen to the sounds of each cymbal series. In the video below, you can listen to the Kurak series of Istanbul Cymbals.
Masterwork Handmade Turkish Cymbals, Istanbul
Yucel ULUC, a cymbal smith, and Cetin LIMONCU, a darbouka smith, are currently the owners of Istanbul-based Masterwork Cymbals. The production plant manufactures 14 distinct series of conventional B25 alloy. The cymbals leave the factory hand-signed after being quality-checked by specialists and are shipped all over the world. I could not get more information about them. Therefore, simply check their website or contact them to learn more.
Anatolian Cymbals, Istanbul
Like other Turkish cymbal manufacturers, there is little information available on the official company name or other facts such as plant size, employee count, and so on. This, I believe, is unique to the Turkish cymbal-making industry. “Anatolian” claims to make the finest cymbals in the world. Still, the company has a wide selection of products.
Pergamon Cymbals, Samsun
Pergamon is a striking Turkish cymbal company from another province. I first thought that the company was from Izmir, Bergama, but it turns out it is in Samsun. Located in the Black Sea region, the company manufactures and sells relatively more affordable cymbals compared to the top Turkish cymbal manufacturers. Saadettin Koc and Hakan Fidan, third-generation masters, developed Pergamon Cymbals. They have over 50 years of cymbal-making experience. The company also offers career opportunities for those who want to work with them. Their website is available in both English and German.
DIRIL Cymbals Import and Export Industry and Trade Ltd., Samsun
For the first time, a Turkish cymbal manufacturer exposes their full legal name on their contact page! This is an important quality for me. Ibrahim Diril, a young entrepreneur, intends to learn the business and relocates to Istanbul. He returns to his hometown and launches Diril Cymbals after years of working with Istanbul cymbal manufacturers. Mr. Diril is opposed to anything mechanical. Because the website has some technical flaws, I believe the company should hire a competent software developer.
Amedia Cymbals and Music Instruments Co., Istanbul
Amedia Cymbals began as a family business in 2005 and has developed gradually since then, owing to the 15 years of experience of its cymbalsmiths (Eremya Arzat, Ahmet Baykusak, Saban Baykusak, and Hamdusana Baykusak). I’m not sure if they purposefully misspelled their company on their “about us” page (Cymblas), but I changed the word in my title because I want to provide a complete list of Turkish cymbal manufacturers. You may learn more about the production process on their “cymbal production” page.
In the below photo, you can see that Mikhail Zildjian wrote his name as Mikael Zilcan. This is a meaningful photo, and for the first time, I saw the face of the legendary cymbalsmith Mikael.
Bosphorus Cymbals, Istanbul
The greatest cymbal production video is on Bosphorus Cymbals’ website; however, it loads really slowly, so I’m not including links. In their video, you can hear the true process from their founder’s voice. Hasan Seker, Ibrahim Yakici, and Hasan Ozdemir, three skilled cymbal smiths, formed the business in 1996. Their tutors were the masters who made the famed cymbals of the 1960s and 1970s (I’m guessing from Mikhail Zildjian’s factory).
Other Websites Selling Cymbals
I discovered three websites that sell cymbals with their brands. However, I couldn’t uncover the company’s name or any other information. They are from Istanbul. You can visit their website. Pasha may be owned by Istanbul Mehmet, but I’m not sure. Please write in the comments if you have any other information about these Turkish cymbal manufacturers.
- Pasha (in Italian)
- Aegean Cymbals (in English)
- TRX Cymbals (you can customize your cymbal)
Last Words on Turkish Handmade Cymbals
Writing a post about Turkish cymbal manufacturers has been one of the hardest, among others. It took me days to learn the fundamentals of Turkish cymbals and another day to find out their makers. I am not a fan of the Ottoman Empire family or their traditions. However, I am a huge fan of artisanal vocations. I even completed a government-funded project to support dying vocations such as shoe repair, clock repair, and handmade carpet weaving. Turkish cymbal manufacturers never require assistance in this regard, thank God. Already powerful, I am very proud of them.
My next post in this category is “Turkish delight manufacturers.”