Designing a Heartbeat cymbal from start to finish (Part One)

With eleven series in production (as of this article date), we at Heartbeat are often asked about how we develop our cymbals and our series. We can’t speak for other companies, but we can tell you about the process that we go through. Let’s go back to 2010 with the first Heartbeat series prototypes production run.

The first thing we would like to state is that, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiates 1:9). While there may be new technological innovations, the products at Heartbeat are not earth shattering or world changing. Heartbeat Worship exists to serve the Church. The ministry and focus of Heartbeat Worship can be found here: Heartbeat Worship/About.

For Heartbeat Percussion, we aim to develop great products that are available in a direct basis at great pricing. We are a purpose-driven company! Some have said that the way we do business may be industry changing, and we believe that is a very good thing. If Heartbeat ceased to exist tomorrow, you could still find some great cymbals and percussion products from other manufacturers that would be suitable as Heartbeat alternatives. Most likely the manufacturers and distributors of those products would approach daily business differently than Heartbeat, but their products would do the job.

Let’s get back to cymbal design via a quick dip into the past. With the thought that the Zildjian cymbal company was the “mother ship” of western music cymbals, and that Zildjian was based in Turkey until the mid ’70s, we can safely say that all Turkish cymbals have been directly influenced by the Zildjian heritage there. Most likely every Turkish cymbal has been crafted by someone who was trained by someone who was trained by someone who worked at the Zildjian K factory in Istanbul. A definite void was created when the K factory closed in the 70s. Production of cymbals with the “K” logo started up again in 1981 but were now being manufacturerd by different people (the Zildjian A company) in a different country (USA). About that same time, some of the remnant folks from the original K plant in Turkey started up a new company and branded their product: “Istanbul Cymbals”. The Istanbul company split in half in 1997, and about the same time some other Istanbul employees left to start a third Turkish cymbal brand. This cycle has continued on, as more companies are started by employees leaving to start up their own cymbal businesses.

The story of the first years including startup of Heartbeat can be found here: Heartbeat Worship.. the early years. It was 2003 when Heartbeat first introduced Turkish hand made cymbals into North America. Heartbeat wasn’t the very first, but we have certainly helped Turkish made cymbals get back into the mainstream cymbal business in North America.

Let’s take a look at the first four Heartbeat series: Classic, Studio, Custom and Rock. While Heartbeat originally started distributing a different brand, it was only a matter of time before we developed our own products. Two of the popular cymbals that were strong sellers for Heartbeat were a traditionally lathed cymbal reminisent of the old Turkish made Ks, and a varient of that cymbal but with an unlathed bell and unlathed stripe on the top. Probably every Turkish brand of cymbals has similar looking cymbals.

Here is a picture of a Vintage Turkish made K cymbal along side of our Classic series:


Zildjian Turkish K and Heartbeat Classic Rides


So while we love to create the famous vintage sound of hand crafted Turkish made cymbals, we always like to add a Heartbeat touch to the cymbals. We know our customers are living in a much different music world than the 1920-1960 scene when these Ks were the mainstay. So we often work with vintage sounds but with our customer’s input, we adjust the sounds to what today’s drummers want.

For all Heartbeat cymbals we used the highest quality B20 alloy available. B20 is a combination of four parts (80%) copper to one part (20%) bronze (tin) plus a seasoning of other elements, such as silver or gold. So, all eleven of our series are made from the same base B20 alloy. Now we decide what to do with the alloy. Let’s keep it simple! The basic differences in our cymbals are due to differences in: diameter, thickness, bell size, cymbal profile, hammering, lathing and finish. Each of these affect the sound. So we started with the Classic, because, well, it is classic!

From that point on, our next series, the Studio series, was also easy. It is basically a Classic cymbal but with the bell and a stripe on the top left unlathed (or raw). This produces a slightly quicker decay and a more earthy sound (and looks).

Heartbeat Classic Studio Cymbals


Going in a different direction from the Studio was our third series, the Rock. These cymbals are beefed up a bit with a little more weight (about 10%) than the Classics, and a brilliantly polished finish instead of the traditional finish. This gives the series a slightly brighter sound as well as looks, and the heavier weight gives the cymbals a little higher pitch.



Heartbeat Classic Rock Cymbals


Our fourth series combined attributes of the first three. The Custom series features an outer edge (top and bottom) finished like the Rock (brilliantly polished) and lathed like the Classic, but the remainder of the cymbal is left unlathed (raw) like the stripe and bell of the Studio, but finished with a sandy colored tone instead of the natural dark featured on the Studio.  Shape and weight is similar to the Classic and Studio. This series has a fast decay (generally less lathing means less resonance) and a very controlled sound.


Heartbeat Classic Custom Cymbals


Other cymbal companies may produce cymbals that look similar to Heartbeat, and Heartbeat may produce cymbals that look similar to theirs. But remember, the basic differences of material (B20) and the quality of that material, plus, thickness, bell size, cymbal profile, hammering, lathing and finish. all affect the sound. Similar looking cymbals from different companies can sound very different. And sometimes we find that very different looking cymbals can sound similar! So, for example, the prototype cymbal used as the feature image for this article looks different than any other Heartbeat series, but the sound was not distinctive enough to proceed with using the design for a cymbal series (yet).

We hope that this information helps you on your way to discovering more about Heartbeat cymbals and why they look and sound they way they do. In Part Two we will look at a slightly different approach on a Heartbeat cymbal series created. We will walk through the steps from the original creative idea through prototype construction to final design and production.