Meinl and Zildjian are two of the leading cymbal brands in the world at the moment. Although Zildjian has been the biggest cymbal brand for decades, Meinl has very steadily crept up the ladder of popularity in modern drumming.
They have so many great products to offer that directly compete with the best cymbals from Zildjian. So, which cymbal brand makes more sense for you? Let’s find out here...
Meinl Cymbals - Overview
The Meinl company was founded in 1951, meaning it’s fairly young compared to Zildjian and its more well known competitor Sabian. However, Meinl has done a lot of innovating over that time and has paved the way for a lot of cymbal types.
Originally a wind instrument company, Meinl started manufacturing cymbals in 1952. One of the things that made Meinl such a huge player in the market is that they were the first cymbal company to sell cymbal packs.
No other cymbal company had been selling pre-packed cymbals before that. It’s something that is now very commonly seen in the cymbal market, and Meinl still has some of the highest-value cymbal packs on offer.
Meinl’s main line of cymbals is the Byzance Series. They’re all hand-hammered and made of a B20 alloy. There are several lines in the Byzance Series such as the Traditional, Dark, Brilliant, Extra Dry, Vintage, and Foundry Reserve.
One quality of Meinl’s cymbals that is loved by many drummers is that most of the Byzance cymbals have stunning visual aesthetics.
The Extra Dry and Vintage lines have earthy appearances that will turn heads at every show you play. Many drummers have seen these beautiful cymbals on social media and decided to give Meinl a go.
Some famous drummers that endorse Meinl are Benny Greb, Anika Nilles, Matt Garstka, Chris Coleman, Chris Adler, and Adam Tuminaro.
Zildjian Cymbals - Overview
The Zildjian company was started in 1623, making it one of the oldest musical instrument manufacturers in the world. Although Zildjian also makes percussion and sticks, they’re most widely known for making cymbals.
The company is so well known that most people associate cymbals with Zildjian, even if they aren’t musicians. Zildjian has taken centuries of experience and poured it into producing some of the highest-quality products in the world.
Zildjian's top line of cymbals are the K and K Custom Series cymbals. There are so many cymbals in the K family that have been used on popular recordings and at gigs with thousands of people.
The K cymbals have a rich and warm tone that makes them sound really good. There are some unique lines within the K family such as the Special Dry and the Constantinople that have unique qualities to add.
The second most popular lines from Zildjian are the A and A Custom cymbals. These have a brighter and louder sound. They’re typically used for heavier music. You’ll often find drummers mixing A Customs and K Customs to get a variety of cymbal tones across their drum kits.
Some of Zildjian’s more affordable cymbals are the S Series and the ZBT Series. Since Zildjian cymbals are so popular, there have been many drum legends that have endorsed their products over the years.
Some names that come up are Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Ringo Starr. Some modern drummers who endorse Zildjian are Larnell Lewis, Nate Smith, Aaron Spears, and JD Beck.
When it comes to choosing your cymbals, it should heavily depend on what type of music you’re playing. The two biggest musical styles would be rock and jazz.
Both styles require very different drum sounds, meaning you wouldn’t quite fit in if you don’t have the right sound.
Rock music requires a heavy and bright sound, meaning piercing cymbals with long sustains would work best. Zildjian A Customs or Meinl Byzance Traditionals would be good choices.
The cymbal sound in jazz needs to be darker and more mellow. The cymbals with a short sustain tend to work better and serve the sound instead of cut through it.
So, Zildjian K Customs or K Constantinoples would work wonderfully. When looking at Meinl cymbals, the Byzance Extra Dry or the Byzance Jazz Series would be the cymbals to get.
All other styles of music fall somewhere between these two extremes. Metal music requires bright and piercing cymbals. However, they need shorter sustain as drum parts can get very quick.
So, a good balance of dryness and brightness would work well. Both Meinl and Zildjian offer a good mixture of these qualities in their cymbals.
When it comes to price, both companies are on an even playing field. The general price for the top-of-the-range cymbals tends to be similar across all cymbal brands. This doesn’t include the special cymbals that haven’t been massed produced.
However, there is a big difference when it comes to budget cymbals. Meinl’s HCS cymbals pack the most value for money compared to other budget cymbals on the market.
Meinl also sells the Classic Custom cymbals that work wonderfully for rock and metal compared to Zildjian’s A cymbals that cost more.
Meinl was originally a budget cymbal company. So, that side of them has still continued to grow and create a good sense of competition between the cymbal brands.
If you’re an intermediate or pro drummer who is looking for top-of-the-range cymbals, you’re going to find great products from both Meinl and Zildjian.
Meinl has a lot more dry and musically complex cymbals whereas Zildjian has cymbals with that classic sound that most drummers are looking for.
If you’re a beginner drummer, Meinl’s budget cymbals will be a better option to get as they sound better and cost less.
Overall, both companies have huge catalogs of cymbals to choose from and every cymbal is catered for individual needs. Decide what you need and then choose which brand to go with. You won’t regret going with either.