Paiste vs Zildjian – Whose Cymbals Will Suit You Better?

Author: Joseph Scarpino | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Paiste and Zildjian. These two cymbal manufacturing giants continue to define the sound of thousands of drummers worldwide.

While you’ll find that these companies utilize many of the same raw materials such as bronze mixed with varying levels of tin (B8 & B20 bronze) in their cymbals, the sound of the finished product can be drastically different.


While most cymbals are made in Turkey, Paiste is a Swiss cymbal manufacturing company.

Since 1906, Paiste has contributed innovations like: the flat ride, splash cymbals, the sound edge hi hat, even the inverted bell of the china cymbal that is highly popular in modern-day metal music.

You’ll find that Paiste is more commonly associated with heavier styles of music. The late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin famously used Paiste 2002 cymbals due to their durability and distinct sound quality.

Names like Nicko Mcbrain (Iron Maiden) and Dave Lombardo (SLAYER) will inevitably come up in conversation when discussing Paiste cymbals.


Zildjian might be the most recognizable name in cymbals. This may be to do with the fact that they are one of the oldest companies in the world.

While Zildjian utilizes a variety of different manufacturing techniques for their different cymbal lines, they pride themselves on having a large number of their cymbals still being made by hand.

The most popular lines of cymbals you’ll see from Zildjian are the K series, known for their darker warmer tones, and the A series, known for its bright, glassy, explosive qualities.

Zildjian most recognizable artists include names like Travis Barker (Blink 182) and Questlove (The Roots)

Is Paiste Right for Me?

That may sound like a strange question but it really isn’t. Here’s why.

Let’s say you play in a band and that band creates original music. What kind of music is it? Loud rock music? Heavy rhythm-driven metal? More subtle, softer jazz? Hip-hop fusion?

You’ll notice drummers who endorse Paiste or Zildjian gravitate toward specific sounds within each company's respective catalog of cymbals.

Paiste, for example, tends to make large-sized, boomier cymbals that can cut through the noise of the heaviest of metal or noisiest rock music.

There are two cymbal lines within Paiste’s catalog that would be exceptional for heavier music stylings. The RUDE cymbal series and Paiste 2002 series of cymbals.

The 2002 series are revered for their ability to easily cut through the wall-of-sound effects produced at even larger-scale live shows. 

The 2002 series are easily recognizable from its large red logo always present on the surface of the cymbal. The 2002s have a classic sound that is easily recognized when struck. The 2002s basically defined the sound of classic, prog, and hard rock drummers.

Paiste's RUDE series is also widely used in the punk and metal community; these unapologetic cymbals explode!  If a drummer is playing with RUDE cymbals, you better believe it’s about to get very loud.

Paiste doesn’t only cater to the metal heads. Paiste also makes some sweet and smooth-sounding cymbals that offer incredible dynamic playability in the form of their Signature Classic cymbal series.

The Signature Classic cymbals are a very musical series of cymbals. Each size cymbal within the line has a distinct sound that is almost tuned to the next size above it. They are expensive cymbals but most drummers would agree that they are worth the investment.

Is Zildjian What I’m Looking for?

Now let's look at some of Zildjians offerings.

Zildjian has been innovating upon the traditional cymbal creation process since 1623. If you’re looking for something with a classic sound like Zildjians Avedis line or maybe something a little “out-there”, like Zildjian’s FX cymbals. Zildjian will most likely have something for you.

If you’re a drummer that likes to play around with different sounds and textures then you need to take a look at Zildjian’s FX cymbals. FX cymbals are newer in comparison to most other lines from Zildjian. The FX series offers some wild sounds unlike anything else you’d find.

Zildjian FX Oriental Crash of Doom (yes that’s what it’s called) is a lot of fun to use. The sound it produces is somewhat hard to describe as it’s quite unique. It’s a deep dark tone with chaotic dry overtones. Drummers of multiple genres can find applications for this fun piece.

While the FX cymbals can be fun, maybe you’d like something that is more basic and traditional. Zildjians Avedis line can get the job done.

While the Avedis line uses common materials in the creation, there are creative sound variations within its group. Drummers can enjoy an Avedis fast crash. A cymbal with a quick decay and it sounds like a lightning strike when hit.

Drummers can also get a sweet ride. A sweet ride has a more delicate and precise tone than your standard Avedis ride.

Drummers like Travis Barker of pop-trio, Blink-182 famously utilize a wide variety of Zildjian cymbals to create some amazing-sounding rhythms.

Aaron Spears is another outstanding drummer who utilizes many Zildjian cymbals including the FX line. Aaron plays with acts like Miley Cyrus, The Backstreet Boys, and Lady Gaga. He uses his Zildjian cymbals to add new life and textures to music that is familiar to many listeners.

Price and Value

Both Paiste and Zildjian provide buyers with the option of purchasing cymbal bundles. Cymbal bundles are great because you often get a free cymbal thrown in from the manufacturer and you do save some money when buying all the cymbals together as opposed to individual purchases.

Good cymbals are not cheap. Expect to drop around $600-$1,000 for a pack of cymbals that are stage or recording-worthy from either of these companies. A single mid-tier 20” ride from either Paiste or Zildjian could cost about $400 alone. So a cymbal pack is a great choice for the money.

You don’t want to be replacing your cymbals frequently. It is worth taking the time to purchase the right set of cymbals for your style of play. It’s also worth noting that hitting your cymbal with the right technique will extend its life span while producing a better sound.

Final Thoughts

I’ve played cymbals from both companies and found qualities I liked across multiple lines of cymbals from each company. Admittedly I’ve played Zildjian cymbals a bit more than Paiste but, there were times when I’d want to have a 2002 ride on my kit instead of a Zildjian A series.

It comes down to understanding what you’re playing and fitting the right tool for the sound. Mixing and matching is a great way to find a perfect fit as well. Maybe you want a Paiste Signature hi-hat and nothing else, that’s fine.

Take the time to find the right sound for the music you enjoy playing. At the end of the day, there is no wrong answer. It’s a matter of personal preference.

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About Joseph Scarpino

Joseph is a drummer and lyricist from Asbury Park, New Jersey. When he is not on stage, on tour, or in the studio, you can find him behind a camera, directing, or in front of that camera, acting. Joseph enjoys many genres of music but he most frequently listens to Heavy Metal, Punk, and Hard Rock.

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