Gear Review – Zildjian Pitch Black Cymbals
Zildjian’s Pitch Black series is the latest addition to their sheet bronze collection. Falling above the recently released ZHT series, Pitch Black is made of B-12 alloy and designed to be played loud. From Zildjian’s website:
The formidable sound and look of Rock at its absolute best. Pitch Blackâ„¢ cymbals were specifically designed to be coated and played loud… We then developed a proprietary coating process which allows the cymbal to be durable and strikingly beautiful yet still open up like a cymbal should. Eight new models unlike anything you or your fans have ever heard or seen before. The only way we could make these any more Rock would be to put leather pants on them.
Just from reading that blurb, I’m already turned off. Last I checked, music was more about the sound than the look. I completely understand stage presence and looking cool and all that jazz, but creating products with the look being the primary motivation behind it is a bridge too far in my book. My guess is that Zildjian created the series as a marketing ploy to make more money from young drummers who are not as much concerned with sound as older drummers might be. Perhaps they figured they could get a big name drummer from an up and coming alt rock band and scores of young’uns would flock to Guitar Center to get their hands on the Pitch Black series. I don’t know… just a thought.
Let’s talk about the sound.
It sucks. Even for a sheet bronze cymbal, this is pretty low grade. I felt like I had to smack the crashes with a sledgehammer to get it to open up. These are obviously meant for VERY loud playing situations. The overall weight of all the cymbals, even the 13″ splash, is very heavy. Very thick and dense. I can’t imagine getting more than two different tones out of each cymbal: crap and crappier. And that’s on a good day.
Back to the look. Zildjian engineered this “proprietary coating process” for this line. Sorry, I wasn’t aware dipping the cymbals in paint from Home Depot was proprietary. It felt as if I could chip the coating off just by scratching it. There’s no doubt in my mind the coating would not hold up under even standard playing conditions, much less the rigorous style these cymbals were apparently designed for. Now for the creme de la creme… the hi-hats.
While I like the idea of making sheet bronze hi-hats Mastersounds as they’ve done, they didn’t bother to apply this amazing coating process to the underside of the hi-hats. It makes the cymbals look tacky, as if Zildjian hadn’t gone out of their way to make that happen already.
Overall, I think Zildjian missed the mark on this one. They tried something like this a few years ago with the now discontinued ZXT Titanium line. No one liked it. They should have taken a page out Paiste’s book and realized that no one ultimately wants colored cymbals. You have to sacrifice too much in the process of making them a different color that you ultimately lose the sound. I give the Zildjian Pitch Black cymbals a 1 out of 5 mics.
Aug 21, 2008 @ 07:49:09
paste is made by zildjian
Aug 21, 2008 @ 15:48:40
Aug 25, 2008 @ 14:08:35
“paiste” is not made by zildjian i know for a fact im endorced by them and dont you think they would have dont a better job on the sound of the painted cymbals is they have already done it b4? i man at least you can get a sound out paiste models painted cymbals
Sep 04, 2008 @ 07:07:50
I’ve used Zildjians all my life. I started playing drums in elementry school band in 1959 and been playing ever since. I’ve gone through high school marching & concert band, rock, latin, disco, and today I play soft jazz.
Today I use Zildjian Custon A. Although I admit that I’ve never used the “Pitch Black” cymbals, they just don’t appeal to me and don’t even look natural, and I have no intention of ever getting them. And from other reviews I read, I think you may be better off getting ZBT’s.
Call me “Old Fashioned”, but I perfer to stay away from the new fad styles and stay with what has worked for me over the years. But I’m sure a lot of the young rockers will love them, but there just not my style.
Sep 06, 2008 @ 15:51:11
The only thing I can disagree with in this article is the implication that Paiste learned their lesson with the ColorSounds. The gimmicky-est thing in Paiste’s line right now is *almost* the Stewart Copeland blue-coated ride with the annoying Copeland logo on it. Oh wait – there’s something worse- a new black version of the Alphas with the Slipknot logo on them!!! Marketing-idiocy is a virus that spans continents, I guess. (P.S. I am no Paiste hater; have a full set of Signatures on my kit right now and love them).
Sep 12, 2008 @ 15:04:39
i purchased the pitch black 3 piece kit. and the only thing that i dont like is the 18 inch crash. its a little to think for my liking. im more of a crash ride person. the hi hats are crisp and the ride is solid.
Sep 19, 2008 @ 02:40:16
I have the 18″ china and to me it is the best sounding china I have heard. Actually, it’s a tad to loud cause I am a hard hitter and when you hit them hard they cut lose. To me being a drummer with a budget and tring to play local gigs these work fine. I myself have the ZXT Titanium hi-hats and ride (broke the crash) and I love the to death after 2 years of playing the crash gave in and the top hat has too. If I was anyone thinking of the pitch blacks get em if your on a budget, if not, then I recommend the Sabian Metal-X line.
Oct 06, 2008 @ 13:24:34
I have not used the pitch black cymbals simply because the color seems to childish. The bronze custom A’s are perfectly fine to me and i love the way they are quick and loud. I play for a traveling tent crusades and love the way the bronzes matches my silver sparkle star classic drum set.
Jan 04, 2009 @ 16:46:06
I agree completely with Cass up there, these are quite amazing cymbals.
I own the 18″ China as well, and after comparing it to the 18″ Oriental, it’s almost identical. With the economy this bad and musician’s sprouting everywhere, why pay an extra $200 for the same sound? Not worth it.
In fact, in the process of needing money for other important things, I sold my A Custom line and purchased seven of the eight Pitch Blacks to compliment my white ddrum kit, and I couldn’t be more impressed.
The 15″ Mastersounds from Pitch Black are almost identical to the 15″ Mastersound A Customs I used to own, I barely see a difference, and if anything they’re a lot louder and a bit darker than the bright A’s. I drum for a developing metal band that doesn’t exactly have thousands to spend on gear. I’m perfectly happy with the Pitch Black series, and plan on using them for a long time. They are loud, cutting, dark, and pretty good looking, the only con I’ve found is that the crashes tend to chip on the rims, obviously, making them look similar to the Hats, which is no problem for me.
Go and try these out yourself, you may be as impressed as I was.
Jan 28, 2009 @ 01:41:06
Why does Zildjian kept on making crappy thick cymbals in the first place? I hate that! I agree with Carter, Zildjian cymbals are really thick so you really have to hit it hard. They’re not concern with the sound. No wonder they sell pitch black for a very affordable price, cuz it sucks! just like how they did in planet z…I’m so dissapointed getting planet z and very regretful for acquiring it. For crying out loud my no name cymbal that’s made out of a house roof sounds way better and louder! Seriously!
Mar 05, 2009 @ 17:44:53
I think the ride and china sound average but only if you really strike them hard, however the crash I’ve heard sounds like a hubcap and you would give yourself carpal tunnel hitting the high-hats hard enough to make them sound anything like you would want for most music. I’m pretty certain Zildjian is pulling the plug on them as the prices have sailed downward in the last few weeks. In some cases I’m seeing them listed as much as 75% marked down.
Jul 20, 2009 @ 15:35:06
What an excellent blog, I’ve added your feed to my RSS reader. 🙂
Sep 16, 2009 @ 13:53:17
A quick reply to all of these comments (that i’ve read):
The majority of you are for lack of a better word too old. These cymbals are obviously designed for younger metal players and therefore would not suit the genres most of you have said. These are made for heavy-ish rock drummers who love thick sticks and a big sound and these cymbals suit this perfectly. Some of you say that the black colour are child-ish. Thats obviously becuase you have become too old and lost what rock music is all about. It is about playing good music you enjoy with gear that you enjoy and to be honest the entire concept of rock is a bit child-ish but that is why everyone loves it. Rock is becoming free and it that involves looking stupid along the way who cares? I personally salute anyone who buys these cymbals against all of these bias reviews becuase i am certain that they will love them not only becuase of the colour or the sound but the way that it impersonates everything that is good and fun about rock.
Sep 21, 2009 @ 02:17:51
your a mad guy Tom W, exactly what i was thinking
Sep 21, 2009 @ 02:19:02
White Ddrum and pitch blacks
Sep 21, 2009 @ 05:15:03
I reckon these cymbals are really good! The only down side is that the paint does wear off over time.. I have the cymbal pack and those hats, are amazing! The ride is really, really nice sounding, it kind of sounds like my Z custom ride. The crashes are loud which i like. You can only get good tone from them if you are a hard hitter, like myself. Not a fan of the china though. But overall they are good cymbals!
Jan 02, 2010 @ 01:05:04
Jamie is right, I have a couple of the old Z custom cymbals & the pitch blacks sound alot like them. The 20″ & 18″ crashs are a little thinner. The sound is darer than A custom (compared to my 18″ A) but brighter than my 16″ Z custom. At first I thought the 22″ ride had a great tone, but was worried it wasn’t loud enough. Then I let my buddies kid play them so I could listen to them from the other side & the bell on the ride cuts like a chainsaw! The bell sounds similar to my Ice bell & when I play it across the middle it sounds like my (60’s era Avedis) ping ride. IF you smack the edge w/ the neck of the stick the ride also has a gong quality & rings forever. I do hit the cymbals from underneath on the upstroke alla Gene Krupa/Erice Singer which did cause a chip in the black paint on the edge, but the guy I ordered them from said model airplane paint covers it fine. (He used it on his son’s set.)
Jan 06, 2010 @ 13:12:04
having just read all the reviews, it’s apparent that some of you have not actually sat down and played these cymbals yet…I have over 25 yrs of road experience and also some studio time under my belt and here’s what I’ve come to learn about the pitch black series after buying several:
1 – for the most part, yes, you do need to whack the *@!$ out of them to get them to open up properly, which, depending on your style of music and setting, is not an altogether bad thing. So for those of you who do not play rock, metal, punk, etc, just because they don’t fit your style of music doesn’t make them crap.
2 – the hats (both sizes) are figgin amazing. Tight, crisp and controllable. Very close to my A Customs of past…
3 – while the blackcoating is not chip-proof, it does look great and adds some visual uniqueness to a set. I’ve had many comments from other musicians and also fans on the look of mine. What I think is the coolest thing about the look is that on a dark stage, you can barely notice them, until the band kicks in and I start playing…childish, yes, but that’s just me being a guy, lol
4 – for the price point of these pieces of bronze/tin, you can beat the cost-to-performance ratio. Granted, they’re not A Customs (which have to be my favourite general-purpose cymbals).but like I said, for the right kind of setting, these are an economical and viable alternative to the more expensive Z Customs…
As drummers and musicians, we need to keep in mind that just because something doesn’t work for us in our own setting or application, doesn’t make it a bad product. That’s why Zildjian offers so many varieties – something for everyone. I like to keep an open mind when looking at or playing a new piece of gear, and so far that attitude has served me very well in my career. Rock on!!
Apr 08, 2010 @ 22:40:36
these cymbals are amazing and loud. I can get so many different sounds out of each one. I have the 15” hihats 13” splash. 16” and 18” crash 20” crash/ride 22”ride they serve my needs as a drummer. the coating does chip but it just makes them brighter sounding. give em a try you will be pleased
Apr 20, 2010 @ 08:16:10
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Oct 18, 2010 @ 04:48:56
If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Ideal Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one particular sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile much more. Then you’ll know which is correct for you.