Sabian vs Zildjian cymbals is a debate that has been going on for decades at this point. They’re two powerhouse cymbal brands. Their popularity has seen their products being used on the biggest stages in the world over the years.
Is one better than the other? Not quite. However, there are certain aspects of each company that may draw you closer to one as opposed to the other. We’re going to look at what those are.
Bottom Line Up Front
Sabian and Zildjian are two rival cymbal companies. The Sabian company was started by Zildjian family members after a business-related dispute, and the brands have been competing ever since.
Sabian’s most popular cymbals are the AAX and HHX lines, while Zildjian’s are the A Custom and K Custom lines. Apart from those, each brand offers cymbals that cover every sound requirement needed by drummers.
Main Differences Between
- The Zildjian brand was started in 1623, whereas Sabian was only started in 1981
- Sabian has dozens of good entry-level cymbals to choose from, whereas Zildjian puts more focus on their mid to high-end cymbals.
- Sabian’s cymbals are slightly more affordable compared to most Zildjian cymbals, whereas Zildjian cymbals of the same sound qualities and sizes cost a few dollars more.
- Sabian has 11 lines of cymbals, whereas Zildjian has 12
- Zildjian post dozens of videos of drummers playing their products, whereas Sabian don’t post as many high-quality demonstrations
Key Aspects of Zildjian
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Zildjian is one of the oldest companies in the world. With centuries of cymbal-making experience, it’s very clear why the brand is one of the top choices around. They’ve been making cymbals before drum kits were even a thing.
Zildjian has several lines of cymbals that are very well-known, and they are highly trusted by drummers everywhere. Many modern cymbal designs that we see these days were first made by Zildjian, leading the brand to be a huge pioneer in the drumming world.
Like most cymbal brands, they have many lines that cover beginner, intermediate, and professional price ranges. Whichever line you choose, the Zildjian quality is always prevalent.
- Oldest cymbal company in the world
- Large list of available cymbal options
- Hundreds of high-quality videos on YouTube of drummers playing Zildjian cymbals
- Highly accessible cymbals that can be found in every music store
- I wouldn’t suggest Zildjian’s entry-level cymbals to anyone
Key Aspects of Sabian
Sabian was founded after a family dispute, and Robert Zildjian found that there was a lack of variety when it came to cymbal choices. While Zildjian offers plenty of cymbal lines, I’d say that Sabian has a lot more variety within their lines.
The Sabian brand hasn’t been running for as long, but I’d argue that Sabian cymbals are just as popular as Zildjian cymbals are. Whenever I speak to someone who isn’t a drummer about drum gear, Sabian and Zildjian are the two brands most people know of.
For the most part, you’ll find Sabian cymbals costing a few dollars less than Zildjian cymbals. However, Sabian has a lot more high-end options that are way more expensive than the ones from Zildjian.
Overall, Sabian is a closely competing brand, and you can’t go wrong with any of their cymbals.
- Extensive number of good entry-level cymbals
- Plenty of variety within every line of cymbals
- Most cymbals are slightly more affordable than the comparative lines from Zildjian.
- All their cymbals are highly accessible worldwide
- There aren’t as many high-production videos available of Sabian cymbals being played as there are with Zildjian.
Zildjian vs Sabian
It mostly comes down to personal preference over which sounds you prefer with all the lines offered by each cymbal brand. Do some listening tests and pick the cymbals that you like the sound of the most.
However, the one thing that I have to say is that Sabian’s entry-level cymbals are a lot better than Zildjian’s. They sound superior and feel a lot better to play. Other than that, the two brands are on even ground.
Here are the available lines within each pricing category:
- Sabian AA
- Sabian HH
- Sabian AAX
- Sabian HHX
- Sabian FRX
- Sabian Artisan
- Sabian Paragon
- Sabian Crescent
- Zildjian A
- Zildjian A Custom
- Zildjian A Avedis
- Zildjian Kerope
- Zildjian K
- Zildjian K Custom
- Zildjian K Constantinople
- Zildjian FX
- Zildjian Concept Shop
As I stated earlier, many of Sabian’s cymbals are slightly cheaper. However, they’re only $10 to $30 less in most cases, and I wouldn’t use that as a deciding factor over which cymbal brand to go with. With such a minor price difference, I wouldn’t call Sabian the more affordable brand.
Also, Sabian’s highest-quality cymbals are a lot more expensive than Zildjian’s. Sabian sells one of the most expensive cymbal packs in the world with their Neil Peart cymbal set.
Note that both of these brands are a lot more expensive than smaller brands like Dream or Bosphorus. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, I’d suggest looking at what those other brands offer. Zildjian and Sabian sell their hammered B20 cymbals for $300 and up, whereas you may be able to find more economical options that were made with similar construction processes.
There really isn’t much competition when it comes to cymbal prices between the two brands to wrap this pricing section up.
One of my favorite ways of seeing how cymbal brands hold up is by checking out their artist roster. This shows you which famous drummers have decided to align themselves with the brand, and you can also find videos of those drummers playing the cymbals.
You may find that more of your favorite drummers play one brand as opposed to the other, and that’s a perfectly reasonable way of deciding which brand to go with yourself.
Here are some notable artists from each brand:
- Larnell Lewis
- Aaron Spears
- JD Beck
- Ash Soan
- Eddy Thrower
- Anderson .Paak
- Devon Taylor
- Travis Barker
- Steve Gadd
- Steve Smith
- Jojo Mayer
- Chester Thompson
- Dave Weckl
- Mike Portnoy
- Bernard Purdie
- Jeff Hamilton
- Daniel Adair
- Ray Luzier
- Chris Turner
- David Garibaldi
While Sabian and Zildjian have always been in stiff competition, I’d argue that Zildjian is the more popular brand these days. I remember the popularity of each brand being quite similar back in the early 2000s. Still, the Zildjian company has utilized the rise of social media a lot more than Sabian has.
After checking YouTube and Instagram, I saw that the Zildjian pages have a lot more followers than the Sabian pages. I’ve been following both brands for decades, and I’ve seen how Zildjian has pushed their marketing a lot more, which is why I assume that they have more followers.
Because of this, I’ve found that many of my drumming students who are teenagers are more excited about Zildjian cymbals than they are about Sabian. I’d love it if Sabian boosted their marketing a bit more with high-production videos of amazing drummers playing their cymbals.
Even though Zildjian cymbals are more popular, I wouldn’t say that’s a good enough reason to go with their products instead of Sabian’s. It all comes down to sounds. Which sounds do you love the most? Go with whichever brand gives you those sounds.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with mixing the two brands within your setups. I’ve been very happy with using Sabian crash cymbals and a Zildjian ride before. Choosing between both brands doubles the number of choices you have.
One brand isn’t better than the other, so either choose which brand caters best to you or use both!
Meinl is another incredibly popular cymbal brand at the moment. Most of my favorite drummers are Meinl artists, and the brand posts weekly performance videos of their artists playing their products. Typically, most drummers associate Meinl with their dry and earthy cymbals. However, the brand has a huge range of options that cover every tonal quality that you can think of.
Their Byzance line is their top line, and there are several lines within the Byzance line to pick from. Another popular line from Meinl is the Classics Custom line. Those are intermediate cymbals that work best in rock, metal, and pop settings.
Meinl is a German brand, and Meinl cymbals only started gaining popularity in the past decade. So, they haven’t been a top choice for drummers for as long as Sabian and Zildjian cymbals have been.
- Huge range of cymbals to choose from
- The brand is very active with their social media marketing, so you can see all their cymbals being played in professional settings.
- Larger range of intermediate cymbals than most other cymbal companies
- The brand doesn’t make as many traditional-sounding cymbals as other brands do
The final cymbal company that rounds out the “big four” is Paiste. Paiste cymbals have been around for decades, and they were the cymbals of choice for dozens of popular drummers in the Classic Rock Era. Led Zeppelin, The Police, and ZZ Top all had their drummers using Paiste cymbals.
Because of this, the brand is often affiliated with rock drumming. However, just like Meinl, there are cymbals of all kinds offered to drummers of all types.
Out of all the major cymbal brands, Paiste has the most extensive list of entry-level cymbals on offer. The PST Series is a fantastic line of cymbals that cater to beginner drummers who aren’t looking to spend too much.
On the opposite end, the Masters Series and Signature Series are the top lines from the brand that includes some of the most beautiful cymbals that I’ve ever heard being played.
- Legendary cymbals that have been used in thousands of studio albums
- Several entry-level cymbal lines to choose from
- More professional cymbals that aren’t made from B20 bronze than other brands
- The high-end cymbals are slightly more expensive than the ones from Sabian, Meinl, and Zildjian.
Answer: The owners of Zildjian and Sabian are all family members. Since a Zildjian family member started Sabian, the rivalry between the brands has always been a bit closer than any other cymbal brands out there.
When looking at Zildjian and Sabian’s product lines, you’ll see that many of their cymbal lines are very similar to each other. It’s the Sabian AAX vs the Zildjian A Custom cymbals or the Sabian HHX vs the Zildjian K Custom cymbals. Those comparisons go on and on. Those cymbals have similar qualities and prices, so drummers tend to choose one or the other.
Answer: Most cymbal brands make excellent entry-level cymbals, but if I were to recommend just one, it would be Paiste. Paiste has the PST3, PST5, PST7, and PST8 cymbal lines, and all of them are excellent choices for beginner drummers.
Meinl only has the HCS line, and Zildjian only has the Planet Z line. Sabian has more options with the B8X and SBr lines, but Paiste is still the clear winner here with so many options to pick from.
Answer: Zildjian. The company was started in 1623, making the brand hundreds of years in age.
Question: The most well-known drum kit brands in the world are Tama, Pearl, Sonor, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex, DW, PDP, and Yamaha. These brands are all major drum kit manufacturers. There are dozens of other brands to pick from, but their companies are a lot smaller, and fewer of their products are floating around.
If you walk into any music store, the chances are very high that you’ll find most of those brands that I just mentioned. It’s sometimes better to buy a kit from a major brand, as it will be easier to sell it in the future should you ever need to.
Personal preference is major when it comes to things that produce sound. Sound is subjective, which makes the quality of instruments subjective to the listener’s preference. This is especially true when it comes to cymbals. Whether you buy cymbals from Zildjian or Sabian, you should just get ones that you love the sound of.
There isn’t a clear winner between the brands. None is better than the other. When looking for cymbals to buy, I also suggest that you look at what Meinl and Paiste offer as well. Picking a set of cymbals from the four major brands is the best way to get something you’ll love. Don’t neglect the smaller cymbal brands either!
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