Istanbul Agop may not have come up on your radar when looking for cymbals, but it’s a brand that is highly worth considering. If you haven’t checked out their options before, you’re in for a treat. I’m going to show you some of the best Istanbul Agop cymbals.
I’ve been in love with the brand ever since I discovered Yussef Dayes, who is one of their artists as well as one of my favorite drummers. While I wasn’t as familiar with the brand as I am with the bigger cymbal companies, I’ve come to highly appreciate what they offer. I’m sure you will too.
Bottom Line Up Front
Istanbul Agop cymbals tend to specialize within the traditional sounds of cymbals. Most of the brand’s options sound as if they were heavily used in the 20th century. It means that most of their cymbals work wonderfully in jazz and other instrument-focused settings.
However, you can also easily find many Istanbul Agop cymbals that have a modern sound as well. So, they make something for every type of drummer.
My Top Picks at a Glance
- Istanbul Agop ART 4-Piece Set – Best entry-level cymbal pack.
- Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Pro – Best intermediate cymbal pack.
- Istanbul Agop Traditional Set – Best moderately priced professional pack.
- Istanbul Agop Signature Set – Best pack with dry cymbals.
- Istanbul Agop Xist Power Set – Best pack for rock and metal.
- Istanbul Agop Clapstack – One of the most popular Istanbul Agop cymbals.
- Istanbul Agop Traditional Dark Ride – Best versatile ride cymbal.
- Istanbul Agop Turk Hi-Hats – Best hi-hat pair.
Advice for Buying Istanbul Agop Cymbals
Istanbul Agop cymbals aren’t part of the “big four” cymbal brands. The brands under that name are Meinl, Sabian, Zildjian, and Paiste. This means that Istanbul Agop cymbals are less popular. This doesn’t mean that they sound worse. In fact, many drummers will argue that they prefer several of Istanbul Agop’s options.
What this does mean, though, is that you won’t be able to find Istanbul Agop cymbals as easily as the others. With the big four cymbal brands, the chances are high that you’ll be able to walk into any music store and find them.
Only certain music stores stock Istanbul Agop’s cymbals, and they’re more easily found in the UK and Europe as opposed to the US. Even when searching on Amazon, you’ll find them available but with limited stock.
While this can be quite frustrating, I’ve found that it raises the exclusivity of the cymbals a bit, which I love. I’ve seen so many jazz drummers playing with these, and I always assume that they’ve traveled the world to find them.
Learn About All Your Options
When looking to buy Istanbul Agop cymbals, I highly encourage you to go to their website and look at all the cymbal options. As with all cymbal brands, Istanbul Agop has a long list of cymbal types that vary in price and sound.
Once you know about all the options, you’ll be able to choose what you’ll like the most. You’ll also be able to compare those lines of cymbals with ones from other brands.
Every brand makes a set of dark cymbals, so you need to decide whether you like the sound of Istanbul Agop’s dark cymbals or Zildjian’s dark cymbals.
Istanbul Agop makes a few unique cymbals that no other brand makes. Understanding what those are and how they sound will make you appreciate the brand and potentially convince you to stick with their cymbals entirely.
Choose Stylistically Appropriate Cymbals
Different cymbals cater to different musical styles. If you get a set of cymbals that don’t fit the style you’re playing, they’re going to sound out of place and, frankly, quite distracting. So, make sure to understand the varying sound qualities that are appropriate. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Bright cymbals are the loudest cymbals. They have high pitches, and they work best in dense music settings with loud instrumentation. They’re best for rock, punk, metal, and pop music.
Dark cymbals blend more and have subtler volumes. They’re a bit more musically complex, and they work well in recording environments, houses of worship, and jazz settings.
Dry cymbals work well in the same settings as dark cymbals, but their tones are a bit different. They have short sustains and often have trashy tones.
Those are the main three tonal qualities that you’ll find with Istanbul Agop cymbals. Some options will have a bit of a mixture within them.
The last thing to think about before deciding to buy some cymbals is to inspect all the pricing. When you give yourself a set budget, you’ll be able to buy the best option within your price range.
One of the things I love about Istanbul Agop is that many of their professional cymbals don’t cost as much as the ones from the big four cymbal brands. It’s very possible to get more bang for your buck if you buy a set of Istanbul Agop cymbals instead of a set of Meinl, Zildjian, or Sabian cymbals.
Learning about all the offered cymbal lines and checking prices tend to go together. The entry-level cymbal lines will cost less, while the top-quality ones will cost more. Depending on where you buy the cymbals, all the sets will cost between $400 and $1500.
Now, let’s move on to my suggested options from the brand. I’ve listed a few packs below, as well as a few individual cymbals. The individual cymbals are highly versatile, and I’ve chosen them because they’d work in any setup, no matter what style of music you play.
The packs, on the other hand, have particular benefits that drummers of certain groups will find enticing. Read through all the offerings here and decide which ones you’ll like the most.
Best Istanbul Agop Cymbal Packs
Istanbul Agop ART 4-Piece Set
The ART cymbals are the most affordable options from Istanbul Agop. These cymbals are made from B8 bronze, and they’re purely intended to be used by beginners. You get a few options when it comes to packs, but I like the 4-piece set the most as it gives you a full cymbal setup.
B8 cymbals aren’t the most responsive cymbals around, but they have enough tonal goodness for beginner drummers to enjoy them. They don’t sound bad; they just don’t sound high-quality from the perspective of experienced drummers. That’s why I’d only suggest these for new drummers.
My favorite aspect of this set is that it comes with a cymbal bag, which isn’t something commonly included with beginner cymbals. You can continue using the bag in the future, even when you’ve upgraded to higher-quality cymbals. You’ll find that many of Istanbul Agop’s sets come with bags, but I find this inclusion most impressive here.
Here’s what the set includes:
- 14” Istanbul Agop ART Hi-Hats
- 16” Istanbul Agop ART Crash
- 18” Istanbul Agop ART Crash
- 20” Istanbul Agop ART Ride
- Cymbal Bag
- Great option for beginner players
- Includes a cymbal bag
- These cymbals wouldn’t work for experienced drummers
Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Pro Set
They’re one of the few intermediate lines of cymbals that I know of that demonstrate dark tones. This means that the sounds from these cymbals are low-pitched. However, they have bright stick definition, so you get a cool combination of both cymbal qualities. You could use these in multiple musical settings, and they’d sound fantastic.
The downside is that they don’t open up too well when you play them softly. You have to hit the cymbals hard to experience the full washy tone that they’re known for. As with the previous set, a bag comes included with this set.
Here are the specifics of the included cymbals:
- 14” Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Hi-Hats
- 16” Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Crash
- 18” Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Crash
- 20” Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Ride
- Cymbal Bag
- Excellent intermediate cymbals
- Dark and washy tones with bright articulation
- Tones don’t come out fully when the cymbals are played softly
Istanbul Agop Traditional Set
It comes at a lower price as it only has three cymbals in it instead of the standard four that most cymbal packs come with. That’s perfectly okay, though, as the included cymbals cover a wide range of sounds.
All the cymbals have beautiful dark and washy tones. You can use both the crash and ride cymbals interchangeably as they both sound great when crashing and playing the bows. The hi-hats are strong when played on the shoulder, but they also demonstrate great washiness when opening up.
I’d suggest getting this set if you want something versatile. You could use these for most styles of music, and they’d work wonderfully. You may need to add a few heavier additions for harder styles, but there’s plenty of space for that as you only have three cymbals here.
Here’s what you get in the set:
- 14” Istanbul Agop Traditional Medium Hi-Hats
- 16” Istanbul Agop Traditional Medium Crash
- 20” Istanbul Agop Traditional Medium Ride
- One of the more affordable professional sets from Istanbul Agop
- Beautiful washy tones that are very versatile
- The ride cymbal is great to crash on
- You only get three cymbals in the pack, and many drummers will want more
Istanbul Agop Signature Set
However, I found them to be quite warm as well, giving you a fantastic blend of the two qualities. You’ll find much drier cymbals from other brands, whereas these are a bit more universal in their use.
The cymbals are hand-hammered, so they’re highly responsive to dynamic playing. The lightest touches will bring out the purest tones, which is an incredible quality.
Here’s what comes in the set:
- 14” Istanbul Agop Signature Hi-Hats
- 16” Istanbul Agop Signature Crash
- 18” Istanbul Agop Signature Crash
- 20” Istanbul Agop Signature Crash
- Beautifully dry and complex tones
- You can play the cymbals hard without worrying about intense volume
- Not as dry as competitor cymbals, making these more universally applicable
Istanbul Agop Xist Power Set
They’re incredibly bright, allowing them to slice through heavy mixes of instrumentation. Although they’re bright and cutting, they’re also fairly responsive to different levels of dynamics. This makes them surprisingly musical.
The bells of each cymbal are very impressive. They’re loud and powerful, making them great for playing driving drum parts with. You can get a higher-pitched bell sound by playing the crash bell and then a lower sound from the ride bell.
I wouldn’t recommend these to drummers who don’t play heavy music. They’ll be far too aggressive and intense for any other style.
- Great option for rock, metal, punk
- Strong bell sounds
- Surprisingly musical sounds
- Not a viable option for drummers who don’t play heavy music
Best Individual Istanbul Agop Cymbals
Istanbul Agop Clapstack
The idea behind this cymbal is that it makes the same sound as the handclap on an 808 drum machine. Using it stops you from needing to use electronics to get the same sound. It works excellently, and it adds fantastic depth to your cymbal setup.
If you were to buy only one cymbal from Istanbul Agop, this is the first one I’d recommend getting. It has a few versions that have more stacked cymbals, but every version has the same tonal effect.
- Gives an authentic hand clapping sound
- Adds excellent variety to your cymbal setup
- It’s a large stack, making it fun to hit
Istanbul Agop 22” Traditional Dark Ride
The bell sound is incredibly earthy, and it cuts through mixes more than you’d expect from the bell of a dark cymbal.
Even though the ride is 22”, which is fairly large, it’s thin enough to keep the volume low when you’re hitting it hard. This makes it a great cymbal to use in all environments, whether they’re loud or soft.
- Great versatile ride cymbal
- Warm stick definition
- Excellent crashing sound
- Relatively expensive for a single ride cymbal
Istanbul Agop 14” Turk Hi-Hats
The Turk Hi-Hats are some of my favorite cymbals from Istanbul Agop. These cymbals aren’t as universally applicable as the previous cymbal since they have a dark and dry tone that stands out with their washiness.
They’re not going to cut through mixes easily but rather blend smoothly within all the sounds. I love these because you can bash on them quite hard while open, and the sound won’t be overwhelming. That’s always a plus for me when it comes to hi-hats.
These hats are great for jazz and recording. There are a few other ideal applications for them, but I wouldn’t use them for rock or metal. You’d be better off going with the Xist Power hats that I mentioned earlier.
- Amazing dark and dry tone
- Excellent sound when played open
- Unique surface layering looks amazing
- Not great for heavy music
Answer: The original name of the cymbal brand was Istanbul Cymbals. The two main people running the company were Agop Tomurcuk and Mehmet Tamdeger. After Agop died in an accident, the responsibility of the company was passed down to his sons.
After a few creative differences, Mehmet decided to leave the brand and start his own cymbal company. The current brand rebranded to Istanbul Agop, while Mehmet’s brand was called Istanbul Mehmet.
Both brands make excellent cymbals. Istanbul Agop tends to make more traditional cymbals, while most of the Mehmet cymbals are fairly modern.
Answer: Jimmy Chamberlin, Yussef Dayes, Carter McLean, Cindy Blackman, Aaron Sterling, and Brooks Wackerman are all popular artists who endorse Istanbul Agop cymbals.
The company doesn’t have as many high-profile drummers as the big four brands have, but I constantly see popular drummers switching over. One of the most recent examples of this is Sarah Thawer.
Answer: Yes, Istanbul Agop cymbals are incredible for jazz drumming. You’ll find that most of the drummers on the company’s artist roster are jazz drummers. Many of the brand’s cymbals have traditional sounds, which are ideal for the style.
Hopefully, from this article, you’ve seen how Istanbul Agop has plenty of options that rival the bigger brands. If you’re able to find some of these cymbals, I highly suggest considering them. You’ll find more jazz drummers using Istanbul Agop cymbals than anyone else, but they have options for everyone.
If I were to choose only one cymbal from the brand, it would be the Clapstack. No other brand makes a stack that compares, in my opinion!
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