Meinl has taken the drum world by storm in the past decade. While I never really knew the brand when I was a beginner drummer, I’ve come to love their cymbals and everything they stand for. Initially, they were a company started in the 50s that purely made entry-level cymbals.
Now, Meinl puts out some of the highest-quality cymbals you could possibly get. I gush over Meinl Byzance cymbals every time I play them. In this guide, I’m going to take you through each cymbal product that the brand has to offer.
Bottom Line Up Front: Roland Meinl founded the Meinl brand in 1951. The company wasn’t a well-known cymbal company back then, but they’re a huge cymbal entity today. There is an extensive number of Meinl cymbals for drummers of all levels, and their Byzance cymbals are particularly impressive.
Some of the biggest drummers that endorse Meinl are Matt Garstka, Thomas Lang, Chris Coleman, and Benny Greb.
Meinl Cymbals Overview
Surprisingly, Meinl never started out as a cymbal brand. Instead, the intention was to make wind instruments. However, they started producing cymbals and realized that it was a successful venture, leading them to eventually specialize in it. Meinl is both a cymbal and percussion brand, but their cymbals tend to take the spotlight.
A small fact that I love about Meinl is that they were the first company to sell a premade cymbal pack. Before that, buying cymbals separately was your only option. They revolutionized the drum industry by doing this as buying cymbal packs is very normal now.
Meinl also focused on making entry-level cymbals, to begin with. After a decade or so, they started making higher-quality products for professional settings. The rest is history!
Where Meinl Stands in Modern Times
The Meinl brand is quite big on social media. They have an excellent content strategy that sees dozens of their artists playing their cymbals in high-quality performance videos. Because of these videos, I tend to know a lot more about Meinl cymbals than other brands as I’m exposed to them more.
Meinl also has a large roster of artists that are doing online drum education. That’s how I learned most of my skills over the years, so I’ve been watching people like Mike Johnston, Gabe Helguera, and Adam Tuminaro teaching with Meinl cymbals on their kit.
The modern world is all about social media and online connectivity, and I think Meinl has nailed their marketing, leading them to become more and more popular over time.
While I mentioned a few online educators, there are also dozens of brilliant performing drummers who use Meinl cymbals. One of the first artists I saw using them was Benny Greb. Benny is one of the grooviest drummers out there, and he’s had a massive influence on my drumming over the years.
Chris Coleman is another notable drummer who’s been playing Meinl cymbals for as long as I can remember. He plays in the Gospel scene, so it’s great to see how well Meinl’s cymbals work in that setting.
I’d say one of Meinl’s best modern drummers is Matt Garstka. He’s a progressive drummer who constantly pushes the boundaries of what you can do behind a kit.
Here are some more artists on Meinl’s roster:
- Matt Halpern
- Anika Nilles
- Jost Nickel
- Robert ‘Sput’ Searight
- Dan Mayo
- JP Bouvet
- Calvin Rodgers
Meinl Cymbal Products
Meinl has an impressive number of cymbal options, especially in the intermediate range. I’m going to explain each series of cymbals, say what they’re good for, and give an expected price. After reading these, you’ll be able to tell which Meinl cymbals will work best for you.
Entry-Level Meinl Cymbals
The Meinl HCS are Meinl’s cheapest cymbals. They’re made from an MS63 brass alloy, and they have the typical sound that you can expect from entry-level cymbals. They’re bright with shimmering overtones.
They’re not too dynamically responsive and I wouldn’t recommend using these if you aren’t a beginner. However, the HCS Series has the largest number of cymbals types out of any entry-level cymbal series on the market. You can get splashes, chinas, and stacks.
There are also a large number of HCS cymbal packs that you can get. Some are cheap and only come with the essential cymbals you need while others cost a bit more and come with a wide array of cymbals.
Here’s a clip of one of the smaller packs being played:
Meinl HCS Bronze
The Meinl HCS Bronze Series cymbals sound a lot better than the standard HCS cymbals as they’re made from a B8 bronze alloy which is slightly superior to the MS63 alloy. Because of this, these cymbals cost a tad bit more. I’d highly suggest getting them instead, though.
I found that the trash crashes from this line have excellent tones and could even be used in certain professional settings.
The overall tone of each HCS Bronze cymbal is bright and clear. The shimmering after tone isn’t as bad on these, although it’s still there.
Here’s a clip of the entire line of HCS Bronze cymbals being played:
Mid-Range Meinl Cymbals
Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant
The Brilliant cymbals are the standard option in the Meinl Classics Custom range. The standout feature of these cymbals is their shiny appearance. They have incredibly bright tones that sing beautifully. They’re meant to be played hard and fast, making them great cymbals for rock and metal.
You can buy a Meinl Classics Custom box set for just under $600, making them an ideal option for anyone wanting bright cymbals at an affordable price.
They’re made with a B12 bronze alloy, which is a common alloy used for intermediate cymbals.
Check out this set of Classics Custom cymbals being played within a musical context:
Meinl Classics Custom Extreme Metal
The Extreme Metal versions of the Classics Custom cymbals share most of the tonal qualities of the previous ones. However, they’re a lot heavier and thicker. This makes them louder. A lot louder!
They’re purely made for metal drummers who need thick cymbals to bash at every gig. These aren’t the types of cymbals you’ll want to use at an intimate coffee shop gig.
My favorite cymbal in the series is the 20-inch ride. It has a comically large bell, which is perfect for playing blast beats on.
In terms of pricing, these cost slightly more than the standard Classics Custom cymbals.
Here’s a clip of JP Bouvet demonstrating just how punchy the Classics Custom Extreme Metal cymbals are:
Meinl Classics Custom Dark
The Meinl Classics Custom Darks have always been the most intriguing cymbals in the Classics Custom range. Firstly, these cymbals are black. How cool is that? Their dark appearances with the striped gold touches are amazing to look at.
They share the same punchiness and explosiveness as the previous cymbals. However, their tones are a lot lower-pitched, with a slight hint of trashiness. These are also cymbals that I’d suggest using for metal. They’re a bit too thick and loud to be used for other styles of music.
They cost the same as the standard Classics Custom cymbals, so choosing between the two types is a decision you need to make.
Here’s a clip of the pack being played:
Meinl Classics Custom Dual
The Classics Custom Dual cymbals are Meinl’s latest addition to the series. These cymbals combine the dark complexity of the Dark line with the warm explosiveness of the standard Brilliant line. The end result is a group of cymbals that are both warm and explosive.
They also look incredibly unique. Meinl first mixed surface textures with their Byzance Dual line. Those are expensive, while these Classics Custom Dual cymbals are a lot more accessible for many people.
They’re the most expensive option out of all the Classics Custom lines. A pack of them will cost just under $700.
Here’s a clip of them being played:
Meinl Pure Alloy
The Meinl Pure Alloy cymbals act as a bit of a bridge between the Classic Customs and the higher-quality Byzance models. They have an initial impression of brightness. However, I found them to be a lot more dynamically responsive than all the previous cymbals I’ve mentioned.
The larger Pure Alloy cymbals have lower tones, and those tones are incredibly pleasing. These are excellent cymbals for the price, and I could easily see them being used for professional recordings and live gigs.
They’re more expensive than the Classics Custom cymbals, so be prepared for that if you’re looking to buy a few of them.
Here’s a clip of a full range of sizes being played:
Meinl Pure Alloy Custom
The Pure Alloy Custom cymbals have thinner weights with a faster decay. Because of this, they come across as a bit softer. This makes them more versatile. I love that they keep the brightness, though. Typically, bright cymbals are loud. These aren’t as loud, but they’re still bright.
They also have a unique surface layering, giving them a killer aesthetic. Meinl has done what they do best here by making these cymbals look amazing.
These cymbals are slightly pricier than the standard Alloy cymbals. At this price point, they cost around the same as most of the base Byzance models.
Check this clip of Jost Nickel rocking these cymbals:
Professional Meinl Cymbals
Meinl Byzance Traditional
The Byzance Traditional cymbals are the base models of the Byzance line. They’re incredible cymbals. I’m currently using a 15-inch pair of Byzance Traditional Medium hi-hats in my main setup, and they’re one of my favorite aspects of my kit.
The overall tone of the Traditional cymbals is slightly bright, yet smooth. You get thick and thin options, and the thinner options are a bit warmer in their sound.
Out of all the Byzance cymbals, the Traditionals are the most affordable. They’re still quite expensive compared to all the previously mentioned cymbals, though. A set of them will cost around $1000.
Here’s a clip of them being played. It’s quite old, so the video quality isn’t fantastic. However, the sound quality is amazing, and it perfectly represents the sound of the Byzance Traditional cymbals.
Meinl Byzance Brilliant
The Byzance Brilliant cymbals share the same design and models as the Traditional line. However, these have a brilliant finish on the surface thanks to them being polished. This makes them a lot shinier.
The sound caused by this is slightly lower-pitched than the Traditional cymbals. These Brilliant cymbals also have more of a shimmer.
I’d say that these cymbals work best in rock and metal settings thanks to the shimmering tones. They may sound a bit too aggressive for jazz or softer styles.
Here’s a clip of them being played:
Meinl Byzance Jazz
The Meinl Byzance Jazz Series cymbals are designed for a very specific purpose – playing jazz. They’re excellent jazz cymbals as their tones are complex, warm, and very dynamically responsive.
However, there are multiple cymbals in this line that sound completely different from each other. All of them are musical, though.
I’d also recommend using them for more than just jazz. The crashes have an excellent buttery feel when you play them, and it’s great to play cymbals like that in any setting.
The Meinl Byzance Jazz Monophonic ride is a favorite of many drummers I know.
Check this video of Benny Greb showing just how musical these cymbals are:
Meinl Byzance Vintage
I first saw these cymbals being played by Anika Nilles. I thought they were the coolest-looking cymbals ever. It was as if someone had buried them for a few years and then pulled them out to play a gig. While some drummers may not like the appeal, I think it’s amazing.
The Meinl Byzance Vintage cymbals have the tones to match their appearance. Most of them are dry with little sustain.
You get two main types of Vintage cymbals, the Sand Series and the Vintage Pure Series. The Sand Series have sandblasted surfaces while the Vintage Pure cymbals have unlathed surfaces.
Here’s Benny Greb playing again:
Meinl Byzance Dark
Meinl’s Byzance Dark cymbals have the darkest tones out of all the Byzance options. Their low-pitched sounds add a unique contrast to the high-pitched cymbal sounds that your ears may expect from a drum kit.
The cymbals get out of the way quite quickly thanks to their shorter decay. This means that you can play them hard without worrying about making too much of an impact. They’re ideal cymbals to use in church settings.
They also have the classic unlathed surfaces that many Meinl cymbals are known for.
A set of them will cost just over $1000. However, I’d suggest only buying one or two of these and then mixing them within a set of brighter cymbals. I’ve found that to be the most tasteful sound.
Check out this clip of a Meinl Byzance Dark cymbal set being played:
Meinl Byzance Extra Dry
I’d argue that the Meinl Byzance Extra Dry cymbals are some of the most popular options from Meinl. Almost every drummer I see who plays Meinl cymbals has at least one of these in their setup.
The main tonal quality of each option in this series is dryness. When a cymbal is dry, it means that it doesn’t ring for very long, and the sound is a bit more on the trashy side.
If you play one of these cymbals on its own, you may not think it sounds too attractive. However, you’d be surprised at how amazing it sounds when it gets placed amidst a set of different cymbals.
You can get a full set of Extra Dry cymbals if you’d like, but my top recommendation would be the Mike Johnston cymbal pack. It has a full set of Extra Dry cymbals with one Byzance Traditional cymbal to balance the overall sound out.
Here’s the set being played:
Meinl Byzance Dual
The Meinl Byzance Dual cymbals take all the goodness from the Extra Dry Series and mix it with a bit of brightness from the Traditional Series. These cymbals are the high-tier version of the Classics Custom Dual line.
When you play them, you get a dry tone followed by a shimmering explosive tone. You can also hit them on different areas of the surface to get varying tones.
Their main attraction is their appearance. The inner parts are unlathed while the outer edges have brilliant finishes.
Even though they mix different cymbal types together, they’re around the same price as most of the other Byzance cymbals.
Check this clip of Siros Vaziri jamming on a set of Byzance Dual cymbals:
Meinl Byzance Foundry Reserve
The Meinl Byzance Foundry Reserves are the top-tier cymbal option from Meinl. They’re the cymbals that compete with the Zildjian Constantinoples and the Sabian Artisans. You won’t find many cymbals that sound better than these.
Because of this, they’re the most expensive cymbals that Meinl offer. However, you get a pair of sticks and a set of gloves in a box whenever you buy one. They’re special cymbals, and it’s one of my dreams to own a full set of them.
Unfortunately, you only get Foundry Reserve crashes, rides, and hi-hats. You don’t get splashes, chinas, or trash crashes.
Check out how beautiful they sound in this video:
Meinl Artist Concept Models
The final line of cymbals to mention that Meinl offer is the Artist Concept line. These are cymbals that Meinl worked with some of their artists produced. Most of them are stacks that combine cymbals from different lines and varying alloys.
Since they are all quite unique, it’s difficult to explain them in a few short sentences. You’d need to go on to Meinl’s website to check each of them out.
Alternative Cymbal Brands to Know About
Meinl is one of the big four cymbal brands in the drum industry. All these brands produce top-quality cymbals that drummers have been using for decades. Since Meinl is most well-known for their artistic unlathed and dry cymbals, I’m going to compare similar models from the other three competing brands to see how they line up.
Zildjian sells the K Custom Special Dry cymbals. These are most similar to the Meinl Extra Dry Series. However, the K Custom Dry cymbals tend to be more universal. I’ve seen many drummers use a set of them without any other types of cymbals, and their kit has sounded fantastic. I haven’t seen a drummer use a full set of Meinl Extra Dry cymbals.
Zildjian is arguably a more popular cymbal brand. They’ve been around for much longer, and they also push social media in the same way that Meinl does.
I’d say that Meinl has the advantage in the intermediate cymbal range as they offer more options. Zildjian only has the S Series.
Sabian’s HH cymbals are the closest competitor to many of Meinl’s options. The HH Duo ride cymbal is incredibly similar to any Meinl Byzance Duo cymbal. The HH cymbals also have vintage tones and aesthetics, similar to Meinl’s cymbals.
Sabian has more options in the classic cymbal range, though. Their AAX and HHX cymbals are extremely popular, and their higher-tier cymbals like the Artisan, Crescent, and Paragon lines are also strong competitors.
I’d argue that Meinl is a more popular cymbal brand currently as Sabian doesn’t push social media in the same way. It’s a lot easier to find product demos of Meinl cymbals than it is to find ones of Sabian cymbals.
Paiste’s Masters Dry cymbals are some of the best cymbals I’ve heard. I see them as a bit of a mixture between the Meinl Byzance Extra Dry line and the Meinl Byzance Traditional line. They’re not as dry as the Extra Dry cymbals, but they’re dry enough to suit the taste of many drummers.
Paiste used to be known as the brand that all the rock drummers in the 80s and 90s used, but I love their dark and musical cymbals more than their loud and booming ones. They’re a luxury cymbal company, so I highly recommend checking their products out.
Answer: Many of Meinl’s most popular cymbals have dry tonal qualities to them. The Meinl Byzance Extra Dry Series is an incredible series of cymbals that so many drummers gravitate toward.
The brand tends to put more emphasis on making dry cymbals than any other. Most brands only have one line of dry cymbals, whereas Meinl has about four.
Drummers never used to play on dry cymbals as often a few decades ago. If you listen to music from the early 2000s, you’ll mostly hear bright cymbals. Modern drumming has evolved to require a wider range of tones, and many drummers look to Meinl for vintage and dry options.
Answer: Any cymbal with the Byzance name is an incredible cymbal. There are several Byzance lines of cymbals that sound amazing. However, most people will say that the best line of cymbals from Meinl is the Byzance Foundry Reserve line.
These are the most luxurious cymbals that the brand has available. They sound the most musical, and you get a special package whenever you buy one that includes the cymbal, a pair of sticks, and a set of gloves.
They’re also the most expensive cymbals that Meinl has on their product line.
Answer: Meinl is also a very big percussion brand. They sell all kinds of percussion from tambourines to congas to ritual drums. Their cajons are particularly popular.
Meinl Percussion and Meinl Cymbals are two different companies under the same umbrella. They have separate production teams and processes, allowing the same amount of effort to be put into making both types of instruments.
Answer: They have an incredible artist roster. Some of the biggest drumming names in the world wholeheartedly support Meinl cymbals, leading many drummers to get influenced by them and support Meinl as well.
A few of my favorite drummers are Benny Greb, Adam Tuminaro, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, and Chris Coleman. Every single one of those drummers has been a Meinl artist for years.
Meinl also regularly boosts their products by marketing them on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. There are countless professional videos of their products being demonstrated, leading more drummers to see them and buy them for themselves.
The Meinl family is a great one to be a part of. If you’re looking for some new cymbals, check out everything available from the brand. Their intermediate cymbals are the most intriguing part for me. No other brand has as many cymbal options in that price range.
The great thing about Meinl is that they’re constantly releasing videos of drummers playing their cymbals. If you go to their YouTube channel, you’ll get to see all kinds of setup combinations with all their cymbals. Watch some of those before you start buying!
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