Sabian Cymbal History!


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I always thought this was an interesting bit of Sabian & Zildjian History for drummers to know. I was so much more inclined to make the switch to Sabian once I saw their close, family relation to Zildjian. Let's hear for it Zildjian family! :wink:

Sabian History

Sabian is one of the world's largest manufacturers of cymbals. The company was founded in 1981 in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada by Robert Zildjian, son of Avedis Zildjian III, the head of the Zildjian Company. Family tradition had it that the head of the company would only pass its secrets down to the oldest son, but Avedis III gave the information to both of his sons, Armand and Robert. This led to a family feud and a legal squabble, resulting in Robert leaving Zildjian to form the rival Sabian company.

The settlement gave Robert the Canadian factory that at that time produced 40% of the production of the Avedis Zildjian Company, and most notably the entire K Zildjian line, all manufacture in Turkey having ceased by this time. However he agreed not to use the Zildjian name or to claim that his cymbals were the same.

Robert formed the word "Sabian" from the two first letters of the names of his three children Sally, Billy and Andy, and initially released two lines of cymbals, HH and AA, both of them of the traditional bell bronze alloy.

The HH or "hand hammered" line were widely regarded as being K Zildjians in all but name, and there was nothing in the settlement to prevent this being the case, although Sabian was prevented from claiming that it was true. However it was the other line, only slightly cheaper in price, that caused a sensation.

The AA line were top-of-the-line bell bronze cymbals unashamedly produced by machinery. They introduced a subtly different sound that appealed to many drummers, and also a level of consistency which was at that time new in a line of bell bronze cymbals. Sabian's initiative was quickly copied by other manufacturers but their acceptance as a major force in cymbal manufacture was assured.

Sabian cymbals are played by some of the world's most famous players:

Neil Peart, Jack DeJohnette, Mike Wengren, Steve Ferrone, Tyler Stewart, Carmine Appice, Chad Smith, John Blackwell, Rod Morgenstein, Rocky Gray, Phil Collins Vinnie Paul, Will Calhoun, Billy Cobham, Bernard Purdie, Evelyn Glennie, Zoro, and Dave Weckl.


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I remember when stores were forced to carry Zildjian OR Sabian, they weren't allowed to carry both. If a store carried Sabian, Zildjian would not sell to them.

Rob Crisp

New member
In a way I think this story is really quite sad. They couldn't keep it together and share the wealth?

On the other hand we now have another brilliant cymbal company to choose from and to drive competition....