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Paiste, a Swiss manufacturer and designer, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of cymbals, gongs, and metal percussion. Paiste is an Estonian/Finnish word which means "shine". The company's website indicates that "the correct pronunciation for 'Paiste' is 'Pie-stee', or as Mario Calire of Ozomatli says, 'It rhymes with feisty'!", the word meaning "sunrise" in Estonia. That sunrise can be seen in the logos for their 2002 line and their Twenty line. Irish readers should note that paiste is not related to the similar Irish-language word, páiste, pronounced poysh-teh, meaning child.

The first Paiste cymbals were produced in 1906 by Estonian musician Toomas Paiste in his instrument repair shop in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to customer orders. Toomas had served in the Czarist Guard, and retired in 1901 to open a music publishing business and music shop.

The cymbal making aspect of the business expanded with the passing years, despite the disruption of several moves necessitated by war, firstly to Tallinn in Estonia in 1917, where Toomas' son Mihkel Paiste decided to concentrate on cymbal production and export. In 1940 the family and the cymbal making operation moved to Poland, where they continued under extremely difficult conditions, and in 1945 to Germany, and then in 1957 a new headquarters and production facility was established in Switzerland. The business was continued by Mihkel's sons Robert and Toomas, with both the Swiss and German operations as the main manufacturing centres.

Paiste has made several introductions to cymbal design and manufacture. Among these are:
  • The Flat Ride. Basically a ride cymbal without a cup or bell. Originally designated as Space Sound in the Formula 602 line. Designed with Joe Morello. Introduced in the 1960s.
  • The Sound Edge Hi-Hat. To prevent airlock the bottom cymbal of the hi-hat pair has ripples along the edge. Introduced in 1967. Also applied to hand cymbal sets.
  • The use of B8 bronze as a cymbal alloy. Referred to by Paiste as "CuSn8" alloy or "2002 bronze". First introduced with the Stambul 65 series in 1965. Gained general acceptance with the Giant Beat and the 2002 series.
  • 'Flat' bells. With the introduction of the Sound Creation Short Crash in 1975 Paiste was the first to make use of a flattened bell design.
  • Unlathed cymbals. Introduced in 1980 as the RUDE series. Made from the B8 alloy unlathed cymbals were marketed towards louder music styles as punk and heavy metal.
  • Inverted bell on China cymbal introduced in 1983 as the 2002 NOVO china type. Makes it easier to play ride and crash on a China cymbal.
  • Colored cymbals Introduced in 1983.
  • The Paiste Sound Alloy (Signature Bronze). A patented cymbal alloy introduced in 1989 with the Signature line. According to the patent, this alloy consists of phosphor bronze with a 14.7% to 15.1% tin content by weight. It has been claimed by Paiste to be the first bronze alloy specifically developed for cymbals.
  • Sonic Texture Formula. Introduced in 2001 with the Innovations series. A patented lathing technique to get a more complex sounding cymbal.


Many of these innovations were used by other manufacturers when the applicable patents expired. Almost all offer for example a Flatride cymbal.

Paiste makes several cymbal lines from several alloys. These include:
  • 101 - Cymbals made from Brass. Paiste's lowest end cymbal line. They are manufactured entirely by computer. Introduced in 2005
  • 201 - Cymbals made from B8. Introductory level cymbals. They are manufactured entirely by computer. Introduced in 2005
  • PST 3 - Brass cymbals; beginner level. Introduced in 2005.
  • PST 5 - B8 cymbals (CuSn8); student/intermediate level cymbals. Introduced in 2005.
  • Alpha - B8 cymbals (CuSn8); semi-professional cymbals. Introduced in 1991 and redesigned in 2006.
  • Noise Works - An experimental line containing cymbal stacks for trashy sounds and mini hats.
  • 2002 - Introduced in 1971. Made of B8 (CuSn8) and is regarded by many as the first fully professional series made from this alloy. Discontinued in 1986 but reintroduced in 1988 due to popular demand. Over the years the model line has changed significantly. Many types were introduced and discontinued. From 1994 to 1999 it also incorporated the RUDE series (2002 RUDE). From 2005 to 2006 the 2002 line included many models from the defunct Dimensions series of cymbals, but most of the Dimensions models have since been discontinued from the series.
  • RUDE - Cymbals designed for loud and aggressive playing. They have no lathing and a raw finish. Crafted entirely by hand from B8 (CuSn8). Introduced in 1980. Discontinued in 1986 with the introduction of the 1000 RUDE and 3000 RUDE series. Incorporated from 1994 to 1999 in the 2002 line as 2002 RUDE. Reintroduced as RUDE in 1999.
  • Giant Beat - Originally introduced in 1967 and discontinued in 1971, this series was reintroduced in 2005 as 18", 20", and 24" multi-purpose cymbals with 14" and 15" hi-hats. They share the same CuSn8 (B8) bronze as the 2002 series.
  • Signature - Introduced in 1989. First cymbals created with Paiste's Signature Bronze, featuring an array of different sounds and looks suitable for any playing style.
  • New Signature - Introduced in 2005. Made of Paiste Signature Bronze alloy. Paiste calls this line 'an elitist concept'. Mostly dark sounding cymbals.
  • Traditionals - Introduced in 1996. Cymbals designed with older cymbals sounds from the 1940s and 50s in mind. Intended for musical styles as Swing and Blues. Consists mainly of lightweight designs. They are crafted from Paiste's proprietary "Signature Bronze" alloy.
  • Twenty - Introduced at the winter NAMM 2007 as a basic lineup of hi-hat, ride, crash and china cymbals. Made out of Turkish B20 blanks.


Classic Paiste lines include:
  • 302, 402, 502, 802 popular budget level cymbals from the 1990s - early 2000s, in 1997 were enhanced sonically and received the plus-labeling and the addition of the 802. Discontinued in 2005 from the way of the new Paiste Sound Technology-, or PST-lines.
  • Formula 602 series, made from B20 bronze, first released in 1957. These cymbals have a dedicated group of fans. Many examples of the heavier types still exist, but the paper-thin crashes are rare and almost priceless, other models vary between these extremes.
  • 101 series, different from current 101, beginner level cymbals made of nickel silver, produced from 1974 to -79. Then another Brass version Discontinued In 2005, for a newer version
  • 404 series, beginner level CuSn8-cymbals, produced from 1974 to 1985.
  • 505 series, advanced student CuSn8-cymbals, produced from 1974 to 1985.
  • 200 series, advanced level cymbals made of brass, produced from 1986 until the beginning of the 1990s.
  • 400 series, advanced student cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 until the beginning of the 1990s. Was also available with COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 500 series, orchestral/marching cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 until the beginning of the 1990s. Was also available with COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 900 series, orchestral/marching cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 until the beginning of the 1990s. Was also available with COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 1000 series
    • 1. semi-professional line made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 until the beginning of the 1990s. Was also available in RUDE finish.
    • 2. Series of orchestra/marching cymbals, also available in COLORSOUND finishes.
    • Stanople, a mid-line series introduced in the 1960s, discontinued in the 1970s.
    • Ludwig Standard, a mid-line series from the 1950s-70s produced for distribution by Ludwig Drums.
    • Stambul, their old top-of-the-line cymbals, produced from 1932 to 1965 from NS12 nickel-bronze and later made of CuSn8 bronze.
    • Zilko, a cymbal line made in the 50's second to Stambul.
    • SOUND CREATION, top of the line professional bell bronze cymbals that were made alongside the 602 series starting in 1975 till the end of 80's.
    • Dixie, entry level NS12 cymbals made in the 60's, later also offered in B8.
    • Dimensions - This was considered a professional level cymbal which later merged in with the 2002 line. They were introduced in 1999 and are now discontinued.
    • Innovations - This is a professional level cymbal line made with the 2002 bronze. They are mechanically pre-shaped, hand hammered, and lathed. Introducted in 2001, this line is now discontinued.


    In addition, some Paiste cymbals are re-branded by drum manufacturers with their own brand name, for example Vader, Vader Rainbow etc.

    Paiste also offers to color coat their cymbals and the possibility of custom orders. Also they use prototype cymbals that sometimes appear in stores. So there are Paiste cymbals 'outside' of the here mentioned series.

    It started with the Formula 602 "Dark Ride" cymbal in the early 70s. This cymbal was developed with Jack DeJohnette. In 1975 Paiste introduced the Sound Creation as a cymbal line.

    The first series in 1975 shows a small Paiste logo an inch away from the ride bells. Hi-Hats were Dark Hi-Hat and Dark Sound Edge Hi-Hat, 10 types (rides etc) in total :
    • Short Crash (18")
    • Dark Crash (18", 20")
    • Dark Ride (18", 20", 22")
    • Bright Medium (18", 20")
    • Bright Ride (18", 20")
    • Mellow Ride (20")
    • Dark China (18", 20", 22")
    • Bell Ride (20", 22")
    • Dark Hi-Hat (14")
    • Dark Sound Edge Hi-Hat (14")


    The 1979 series has the same small Paiste ink an inch away from bells. Hi-Hat models were as in the 1975 series, with the 10 types in that series and 6 additional cymbals (5 rides and china) available with factory rivets.

    In 1984, the line and models partially change. The top ink logo changes, and the following models were added :
    • Dark Flatride
    • Dark Medium Ride
    • Dark Medium HH
    • Dark Medium SE HH
    • Dark Heavy HH
    • Dark Heavy SE HH.


    The Mellow Ride was discontinued. Also, 13" models were added to all Hi-Hats, and the Hi-Hats were changed to Medium and Heavy models, with the mediums lighter than the former regular models.)

    The "New Dimension" were introduced in 1985, with different hammering patterns and lathing. Contrary to the old heavy and random hammering pattern in the Dark models, the hammering becomes more evenly spaced, except in the China, where the hammering turned very heavy and random, while in the former Dark China models the hammering was very light and regularly spread all over the cymbal.

    The ND treatment was applied to these types : Dark Crash, Dark Ride, Dark Medium, Dark China, Short Crash, and Bell Ride.

    Aside the cymbals meant for playing with a drumset Paiste also makes hand cymbals. These were listed as separate lines and in the existing lines. Current lines include:
    • Symphonic
    • Concert/marching
    • Universal
    • Alpha
    • 502 Plus
    • 302 Plus


    Paiste makes its gongs in the German factory. Paiste gongs are made from nickel silver. Current series include:
    • Symphonic gongs available in sizes from 20" to 80".
    • Planet gongs. These are like symphonic gongs but tuned to represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Sun, the Earth, the Moon and the other planets as calculated by Hans Cousto. Available in sizes from 24" to 38".
    • Sound Creation gongs. A series of 10 gong each with its own character. Not to be confused with the planet gongs. Most models in the series are discontinued except for nrs 3, 8, 9 and 10. The models were:
      • Nr. 1 Sun
      • Nr. 2 Fire
      • Nr. 3 Earth
      • Nr. 4 Water
      • Nr. 5 Peace
      • Nr. 6 Moon
      • Nr. 7 Fight
      • Nr. 8 Head
      • Nr. 9 Chest
      • Nr. 10 Abdomen


      Paiste also made a line of tuned gongs and a tuned gong play that are now discontinued.

      Paiste also makes a variety of metal percussion instruments. Among these are
      • Crotales
      • Sound plates. Rectangular plates from B8 bronze that sound church bell like when struck with a soft mallet.
      • Sound discs. Round discs made from B8 bronze.
      • Roto sounds. Round discs made from B8 mounted in revolving stand.
      • Finger cymbals. Very small thick cymbals.
      • Nicholas Barker of Atrocity(Band)
      • Alex Gonzalez of Maná (since january 1983)
      • Rick Allen of Def Leppard (until 1984)
      • Tico Torres of Bon Jovi
      • Ringo Starr of The Beatles (Until 1963)
      • Jet Black of The Stranglers
      • John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
      • Tommy Aldridge of Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy etc
      • Alex Van Halen of Van Halen
      • Tommy Lee of Motley Crue (1982-2004)
      • David Silveria of Ko?n
      • Chester Thompson, touring drummer for Genesis and Frank Zappa (1973-88)
      • Phil Collins of Genesis (1973-81)
      • Prairie Prince of The Tubes
      • Don Henley of Eagles
      • Nick Mason of Pink Floyd
      • Dave Haley of Psycroptic
      • Barriemore Barlow of Jethro Tull
      • Mark Craney of Jethro Tull
      • Doane Perry of Jethro Tull
      • Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden
      • Keith Moon of The Who
      • Kenney Jones of The Faces and The Who (1969-81)
      • Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia
      • Cozy Powell
      • Phil Rudd of AC/DC (1975-83, 1991-Present)
      • Chris Slade of David Gilmour, The Firm, AC/DC
      • Ian Paice of Deep Purple
      • Dave Holland of Judas Priest (1979-89)
      • Scott Travis of Judas Priest
      • Mykill (Mike) Aresco original drummer of Lost Soul
      • Paul Wertico formerly of The Pat Metheny Group
      • Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Grip Inc. and Fantômas
      • Paul Bostaph of Exodus, Slayer, Forbidden, Systematic, Truth About Seafood
      • Tommy Portimo of Sonata Arctica
      • Stewart Copeland of The Police
      • Bill Bruford of King Crimson, Yes, Earthworks
      • Yuri Ruley of MxPx
      • Joey Jordison of Slipknot and Ministry
      • Torstein Lofthus of Shining
      • Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave
      • Danny Carey of Tool
      • John Dolmayan of System of a Down
      • John Fell of Heroine Sheiks
      • Bill Ransom, Independent
      • Linda McDonald, The Iron Maidens
      • Marky Ramone of the Ramones
      • Larry Mullen Jr. of U2
      • Jeff Plate of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
      • Johnny Fay of The Tragically Hip
      • Josh Freese - studio drummer, DEVO, The Vandals, A Perfect Circle
      • Charlie Benante of Anthrax
      • Niall Quinn of The Hitchers
      • Jukka Nevalainen of Nightwish
      • Reidar 'Horgh' Horghagen of Immortal and Hypocrisy
      • Jeff Porcaro of Toto, Session
      • Meg White of The White Stripes
      • Chad Wackerman
      • Dean Butterworth of Morrissey, Good Charlotte
      • George Schwindt of Flogging Molly
      • Richard Ploog formerly of The Church
      • Mikkey Dee of Motörhead and King Diamond
      • Kalani
      • Keith D of Arctic Sleep
      • Pedro Galindo, Independent
      • Chad Butler - Switchfoot
      • Gas Lipstick of HIM
      • Istanbul Agop
      • Meinl
      • Sabian
      • Zildjian
Some company information may be courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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