History of Zildjian Cymbals

The zildjian cymbal brand has changed a lot over the years – they have been making cymbals, with the scret recipe handed own from father to son since the early 1600s. You’re not going to find any of those on your drumset though!

Realistically we are looking at cymbals from 1929 to the modern day although some pop up that pre date that

Potted History

Zildjian was formed in 1618 in Constantinople (Now Istanbul) in Turkey, by Avedis the first ( I), an alchemist who created an sheet alloy combining tin, copper, and silver when searching for how to make gold.

This strange resonant alloy would make musical sounds when struck and would not shatter. H was adopted by the Sultan who gave him the name ‘Zilcian’ – Turkish “zilci” (cymbal-maker) and “yan” (son of).


Avedis I was granted permission to leave and create cymbals commercially – Since then, the product process and alloy recipe remained secretive for generations.  They were traditionally passed from father to eldest son only – until 1981 when it was given to two brothers. They subsequently split, one going off to Canada to form Sabian cymbals. 


  • Avedis (A) Zildjian III migrated to Boston -
  • Kerope (K) Zilcan continued to make cymbals in Turkey (K. Zildjian Constantinople)


  • Turkey became a Republic and Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul K.
  • Zildjian Constantinople became K. Zildjian Istanbul.


  • A Zildjian signed an exclusive American distribution agreement for K. Zildjian cymbals with Fred Gretsch Co.


  • Avedis III and Aram Zildjian began manufacturing cymbals in Massachusetts


  • Avedis Zildjian Co. was formed. Competing against the K Zildjian Company in Turkey!


  • Zildjian ended the hand hammering tradition in 1964 because the Beatles and Ringo Starr’s popularity caused an huge increase in demand.


  • K. Zildjian Co. and all European trademarks were bought back by Robert Zildjian on behalf of the Avedis Zildjian Co.
  • Avedis split the production into two separate operations,
    • one for rolling and casting only,
    • one for finish work.
  • Zildjian opened up the Azco factory in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada.


  • Zilco cymbals produced at Azco, Canada.
  • Two types of Zilco’s.
    • One was hammered
    • One was a thin rolling produced without any hammering at all, which cut costs.


  • Robert Zildjian & Dick Dane, invented the modern cymbal press


  • Production capabilities moved to Azco for the regular Zildjian line – factory in Quincy would send up castings to be finished. At one point Azco was responsible for 40% of Zildjian’s output.


  • Robert Zildjian went to Turkey and brought over a crew to start making K Zildjian cymbals in the Azco plant.
  • This is the first time that Kerope (K) and Avedis (A) Zildjian were working together to make the same “Zildjian” cymbals.
  • They had previously been competing with each other as A. Zildjian and K. Zildjian Istanbul.


  • Avedis dies.
  • Sons Robert and Armand split
  • Armand continued to run A Zildjian Co
  • Robert started Sabian cymbals in the Meductic Azco factory in Cabada
  • Kerope and his son made Sabian’s early HH cymbals.


  • Armand Zildjian was the head of the company after Avedis’ death until his own passing in 2002.

Present Day

The Avedis Zildjian company continues to produce cymbals today in Norwell, Massachusetts. The company is now run by Armand’s daughters Craigie and Debbie Zildjian.

Visit their Website for more up to date information than you’ll get here.