Read about Jake Winebrenner's new high tech method of welding broken cymbals back to health.Read more
Every once in a while you stumble across something so simple and so useful, you just stop and ask yourself: why didn’t I think of that? Straight from the fertile mind of William “Bill” Feldman, comes a simple accessory that almost rivals the paperclip, and it’s just for us drummers. PinchClip was designed to replace wing nuts and other conventional “nuts” for cymbal stands, accessories, and hi-hat clutches. In just about any situation that you’re using some sort of screw-nut or have a lip to attach to, you can apply a PinchClip.
Just squeeze the PinchClip together with your fingers and place it on the threaded rod of the cymbal tilter and forget about it. Not only will it cut down on the time spent messing around with a wing nut, it will also allow you to properly adjust the space between the “nut” and the cymbal. This small detail will allow you to decide on the fly, how you want that plate swing, or not to swing. PinchClip grips so tight I literally picked up the stand with the plate attached, by the PinchClip, and took the entire assembly for a walk around my studio! No problem!
The next little trick I tried came directly from Bill. He suggested I attach the PinchClip to the bottom of the hi-hat clutch, replacing the screw nut. One thing I really don’t like is having the bottom nut of the clutch work its way loose in the middle of a tune and fall off. You know the game: the top plate stops moving and you no longer have hat control. This worked really well for me, and when it was time to set up and then tear down, the task was done in a moment. You can also apply it to the top position of the clutch, essentially replacing that nut as well.
Bill Feldman is a working architect who studied product design in college and just thought there was a better way to set up and tear down his drum set and save time in the process. PinchClip works very much like a binder clip and is made of specially treated spring steel and is available in a vinyl coated red or black color. At some point in the future, I would expect additions colors to become available.
I must say, I think this is one of those little gadgets that’s very much worth your consideration. Not only did it work as well as advertised, it looks really cool, too. Anywhere you use a conventional nut, you could probably apply a PinchClip. Just think: no more wasting time and effort searching for those dropped wing nuts concealed in the dark and cluttered mess of a stage following a gig. You might even save enough time tearing down to beat the singer or even a horn player out the door for change!
From Lancaster County PA……Thoughts from the Shop.
As a drum historian it has been my pleasure to sit with some of the greats in the drumming world including Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones, Jake Hanna and Nick Fatool for the Gretsch book and Joe Morello, Arthur Press and Arnie Lang for the Gladstone book. Roberto Spizzichino (10 January 1944 Pescia, Italy 21 November 2011), often called “Il Maestro,” was the most memorable.
I was aware of Spizzichino and his timeless handcrafted cymbals before I moved to Italy eleven years ago. My first experience sampling one of his works was at the Chicago Vintage and Custom Drum Show back in the early 90’s. Luciano Pacchioni was importing these then-new vintage-“K” Zildjian-sounding cymbals. I was amazed with the sound and consistency of these instruments. Knowing I would be moving to Italy, I elected to wait for a factory visit to purchase one.
Check out this YouTube video for a tour of the factory:
Shortly after arriving in Italy I had Pacchioni arrange a meeting with Spizzichino at his Pescia, Italy factory. I was half-expecting a temperamental headstrong artisan. I couldn’t have been more wrong. “Simpatico” is the Italian word that best described him that translates as “amiable,” but loses something in the translation.
Being a Gretsch drum/drummer fan, Spizzichino asked for a copy of my book Gretsch Drums, The Legacy of “That Great Gretsch Sound.” We discussed points I made in the book about the Istanbul (Constantinople) K Zildjian cymbals Gretsch imported to America back in the day. We also talked about his philosophy of what makes a good cymbal followed by lunch at his favorite restaurant.
Even the restaurant experience was a memorable one. I had just moved to Italy and any restaurant visit seemed to be a gastronomical event. This one had a strange twist. When we were seated at our table I asked Roberto what was the specialty of the house. “Baccalá” he proudly claimed, and was wide-eyed when I jumped up shrieking, “No!” looking for the nearest exit. “Do you know what baccalá is?” he asked. “I sure as hell do!” I said. “Whenever I was mischievous around my Italian-born grandmother she would wave her hand saying ‘Your getting baccalá’ followed by a hard slap to my backside.” Both Roberto and Luciano exploded with laughter. Roberto said, “God bless your grandmother Chet, but that is just an expression. Baccalá is codfish and is a delicacy in this region. The reason for the “baccalá” expression when you are being punished is cod is flat when it is died and makes a great paddle. You should really try it.” I did and it was indeed wonderful, but to this day when a waiter suggests baccalá I tremble.
When we returned to the factory I quickly moved to my primary objective…purchasing my first Spizzichino cymbal. He had me sample several of his works. As I refined my selection he said, “I think I have something you will like.” There is nothing like having a person like Spizzichino select a cymbal for you. It was love at first sight/sound. Of course I continued my sampling as I wanted to be sure of my choice, but inevitably returned to my new 21” Rivet Ride. I asked Roberto to sign the bottom of the cymbal. He signed it “Per il mio simpatico amico Chet, con simpatia! Roberto Spizzichino” (For my amiable friend Chet, with pleasure! Roberto Spizzichino).
About a year later I called to make another appointment with Spizzichino to find a 19” mate for my Rivet Ride cymbal. “I have the perfect cymbal,” he said. I thought it a bit of an exaggeration. With all the cymbals he made how could he remember my previous purchase? I naturally brought the Rivet Ride for comparison. When I arrived I was surprised when Roberto said, “That wasn’t necessary; here try this.” Once again he was on-point. I asked how he could remember my previous year’s purchase. “I have a photographic ear,” he said. “I remember the sound of every cymbal I made.” Subsequent Spizzichino visits with good friend Stefano Bonazzi yielded a wonderful pair of 13”Hi Hats and a 16” Crash.
My last visit with Roberto heightened my awareness of what a truly great craftsman Spizzichino was. I use the term “craftsman” as Roberto quickly corrected me during one of our lunches when I referred to him as an artisan. “I am not an artisan, I am a craftsman. I do not make art, I craft sound.” During one of our long discussions about cymbals, I lamented the fact that I have conducted a life-long search for a China cymbal. I told him that when living in San Francisco, I frequented a shop in Chinatown that sold only Chinese percussion instruments. With every shipment of new China cymbals I would try them all, with no success. Roberto asked me to be more specific. I asked if he had ever seen the video “Bob Haggart & Ray Bauduc-Big Noise From Winnetka.”
With his characteristic big smile he said, “Therein lies your problem. You are looking for a “Swish” not a “China.” But, as with all types of cymbals, there are variances. I am going to the Frankfurter Musik Messe (Germany’s answer to NAMM) next week. Let me see what I can find.” About a week later I got a call from Roberto, “If you can believe it, not one good Swish in the lot. Not to worry…I’ll make you one.” Two weeks later the postman arrives with my treasure, an 18” Swish…at no charge! Laying a stick to it was like time-traveling back to the 1951 Western Electric filming of Bauduc and Haggart, taking Bauduc’s Swish off the stand, and returning to my living room. Spizzichino could “craft” sound that well. One year later Roberto recanted my “Swish” story in an article “status cymbal” in the Italian publication Ritmi. What an honor to be mentioned in an article about Spizzichino…only surpassed by the honor of being his friend.
"Sto lavorando a questo Swish alla Ray Baduc (mi racconta) che Chet Falzerano (storico della Gretsch e dei K Zildjian, NdR) mi ha chiesto di costruirgli; il resultato e buono, ho utilizzato materiale italiano preso alla UFIP. E un bel 18" e suona molto bene; ormai penso poter lavorare bene con qualisiasi tipo di materia prima, turca, italiana, cinese o altro (intanto rivetta lo Swish e ne ascolta il suono con soddisfazione). Sei molto fortunato: ho appena finito di lavorare a quello che considero il mio capolavoro, e posso fartelo sentire."
"I'm working on this “Ray Baduc Swish” (he told me) that Chet Falzerano (the historian of K Zildjian and Gretsch, Ed) asked me to build him; the result is good. I used Italian material I got from UFIP. It is a beautiful 18" and sounds very good; now I can work well with any type of raw material, Turkish, Italian, Chinese or other (while riveting the Swish and hears the sound with satisfaction). You are very lucky; I just finished working on what I consider my masterpiece, and I can let you hear it."
Something new! Cymgards are elastic rubber edge protectors and dampeners for cymbals. They have three basic purposes;
- To dampen the sound of the cymbal for quiet practice,
- Cymbal edge protection, and,
- Cushioning for the cymbals in shipment or transit.
They are available in three styles: Cymgard Standard and Cymgard Lite for single cymbals, and Cymgard HiHats for pairs of hi hat cymbals. The Standard is a heavy weight rubber that can absorb heavy impact. They are designed to fit, cushion, and shield the edges of your cymbals from damage due to impact and falling. They are available in sizes from 12” to 24”. The HiHat model is the same weight and will accommodate a pair of hi hat cymbals from 13” to 16”. The Cymgard Lites are, you guessed it, a lighter weight model with a thinner profile that is good for less dampening than the Standard, as well as for protection in transit or storage. They come in sizes from 6” to 24”.
While the Lites go on easy, there is a little bit of a trick to getting the Standards on the cymbals the very first time, but once you learn the simple pull and snap technique, it takes no time at all. The Cymgards will break in and eventually mold to the cymbal over time which is great since there can be as much as a ¼” difference between manufacturers’ sizes. They are made well out of a quality rubber that will stand some abuse and not deteriorate.
I tried both the Standard and the Lite versions on a 20” medium ride cymbal and an 18” medium thin crash cymbal. When playing the cymbals with the thicker and stiffer Standard Cymgard, they made the cymbals completely dead as one would expect, BUT the feel of the stick rebound off of the cymbal was about the same as an undampened one – very natural. Crashing with the shank of the stick on the side of the cymbals gave a dead “gonk” sound with no sustain, very similar to the sound and feel of hitting a rubber electronic cymbal pad. Perfect for playing with padded drums or a practice pad set. The Lites were my favorite for practice because they allowed some sustain when riding or crashing, though not really louder. The Standard HiHats are not designed for practice, just storage and cushioning. I also accidentally found a different use that was not described by the manufacturer. I placed a smaller Cymgard Lite loosely on top of the ride cymbal and thought "hmmm....what does that sound like?" it let the cymbal ring even a little more and allowed me to crash the natural edge too.
I tried dropping and throwing a couple of old cracked cymbals on the ground. The Standards kept the cymbal edge from bending and cracking. I also tried a stand mounted cymbal, tipping the stand over until the cymbal fell and hit the ground. Same protection; no damage. This could come in handy in those bars or gigs where you have to leave your kit set up where a cymbal might get bumped into.
I tried storing both the Standards and the Lites in my hard cymbal case and in my soft cymbal bag. The Standards take up more space but I would probably use them if I were going to fly the cymbals in checked baggage. I liked the Lites better for storing in the cymbal bag because they serve as dividers that keep the cymbals from rubbing against each other and don’t take up as much space as the Standards.
The manufacturer has a good video on YouTube that demonstrates all of the applications. My score for Cymgard is a solid ten. They do what they are designed to do and the multi purposes make it worth the investment. I can see no negatives. It's nice to see an innovative product that is designed well, manufactured well, and helps us drummers do what we need to do.
Prices range from $11.95 for the smallest 6” to $28.95 for the largest 24”. This is a product that could pay for itself in the long run as it can possibly save a cymbal from cracking or bending, necessitating a new cymbal purchase. Cymgards are sold at the www.cymgard.com website.