Meinl Gongs

Meinl are a German company specialising in a wide range of percussion instruments sourced from all over the world.

Meinl introduced a range of gongs to its extensive catalogue of percussion instruments. The gongs were shown at the March 2011 Frankfurt Musikmesse and termed 'Symphonic Tam-Tams'. They are available in 5 sizes – 24" (60cm), 28" (70cm), 32" (80cm) and 36" {90cm) and 402 (102cm) diameters. The gongs look very similar in appearance to Paiste Symphonic Gongs, which is not surprising, as the maker of these gongs is Broder Oetken, one time master gong maker at Paiste.

They use blanks from one of the foundries that supplies gong blanks to Paiste. The visual differences are that the scrape marks are horizontal rather than vertical, have 'Symphonic Tam-Tam, Hand Crafted Masterpiece and made in Germany' printed onto the top face and the Meinl logo below it. Acoustically, they are very similar to the Paiste Symphonic Gongs. There is also a misconception that Meinl tam-tams are tuned to a particular pitch within a range of pitches. They are not – Meinl just publish the pitch range that the tam-tam sits in whereas Paiste do not. You cannot order a Meinl tam-tam tuned to a particular pitch.

Meinl Tam-tams (Courtesy of Julian Marsden)

Meinl Tam-tams being tested at the factory

Planetary Tuned Gongs

An exciting development from Meinl is the introduction of a ‘Planetary Tuned Gong’ range. These gongs are similar to the Paiste Planet Gongs in that they are tuned, in the main, to the planet frequencies as calculated by Hans Cousto but differ from them by virtue of a radially scraped face, a yellow astrology symbol and a slightly different thickness of nickel silver.

This has allowed Meinl to standardise on 4 set diameters for their planetary tuned gongs – 24" (60cm), 28" (71cm), 32" (81cm) and 36" (91cm). This means that some gongs are slightly smaller than their Paiste equivalents but still tuned to the Cousto pitch, though there have been some issues with the initial tunings and sizes of ‘Sedna’ and ‘Chiron’.

Wu Xing Gong

A completely new development from Meinl is the introduction of the Wu Xing gong. These gongs are visually similar to the Planetary Tuned Gongs in having a radially scraped face but have two Chinese characters on their faces. The sound is similar to an equivalent Symphonic tam-tam, though some users report them having a slightly darker sound.

Wu Xing roughly translates as the five elements of life – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – and the gongs have been created for healers with the intention of balancing life in the Universe. Available in 24” (60cm), 28" (71cm), 32" (81cm), 36" (91cm) and 40" (102cm) sizes.

Left: Meinl 'Saturn' Planetary Tuned Gong
Right: Meinl Wu Xing Gong