Founded by Robert Zildjian, Sabian are one of the three largest cymbal manufactures in the world.
In 1981 Robert Zildjian parted company with his brother Armand, both of whom had inherited the Zildjian Cymbal Company from their father Armand some two years previously. Hence the art of cymbal making at Sabian can be traced back some 350 years to its cymbal making ancestors in Constantinople (now called Istanbul).
When it comes to gongs, Sabian also make their own as well as importing Chao and Wind gongs from China. The factory-made gongs consist of a Symphonic Gong (based on the old Zildjian 'Turkish' gong) and a Zodiac gong with metals and manufacturing techniques similar to European practice.
The Zodiac Gong has been developed with percussionists and sound healers in mind. It encompasses all 12 signs of the Zodiac in one gong rather than a range of 12 individual gongs, though it would be interesting to see such a range being developed. It is available in four sizes – 22" (56cm), 24" (61cm), 26" (66cm) and 28" (71cm). They are made from Nickel Silver in a formula of 70% copper, 25% zinc and 5% nickel.
Sabian describes the manufacture as being in the style of "the classic European school". It describes the sound as a "warm, focused, fundamental with rich sustaining overtones". It has a very definite splash/punchy primary sound with washing overtones and a long decay.
Symphonic Gong (Tam-tam)
This gong is based on the old Turkish Gong made by Zildjian before the brothers split. Turkish is an apt name as the making of the gong has much in common with the way cymbals are manufactured. It is flat faced with the same angular rim as the Zodiac Gong. It is lathed on both sides from the centre outwards, though the original Zildjian Turkish Gong had a hole drilled in the centre just like a cymbal. It is made from bronze – the classic 80% copper, 20% tin formula.
The Sabian version has a black centre and black rim in the style of a Chao gong with the Sabian logo and 'Symphonic Gong' printed on the face. It has been modified somewhat from the original Turkish Gong with an increase in weight and thickness to improve the response. It is available in 24" (61cm), 26" (66cm) and 28" (71cm) sizes.
The sound consists of a strong fundamental with washing overtones giving a rounded warm response when played piano to forte. Beyond this the sound becomes a bit brash.