Updated: Jul 25, 2019
After Murat agreed with me visiting the manufacture in Samsun it still took a while for us to actually meet. We started talking about the trip in January and in July I finally made it to Samsun. The first night we (my father and I) got to Samsun, Murat took us out for dinner at the beach. We talked about the cymbal industry all night. It was quite interesting to hear some of the stories he had to tell. Turns out the cymbal industry is quite small and everybody knows everybody.
The next morning Murat picked us up at the hotel to go to the factory. The ride from Samsun downtown to the industrial part of town is quite nice along the coast of the black sea. The factory is in the middle of industrial halls, in a red two-story building with two small doors at the front. No big signs, posters or logos of the cymbals are posted on the outside of the building. The only thing that gives a clue to what could be inside the building is the sound of constant hammering coming out of one door that is usually kept open. As a musician sound is very important to me, the way a room sounds, the voice of a person or the soundscape in any environment. The moment I heard the hammering I knew I was in drummer’s Disney Land.
We entered the main hall of the manufacture where two craftsmen were already hammering cymbals. In that hall the cymbals are cut, lathed and hammered. In the hall next door they melt the different metals and create Murat’s own special alloy, flatten the blanks, press the bells and polish the cymbals. Upstairs is Murat’s office, his assistant’s office and a room where they print the logos onto the cymbals. It’s a manufacture so there’s dust everywhere. Murat’s assistant Nazil has the cutest dog, the dog’s fur is white but after spending only a couple of hours at the factory the dog’s fur is gray.
Murat created his very own alloy which he uses for all of his cymbals. He gets the different metals from different countries like Indonesia or Turkey. He then melts the metals and creates his unique alloy. Even though he has qualified personnel he is always there during that process. It’s the most dangerous and most critical step to creating quality instruments. Depending on the volume of orders they do this process once or twice a month. Pressing the blanks flat is an intense and delicate process as you have to heat the metal, press it, reheat it, press it again and so on until the desired diameter and thickness are reached. The process of heating, pressing and cooling the material is delicate as it defines the structures of the material. If it’s not done correctly there might be inconsistencies within the metal and result in a weakened structure of the cymbal.
After reaching the desired thickness and shape of the blank the bell is pressed into it. Then the edges are cut to a perfect circle. Now the blank is ready to be hammered. All cymbals are 100% hand-hammered. Murat told me that for a 20” cymbal it takes approximately 4’000 hammer strokes until it’s finished. Depending on cymbal size and series this number changes. The craftsmen hammer with great concentration and endurance. Hammering the cymbal is the most time-consuming step. I got to hammer a cymbal myself, and I can now tell how hard it is. I was only able to hammer it a couple of minutes as my hand holding the cymbal got exhausted super quickly. It’s crazy how the craftsmen can do this all day.
Between hammerings the cymbal is lathed. Through lathing the desired thickness is reached. Lathing takes away material from the cymbal and reveals the shiny metal. The lathing process is beautiful to watch as a dark and dirty looking cymbal turns into a shiny instrument. Only the most experienced of Murat’s employees do the lathing as one can easily do an irreversible mistake on the cymbal. Once material is lathed away from the cymbal there’s no way to fix it. Through hammering and lathing the shape of the cymbal changes into its desired form. Depending on the series the intensity with which a cymbal is being hammered and lathed changes.
Depending on the series the cymbals are now ready to be polished or sandblasted and some get additional holes cut into their profiles. Once this is completed the cymbals are ready to get the logos printed on. They screen print the logos onto the cymbals and after drying for a couple of hours the cymbals are ready to be played.
More posts about the trip to the Murat Diril cymbal manufacture in Samsun are coming soon.