Some time ago, on a trip to New York, I convinced my girlfriend to let me peek into Steve Maxwell’s Drum Shop. I did my best to keep my visit brief, but still managed to kill the better part of an hour drooling over the shop’s stock. Among the most exciting items on the floor was the subject of this review (newly released at the time). I spent the next day or so prattling on about how impressed I was with the cymbal.
Rather than leaving me for someone more interesting, my incredible girlfriend surprised me with the exact same cymbal several months later – no kidding, the very same 20” OM crash I had played during our visit. She had made a few phone calls, and reserved the item for a birthday gift down the road.
I’m only including the above information in this review because I feel obligated to mention how hard it is to be objective when examining the pros and cons of an instrument associated with such an extravagant and touching gesture. With that in mind, I’ll do my best to put up an even-handed review.
The Istanbul Agop 20” OM crash is, hands down, the single best cymbal I have ever played, that I ever will be privileged to play, in my entire life.
Truthfully, the Cindy Blackman signature is a beautiful instrument that is perhaps a little limited and inappropriately named. At 1675 grams, the 20” OM is thin even for a crash. That, coupled with the blue/black finishing process (seemingly added to replicate some of the effects of age and patina), creates a sharp, quick and semi-dry wash that rarely overwhelms anything but the quietest playing situation.
I say the cymbal might be a bit limited because it (at least this one in particular) has a pretty strict volume threshold. I tried to use the OM crash on a moderately loud recording last year, and found it incapable of keeping up with the other cymbals I was using – all of which were paper-thin jazz cymbals as well. I can only imagine the disc’s limitations stem from the unique finish mentioned above.
However, where the 20” OM “crash” really thrives for me is as a low to medium volume ride. The hard surface produces a strong click that has plenty of smoky trash in the spread. It was particularly effective behind an acoustic or electric piano, but got lost behind an electric guitar. Normally, that wouldn’t be much of a criticism for a cymbal this thin, but I specifically remember the literature associated with the OM series touting their versatility, claiming they could handle all of Blackman’s varied gigs. Not to say this isn’t a wonderful instrument that I completely adore, but it may have fallen a bit short of the intended mark.
It would be hard to finish this review without mentioning the price tag. Retailing around $360, it’s a serious investment. Fortunately, if you know what you’re looking for, and the OM series fits the bill, the 20” Om crash will make an excellent addition to your cymbal bag.