Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1906; 114 years ago (1906) in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Headquarters ,
Number of locations
Key people
Erik Paiste, CEO and president of the supervisory board
Products Cymbals, gongs, and metal percussion
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Paiste (English pronunciation: /ˈpsti/ PY-stee, Estonian pronunciation: [ˈpɑiste]) is a Swiss-based Estonian musical instrument manufacturing company. It is the world's third largest manufacturer of cymbals, gongs, and metal percussion. Paiste is an Estonian and Finnish word that means "shine".

Apart from cymbals and gongs, Paiste has also manufactured other percussion instruments such as crotal bells, finger cymbals and cowbells, later discontinued.


The first Paiste cymbals were produced in 1906 by Estonian musician Toomas Paiste in his instrument repair shop in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to customer orders. Toomas had served in the Czarist Imperial Guard, and retired in 1901 to open a music publishing business and music shop.[1]

The cymbal-making aspect of the business expanded with the passing years, despite the disruption of several moves necessitated by war: first to Tallinn, Estonia in 1917, where Toomas' son Michail M. Paiste decided to concentrate on cymbal production and export. In 1940, the family and the cymbal-making operation moved to Poland, where they continued under extremely difficult conditions, and in 1945 to Germany. Finally, in 1957 a new headquarters and production facility was established in Switzerland. The business was continued by Michail's sons, Robert and Toomas (born Kurt), with both the Swiss and German operations as the main manufacturing centres. Since 2003, the company has been headed by Toomas' son, Erik.[1] Robert Paiste died in 2016, aged 84.[2]


Paiste has developed several innovations to cymbal design and manufacture. Among these are:

A Paiste Alpha China cymbal
  • The Flat Ride. A ride cymbal without a cup or bell. Originally designated as Space Sound in the Formula 602 line. Designed with Joe Morello. Introduced in the 1960s.
  • The Sound Edge Hi-Hat. Introduced in 1967. To prevent airlock, the bottom cymbal of the hi-hat pair has ripples along the edge. Also applied to hand cymbal sets.
  • The use of B8 bronze as a cymbal alloy. Referred to by Paiste as "CuSn8" alloy or "2002 bronze". First introduced with the Stambul 65 series in 1965. Gained general acceptance with the Giant Beat and the 2002 series. Paiste was for a time the only major cymbal company to use the B8 alloy for its high-end lines, although Meinl has recently[when?] introduced a line of high-end cast B8 bronze cymbals as well. Zildjian and Sabian use this alloy primarily for entry-level lines, choosing instead to use bell bronze for high-end products.
  • 'Flat' bells. With the introduction of the Sound Creation Short Crash in 1975, Paiste was the first to make use of a flattened bell design. Used today with the Crystal Hi-Hats and Crashes of the Signature series.
  • Unlathed cymbals. Introduced in 1980 as the RUDE series. Made from the B8 alloy unlathed cymbals were marketed towards louder music styles as punk and heavy metal.
  • Inverted bell on China cymbal. Introduced in 1983 as the 2002 NOVO china type. Makes it easier to play ride and crash on a China cymbal.
  • Coloured cymbals. Introduced in 1984 .
  • Proprietary Signature Bronze. A patented cymbal alloy introduced in 1989 with the Signature line. According to the patent, this alloy consists of phosphor bronze with a 14.7% to 15.1% tin content by weight. It has been claimed by Paiste to be the first bronze alloy specifically developed for cymbals.
  • Sonic Texture Formula. Introduced in 2001 with the Innovations series. A patented lathing technique to get a more complex sounding cymbal.

Many of these innovations were used by other manufacturers when the applicable patents expired. For example, almost all of the larger modern cymbal companies offer a flat ride cymbal and an alternative to the Sound Edge Hi-Hat.



Paiste makes several cymbal lines from several alloys. These include:

  • 101 - Cymbals made from brass alloy. They are manufactured entirely by computer. Introduced in 2005
  • Paiste Sound Technology (PST) - these cymbals were developed from the phased-out 302, 402, 502, and 802 lines in 2005. They are known today as Paiste's budget cymbals
    • PST 3 - Brass cymbals; beginner level. Introduced in 2005.
    • PST 5 - B8 cymbals (CuSn8); student/intermediate level cymbals. Introduced in 2005 and redesigned in 2014.
    • PST 7 - 2002 Bronze (CuSn8); intermediate level cymbals that focus on traditional sounds. Introduced in 2014.
    • PST 8 - 2002 Bronze (CuSn8); intermediate level cymbals that combines traditional and machine hammering. Available in Reflector finish. Introduced in 2012.
    • PST X - 2002 Bronze (CuSn8), brass and aluminium cymbals; intermediate level cymbals. Affordable effects cymbals focusing on 'Swiss' cutting techniques. Introduced in 2015.
  • 900 - Introduced in 2017, these B8 (CuSn8) cymbals are hand-hammered and feature a special dark finish. This series is also available in red, blue, purple and black COLORSOUND finishes.
A Paiste 2002 Sound Edge hi-hat
  • 2002 - Introduced in 1971. Made of B8 (CuSn8) and is regarded by many as the first fully professional series made from this alloy. Available models were discontinued in late 1986 to early 1987 but reintroduced in 1988 due to popular demand. Over the years the model line has changed significantly. Many types were introduced and discontinued. From 1994 to 1999 it also incorporated the RUDE series (2002 RUDE). From 2005 to 2006 the 2002 line included many models from the defunct Dimensions series of cymbals, but most of the Dimensions models have since been discontinued from the series.
    • 2002 Big Beat - Introduced in 2016, this variation of the 2002s is darker and drier than the original series due to a different hammering. The series features 18", 19", 20", 21", 22" and 24" multi-purpose cymbals and 15" and 16" hi-hats.
  • RUDE - the first unlathed cymbals in the series featuring a raw finish. They are made for loud and aggressive playing and the answer to genres like punk and metal. Crafted entirely by hand from unlathed B8 (CuSn8). Introduced in 1980. Incorporated from 1994 to 1999 in the 2002 line as 2002 RUDE. Reintroduced as RUDE in 1999. Paiste calls them "the original punk and metal sound"
  • Giant Beat - Originally introduced in 1967 and discontinued in 1971, this series was reintroduced in 2005 as 18", 20", and 24" multi-purpose cymbals with 14" and 15" hi-hats. They share the same CuSn8 (B8) bronze as the 2002 series. In 2012, Paiste introduced 18" and 20" thin crashes for the series. In 2016, a 26" multi-purpose cymbal was introduced.
  • Formula 602 - As of 2010, Paiste has relaunched the Formula 602 line of cymbals that was originally released in 1959. A prominent user of these is Vinnie Colaiuta.
  • Formula 602 Modern Essentials - Introduced in January 2013 and developed in collaboration with Vinnie Colaiuta. Forged from the legendary «602 Bronze» (CuSn20), offering a complete new wide and dynamic sound dimension. Available in 20" & 22" rides, 16", 18" & 20" crashes, 14" & 15" hi-hats, 18" & 22" chinas, 8" & 10" splashes. Formula 602 Modern Essentials cymbals combine the essence of the Formula 602 Classic Sounds models – transparency and stick definition – with the richness, warmth, darkness and a bit of complexity of the Signature Traditionals series besides providing slightly more pizzazz than its Classic Sounds siblings.
  • Signature - Introduced in 1989. First cymbals created with Paiste's Signature Bronze, featuring an array of different sounds and looks suitable for any playing style.
  • Signature Dark Energy - Introduced in 2004. Made of Paiste Signature Bronze alloy. Paiste calls this line 'an elitist concept'. Mostly dark sounding cymbals.
  • Signature Traditionals - Introduced in 1996. Recreate lost cymbal sounds from the blues, swing, cool jazz, bebop, and hard bop era of the 1940s to the 1960s. They are crafted from Paiste's proprietary "Signature Bronze" alloy.
  • Masters Collection : Only ride cymbals were originally available. A series dedicated to jazz players with signature models (André Ceccarelli, John Robinson and others), made of traditional bronze alloy. Production started in 2010. In 2014 hats and crashes were added to the series. [1]

Classic Paiste lines include:

  • Noise Works - An experimental line containing cymbal stacks for trashy sounds and mini hats. Produced from 2002 to 2009.
  • 302, 402, 502, 802 - popular budget level cymbals from 1993 to 2003. Were enhanced sonically in 1997 and received the plus-labeling and the addition of the 802. Discontinued in 2003 to make way for the new Paiste Sound Technology-, or PST-series.
  • 101 series, different from current 101, - beginner level cymbals made of nickel silver, produced from 1974 to 1979. Then another Brass version. Discontinued In 2005 in favor of a newer version
  • 201 - Cymbals made from B8. Introductory level cymbals. They are manufactured entirely by computer. Introduced in 2005 and discontinued in 2009.
  • 404 series - beginner level CuSn8-cymbals, produced from 1978 to 1986.
  • 505 series - advanced student CuSn8-cymbals, produced from 1974 to 1986.
  • 200 series - advanced level cymbals made of brass, produced from 1985 to 1991.
  • 400 series - advanced student cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1991. Were also available with COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 500 series - orchestral/marching cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1990. Were also available with COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 900 series - orchestral/marching cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1990. Were also available with COLORSOUND finishes. Not to be confused with the 900 series introduced in 2017.
  • 1000 series
    • 1 - semi-professional line of cymbals made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1991. Were also available in RUDE finish.
    • 2 - Series of orchestra/marching cymbals, also available in COLORSOUND finishes.
  • 2000 - professional series made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1995. Were also available with COLORSOUND and Sound Reflection finishes.
  • 3000 - professional series made of CuSn8 bronze, produced from 1986 to 1995. Were also available with RUDE and Reflector finishes.
  • Alpha - B8 cymbals (CuSn8); semi-professional cymbals. Introduced in 1991, redesigned in 2006, and discontinued in 2017.
    • Alpha spin-offs
      • Black Alpha - Black color-coated Alpha cymbals designed in conjunction with Joey Jordison of Slipknot. Introduced in 2008 and discontinued in 2010.
      • Black Alpha 'Hyper - B8 cymbals (CuSn8); semi-professional cymbals made in collaboration with Slipknot's Joey Jordison. They have 9 silver placed Tribal-S logos. Unique and deep hammer marks make this a completely new developed line. The logo is located near the bell. Introduced in 2012, discontinued in 2014.
      • Alpha Boomer - Made from 2002 Bronze cymbals (CuSn8 Bronze); semi-professional. Composed of mostly Alpha's "rock" cymbals, and very similar to the discontinued 2000 series. Well suited for rock, in honor of Nicko McBrain. Each cymbal has a reflector finish with a blue label, and Nicko McBrain's "PowerSlave Eddie" logo. The back side Paiste logo is printed in Maiden-font. Introduced in 2012.
  • Sound Formula - one of the first series to use Paiste's patented Signature Alloy, which was at first known as Sound Alloy or Sound Formula. Eventually absorbed by the "Signature" line. Were also available in Reflector finish from 1992 to 1996.
  • COLORSOUND 5 series - professional CuSn8-cymbals, produced from 1984 to 1986. Five colors were offered for visual appeal. Note: The COLORSOUND 5 cymbals are different from 400, 500, 900, 2000 and Visions cymbals even though they are colored, or have the COLORSOUND name attached.
  • VISIONS series - professional level-cymbals; both Signature Alloy and CuSn8 alloy cymbals, produced from 1994 to 1999. Were treated with COLORSOUND process. Offered in Black only. Designed for Terry Bozzio.
  • BRASSTONES - an entry level brass series introduced in the early 90s, discontinued in the mid-90s.
  • Stanople - a mid-line series introduced in the 1960s, discontinued in the 1970s.
  • Ludwig Standard - a mid-line series from the 1950s-70s produced for distribution by Ludwig Drums.
  • Stambul - their old top-of-the-line cymbals, produced from 1932 to 1965 from NS12 nickel-bronze and later made of CuSn8 bronze.
  • SOUND CREATION - top of the line professional bell bronze cymbals that were made alongside the 602 series starting in 1978 until 1991.
  • Dixie - entry level NS12 cymbals made in the 1960s, later also offered in B8.
  • Dimensions - This was considered a professional level cymbal which later merged in with the 2002 line. They were introduced in 1999 and were discontinued in 2005. Were also available in Reflector finish.
  • Innovations - This is a professional level cymbal line made with the 2002 bronze. They are mechanically pre-shaped, hand hammered, and lathed. Introduced in 2001, this line was discontinued in 2005.
  • Twenty - Introduced at the winter NAMM 2007 as a basic lineup of hi-hat, ride, crash, china. and splash cymbals. Made out of Turkish B20 blanks.
  • Twenty Custom - Introduced in 2011, discontinued mid-January 2015. High end cymbals made of the same Turkish B20 Bronze alloy the discontinued Twenty series was, featuring a brilliant finish on all models. The line has a slightly dark and complex tonality, and is divided further among "Full" and "Metal" models.

In addition, some Paiste cymbals are re-branded by drum manufacturers with their own brand name, for example Vater, Vater Rainbow etc.

Paiste also offers to color coat their cymbals and the possibility of custom orders. They also use prototype cymbals that sometimes appear in stores. So there are Paiste cymbals 'outside' of the here mentioned series. Most of these cymbals were never manufactured fully.

History of Sound Creation line

It started with the Formula 602 "Dark Ride" cymbal in the early 70s. This cymbal was developed with Jack DeJohnette. In 1975, Paiste introduced the Sound Creation as a cymbal line.

The first series in 1975 shows a small Paiste logo an inch away from the ride bells. Hi-Hats were Dark Hi-Hat and Dark Sound Edge Hi-Hat, 10 types (rides etc.) in total:

  • Short Crash (18")
  • Dark Crash (18", 20")
  • Dark Ride (18", 20", 22")
  • Bright Medium (18", 20")
  • Bright Ride (18", 20")
  • Mellow Ride (20")
  • Dark China (18", 20", 22")
  • Bell Ride (20", 22")
  • Dark Hi-Hat (14")
  • Dark Sound Edge Hi-Hat (14")

The 1979 series has the same small Paiste ink an inch away from bells. Hi-Hat models were as in the 1975 series, with the 10 types in that series and 6 additional cymbals (5 rides and china) available with factory rivets.

In 1984, the line and models partially change. The top ink logo changes, and the following models were added :

  • Dark Flatride
  • Dark Medium Ride
  • Dark Medium HH
  • Dark Medium SE HH
  • Dark Heavy HH
  • Dark Heavy SE HH.

The Mellow Ride was discontinued. Also, 13" models were added to all Hi-Hats, and the Hi-Hats were changed to Medium and Heavy models, with the mediums lighter than the former regular models.

The "New Dimension" were introduced in 1985, with different hammering patterns and lathing. Contrary to the old heavy and random hammering pattern in the Dark models, the hammering becomes more evenly spaced, except in the China, where the hammering turned very heavy and random, while in the former Dark China models the hammering was very light and regularly spread all over the cymbal.

The ND treatment was applied to these types: Dark Crash, Dark Ride, Dark Medium, Dark China, Short Crash, and Bell Ride.

Hand-held cymbals

Paiste hand-held cymbals from the Alpha line

Aside from the cymbals meant for playing with a drum kit, Paiste produces clash cymbals. Current lines include:

  • Symphonic
  • Concert/marching
  • Universal
  • Alpha
  • 502 Plus
  • 302 Plus


Paiste makes its gongs in the German factory. Paiste gongs are made from nickel silver. Current series include:

  • Symphonic gongs available in sizes from 20" to 80".
  • Planet gongs. These are like symphonic gongs but tuned to represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Sun, the Earth, the Moon and the other planets as calculated by Hans Cousto. Available in sizes from 24" to 38".
  • Sound Creation gongs. A series of 10 gongs each with its own character. Not to be confused with the planet gongs. Most models in the series are discontinued except for nrs 3, 8, 9 and 10. The models were:
  • Nr. 1 Sun
  • Nr. 2 Fire
  • Nr. 3 Earth
  • Nr. 4 Water
  • Nr. 5 Peace
  • Nr. 6 Moon
  • Nr. 7 Fight
  • Nr. 8 Head
  • Nr. 9 Chest
  • Nr. 10 Abdomen
  • Accent gongs. More aggressive sounding gongs. Available in 7", 10", 13" and 22".
  • Deco gongs. Small symphonic gongs. Available in 7", 10" and 13".

Paiste also made a line of tuned gongs and a tuned gong play that are now discontinued.

Other instruments

Paiste also makes a variety of metal percussion instruments. Among these are:

  • Crotal bells
  • Sound plates. Rectangular plates from B8 bronze that sound church bell like when struck with a soft mallet. Now discontinued.
  • Sound discs. Round discs made from B8 bronze.
  • Roto sounds. Round discs made from B8 mounted in revolving stand.
  • Finger cymbal. Very small thick cymbals.
  • Cowbells. Now discontinued, but made for Ludwig in the 1960s

Notable users



  1. ^ a b History on Paiste website, 16 Nov 2019
  2. ^ "In Memory of Robert Paiste" on Paiste website, retrieved 26 January 2017

External links