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  1. #1
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    Default Buying good zills

    I feel I've outgrown my student zills, and have been wanting to buy a larger pair for a long time now. I can't think of any places around here that have the better brands for sale, i.e. Saroyan, Turquoise, Zildjian, etc. A few Q's....

    1) I'm afraid that zills are like perfume - you really have to test them out in person to see what best suits your preference, but without a place to try them before I buy, how do you go about finding a pro pair?

    2) What brand(s) of zills do you prefer and why?

    3) Is there a recommended site to buy them from?

    4) Do any online vendors have audio samples of what they sound like so one can virtually try before they buy? I know this might not be ideal given variations in computer speakers, etc.

    5) Does price point really matter when buying a good pair, keeping in mind that I generally get what I pay for...or are there some good bargains to be had out there?
    Last edited by astro_girl; 06-14-2011 at 09:09 PM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astro_girl View Post
    4) Do any online vendors have audio samples of what they sound like so one can virtually try before they buy? I know this might not be ideal given variations in computer speakers, etc.
    The Saroyan online store has MP3/WMA's of all their zills. Just click on the category you are interested in and select the zill that catches your eye. You can find their products all over the place but I can't really say anything about where it's best to get them from (I bought mine on Amazon).

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    There are zills and there are sagat(s).

    Zills are usually assonant -- they all have (or are supposed to have) the same pitch and sound.

    Sagat are almost always dissonant. They can all four have slightly different pitches, which gives a much different sound. (They're an acquired taste.)

    You should try both styles to see which you like.


    1) I'm afraid that zills are like perfume - you really have to test them out in person to see what best suits your preference, but without a place to try them before I buy, how do you go about finding a pro pair?

    A. Buy used ones and if you don't like them, sell them again.

    B. Listen to samples on the website -- honestly, Turquoise only makes like 3 kinds, Zildjian only one kind, and Saroyan has their samples on the web. Suhaila's signature brand cymbals are turquoise, and slightly lower than the largest one, but they don't have the perfect pitch of Saroyans. I sold mine.


    2) What brand(s) of zills do you prefer and why?


    SAAAAROYAN -- hummmm. (Sorry -- Red Robin commercial was on.) Afghani silver is my fave. Afghani brass 2nd fave and Saroyan Pro Heavy my also 2nd fave, especially for live bands and outdoors.

    Why? Perfect pitch. All four sound exactly the same. No dissonance. I HATE that (but if you like it, I recommend the sagat from Yasmine/Serpentine.) Plus they hold up well, don't dent easily and just sound wonderful!

    Zildjians have male and female in one pair (like castanets) and have a dissonance that I can't stand. Others swear by them. To each his own.


    3) Is there a recommended site to buy them from?


    Any place that offers reasonable shipping Zildjians can be bought at some brick and mortar music stores. Saroyan's web site gives you the best price unless you buy at a workshop or something. I think his shipping is pretty reasonable. Dahlal can be expensive with shipping.

    4) Do any online vendors have audio samples of what they sound like so one can virtually try before they buy? I know this might not be ideal given variations in computer speakers, etc.

    As mentioned, Saroyan. Wonderful samples. And true to life. Also Serpentine.

    5) Does price point really matter when buying a good pair, keeping in mind that I generally get what I pay for...or are there some good bargains to be had out there?

    Yes and no. If you want GOOD Egyptian sagats ,don't buy them off ebay. Those are almost categorically crap. GOOD dissonant sagats can be purchased from Yasmine (Serpentine) and she has a sample sounds:

    Egyptian finger cymbals - sagat

    (I DO NOT like the Awlad, just btw.)

    If you want Turkish/American Zills, Saroyan and Turquoise are it. The prices on those vary VERY little. Unless you buy used.

    Zildjians can be purchased for up to half off retail if you find a store owner who doesn't want to carry them anymore. Otherwise they can be kind of expensive online.

    Nickel or silver colored cymbals are almost always more expensive than their brass counterparts.

    Cheap cymbals are very often stamped out of the metal and have absolutely no sound.

    You do sort of get what you pay for, but I still actually like the sound of $28 Nefertitis almost as much as my $65 afghanis. Cymbals are something a lot of people end up collecting and using depending upon their mood or the song or the environment.

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    Oh my gosh, Aziyade! Your information's so helpful that at times I wish I could ring you up and chat away, but...

    I did find that I liked the Saroyan Nefertiti's, and had a hard time discriminating the sound between those and some of the other models. Glad to know it wasn't just me.

    I found your description of assonance and dissonance intriguing in that I think I know what you're referring to, but I've not heard of these terms in music before...only in grammar school english! I tried looking these terms up w.r.t. music, but could not find a good elaboration on what you were describing...I'm wondering if, physically speaking, what you're describing is related to harmonics and anharmonics?

    Thanks for the link to Egyptian sagats...I think this is what Jamila uses...are they those huge, palm-sized cymbals that require you to play w/the palms? I'd like to look into these, but have never seen anyone around here dance with them...though, there's a lot I haven't seen around here yet.

    Just from listening, I like the highest and lowest pitches of Saroyans...will probably order the Grecians (larger set) first, but I also like the silver Turkish Delights...or whatever pairs I found that rang the highest and most delicate, if that makes sense. I've read feedback on the Zildians being "tonally perfect", so that they can produce all sounds...not just tuned to certain tones as are Saroyans, etc. But I'm not aware of who might carry these to try out around here. Maybe I'll speak with a drummer friend to see if he can suggest any stores in the metro area that might carry the Zildians.

    Again, thanks so much for all the info.!!! This is tremendously helpful.

    PS: Was it your Turquoise zills that you sold, and not your Saroyans?

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astro_girl View Post
    I found your description of assonance and dissonance intriguing in that I think I know what you're referring to, but I've not heard of these terms in music before...only in grammar school english! I tried looking these terms up w.r.t. music, but could not find a good elaboration on what you were describing...I'm wondering if, physically speaking, what you're describing is related to harmonics and anharmonics?

    I'll make it easier, since I probably used the above terms wrong anyway - LOL:

    I have a set of old El Coyote zills that were all in perfect tune with each other until I dropped one. Now it sort of sounds "flat" or "sharp" -- just slightly off from the others. That's what I'm referring to as dissonance. Like, just not in tune.

    The Zildjians are not in tune but they aren't supposed to be. Two are a higher pitch than the other two (like how castanets are supposed to be male and female sounding). The only problem I have with them is that the higher pitched ones aren't mathematically higher at a perfect interval. They are slightly "off" (or sharp/flat) and that makes me crazy!!!! (Like I dropped and dented one or something.) It's like one pair plays C and the other pair is supposed to play G, but the G is flat. It makes my head hurt to hear that. If the interval was perfect and the G wasn't flat, I think I would really enjoy my Z's more.

    The Turquoise Suhaila models had the same problem -- they just weren't all at the exact same "note" -- one or two were slightly flat.

    Thanks for the link to Egyptian sagats...I think this is what Jamila uses...are they those huge, palm-sized cymbals that require you to play w/the palms? I'd like to look into these, but have never seen anyone around here dance with them...though, there's a lot I haven't seen around here yet.
    She play 3.375 inch large cymbals from Turquoise, but the great big ones (4 inches plus) are usually called Toura, and they're supposed to be for the band members. But I've seen her play those in the background for Bal Anat.

    I've read feedback on the Zildians being "tonally perfect", so that they can produce all sounds...not just tuned to certain tones as are Saroyans, etc.
    I'm not sure what tonally perfect means. My zildjians are set to two different notes (which means you could play 2 different ways: male and female on one hand, or males on one hand and females on the other.) but as I mentioned, they aren't perfectly tuned or "in tune." Saroyans are always perfectly in tune, all 4 ringing the same note with no flatness or sharpness. Even when you drop them

    Jim Boz made a set that was 3 of one sound and 1 of another. You could make a similar set with Saroyans -- just buying 2 sets of complementary sounding cymbals and mixing them up. I always mean to do this, but I'm not sure which ones would match best with my afghanis.

    PS: Was it your Turquoise zills that you sold, and not your Saroyans?
    Yes -- it was the Turquoise Suhaila models.
    Suhaila Signature Finger Cymbals

    They are large -- as large as the Afghanis, but with that darn "sharp or flat" sound that made me crazy.

    I also did sell my Saroyan Grecians, because I thought they weren't loud enough for me, but I'm really wishing I hadn't done that now. They were perfect for the classroom, and I miss them

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    1) I'm afraid that zills are like perfume - you really have to test them out in person to see what best suits your preference, but without a place to try them before I buy, how do you go about finding a pro pair?
    There are often vendors at belly dance events. If I shopping around for zills, I like to do it in person at belly dance events where there are likely to be vendors selling them.


    2) What brand(s) of zills do you prefer and why?
    Saroyan through and through. My favorite is also the Afghanis. Big, loud, and silver (I prefer silver over gold). I need to find a medium pair of zills, but I still haven't found the perfect pair.


    3) Is there a recommended site to buy them from?
    You can buy them from the Saroyan website... they have sound samples and all. But there is nothing like actually looking at, feeling, and playing around with the zills in person.


    4) Do any online vendors have audio samples of what they sound like so one can virtually try before they buy? I know this might not be ideal given variations in computer speakers, etc.
    See above...

    5) Does price point really matter when buying a good pair, keeping in mind that I generally get what I pay for...or are there some good bargains to be had out there?'
    Saroyans aren't cheap, but they are worth the price. These days I don't try much to get bargains when it comes to belly dance stuff, because most of the time, bargains items are subpar quality. I am just not willing to take the risk anymore, and would rather make good investments. Maybe there are some nice zill bargains out there, but since I don't look for them, I wouldn't know.
    With that said, just as with costumes, I would assume the best way to get a good item for a reasonable price would be to buy used. Instead of buying a cheap costume for example, a dancer is often better off buying a used costume that wasn't necessarily cheap, but whose price went down due to it being used... as long as it isn't in bad condition. You can probably get a good deal on a pair of used zills, and chances are they won't be in bad condition, since it's much harder to ruin a pair of zills than it is to ruin bedleh.

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    Like the others said, I personally go with Saroyan. That is the zills my teacher recommend and there is all sorts of types in different price ranges, plus you can hear how they each sound only before you buy them.

    From what my teacher said, you get what you paid for. There might be a good deal every so often, but usually the better quality ones will cost more.

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    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    There are zills and there are sagat(s).

    Zills are usually assonant -- they all have (or are supposed to have) the same pitch and sound.

    Sagat are almost always dissonant. They can all four have slightly different pitches, which gives a much different sound. (They're an acquired taste.)

    You should try both styles to see which you like.


    1) I'm afraid that zills are like perfume - you really have to test them out in person to see what best suits your preference, but without a place to try them before I buy, how do you go about finding a pro pair?

    A. Buy used ones and if you don't like them, sell them again.

    B. Listen to samples on the website -- honestly, Turquoise only makes like 3 kinds, Zildjian only one kind, and Saroyan has their samples on the web. Suhaila's signature brand cymbals are turquoise, and slightly lower than the largest one, but they don't have the perfect pitch of Saroyans. I sold mine.


    2) What brand(s) of zills do you prefer and why?


    SAAAAROYAN -- hummmm. (Sorry -- Red Robin commercial was on.) Afghani silver is my fave. Afghani brass 2nd fave and Saroyan Pro Heavy my also 2nd fave, especially for live bands and outdoors.

    Why? Perfect pitch. All four sound exactly the same. No dissonance. I HATE that (but if you like it, I recommend the sagat from Yasmine/Serpentine.) Plus they hold up well, don't dent easily and just sound wonderful!

    Zildjians have male and female in one pair (like castanets) and have a dissonance that I can't stand. Others swear by them. To each his own.


    3) Is there a recommended site to buy them from?


    Any place that offers reasonable shipping Zildjians can be bought at some brick and mortar music stores. Saroyan's web site gives you the best price unless you buy at a workshop or something. I think his shipping is pretty reasonable. Dahlal can be expensive with shipping.

    4) Do any online vendors have audio samples of what they sound like so one can virtually try before they buy? I know this might not be ideal given variations in computer speakers, etc.

    As mentioned, Saroyan. Wonderful samples. And true to life. Also Serpentine.

    5) Does price point really matter when buying a good pair, keeping in mind that I generally get what I pay for...or are there some good bargains to be had out there?

    Yes and no. If you want GOOD Egyptian sagats ,don't buy them off ebay. Those are almost categorically crap. GOOD dissonant sagats can be purchased from Yasmine (Serpentine) and she has a sample sounds:

    Egyptian finger cymbals - sagat

    (I DO NOT like the Awlad, just btw.)

    If you want Turkish/American Zills, Saroyan and Turquoise are it. The prices on those vary VERY little. Unless you buy used.

    Zildjians can be purchased for up to half off retail if you find a store owner who doesn't want to carry them anymore. Otherwise they can be kind of expensive online.

    Nickel or silver colored cymbals are almost always more expensive than their brass counterparts.

    Cheap cymbals are very often stamped out of the metal and have absolutely no sound.

    You do sort of get what you pay for, but I still actually like the sound of $28 Nefertitis almost as much as my $65 afghanis. Cymbals are something a lot of people end up collecting and using depending upon their mood or the song or the environment.
    Is it true that Middle Eastern people call finger cymbals zills, while Turkish people call them sagats (and get very put-out when people call them zills)? My teacher recently told our class that, and was wondering if you could verify that.

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    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farasha Hanem View Post
    Is it true that Middle Eastern people call finger cymbals zills, while Turkish people call them sagats (and get very put-out when people call them zills)? My teacher recently told our class that, and was wondering if you could verify that.
    Zill is the Turkish name, sagat is arabic.
    --
    Daim.

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Added to the above:

    Yasmin and Artemis make the case that "Zills" and "Sagat" are actually two different instruments. According to Yasmin, Egyptian sagat are dissonant and are played slightly differently from zills. They are capable of different sound qualities than zills are.

    I don't know enough about sagat to comment -- since I only play what Yasmin considers to be "zills." Suhaila always just called them cymbals, so that's what I call them. I do know Karim Nagi was trying to show us the difference in playing styles, and I was just too tired that day I guess because it didn't sink in. lol.

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