Each Byrne cymbal starts with a raw, B20 bronze blank. That is a completely unworked cymbal blank. A cymbal “blank” is a sheet of B20 bronze that has been hot rolled from a small, thick ingot, into a large circular piece of bronze. The hot rolling process forms the crystalline structure within the cymbal that contributes to the more refined sound of Bell Bronze.
After being rolled out to approximate size, the blanks receive a hot-stamped bell, are re-heated, then quenched in water. In terms of shape, at the stage of being a raw, unworked cymbal blank, the cymbal looks like a giant bronze potato chip covered in oven crust.
Each Turkish cymbal blank is then individually hand hammered one at a time in my shop in Illinois.
After going through the process of hammering a cymbal, I will check the shape of the cymbal, let it rest for several days or even weeks, and come back to do more hammering followed by more lathing. Each cymbal receives a period of rest between each hammering and lathing session. This allows the metal to rest and the true sound of the cymbal develop. Rest is important to track along with what a cymbal will ultimately sound like. Even after 24 hours, the sound difference is night and day. Keeping in mind that the shaping process requires thousands of hammer blows that stretch the metal and after a certain point make the piece of bronze become loose and wobbly- think plastic. Rest allows it to return to the metal’s natural hardness through age hardening.
The direction from which the cymbal is hammered, center to edge vs. edge to center, the pattern and the hammer weight all have an impact on the sound of the end product. After the initial top hammering, I invert the cymbal to a normal cymbal shape (after the top hammering the cymbal is concave from the top) and hammer in the same pattern from the bottom. The arch of the cymbal can be intensified through concentric circular hammering from the bottom of the cymbal.
Top hammering vs. Bottom hammering also has a radical effect on the end product. A mostly top-hammered cymbal will have more fundamental, while a heavily bottom-hammered cymbal will be loose and have more wobble. The shaping of a true hand hammered cymbal includes bottom hammering, so will thus have more wobble than their machine stamped counterparts, to begin with.
Finally, the cymbal is lathed. The lathing imparts tonal grooves as well as allows me to build in a taper to thin the cymbal out towards the edge. This contributes to controlling the overall wash and spread of the cymbal.