Two Master Artisans Have Lathed Over One Millions Cymbals Each
SABIAN may be seen as the ‘modern, innovative cymbal maker,’ but the award-winning company is also renowned for its ‘traditional roots’ and the quality craftsmanship that attracts such major drummers as those with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, Rush, and Nickelback to the Canadian brand.
Two master artisans at SABIAN have celebrated what is surely a milestone in the history of cymbal making. Master Lathers Allie Cougle and Ricky Ellegood have now cut tonal grooves into over one million cymbals each. Cougle has specialized in lathing since 1988 and Ellegood since 1986. They have lathed cymbals of every series and size, many destined for star drummers including Neil Peart, Phil Collins, Mike Portnoy, and Jack DeJohnette. Their role in the cymbal making process is to shave away the dark surface of the raw, baked oxidization that blackens unfinished cymbals, and cut tonal grooves into the bronze. This they do with a variety of steel blades and a deft sense of touch. This reveals the gleaming bronze beneath and shapes the sound of the cymbal.
“Lathing is an extremely fine art,” Said SABIAN Production Manager Blair Davidson, “The grooves must be smooth and even, and the raw cymbal must be cut down to a specific weight, with the thickness decreasing from the centre out to the edge. This involves several passes using different blades and angles as well as varying amounts of pressure to ensure the correct amount of metal is shaved away. Allie and Ricky are masters. I doubt that there is anyone in the world with their level of experience.”
Cougle and Ellegood cite SABIAN as being more a passion than a job. “I love what I do,” said Cougle. “Some people call it an art, but for me it’s life… it’s what I do. I work with a great team and I’ve travelled and met some wonderful people, including many major stars, so it’s all very good.” Added Ellegood: “You know you’re doing something right when you’re lathing a cymbal for Neil Peart (Rush), Phil Collins, or Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). As for the job itself, it’s really about getting a feel for what works best. That takes years.”
As of this writing, Cougle and Ellegood are busy at the SABIAN facility in Canada, lathing cymbals to fill orders taken at major international trade shows in California and Germany. “A lathers job is never done,” concluded Davidson.
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