Istanbul cymbalsClaimed by some to be the best in the world, Istanbul cymbals are in 2003 made in two separate factories in Istanbul, Turkey. Both use the traditional cymbal making method.
They should not be confused with "Zildjian Istanbul" cymbals. Zildjian K Istanbul cymbals, for example, are simply Zildjian K series cymbals made in Turkey. The term "Istanbul" is used to distinguish them from other Zildjian K series cymbals, which were made in Canada. Cymbals have been made in Istanbul for centuries, and there are many other traditional cymbal works there currently, including Masterwork, Anatolian, Turkish and Bosphorus. Byzance (a subsidiary of Meinl)is located in Samsun/Turkey.
The Istanbul brand name was adopted by a cymbal works established by two cymbalsmiths, Mehmet Tamdeger and Agop Tomurcuk. These cymbals were first exported to the USA in 1984, firstly under the name "Zildjiler", but the name was changed to "Istanbul" shortly thereafter. Both craftsmen signed each cymbal. Some of these superb and irreplaceable cymbals are now collectors' items. Following Agop's death in 1997, Mehmet assumed control of this factory, and the cymbals it makes are now sold as Istanbul Mehmet. The other cymbal works, since established by surviving members of Agop's family, produces Istanbul Agop.
Mehmet claims to have learnt his art from Mikhail Zilcan (sometimes spelled Zildjian), the grandson of Kerope Zilcan after whom the Zildjian K series is named. In the 1950s, he worked in the K Zildjian factory in Istanbul.
Some but not all of the current ranges of Istanbul Agop and Istanbul Mehmet overlap. Both have lines called Traditional, Turk and Sultan, and within these lines many but not all models are in common. Both also have models and whole series of cymbals not duplicated in the other's catalog at present.
They continue to be well received by drummers seeking the sound of traditional handmade cymbals.