The (Avedis) Zildjian company started making K Zildjian cymbals in a factory in Medutic, Canada in 1977. They brought a few cymbalsmiths from Istanbul to Canada at the time. This article provides some discussion of it:

Iero, Cheech. 1979. Cymbal talk with Zildjian’s Lenny Dimuzio. Modern Drummer 3(2):20-22.

Canadian K Zildjians (1977-1979)

The K Zildjian stamp from Canada was a copy of the “new stamp” from Istanbul. Here is another example of a Canadian K, this one missing the words “made in Canada”, which was apparently common.
Underside of the Canada K has a medium sized letter K with a font that uses serifs.

Later in 1979, Avedis Armand Zildjian and his cousin Mikhail Zilcan both died, and everything changed. Lawsuits ensued. Within a few years the Canadian factory would be producing Sabians, and the A Zildjian Company would make K Zildjians in Norwell, Massachusetts.

Early American K (EAK) Zildjians (1979-1981)

The Early American K Zildjian cymbals or “EAK” cymbals are distinguished by a large K on the front and back of the cymbal. These were produced at the Avedis Zildjian factory in Norwell, Massachusetts, after the company won the rights to the “K Zildjian” brand. For a few years, they produced hand-hammered cymbals and thus they are included here.

Also notice that “crash ride” is written upside down. This is common on EAK cymbals, but there are also EAKs that have the words written in right side up.

Reverse side of the same cymbal. If it says “Zildjian” on the bottom side instead of the big letter K, it is not an EAK, period. This is the distinguishing characteristic of the EAK.
This photo shows the irregular hammering pattern. Note the hammer marks on the bell, and the large K on the bottom side of the cymbal.
This is the stamp in the bronze, which is not useful for determining the age of the cymbal. The same stamp was used for machine made cymbals in the following years. Ironically, the Arabic text translates to “Avedis Zildjian” while the English says “K Zildjian & Co.” and this is the same combo of Arabic and English that the Zildjian company uses today.


  1. Thank you…..After years of asking around I finally got to the right place….I’ve got a unlathed 20 inch EAK ride…..love it to death…..But most of the pictures show machine grooves…..mine is just hammered. But I’d love to learn more….Once again thanks….Brad Henry

    Brad Henry, January 12, 2011
  2. I’m glad this website is helpful to you. Regarding your cymbal: I would guess that it is “very finely lathed” as opposed to unlathed. A finely lathed cymbal may lack tonal grooves after the final lathing, whereas an unlathed cymbal will be very rough and heavy in weight, and it will sound very different.

    If I’m correct, you’re actually referring to the problem of photography that captures the light bouncing off of the circular grooves of the lathing, while failing to capture light bouncing off of the irregular hand-hammering that belies the lathing.

    Rob Scott, January 13, 2011
  3. i have an old 18″ K ride that has that irregular hammering and the stamp is pretty faded on one side but it is clearly the same stamp as the EAK on here. The only difference is mine actually says Zildjian on the bottom instead of having the huge K like it does on the top. Was that something that was done with some of them? or does that make it a different model?

    Alex V., February 27, 2011
  4. Sorry Alex, but it sounds like you have a cymbal from after the EAK era. There are plenty of wonderful cymbals from 1981-1984 that also seem to have irregular hammering and the similar stamp, but only the ones with a big K on both sides qualify as EAK.

    Rob Scott, March 3, 2011
  5. thanks for the respose rob, its still a great pie i got. i use it as an aux ride since it doesn’t crash much and its very heavy plus its not huge so i can sneak it right on top of my other ride. i was just curious since the stamp on mine is the same. i still love my baby.

    great site btw!

    Alex V., March 5, 2011
  6. They continued stamping big ‘K’s on the bottom long after 1981. I personally own several eAKs from the mid-80s. A couple of them even have the wider lathing from the “Zildjian-on-the-bottom” era, but a big ‘K’ on the bottom of the cymbal!

    Check out the Steve Gadd/Tony Williams Zildjian ads from ‘84… I think they stopped putting ‘K’ on the bottom around 1985-86.

    Tad McCully, June 10, 2011
  7. Here’s one print ad from 1983. It shows Gadd holding an EAK. Now, I know it could be an old cymbal, but better evidence of a mid-80s EAK would be these: (attached pics of my brilliant EAK 17″)

    Also, I personally know people who went to the Norwell plant and to the ‘vault’ and picked out EAKs as late as 1986. Surely the cymbals they had in the vault weren’t 5+ years old…? One of my friends went with Dave Weckl, when Dave actually BOUGHT EAKs in about ’85 (I think).

    Lastly, as far as them being ‘hand-hammered’ I read a guy from Zildjian saying that the early “hand-hamering techniques” became too expensive, so they switched to machines–just not sure when. They very easily could have machine-hammered Ks with the big K on the bottom. I think one is not part and parcel with the other. (You defined ‘EAK’s as having the ‘big K on the bottom’–which is right!) Except for the hand-hammering part. I think the machine hammering was still ‘random hammering’ it was just done by a guy guiding a machine, instead of holding an actual hammer…(kind of doesn’t matter, to me anyway…).

    Funny how they tried to re-introduce the EAK-like Zildjians in the early 2000’s. I hated them. They put a big ‘K’ on the bottom, because they figured we would think it was way-cool. They are nothing like EAKs…

    Thanks for your excellent Web site, though!


    p.s.–I play Yamaha drums and Zildjians, and I really don’t play Yamaha or Zildjian stuff from later than ’90. In my opinion, that’s when all the best stuff was made…(1980-1990).

    Tad McCully, June 11, 2011
  8. Thanks for sharing this information, Tad, but I respectfully disagree that this image is an EAK. My understanding is that EAKs have “a big letter K stamped on the bottom of the cymbal” but this appears to be the top of a cymbal. Also, I don’t see your attached ‘brilliant’ EAK images?

    Rob Scott, July 5, 2011
  9. One comment on the EAK’s, Zildjian introduced the USA made K’s in late 1982.

    Brian, October 5, 2011
  10. Hi Rob, I’d like to post some images of the K cymbals I have. There’s a Constantinople 12″ – noted on your other webpage, I think an EAK, some Canadian hi hats, and a 22″ ride and a 16″ crash both with the 1967-77 Istanbul stamp. They all sound great. I’m trying also to value them for insurance purposes so any clues on this would be helpful. Thanks

    phil, July 12, 2012
  11. Great site! Do you accept submissions of stamp photos? I imagine, if you do, you must have plenty. I have an ancient K Constantinople with ‘ZILDJIAN’ in letters 1mm high. Also, a pretty good Canada made K with the goofy looking Arabic (looks like Kandinsky) and a very shallow ‘MADE IN CANADA’ still barely visible.
    Also, some super clean Zenjian, Alejian, Abex, Zilco, Stanople, Conn, Beverley, Kamala, etc. photos if you were interested. I’d love to share them with the Cymbaloonies of the world.
    Thanks for your ‘Time’ (lines)

    Ed Campbell, July 22, 2012
  12. I gave Ed my email and here is what he sent me. Alphabetical order. Photo credit: Ed Campbell.

    Ed’s photos of the A Zildjian stamp of the 1950s shows the difference between two stamps where three dots in the Arabic are missing in the later stamp.
    Beverly cymbals come from England from the 1950s and 60s.
    This K Constantinople is a Stamp 1 in the way I’ve broken it down.
    Kamala, another British cymbal.
    A gorgeous Stanople from Italy.
    This particular Zenjian stamp has a trace of the word “Ludwig” inside the moon.
    More of the Zenjian for Ludwig cymbal. This is a characteristic hammering pattern of old Italian cymbals from this era (1940s 1950s)
    Another Zenjian stamp from Ed, this one has no “Ludwig” inside the moon.
    Two Zilco stamps: Older (left) and Newer (right).
    Rob, August 1, 2012
  13. Hey Rob,
    WOW! Thank you for posting the photos I sent and adding your expert comments. This is a great resource you’re providing to ‘the world’! I will share any Cymbalic uniquities I happen upon in the future. (I’ll work on getting a more focused image of that 1st Stamp K.)
    A Fan! Ed

    Ed Campbell, August 12, 2012
  14. Hi, I have a 20″ K Ride with the K almost polished off the top but a strong K on the bottom. I’m confused because it has a serial number. I didn’t think EAK’s had serial numbers?? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks, Chuck

    Chuck Boenisch, August 13, 2012
  15. Zildjian began etching serial numbers into their cymbals in 1994, making them easier to date. Each serial number begins with two characters, and these characters represent the last two digits of the year which the cymbal was manufactured. The letter “A” is used for the number 1, the letter “B” for the number 2, and so on, all the way up to “J,” which represents 0 (zero). Therefore, the first wave of serialized cymbals available from Zildjian would begin “ID,” representing “94,” (because “I” is the 9th letter of the alphabet, and “D” is the 4th) indicating that the cymbal was manufactured in 1994; serial numbers appearing on cymbals made in 2000 begin “JJ,” with 2001 beginning “JA,” et cetera; 2010 serial numbers will read “AJ,” while 2011 will read “AA,” and so on.

    Rob, August 25, 2012
  16. Great Site! I have a set of 14″ hats and a ride stamped Avedis Zildjian, Made in Canada. I think they are mid 70’s. I found your history page regarding Canadian K’s, what is the history of these? Were they made in the same factory as the K’s? Thanks!

    Dave F, November 18, 2012
  17. Yes, there were in fact A Zildian cymbals made in the Canada factory before the K brand was brought over. My understanding is that the A cymbals were made with the same process as those in the USA, so the main difference is the stamp.

    Rob, November 19, 2012
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  19. Rob,

    I’m sorry, but to be precise, the EAK was produced from 1981/1982 (they appear in zildjian price list of the 1 january 1983 for first time) until 1987… and the eak production was divided in II series: one with the letters on the top of cymbal turned inside, and the II with the letter turned out…

    I have all the original price lists, on 1 June 1979 there are NO K cymbals in the catalog, only Avedis Zildjian. In 1983 there are Avedis Zildjians, K Zildjians and Amir cymbals.

    About the Canadian K Zildjians you are right…

    I’m sorry about my English, but I’m Italian…

    Thank you for your job!!!

    matteo, February 10, 2013
  20. Buona sera, Matteo. Spero è ok ho cambiato il tuo Inglès in modo che non sono probleme.

    Thank you for your comment. I have heard that EAKs were first introduced to the market in late 1982. My understanding is that when the senior Ziljians died, the A company began producing EAKs in USA, and the Canadian lines eventually lead to Sabian. If EAKs are first retailed in 1982/83, that does not mean they were not produced in 1980.

    Also, I am hesitant to attribute EAK status to the later cymbals (1983 to 1987). I realize this is controversial.

    Rob, February 16, 2013
  21. I would like to suggest that Zildjian cymbals were first manufactured in Canada in the late 60’s…I have 14″ hats, 16″ crash, and 20″ ride all with the Zildjian logo and all saying “made in Canada”…and I purchased this set at Long & MacQuade in Toronto in 1975…still play them and they sound great.

    Gordon Tate, March 20, 2013
  22. I purchased a 16″ K Zildjian crash from a music store in Manchester, UK about 1978/79.
    Its great sounding cymbal and I’m interested in dating it.
    From the info gathered from this site is suspect it is a Canadian produced cymbal. – there is no indication of country of origin.

    Vin Pearson.

    Vin Pearson, February 22, 2015

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