From £309 Want trash? Meinl’s sig­na­ture stacks will have you look­ing for a new ac­cent

Rhythm - - GEAR REVIEW - Words: Stuart Wil­liams

Stack­ing cym­bals is by no means a new idea, but in re­cent times, it has cer­tainly gained a lot of pop­u­lar­ity. The idea be­ing that a pair (or more) of stacked cym­bals can of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to your reg­u­lar splashes, crashes or china cym­bals when it comes to keep­ing time or ac­cent­ing parts within your grooves or fills: it’s another voice. As with any ‘ef­fect’ sound, the beauty of stacks is that it’s the re­sult­ing sound that mat­ters, and they can of­ten add up to a lot more than the sum of their parts. This means that in­ex­pen­sive or even dam­aged cym­bals can be given a new lease of life by pair­ing them up with other cym­bals, rather than be­ing dis­carded or moved on. How­ever, it doesn’t al­ways work, and vary­ing sizes, pro­files and met­als don’t al­ways mix well, re­sult­ing in clangy over­tones rather than per­cus­sive tone. Plenty of com­pa­nies of­fer a range of stacks – Meinl in­cluded – how­ever this lat­est col­lec­tion has been se­lected to match and put to­gether by Meinl’s stack-whack­ing artist ros­ter: Luke Hol­land, Anika Nilles, Matt Halpern, Thomas Lang, Matt Garstka and Benny Greb.


With a to­tal of 14 pieces of metal in the line-up, there’s a lot of vari­a­tion with sizes, ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes all be­ing blended to achieve the trashy, tonal cock­tail. In or­der of size is Benny Greb’s 8" Crasher Hats (three mini-hats and a dough­nut-style ‘crasher’), next is the Luke Hol­land Bul­let Stack (12" Clas­sics Cus­tom vented splash, 16" slot­ted/ vented crash). Matt Garstka’s Fat Stack pairs 16" vented china with an 18" crash, while Matt Halpern’s Dou­ble Down Stack is an 18" China and a 16" crash. Thomas Lang’s Su­per Stack is a brace of Clas­sics Cus­tom (18" china, 18" crash) while Anika Nilles has opted for a whop­ping 18" pair of Deep Hats.

In a bril­liant move, which means you won’t need to or­der ad­di­tional stands for the hi-hat mod­els, Meinl has also sup­plied a fixed-clutch, clamp-mounted X-hat with the Anika Nilles and Benny Greb mod­els.

Hands On

These be­ing artist-de­signed mod­els, there are ob­vi­ously ‘pre­ferred’ con­fig­u­ra­tions for the de­fault place­ment of top/bot­tom cym­bals in each stack. In­deed, they’re all la­belled too. Logic also dic­tates this for the most part, but the lack of vis­ual clues pro­vided by Meinl means that it is quite easy to place the cym­bals in dif­fer­ent in­ver­sions and or­ders (which isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing at all).

For the pur­poses of this, how­ever, we started by checking we had the cym­bals ‘cor­rect’ be­fore ex­per­i­ment­ing with al­ter­na­tive place­ments. The Crasher Hats are tight yet trashy sound­ing, with a sound that lends it­self to em­u­lat­ing elec­tronic hats, with­out the over­bear­ing bright­ness of some mini-hats. Mean­while the Deep Hats de­liver a huge – yet still soft – closed sound. They’re dark, thick and have an old-school vibe that made us want to play the in­tro to

Every one of these pair­ings has its own voice, and that couldn’t be more im­por­tant with artist mod­els

‘Su­per­sti­tion’ ad in­fini­tum. Both blend in well, not un­like loud shak­ers, and while the in­ten­tion here is for them to be set closed, we had a lot of fun plac­ing both sets on a reg­u­lar hi-hat stand in place of tra­di­tional hi-hats.

Both the Su­per Stack and Bul­let Stack de­liver a more mod­ern stack sound, and while they cut with ra­zor pre­ci­sion, they aren’t brash and we could see them fit­ting well in a range of gen­res. The sound de­cays quickly, even un­der very lit­tle ten­sion, but tighten them down and you have an even shorter sound that still keeps its ag­gres­sion. Fi­nally, there’s the Matt Halpern and Matt Garstka mod­els. While Garstka’s is (to our ears) the most an­gry of the bunch – all throaty, loud bark that de­mands to be crashed – Matt Halpern’s is sur­pris­ingly ‘out­side’ of what we might ex­pect. The tonal­ity is sub­tle and al­most com­plex, urg­ing us to spend as much time rid­ing on it as we did try­ing to pick out ac­cents in the first place.

Every one of these pair­ings has its own voice, and that couldn’t be more im­por­tant with artist mod­els. That said, we’d urge you to not be driven ei­ther way by your pre­con­cep­tions in this re­gard, as this range is ex­tremely ver­sa­tile, re­gard­less of the artist who se­lected it. The vari­a­tion that can be achieved within each stack via place­ment and nut ten­sion is great fun, and it’s easy to for­get that every one of these cym­bals can be used solo as well as within its stack, which makes it feel like there’s a lot of value in find­ing new sounds. We love the fact that the range isn’t ex­clu­sively made up of high-end met­als from the Meinl range, and while some of the prices are high for what might not be your sta­ple sounds, a bit of Googling re­veals that in some cases these stacks are more af­ford­able (‘street prices’) than piec­ing to­gether a stack us­ing equiv­a­lents from Meinl’s cat­a­logue.

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