Factory tour

A magical journey of long ago from bronze to musical instrument, beginning at least 4000 years before Christ, the alloy known as bronze reaches us.  It is made up of 80 parts copper and 20 parts tin, plus the silver which is present as impurity in the tin.  Here is unveiled the “secret” of Bronze B20, the same alloy of bronze that has always been used in the construction of bells.  The alloy is created in a crucible. 

The casting process is monitored by expert craftsmen who carefully scrutinize the temperature and level of liquid in the alloy until the point when, with the help of long graphite spoons, the metal is removed from the crucible ready to be poured into the forms exclusively used by UFIP.  The process, called rotocasting, is accomplished thanks to these rotating forms patented by Mariano Zanchi and his brothers in the 70's, forms which rotate at around 1,000 RPM.  The rotation uses centrifugal force to push the impurities, which are present during the casting process, towards the outer edge of the cymbal, and are then eliminated during the turning process.  In some of the UFIP lines, specifically the Natural and Bionic series, “the superficial impurities are preserved, in part or entirely, and play an integral part in the formation of the timber of these cymbals.”  The bronze obtained by means of rotocasting produces a more compact molecular structure, absent of the micro-cavities which are present during traditional gravity casting, which guarantees greater instrument durability in time and a natural tendency to improve in sound quality little by little as the instrument is played.  As soon as the cymbal is removed from the mold, it is cooled and the hole in the cup is bored.  The cymbal is prepared for recooking, or tempering, which is done with a special protective covering made of clay.  The cymbal is brought to 700 degrees centigrade, it is turned and then starts to acquire a first-draft flaring.  After it has been rapidly cooled in groundwater, the cymbal is stripped by way of a high-pressure water-jet, which completely removes the clay that covered it.  The first turning removes the lower “shell” for all series and the upper only for the series that call for it.  By way of this process, the cymbal is brought to the predetermined weight and thickness.  The cymbal is then shaped by hammering where, by way of specific mallets, the metal gains consistency and hardens.  During this phase the cymbal gains its final form and its final flaring.  The sound of the cymbal is defined, created and refined in this phase.  All of the cymbals' finishing work is carried out by hand.  Only thanks to the continuous relationship between craftsman and instrument can one obtain the highest quality, which characterizes the products of the Pistoia firm.  The final turning removes paper-thin layers of metal, giving the cymbal the exact weight and the esthetic aspect typical of the line to which it belongs.  In a specialized warehouse the cymbals are left to rest for a period of at least two months.  After this time has passed, the individual sound of each cymbal is checked.  The “promoted” cymbals are sent to silk-screening and are selected by weight (heavy, medium, light), while the others, those discarded, return to the foundry.  Now the cymbals are ready to be sent to your favorite store and wait to be played and treated with all the care that noble and primitive materials like these deserve.  Play them and you will hear them grow with you.