The Paiste Process

Hand made of hammered metal, these beautifully crafted gongs are deeply therapeutic
works of art and alchemy. Each gong represents the soul of the gong maker, receiving
its shape and sound
from hammer blows; each and every pound of the hammer is a strike
toward sound perfection.




The Paiste Gong Alloy

The basic material used for making Gongs is invariably a copper alloy. Copper alloys are the oldest alloys used by humans, because they are malleable enough to be shaped and cut by artisans with simple tools. Copper is unique in color among metals, and it has great properties for producing sound, which is why it is the main ingredient in Gongs. All of the alloys used for Gongs and cymbals consist of copper (Cu) and at least one other ingredient: tin (Sn), nickel (Ni) or zinc (Zn). All alloys also contain trace elements, such as silver, but they are carefully controlled to avoid degradation in sound potential. An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals. In an alloy source metals do not bond chemically. They coexist in a microscopic grain structure. Melting and thus mixing the ingredient metals produces the alloy. During this stage, the exact temperature and heating process will produce a specific and carefully controlled grain structure. The molten metal mix is then cast from the melting container, which involves forming it into a particular shape by pouring or pressing it into a mold while it slowly cools off. This is the process called casting, and it is the only way to produce an alloy. (Regardless of what some current Gong literature says, there can be no non-cast alloys and thus Gongs, it is just not possible. Similarly, the distinction between cast and sheet alloys is plain nonsense.) The cooled off cast, whether it be thick, round disks, big blocks or long, thick strips, is then repeatedly rolled using immense pressure to compress the alloy and achieve a specific internal grain size and hardness. During this stage, the alloy is repeatedly heated and allowed to cool off. This process is called annealing, and its purpose is to prevent brittleness and thus give strength to the alloy. At the end, round disks are cut out from the rolled alloy plates, which will then be made into Gongs and cymbals. The exact sound property of an alloy is a combination of factors. The ingredient metals are a key factor, and for most Gongs, this is copper and tin, or Bronze alloy. The other important factors are the grain size, the grain structure, and the alloy hardness. These characteristics are determined in the casting, rolling, and annealing processes. They need to be fine tuned very carefully, because the wrong combination will not work. A certain combination of characteristics, while possibly

 

producing an interesting sound, can produce an alloy that is too brittle or too soft, causing Gongs to break or dent prematurely. A very hard, homogenous and thus extremely durable combination will almost certainly produce inferior sound. The art of Gong making thus includes selecting the right combination of the alloy characteristics for the ultimate combination of sound and durability, and this process most certainly constitutes every Gong makerís secret formula, including ours. Moreover, this is just the starting point, because the actual determination of Gong sound involves the shaping (through hammering) and tapering (through lathing) of the disks into final Gong shapes. During this process, the particular frequencies and harmonics desired in the final Gong are selected from the vast sound potential inherent to the alloy. Our deep body of knowledge about Gong alloys is based on our family memberís life times of experimentation, experience, and research. We continually update and innovate the mixture and exact characteristics of our alloys, which we develop and fine-tune together with world-renowned top metallurgists at our suppliers. We are the industry leader in discovering new mixtures and procedures, having introduced several alloys to Gong making, including one for which we received a patent. We use finished raw materials (round, flat disks) from several specialized foundries and rolling mills. We select these suppliers due to their specialized and superior technical abilities and large scale of operations. It is simply not possible for the comparatively small casting and rolling volume requirements of a Gong maker to achieve their level of consistency and quality. This ensures that our manufacturing process starts with raw materials that conform to the highest standards of consistency and helps guarantee the quality of every Gong and Gong we make.

Nickel Silver (NS12 Ė 88% copper, 12% nickel)

This is a sonorous alloy, which produces rich, full frequencies. We have mainly used this alloy for our Gongs in the 1940ís and 1950ís, after which time we changed direction and concentrated our Gong making on Bronze alloys. Because of its tremendous sound properties, we still use it today, but mainly for our gongs.