Do you re-work or modify existing cymbals?
I do not re-work existing cymbals. All my cymbals I make from scratch from blank sheets or castings. Sometimes, but not very often, I will consider taking an existing cymbal to modify for a customer. I would generally recommend instead that you try Michael Paiste in Switzerland or Heather Stein in the USA for this kind of work.
Do you take apprentices or interns?
No, I do not take apprentices or interns. Maybe one day, when it is time to pass on my accrued knowledge, I will do so. However, right now I don't see this as workable.
What alloys do you use?
I use many different bronze alloys – selecting them for each instrument based upon sonic and mechanical characteristics. Bronze is essentially a binary alloy of Copper and Tin. The cymbal-world convention is to use Bxx notation where xx is the percentage of Tin – the remainder being made up almost completely of Copper (and usually less than 1% of other trace elements). I use B5, B7, B8, B10, B12, B15, B20 and B25 with those last two coming from German, Turkish and Chinese sources for even more flavour variety. I also sometimes use Aluminium Bronzes, Nickel Silvers, Brasses, Stainless Steels and Titanium alloys. I have made tuned instruments using both Bronze and Aluminium alloys. Some of my triangles are forged from High Carbon Steel. I do not cast my own alloys, I buy them in.
What is your manufacturing process?
I aim to make my instruments as much by hand as possible. I believe that this imbues them with the most character. I use hammers, anvils and fire. I use my eyes, my ears and my sense of touch. I use power tools for cutting, grinding and drilling but these tools are all hand-guided. Unless otherwise noted, I hand-hammer the cups into all my cymbals – hundreds of individual hammer blows. No other manufacturer does this on the majority of the cymbals they produce. This allows me to tailor the shape and size of every cup. I have built or customised many of my tools. I built my own cymbal lathe and also a number of custom ovens and furnaces for precision tempering of metals. All Matt Nolan Custom instruments are made one-at-a-time by me. All my instruments are signed and dated.
Do you undertake bespoke work / commissions?
Yes. A large part of my work is done in this way. Use the contact button on the left to get in touch about the possibility of me making an instrument to your specification.
What is the custom order process?
For a custom order, or for line-item orders where the instrument is not in stock, there is a waiting list. It is typically around 3 to 8 weeks. I require a minimum 50% up-front deposit to confirm an order and for you to join the waiting list. The balance plus any shipping cost is payable once the instrument is ready.
Where can I get "off-the-shelf" Matt Nolan Custom instruments?
I do have some lines that I make repeatedly, as well as the one-offs and custom works. These can be purchased right here on this web site under the relevent categories or from third party retailers – see the "Dealers" section. Another option is to visit a show or exhibition where I am displaying and selling my work – see the "Calendar" section – or make an appointment to come and visit my shop in Bath, England, U.K.