(One) More Cowbell!

I just picked up this beauty of a cowbell made by the ubiquitous cymbal company Zildjian. A "Zil Bel"! A beauty of a bell with a very pretty chrome finish, an unique shape and a truly wonderful sound. More of a clear bell sound with a slight ring to it as opposed to the clonk clonk kind of sound from your typical bongo bell, or flatter sound from the usual Afro Cuban type cha-cha or mambo bells.
 As you can see, the metal of this bell is a little thinner and has a flared shape for a more open mouth. I think this is what gives it the clear bell sound it has.

I bought this lovely little bell from the excellent local drum shop Sam Adatto's. Sam's shop is a true treasure, while Sam focuses primarily on trap sets, you just never know what he has in there, so I try and stop by regularly. He was selling this sweet bell for just $29.95, turns out Zil-Bels go for $150 on auction and vintage drum sites! So thanks for the deal Sam!

I'm using this bell on my pedal set up, and it really sounds good with the beater I have on there. Pedal and conga work is pretty challenging to say the least. So far on the right foot I have son clave with various tumbaos, all 4 downbeat and just beats 1 and 3 with tumbaos and some limited fills and improvising and montunos. For the left foot I am developing beats 2 and 4 as suggested by a friend; the jazz high hat ride.
There is no better practice for really ingraining the clave into your playing and making it a part of you. I say that like I'm an expert, but really I have a long way to go. Eventually I'll be incorporating this method into my rumba practice as well. I find that third hit of the clave and getting the right swing on the 2 side to be very challenging with the pedal set up. Though Pedrito Martinez seems to have no problem with it.

He makes it look so easy doesn't he? Truly an incredible musician.

What's that you say? More cowbell? Well here you go...


  1. Hey!!! Amazing Bell... What do you think about gon Bop's bells??? Un Saludo desde Cali/Colombia!!! Best wishes from Cali/Colombia!!! (sorry, my english sucks.. jeje)

    1. Hi Sammy,
      Gon Bops bells are good. JCR bells are my favorite. The big red bell is a Gon Bops. The black one is LP, and the two with the bronze stickers are JCR bells.