The Paiste History

The Paiste Story starts at the beginning of the 20th century, and so far spans 120 years and four generations.


Michail Toomas Paiste, a composer and musician, whose father had come from Estonia to serve in the Tsarist Guard, founds a publishing business and music store in St. Petersburg. The operation also includes modest instrument manufacturing and repair facilities, where the first cymbals and gongs are made based on customer requests. It flourishes until the upheavals of the Russian Revolution force its closing.


Michail Toomas returns to his native country, and re-opens his store in the city of Tallinn. His son, Michail M. Paiste, becomes the driving force  behind the manufacture of cymbals and gongs and eventually makes it his main focus. Seeking to meet the rapidly evolving demands of “modern music” and the emerging drum set, Michail M. develops his own special concepts for cymbals based on the Turkish shape, which he prefers over the Chinese shape as a starting point. He also begins to develop his own gong designs, laying the foundation for the tradition of Western Style Gongs. The resulting instruments receive awards and international recognition as they begin to be exported thoughout Europe, the USA and overseas.


The events of World War II force Michail M. to leave Estonia for Poland, where he re-establishes the family business. The company struggles with wartime shortages of raw materials and difficulties in maintaining international relations, but manages to survive.


Towards the end of the war, the family leaves Poland and arrives in Northern Germany as refugees. There Michael M. seeks to restart the manufacture of cymbals and gongs anew, at first in a difficult postwar environment. The instruments’ superior reputation and the eventual economic recovery known as "Wirtschaftswunder" help revive business relationships and ensure development of a robust export business throughout the Fifties. 


Seeking to establish a permanent new home for the family, Michael M. envisions a future in Switzerland, and sends his sons Robert and Toomas Paiste there to establish the company's future base. A new era begins as Robert and Toomas make Paiste Switzerland the hub for Paiste's activities. Here, Robert develops the Formula 602 in the late 1950s and the 2002 in the late 1960s, the two series that gain the company international recognition as a leading cymbal maker.


The company gains a firm foothold in the world’s largest musical instrument market with the establishment of Paiste America in California. Toomas's son Erik Paiste is sent there in the late 1980s to look after Paiste's US operations. In 2003, Erik assumes overall responsibilty for the family business.

Michail T. Paiste
Michail M. Paiste
Robert Paiste
Toomas Paiste