In this section were going to break down and help with a little cymbal knowledge, selection ideas, what you should be looking for, what to avoid, how to spot cheap cymbals, and ways to improve your set-up.
Where would the modern drummer be without his cymbals? A lot quieter for one thing but not at all complete. Cymbals have been a staple of the drum set since drum sets were created. All kinds of shapes, sizes and sounds have dazzled the ears for generations.
Cymbals are made from four main alloys, all of them copper-based. These are: bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, and nickel silver.
All the name brands have them and most of them aren’t that bad. Count on them to not last very long with extensive playing or hard hitting but at some of their prices they’re almost “throw aways”. All of the name brands also have their better brands that use a much better quality metals but as far as long-lasting unfortunately a lot of thin ones just won’t make it no matter how much you pay for them, when your a hard hitter that is (like me).
You can usually spot the cheap ones pretty easily. They have a very distinguished marking along the middle section or the middle of the underneath.
These (even brand new) should save you a few bucks from the more expensive models out there.
As far as sound; there is HUGE difference in the way these cymbals project, sustain, reverberate, and all in all sound from the expensive guys. It’s like comparing a Ferrari to a Yugo (if anybody remembers those)- yea it’ll work but it’s not the same AT ALL. The bell brass cymbals are good for banging around in the garage but not for studio or stage.
Anybody ever heard of Zildjian cymbals? They’ve only been around since the resurrection literally!. Avedis Zildjian was the founder and the first alchemist in 1618 to actually create the alloys we use today and the name Avedis has been around since 1600 BC!! They have A LOT to offer in your cymbal selection. All the way from their most expensive K hand hammered line all the way down to their machine lathed bronze/brass and just about every sound and effect you can imagine.
Sabian cymbals were created from Armand’s (whom took over Zildjian in 1977) brother Robert Zildjian who’s creative differences didn’t sit well with the Zildjian label so he started his own cymbal plant in Canada and named it Sabian. Sabian like Zildjian has many different sounds and cymbals as well but the key difference has always been Sabian cymbals come standard with a brilliant shiny finish. Many Zildjian cymbals had to be special ordered with the finish. The brilliance seemed to do just what you’d think, make the sound more brilliant, and it does!
Another company that gains a lot of popularity is Paiste cymbals. Along with the 2 previous mentioned having varieties from expensive to cheap, I think that their claim to fame is there color cymbal line that are available in a wide variety of colors from black all the way thru the rainbow to white.
There are plenty of “other” cymbal makers out there trying to make their mark in the cymbal community but those three are pretty much the standard and staple set forth for every other company to follow.
The set up
The standard has ALWAYS been with any drum set: hi-hats, crash, ride.
Many drummer set-ups will consist of those three or variations of those three. Depending on your style of music and want you like to play your cymbal selection can vary drastically from one to another. If you play lightly (not necessarily jazz) you may prefer a thinner crash and ride. The thinner the crash the sharper the explosion of sound and quicker decay. The thinner the ride then the longer “wash sound” and not a lot of “ping” stick sound.
If you prefer to play harder then I would definitely suggest a thicker crash and thicker ride. A hard hitter and a thin crash do not make a long-lasting relationship. Hi-hats and kind of ear preferable. Some have a good “chick’ sound and some have a darker “chomp” give of sound. When testing out hi-hats you want to try all kinds of different positions, like tightly closed, little open, all the way open, and an open close pattern to see if they’ll be a good fit.
And in the end……
TRIAL, TRIAL, TRIAL!! You have to play them to be able to hear them. Just buying a cymbal online or listening to that little stupid snipit of sound some retailers try on their websites do not give the cymbal justice or you an edge to audibly choose what is right for you. Go to your local dealer and try out the cymbal, then come back here to find the best price on them!
Hope any of this info helps. If you think I’m missing something or just plain CRAZY, please comment below and let me know or shoot me an email.