Buying Cymbals

Buying Cymbals for your BEGINNER DRUM SET.

Perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make when purchasing a starter drum set is buying cymbals.  There are many drum set cymbal brands out there that you can get your hands on but which are the best and what information do you need to be armed with to make the right choice for you?

So many Cymbals so many roles!

There are so many cymbals for drum sets out there of different shapes, sizes, materials some with holes some without some sound bright some sound dark … So what are the main types of cymbals and which should you choose first to go with your beginners drum set?

Here are the main types of cymbals to help you get an idea of whats out there for you.

HI-HAT – Hi-Hat cymbals are two cymbals mounted together on a stand that is attached to a foot pedal that can be depressed to bring the two hats together.  The hi-hats are usually the cymbals played the most with the drumsticks and help to keep a drum beat steady and in time.  Hi-hats usually range from 12inchs to 16 inches diameter.

RIDE –  Ride cymbals are typically the largest cymbal on your drum kit and are placed to the opposite side of the hi-hat.  Like the hi-hat the ride is played with a drum stick and is mostly used to hold down a rhythm and beat.  By striking the cymbal in different areas of the ride different sounds and effects can be created.  Ride cymbals typically range from 18in to 22in diameter.

CRASH –  MAKE SOME NOISE!!!! The crash cymbals is produces a loud cutting crash sound.  Mounted on a stand and often used with the shoulder of the stick to accent important points or changes in the music.  There are many crash cymbals to choose from and all have their own unique sound which is why many drummer ultimately add at least two cymbals to their drum set.  Crash cymbals mostly range from 16 to 20in but sizes do go below and above that as well.

CHINA –  The china is considered a special effect cymbal.  Its sound is sharp, cutting and ‘trashy’ which is great for those explosive moments of raw power.  China’s are either played repeatedly like the hi-hat or ride or as a one of accent like the crash and splash.  It has a versatile and unique sound.  Sizes range from 6″ to a whopping 27″!  Though china’s that are 6″ – 12″ are sometime referred to as ‘China Splash”.

This China is a special Slipknot edition by Paiste called Black Alpha

SPLASH – In the words of Manu Kache splash’s create ‘colors’.  The splash is a small cymbal that has a sharp attack and short delay and is used to accent the music/beat.  Because of the short splash sound created by the cymbal it can be used in an unobtrusive way and will not smoother the beat like a crash could.  Splash cymbals are anywhere from 6 to 12 inches.

Buying Tips

My advice when adding cymbals to a start drum set is to go for a pair of hi-hats a ride and one crash.  This will give you everything you need to create the various cymbal effects used when drumming.  As you become more experienced and decide drumming is for you you can add more cymbals.  The great thing about cymbals is you can add and subtract as and when you need.

For the starter drum set it is probably wise to go for a package set which includes hat, ride and crash.  For example the Zildjian ZXT is a good starter pack which includes 14″ Solid Hi-Hats, 16″ Medium Thin Crash, 20″ Medium Ride and a free cymbal bag all for around $300-$350 which isn’t bad since your paying for the name and a nuber of fairly decent cymbals.  Check ebay for even bigger savings.
Here are a few quick tips:

Hi Hats will be your hardest buy.  Again this comes down to your taste and your needs but..

For bright sounding hats go for thin cymbals.
For that big trashy sound try out a thicker pair of hats.  Also for that trashy / heavy sound second hand can sometimes generate good results due to the hats being well used.

Like Hi-hats thickness is king when it comes to Ride Cymbals.

Very thick rides will produce great tones from the bell of the ride which is good for all styles of music.
Medium thin rides will give you the ability to double the cymbal as a crash sometimes refer to as crash ride cymbals and can be good for rock music.
If your a jazz man (or woman) then a thin ride might be you thing.  With long decays and bright overtones you’ll go a long way swinging to the beat.

Crash cymbals spoil you for choice but the main types of crash are dark, thin, medium and thick.

Dark – Less decay and produce lower tones and frequencies
Thin – Bright sound ideal for Jazz and cutting over the top of the music
Medium – Bright sound good also good for Jazz as well as rock.
Thick – LOUD!  Bright, rich and long sustain ideal for (smothering the guitars) rock, metal and all things noisy!!

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