No drum kit is complete without cymbals! But there are hundreds of different models so how do you know what to go for? What makes a good cymbal anyway? Hopefully this section will answer your questions! If you would like specific advice on buying entry level cymbals and cymbal sets please get in touch.
Q. Cymbals are just bits of metal you hit as hard as you can right?
No! Each cymbal is an instrument in it's own right, often made from high quality bronze that can be played dynamically. Different models of cymbals perform different musical tasks.
Q. So what are cymbals made of?
Primarily there are three types of cymbal, cast cymbals, sheet metal cymbals and brass cymbals:
- Cast Cymbals are typically made from B20 bell bronze (80% copper, 20% tin). B20 bronze is the best material for producing sophisticated, musically pleasing and fine sounding cymbals. Cymbals made in this fashion can also contain traces of silver.
Cast cymbals often begin as a 'nugget' of B20 bronze which is then heated, press rolled in a number of directions to make a blank then sized, lathed and hammered and finished to produce various cymbal models.
The resulting size, weight, lathing, hammering and finishing processes give each model their own specific tone and character. Manufacturing techniques vary between brands. Top end price range.
- Sheet Metal Cymbals usually are made from B8 bronze (92% copper, 8% tin) which is a cheaper material available in sheet form. B8 cymbals are cheaper to manufacture producing a less sophisticated musical instrument. B8 cymbals are primarily aimed at the mid-price range.
- Brass Cymbals (62% copper, 38% zinc) are the cheapest cymbals to manufacture and are very dull sounding with a dynamically poor range compared to B8 and B20 cymbals. Entry level drum kits often come with very basic brass cymbals. Low end price range.
Q. What types of cymbals are there?
Here is a list of the types of cymbal you would find around a drum kit:
- Hi Hat Cymbals consist of two cymbals, most commonly 14 inch, mounted one above the other (one inverted) and then operated by a foot pedal that brings the two cymbals together. Hi hats are used for playing grooves in a piece of music.
- Crash Cymbals are so called as when hit they make a CRASH! sound. These are used to accent fills or points of a piece of music.
- Ride Cymbals are larger in diameter and are used to 'ride' a groove or section of music in place of the hi hats for added effect or emphasis.
- Splash Cymbals. So called as they make a short and sharp splash sound. Used for accenting but when a crash sound is not required.
- China Cymbals. These are effects cymbals that are very loud and cutting. They are unique in that the outer section of the cymbal is inverted giving it a unique appearance resulting in the sound.
- Bell Cymbals are effects cymbals essentially similar the the bell section of a ride or crash. They do pretty much what it says on the tin by producing a bell like sound or chime when struck.
Q. Why are there so many different models of each type of cymbal available?
A. Cymbals are an extremely expressive part of a drum kit. With so many different styles of music there is a cymbal out there designed to meet with every musical style and performer. Some cymbals are designed to BE AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE! Whilst others are more subtle and less aggressive... Some cymbals will be designed to have greater sustain whilst some will open quickly with a fast decay.
Q. Where do I start looking when buying a cymbal?
A. First off, what type of cymbal are you looking for? (Hi hats, crash, ride etc...) Second, what sort of sound are you looking for? Last of all what is your budget? The budget you have will largely dictate whether you can afford to go for cast bronze (B20) cymbals or sheet bronze (B8) cymbals. As a rule of thumb you should always buy the best for what you can afford. Next look at what is available, check the set ups of your favourite drummers that play a similar style of music.
Visit sites of the well known brands to get a feel for what's out there. Where possible once you have all that sorted is to get yourself down to a drum store and try the things out! If you have existing cymbals, take them with you to find a cymbal that fits in with your current set up.
Q. Do cymbals come with their stands included?
A. With individual cymbal purchases no. Please bear in mind when budgeting for a new cymbal that you will require a cymbal stand (or hi hat stand for hi hats) to mount it on., unless of course you already have a spare stand available!
Q. I've heard that some cymbals crack, what's the deal with that?
A. It can happen... Since cymbals come under pretty heavy abuse from constant playing, a cymbal can sometimes develop a crack. This can occur from playing a cymbal incorrectly, setting a cymbal up incorrectly or playing a cymbal that is not suitable for your style of music.
It can also happen that a cymbal develops a crack through a manufacturing flaw. In that instance a cymbal will often be replaced under warranty provided the flaw occurs within the warranty period and has no signs of misuse.
Q. How can a cymbal be set up incorrectly?
A. There are two common instances where a cymbal can develop a fault through being set up incorrectly. First if the cymbal is set up too flat/horizontal and second when the wing nuts are far too tight. If the cymbal is set up to flat/horizontal this will lead to the cymbal being played incorrectly.
If the wing nuts are too tight the cymbal will not vibrate freely causing the cymbal to be choked which will not only make the cymbal sound terrible, but break the cymbal also. A cymbal should be set up with felts top and bottom and a plastic sleeve on the stand to prevent damage to the hole of the cymbal.
Q. How can you play a cymbal incorrectly?
A. If the cymbal is set up too flat (as can be fashionable) you would end up striking the cymbal square on with a drum stick. This can produce a small dent on the cymbals edge which can result in a crack. It will also send a direct shock through the cymbal which can lead to a crack also.
If cymbals are set up too flat you can guarantee that sticks will break more often too. A cymbal should be set up with a slight angle toward the player then struck with a glancing blow slightly off centre where the cymbal can vibrate freely. This will improve the resulting sound of the cymbal as well.
If in any doubt please feel free to contact us with any concerns or enquiries you may have. We are here to help!
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