Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Today we are going to teach you how to buy drum cymbals. There are many categories, brands and models that can be considered, so it is important to know exactly what you want when you decide to make your purchase. It doesn't matter if you already play drums or if you are just starting to study this instrument: having quality cymbals is fundamental! And even more so, they need to fit in with your style as a musician. We have prepared a complete guide to answer all your questions on the subject!




First things first

  • You can divide drum cymbals in many different ways: Size, material and category are the most important.
  • The cymbals you look for if you are just studying or starting to play are not the same as if you are already in a band or have mastered the instrument.
  • Choose quality drum cymbals. Otherwise, you may have a big headache for having paid a lot of money for something that doesn't last long and harms your career as a musician.

The best drum cymbals: Our Picks

There are many quality drum cymbals available on the market. Some are sold in single form, others in large kits. With our experience, we have selected models that will help you produce a great sound.

Buying guide

Are you an experienced drummer or just a beginner? One way or the other, we've selected some of the most common questions asked by people looking for cymbals. In the following lines, you'll find complete answers! Stay with us and learn what it takes to know which cymbals are ideal for you!

Imagem mostra um homem tocando bateria.

Knowing your style helps you a lot to choose the ideal drum cymbals. (Source: skeeze/ Pixabay.com)

What are the advantages of having good drum cymbals?

Drum cymbals require a high investment. Even the simplest models are expensive. Therefore, you surely want them to last a long time. And when quality is lacking, that's not the case: cracks and crazing are common and get in the way of your sound. Another issue to be taken into account is that the better the cymbal, the better the sound produced. Respected brands even have "special recipes" that they put in the composition of their instruments, thus giving them a unique timbre. With generic or bad models, none of this happens. Having good drum cymbals, therefore, helps you spend less money and produce a more pleasant sound. This can even be important for your career: When you perform, you want your performance to leave a good impression on people, don't you? If you are determined to buy drum cymbals, there is no doubt that you should opt for quality models. This is a clear case of the old saying "you get what you pay for". See the table below for the advantages and disadvantages of having good drum cymbals:

Advantages
  • They are more resistant and do not suffer from cracks and crazing
  • They produce better and more pleasant sound
  • They make you a better musician
Disadvantages
  • Very high price

What are the categories of drum cymbals?

When choosing your drum cymbals, many things should be taken into consideration. Your style is one of them. There are several categories of drum cymbals and you should choose a kit that is able to produce a pleasant sound for your genre of music and your style as a drummer. When assembling your instrument, it is necessary that it is ideal for what you have to offer as a musician. The main categories of cymbals and their types are as follows:

  • Driving set: This includes the hi-hat and ride cymbals. They are the ones that give rhythm to the music. You will spend most of the time playing on them, since as the name says, they are used for driving.
  • Attack set: In many musical genres, there is an explosion moment. For when the drummer stops just giving rhythm to the music and needs to accentuate measures, there are attack cymbals. They must be played with more force and aggressiveness. Examples are the crash type.
  • Effect set: These are the less used cymbals, and the ones which give a unique style to the drummer. They have very different tones and stand out during the music. This category includes splash, china and bell.

By knowing exactly what each of the cymbals does, you can more carefully choose what your ideal kit looks like!

Did you know that hi-hat cymbals are named after a high hat? And that before them, there were low-hats? The low-hat cymbals were played with a pedal, next to the bass drum. In 1926, however, a new design made it possible for them to be elevated, together with the other cymbals. In the 70?s, the hard rock drummers started to use them bigger and higher, reaching the current hi-hat.

What are the materials of cymbals?

We've talked about the types of cymbals, but the materials are also very important. They influence the sound produced and need to be analysed carefully. Predominantly, there are two types of material for drum cymbals: bronze and brass. But there is a huge difference in quality. The latter should only be used by beginners and people who don't intend to perform in public. They crack very easily and do not produce a beautiful sound. For brass cymbals, there are many subdivisions according to the metal alloys used. The three most popular are B8, B10 and B20. Below, we present to you a table that compares the three types:

Plate B8 Plate B10 Plate B20
Composition 8% pewter, 92% bronze 10% pewter, 90% bronze 20% pewter, 80% bronze
Sound produced Sharper and more harmonic sound Sound full of nuances, gives greater control to the drummer Able to reach more extreme tones
Suitable for Jazz, pop, quite technical musicians Very technical musicians who need to explore different sounds Heavy metal, musicians who have a stronger footprint
Price Lower, Intermediate Higher

How do cymbals influence your style?

Knowing the function of each of the main drum cymbals, you can think about what your style is and build your instrument accordingly. More technical drummers prefer cymbals which produce more harmonic sounds. In this case, it is important to choose high-quality models made of durable materials and capable of producing unique sounds. This will allow you to explore them to the maximum.

Drummers with a harder edge need very resistant cymbals

On the other hand, there are those who play with more explosion and have a heavier footprint. In this case, crash cymbals will be preferred. And of course, they need to be very resistant, since harder hits are more likely to cause cracks and crazing. Another important question is what style of music you play. For example: Jazz asks for flexible cymbals, which generate greater harmony. Heavy metal asks for resistance and higher timbre. Pop can be played with a very simple configuration. If you are just starting to play drums, you can buy a ready-made kit and start shaping your style. But if you are already experienced as a drummer, you need to make the right choices for the sound you like to produce!

Buying criteria: Important factors when choosing drum cymbals

We've already given you a good overview of how to choose drum cymbals. However, there are still some technical criteria that need to be looked at. We have selected four of them:

Below, we go into more detail about each one:

Durability

If you are just a student or play drums on an occasional basis, it is not so important to choose the most durable cymbals on the market. However, if you are in a band or intend to take the activity more seriously, you need to opt for models that will withstand years of use. If durability is an important factor, it is mandatory to choose bronze alloy models from respected and well-known manufacturers. Stay away from brass models and check the brand's reputation!

magem mostra um prato de bateria em destaque.

Durable plates do not suffer from cracking even after years of use. (Source: Foto-Rabe/ Pixabay.com)

Dish sizes

There is considerable variation in the most commonly used sizes of drum cymbals. Those in attack sets are usually between 14 and 21 inches, driving ones between 18 and 22, and effect ones between 8 and 26.

Each region of a cymbal produces a different type of sound

You need to keep in mind that each region of the cymbal can produce a different type of sound. Therefore, larger models offer more options for playing and musical variations. If you already have a defined style and know what you're playing, you may have an idea of exactly what size cymbal you need. But if you are just starting out or trying to understand what your preferred sound is, you can do several tests before finalising a purchase.

Kit composition

Assuming you've decided to buy a kit, rather than a single model, you'll need to understand which composition of cymbals best suits what you're looking for. Driving and attack cymbals are necessary, but in what proportion? Is it also necessary to have one or more effect cymbals? What are the sizes and compositions of each? All of this, again, will depend on how well you understand your style and the sound you want to produce!

Cost-benefit

When choosing your kit, divide the total amount by the amount of cymbals to find out the unit price. This way, you can compare several sets and find out if you are getting good value for money or not. When we buy something of high value like drum cymbals, it is always important to be able to pay little. The savings in our pocket can be significant and allow for other important purchases. (Featured image source: StockSnap/ Pixabay.com)

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