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What Should I Know Before I Buy Cymbals?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2014
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Drummers should know that different cymbals produce different tones, different materials are used in the construction of cymbals, there are different types, and that size matters when they buy cymbals. It is important for a drummer to think about the specific situation he or she will be using the instrument in when looking for a cymbal. For example, larger and thicker cymbals are better at projecting sound, which is important for musicians playing with a loud band. It is also important for drummers to know which type of cymbal they are looking for when they buy cymbals.

The most common types of cymbals are ride cymbals, crash cymbals, and hi-hats. Hi-hats are pairs of cymbals facing in opposite directions which can be banged together using a foot pedal. Crash cymbals produce a loud “crash” sound which is very noticeable but dissipates quickly. Ride cymbals are commonly used because they produce an extended shimmering sound. Different drummers use different cymbals for different purposes, so the specific type required is important for drummers trying to buy cymbals.

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The metals used to make cymbals should be understood before a drummer tries to buy cymbals. Brass cymbals, which are made from a mixture of copper and zinc, are inexpensive but have a dull tone and limited tonal range. Sheet metal cymbals are made from 92 percent copper and 8 percent tin, and are generally a mid-level choice. These provide a better tonal range than brass and are neither the cheapest nor the most expensive cymbals available. Cast cymbals are made from 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin, providing a superior tonal range and overall sound, but do so for a higher price.

It is important to understand that the size and thickness of the cymbal affects the sound it produces. Larger cymbals provide more volume and resonate for longer than smaller ones. Drummers should understand that thickness is also an issue before trying to buy cymbals. Thicker cymbals require more effort to produce a full sound, but project sound better than smaller ones. Rock players will often prefer a larger, thicker cymbal.

The final thing drummers should know before trying to buy cymbals is that each cymbal is slightly different in terms of tone. The construction of the instrument, including the height of the bump in the center of it, can affect the tones it produces. Playing each cymbal quietly and loudly before purchasing is an important process for choosing a cymbal. Drummers should think about the sound they want and how each cymbal’s sound compares. For example, Jazz players often want a darker tone while rock players want a brighter tone.

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