How Do I Choose the Best Jazz Cymbals?

Andrew Kirmayer

Jazz cymbals for drum sets typically consist of various types that can be chosen depending on musical style. They generally include crash, ride, and hi-hat cymbals. Whether the intended musical sound is light jazz or big band can guide your decision in the size and weight of the cymbals, as the percussion instrument should blend in with the music. Cymbals typically add accents to the sound a percussionist makes with a drum set.

Drum cymbals should be chosen based on how they fit in with the rest of the kit.
Drum cymbals should be chosen based on how they fit in with the rest of the kit.

Finding the best jazz cymbals often depends on the company you purchase them from. A quality product is usually guaranteed if you buy it from a dealer that is well known. If you settle for something because it is inexpensive, then the cymbals may not sound right and this can be evident in whatever music you play. Also, one should look for cymbals that are built specifically for jazz; those more suited for rock or marching band music may be too loud or otherwise not blend in properly.

A product that is lighter in weight is generally more suited for jazz music. Light jazz cymbals typically make a sound in harmony with the rest of the percussion, and will usually not have a harsh sound. The choices typically include ride cymbals, which typically make a shimmering sound suitable for softer parts of songs. Used to accent certain elements of a song, crash cymbals are also used in jazz music, while hi-hats are typically played to produce a short sound with a steady beat.

The best jazz cymbals can also depend on the size of your drum set. Cymbals used for jazz are often relatively large; the appropriate ride types are usually 20 to 22 inches (about 51 to 56 centimeters) in diameter, while crash cymbals about 17 inches (about 43 centimeters) in diameter can be used for playing jazz. Hi-hats are usually about 14 inches (about 36 centimeters) in diameter. Size can also determine the kinds of hardware you’ll need to support the cymbals, such as legs and stands.

There are typically two hi-hats, one ride, at least one tom, and one or two crash cymbals in a drum set used for jazz music. Depending on the texture of the music you want, ride cymbals for jazz can have drilled-in rivets that change the sound. Also be sure to inquire specifically about jazz cymbals when shopping, because a rock kit, for example, generally has a brighter sound that may not fit in as well with this type of music.

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Discussion Comments


This guy doesn't understand jazz drumming.

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