This is the most important consideration. Even if you do not know much
about cymbals, trust your ears and feelings. You can easily decide what
music you like. So you have the natural ability to appreciate sound.
You can easily develop your appreciation of cymbal sound by listening
to as many different types of cymbals from as many manufacturers as
you possibly can. You should also try to experiment as much as you can
to see what musical results can be achieved from different cymbal types.
Beyond that, there are several common sense factors you should keep
Type of Music
There are countless styles of music. When we researched this we found
over 600 documented genres just in western style music. It would be
impossible to attempt to attribute certain cymbals to certain styles.
Essentially, however, all music can be categorized rather broadly by
thinking about its general volume level, its complexity in rhythm and
harmonics resulting from instrumentation and musical phrasing, and the
nature and strength of the frequencies involved resulting from the choice
of acoustic and electric instruments.
Size of Ensemble, Group or Band
There are two main considerations with respect to this category, volume
and complexity. Obviously, more instruments playing together will tend
to produce more volume (see volume further down). In a smaller grouping,
each instrument and therefore also the cymbals are more prominent. So
you should choose the cymbals with emphasis on the merit of their color
and feeling. In larger groupings, the music is more complex, so you
should consider the ability of the cymbals to project and have presence
within the music. Amplification has the same effect as a larger grouping.
Your Existing Cymbals
New cymbals have to blend and harmonize with the cymbals you already own.
Whenever possible you should play a cymbal you consider for purchase
along with one or two of your main cymbals, like your main ride and
Your Drum Sticks
The size of cymbals you play should match the size of your drumsticks.
Smaller, thinner cymbals and large heavy sticks do not go together,
as premature breakage might result. Smaller, thinner drumsticks will
not have enough mass to achieve the full sound potential in larger heavier
cymbals. In any way, the appropriate stroke on the cymbal is crucial.
Your Drum Sizes
Drums and cymbals should generally match in size relationship so that
they blend together musically. Larger drums usually require larger cymbals.
Performance & Rehearsal Environment
This factor has to do with the size of the space you usually play in,
which could range from a small practice room, to a small club, to a
large hall, and even to outdoors playing. The smaller and more confined
the space is, the smaller and quieter your cymbals should be. That way
your cymbal sound will not overpower the music. The larger and more
open the space is, the larger and more powerful your cymbals should
be so that you can produce the desired sound without undue effort and
avoid overplaying cymbals.
Because of the sensitivity of recording equipment, studio environments
generally require harmonic sounding cymbals with no disturbing frequencies
and sound flaws.
Overall Volume & Cymbal Size
This point cannot be stressed enough. You have to consider the general
volume level when selecting cymbals. Many cymbals sound wonderful by
themselves, but they must also sound great within the music. Smaller,
thinner will not distinguish themselves in higher volume situations
and their characteristic beauty can get lost. This will cause the drummer
to overplay and eventually destroy a perfectly durable cymbal.
Variety & Consistency
You should consider selecting a variety of sound colors and sizes so you
can maximize the range of colors and dynamics in your cymbal set. At
the same time you should make sure that your basic cymbals (ride, crash,
hi-hat) correspond to each other in size and make sense together musically.
The visual appearance of our cymbals is a byproduct of the cymbal crafting
methods required to achieve a certain sound. We do not design primarily
cymbals for looks. But form follows function and it seems that good
sound tends to produce good looks. It is tempting to go for a certain
look of your drum set and usually that works out well anyway. But we
would like to stress that sound and function are more important than
anything else. Surely, if you look good, you fell good and that makes
you sound good.
There is a fairly common notion among drummers and percussionists that
one should stay within a certain series to achieve a harmonic set sound.
For our cymbals, this is not necessary. We design our cymbals so that
they are harmonic within themselves, within their series, and within
all of our cymbals. Feel free to mix and match from our entire program.
We offer a two-year warranty against defects in material or workmanship.
Through the decades of making cymbals, we have found that the vast majority
of cases involving our cymbals in a warranty claim are not related to
defects or workmanship problems. In most cases the cymbals were either
selected improperly (see Overall Volume & Cymbal Size) or not treated
correctly. We test durability during research and development and only
release cymbal types that will last in the intended environment and
usage. If you follow the advice given above and in the Care and Usage
section, you will enjoy our cymbals for a very long time.
Obviously cymbals are expensive instruments. If budget is an issue, you
might want to consider our lesser-priced ranges, even if you are a working
player. You might be surprised by the quality of sound and function
you will find. Also, purchasing lower cost cymbals may allow you to
acquire more models overall, and thereby to achieve greater variety
within your set. Avoid buying smaller cymbals than you really need for
cost reasons. Avoid buying a cymbal that just bears an attractive price
tag. It might be not worth it, especially talking about privat source
|General Testing Advice
For accuracy and consistency in the selection process, be sure that the
stick you test cymbals with is the model you normally play with, as
cymbals can sound very different with different sticks.
Play cymbals at various dynamic levels, to test their ability to produce
a variety of sounds. Be sure to test them at your normal volume range.
If you normally play loud, be sure to test them at that level to verify
that they will perform as desired to avoid later overplaying.
Play the cymbal on all surface areas and on the edge using a variety of
techniques (crash across the edge, with the shank across the surface,
with the tip on several positions of the surface, with the stick side
on the bell). Also consider playing the cymbals with a mallet. This will
help you judge the sound potential of the cymbal you are testing.
Play the cymbal with the tip of the stick in the same position around
the cymbal. It should produce consistent sound or the cymbal is not even,
and will tend to produce disharmonic sound. -> Image attached – Testing1.
Take the cymbals off the display and play them in a drum set. Cymbals
sound completely different and generally better at the drum set than on
Have someone else play the cymbals for you while you walk away a distance.
It is important that you enjoy the sound close up, but often you are playing
for an audience and the cymbals should sound good to them, too.
Listen and test for sound flaws. These include conflicting harmonics,
high pitched ringing, odd frequencies, and dead spots in the surface.
Feel the cymbal in your hands, it will reveal its physicality.
Play various ride figures with varying tempo and dynamics. Be sure that
the balance between wash and stick sound is to your liking.
Check the ride sound produced at various surface points. Make sure you
like the sound in as large an area as possible so that you can use the
resulting variety later on.
Check the bell sound for its character with the side of the stick because
that’s how you mostly play it.
See if you can also crash the ride cymbal. This may not be important,
but if you can do it and like it, it might be useful later on.
Crash the cymbal across the edge and the surface at varying dynamics.
Be sure you get the variety you're looking for.
Listen for the responsiveness and the decay. Make sure the cymbal speaks
fast enough for your liking and that its fade has the length you are looking
See if you can also lightly ride the crash cymbal. This may be useful
at some point and increase the sound variety of your set.
Be sure to test Hi-Hats on a properly functioning hi-hat stand.
Include the various playing techniques in a hi-hat in your testing (chick
sound, tight closed playing, slightly open playing, loose open playing,
open closed figure playing). Make sure you like all the resulting sounds.
-> Image attached – Testing2/3.
Be sure to play and listen to the individual top and bottom cymbals and
how they blend together.
Consider putting together your own hi-hat creation with tops and bottoms
from different standard pairings. This is not usually necessary but could
help you achieve the sound you are looking for.
Crash the splash cymbal across the edge and also try the choke effect
by muting the cymbal quickly with your free hand.
If you will play a china or swish upside down, be sure to test it that
way. Also try crashing and riding the china or swish to see which of those
functions it performs well.
For exotic and percussion cymbals be sure to try sticks and mallets. Experiment
with different techniques and see what sounds these cymbals produce at
various striking points.