cymbals for the drum set

Cymbals are used throughout music today, from marching bands, orchestra pits, to even your neighbor's loud punk revival garage band. If you've listened to music at all, you've heard them. Musical historians indicate that the cymbal existed as far back as the 7th century BC. They gained popularity in Turkey around the 14th century and a early as the 17th century They were used in European music. 

As the trap set developed, percussionists started to incorporate cymbals into what would become the modern drum set. Because they found their way into so many different types of music, there are a great many types available today. So many that it may be hard to figure out which ones you may need for your drum set. They can differ by type of alloy, manufacturing technique, finish, size, thickness, shape, and so on.

If your focus is on the drum set, there are different types of cymbals you'll use predominantly;

  • High hats- These come in a matches pair with a top and bottom cymbal. These will usually mount on a foot operated high hat stand, to open or close them. They are usually played with the hands as well, mostly during a beat or groove.
  • Ride cymbals- These tend to be the bigger cymbal in your set and are mostly used during a beat or groove, when the high hats are not in use.
  • Crash cymbals- The mid sized crash, as its name implies, is mostly used to punctuate musical moments in a song that require emphasis.
  • Splash cymbals- The smaller cymbals in your arsenal are used much like the crash, but provide some variety to your moments of emphasis.
  • China cymbals- These are generally large and have a distinctive shape where the "cone" of the cymbal changes directions near the outer edge. These have a very distinctive sound and add flavor and ambience to your playing when used correctly.
  • Effects cymbals- These cymbals come in a wide variety and produce much more unusual sound for unique musical moments in a song.
  • Sizzle cymbal- These are used primarily in jazz and the 'sizzle' is created by drilling holes in the cymbal and adding loose rivets that vibrate when the cymbal is struck. They are nice for adding texture and color to your playing.
  • Bell cymbals- Most every cymbal has a 'bell' part, just around the hole in the center. Bell cymbals are almost all bell and, as you might imagine, produce a very bell like sound. They come in different sizes and can be used for melodic playing or as an effects cymbal.

Drum set cymbals can be purchased in cymbal packs, where the manufacture puts together a similar set of cymbals that will sound good together. It is possible to have two different cymbals that have a 'dissonance'. That is, when they are played at the same time, their combined sound is dissonant, or unpleasant on the ears. Because of this cymbal packs are a popular choice.

If you're unsure what you're looking for in choosing the right cymbals for you, check out this Cymbal Buying guide

There are even low volume cymbals or cymbal mutes for quiet practice, which makes for happy neighbors.

Major manufacturers of cymbals

While not a complete list, these are the more well known makers of cymbals;

While not as large as the above companies the following are growing in popularity;

  • Soultone
  • Wuhan
  • Bosphorous
  • UFIP
  • Stagg

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