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Selecting Cymbals 101
Posted On 11/30/2007 01:33:15 by KenSanders
Picking out cymbals is a very personal matter for most drummers. For those drummers that have been playing a starter cymbal set, and who are now ready to move up to some better quality cymbals; here are some ideas for you to consider before you make that trip to select and buy those new cymbals.


HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT KIND OF CYMBALS SOUNDS
YOU NEED FOR YOUR PLAYING SITUATIONS

I am not going to discuss any specific set-ups for certain musical styles.... "ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL" and we don't want to all have the same cymbals anyway!

The various cymbal makers have impressive websites with lots of information about their products, including sound samples. This may help you make a short list of some of the models that you want to test out.

QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU GO TO THE SHOP
Are you going to be needing a general purpose set of cymbals? Or a set intended for a more specific musical style?

What volume will you be playing? Low to medium volume? Medium to loud? Loud to extremely loud?
Extremely loud to "my ears just exploded and my eyes are leaking blood"?

Cymbals tone decisions might include matters such as: How much stick definition do I want from the Hi Hats? How crisp or washy? How much darkness or brightness from the crashes? How much sustain time? “Do I want a dry ride sound, or an evenly balanced sound, or a crash/ride type sound? Do I like the bell sound? Splashes? Chinas? Sizzles? Stacks? Left-side Ride?

AT THE SHOP LISTEN WITH YOUR EARS AND YOUR MIND
Take your OWN drumsticks to the drum shop, so the cymbals you try out will produce the sounds both your strokes and your kind of sticks make.

As you test-play cymbals you can likely eliminate many “candidates” and narrow your possibilities down. Set aside the ones you like for further testing. Then, go through the “I KINDA LIKE THESE” stack again and try to narrow down even more..... to the ones that REALLY have the sound you want.

If your ears get fatigued (and they very likely could) then take a break. For example, just go outside (where you'll hear other non-cymbal frequency sounds) a few minutes and enjoy some refreshment.

I suggest that you pick out the Hi Hat cymbals first, then the Ride, then the Crashes. This way you select the hardest sound compatibilities first and then you can find crashes that really compliment them.

Finally, you can put various cymbals together and play them as a complete set to hear how they work in combination. Pull out the ones that just don't work.

You may also want to have a friend or a sales assistant play the cymbals, while you listen from a distance. If they play a pattern, have them repeat that same pattern for each "test" listen. The cymbals may sound a bit different from a distance. For example, they might be less powerful, or brighter, or somehow JUST NOT what you heard when you were playing them up close.


Don’t be afraid to mix combinations of cymbal series and/or alternate sizes to come up with set that SOUNDS the way YOU need for your musical requirements. For example, if the 19” XYZ cymbal is actually the one that just sounds amazing, even though you originally THOUGHT you wanted an 18” ABC cymbal, then "GREAT"..... the test-ride is working well.

The set that “WINS” may not be at all what you initially imagined but it will SOUND the way you want it to.

And afterall, this whole process is to make sure you buy the cymbals with the sounds you need for your very own unique musical requirements.


Ken Sanders
IBJAMN in Nashville, TN

Tags: Cymbals



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