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Drum Forums => Drum Forum - Cymbal Talk - Drum Cymbals => Topic started by: KenSanders on December 13, 2010, 01:31:42 AM

Title: How do I pick out the "right" cymbals for the gig?
Post by: KenSanders on December 13, 2010, 01:31:42 AM
Okay, got some private email regarding making my cymbal choices for the various styles of music I get called to perform.  I’ll share what I sent back with any of you who might find it interesting.  And before Tomm or someone else says it…..yes I am a self-confessed cymbal freak.  ;D
However, I do use the all ones I have kept around for my work, and have sold those “experiments” that didn’t cut it.  ::)
Cymbals are what they are and I think it is important for your cymbals to support the kind of music you perform.  I perform several styles, so I comment on the qualities I look for for the various genres.

What I do is determine if the performance is going to be a jazz gig where I need the cymbals can respond and sound great at a low volume.  Or a performance where the cymbals need sound off with distinction and yet blend with the music.  Or a large venue gig where power and cut are essential.  For me, 99.9% of the time one of those situations fits the situation I will perform in.

Cymbal characteristics such a touch (feel), response time, pitch, amount of sustain, and the ability to either blend or cut are the factors I most often weigh against the performance rerquirements.  So, here are my typical starting set-ups and the sonic qualities I want for three very different performance situations.

Acoustic Jazz or other very light volume playing. I want cymbals that respond quicly at even a light touch and have a nice shimmer. I think these as the soft and gentle sounds that blend and enhance the mood even if it is understated.
13” Paiste Traditionals Hi hats
17” Paiste Traditionals Thin Crash
18” Paiste Traditionals Extra Thin Crash
20” Paiste Traditionals Medium Ride
20” Paiste Traditionals Medium Light Swish

Big Band, Fusion, Blues, Classic R & B in medium sized venues.  I need  more volume, but still I want subtle tone differences and quick response. These are my choices for those medium to medium loud situations, where finesse and nuisances are still valued. These are not particulary edgy cymbals but they have a wide dynamic range with lots of tone.
13” Signature Dark Energy Hi Hats 
15" Signature Dark Energy Crash
17” Signature Dark Energy Crash
19” Signature Dark Energy Crash
22” Signature Dark Energy Mark I Ride
22” Signature Thin China

Large Venue Shows.  I need the abilty for the cymbal patterns to cut and power for the crashes.  I use  2002’s for this and they sound great in large performance venues.  The Giant Beat Crash/Ride with rivets provides a powerful “blend” option and huge wash for certain passages.  Medium loud is about as soft as the dynamics get and although these aren't suited from extremely loud Metal Music volume levels, they do hold their own with the other instruments on stage.
14” 2002 Sound Edge Hi Hats
18” 2002 Thin Crash (fairly quick decay)
20” 2002 Crashes for for sustain (one both left and right)
22” 2002 Ride (a good combination of definition with some wash)
24” Giant Beat Crash/Ride with 8 rivets (a monster)

I’m sharing the specifics of the various set-up sound characteristics that work for me, in the referenced genres.  I think you can get the idea of how the performance affects cymbal choices and apply that kind of logic to your own cymbal needs.  So remember....volume levels, how much cut of blend, and of course....tone and feel.  Plus, they have to fit YOUR playing style.
 :) ;) :D

Title: Re: How do I pick out the "right" cymbals for the gig?
Post by: KenSanders on May 01, 2011, 09:30:54 PM
I should have mentioned that if you hear a major act perform and like particular cymbal sounds that you hear that you can go to the cymbal company's website and likely find exactly what the artist is currently using.  If they don't have the arist profile posted, you can email the company's artist representative and simply ask.