It used to be that cymbal was a cymbal, but nowadays you can find a staggering variety of choicesothere’s bright and loud, mellow, crisp, warm, and cutting. And that’s just the ride cymbals! They can range in price from about $50 all the way up to $500 or more. So, again, where you start in choosing your cymbals depends largely on how much you can spend and what your ultimate goals are in playing.
If you’re an absolute beginner and you’re not yet sure just how committed you are to drumming, you want to choose a beginner grade cymbal. The good news is that each of the major cymbal manufacturers makes a line of introductory cymbals that sounds good and costs relatively little.
For the basic drumset you need a set of hi-hats, a ride cymbal, and a crash cymbal. If you’re really short on cash, you can get away with a crash/ride (a cymbal that functions both as a crash and a ride cymbal) instead of both a crash and a ride. When buying cymbals, I recommend staying with one of the major cymbal makers. You may pay a little more for them (although not much more in most cases), but they sound better and last longer.
Your best bet in starter cymbals is to buy a cymbal set. These are pre-packaged sets of basic cymbals that the manufacturer chooses and matches. They usually contain a set of 13- or 14-inch hi-hats, a 16-inch crash, and a 20-inch ride or a set of hi-hats with an 18-inch crash/ride (some even come with a cymbal bag!). These sets start at about $250 retail, but expect to pay 20 to 40 percent less through most dealers.