How to make cymbals sound better

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Make your cymbals sound better, unique and different.

There are two issues drummers have a tendency to gather: snare drums and cymbals! The reason being as a result of they’re the simplest means so as to add selection to your drum sound. Within the many a long time I’ve performed drums, I’ve collected and modified all kinds of cymbals and so I believed I might share my experiences with you.

So, how do you make your cymbals sound higher, distinctive and totally different? Correct enjoying method is often one of the simplest ways to enhance the sound of your cymbals. Different elements additionally have an effect on the sound of your cymbals together with cymbal situation, {hardware} upkeep and modifications like numerous muffling strategies and excessive strategies like drilling holes and riveting.

Studying: Tips on how to make cymbals sound higher

My advice is at all times to begin with non-invasive modifications earlier than trying extra everlasting modifications. That mentioned, my purpose with this text is to offer you an entire rundown of all accessible choices as a way to get probably the most out of your cymbals.

Cheap, Poorly Made Cymbals Will By no means Sound Nice

Most starter units include cheap cymbals, that are sometimes fashioned from sheet metallic and are due to this fact not very sturdy, nor resonant.

Against this, most different cymbals (even people who do not value an arm and a leg) are comprised of forged metallic, which is then both hammered, lathed or a mixture of each. Not solely are these cymbals extra sturdy, however in addition they have rather more resonance and tonal qualities to them.

As such, your cheap ‘sheet cymbals’ are primarily throwaways and probably not price investing your time in making them sound higher. That mentioned, with a little bit creativity, you are able to do some fairly attention-grabbing particular results with a lot of these cymbals – however that is for an additional article.

Enjoying Approach is EVERYTHING!

Consider it or not, there are proper and unsuitable methods to play cymbals and doing it the fitting means is prone to have probably the most affect on the sound of your cymbals than anything you do. There merely is just not substitute for enjoying musically. However what does that precisely imply?

Effectively, first let’s discuss posture. It’s key to be relaxed, not simply when enjoying cymbals…however the drums usually. Being unfastened whereas specializing in correct, upright posture whereas seated behind a drum package will translate straight into the sound of your devices.

If you find yourself enjoying in a relaxed method, with out a number of stress in your arms and fingers, your cymbals will thanks with a wealthy, resonant response.

When hanging the cymbals themselves, you will usually wish to hit them at a roughly 45 diploma angle (ie not straight on or not straight down) with a “glancing blow” to the facet. Doing so will trigger probably the most resonance and response from the cymbal.

Enjoying a cymbal straight down won’t trigger as a lot vibration within the instrument, that means you will not get the total vary of sound from it. You may also play the bell of the cymbals, often with the shank of your stick, which gives you a really sharp assault and fewer maintain. That is often used when enjoying trip cymbals.

Cymbal Situation

Drummers do not simply clear their cymbals as a result of they need them to look phenomenal on stage (although that is a giant a part of it too). We clear cymbals as a result of by eradicating mud and different deposits like sweat off of them will assist to maintain them sounding vibrant.

Along with holding them clear, common inspection of a cymbal’s situation is beneficial as a result of early intervention can imply a protracted life or early loss of life of the instrument. Cracks usually seem in older devices and inspecting them can imply you intervene early earlier than they turn out to be main issues. If you’re getting odd rattles out of your cymbal, it is doubtless that the instrument already has a reasonably properly established crack in it, which will likely be tougher, if not inconceivable to repair.

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On the finish of the day, a cymbal is a hunk of comparatively skinny metallic which is being repeated (and typically forcefully) struck with laborious picket sticks. As this units a cymbal in to a frenzied state of vibration, that is primarily a recipe for cracks to look within the instrument.

Cymbals will sometimes crack in considered one of two methods: from the skin edge inward or in a round style across the circumference of the cymbal. The latter is particularly true in lathed cymbals, as this course of leaves grooves across the instrument the place the lathe has handed.

Intervention while you discover a crack is a bit difficult, as the one strategy to successfully cease a crack from growing additional is to drill holes into the cymbal on the very finish(s) of the crack. This may cease the crack from growing any additional. Not solely is drilling into your prized cymbals nerve wracking, it is also pretty delicate and takes a gentle hand.

First, you will need to discover the very finish of the crack, which is often not seen with out some type of magnification. After you have discovered it, mark the placement and drill a gap the place your mark is. I sometimes advocate utilizing a 1/4″ drill bit particularly designed for metallic, although chances are you’ll select a bigger or smaller measurement bit relying on the dimensions of the crack.

Cymbal Stand Setup, Care & Upkeep

For the reason that cymbals are mounted on stands, it can be crucial that they’re correctly maintained. That is nevertheless an usually ignored facet of the sound of a cymbal. Not solely are there a number of rattles and squeaks which could be launched into your enjoying, however the place of your cymbals can be important to keep up correct enjoying method.

Stand Setup: To make sure that your enjoying method is simple to attain, it would be best to guarantee that your cymbals are mounted properly inside attain and at a slight angle in direction of you. This ensures that you simply will not be stretching to succeed in the cymbal and are relaxed while you play it. The angle of the cymbal may even make sure that you are not enjoying it straight on or down…however at an angle.

Cymbal Stand Care & Upkeep:At first, no matter you do – please do not over tighten something in your stands. Usually clamping down the wing nuts and adjustment factors in your stands results in stripped screws/threads and worn out gaskets…and the final word loss of life of your {hardware}.

Equally vital points of stand upkeep are cymbal sleeves and felts. Sleeves are nylon or rubber tubes which slide over the posts which go into the outlet of the cymbal. These are vital as a result of they stop metal-to-metal contact between the cymbal and the stand, which could be fairly noisy.

Cymbal felts additional assist isolate the cymbal from the {hardware}, offering a delicate and isolation cushion on which the cymbal rests. Each sleeves and felts could be purchased cheaply (usually in a set like this one) and needs to be saved in your stick bag always.


Muffling is commonly reserved only for drums and is never related to cymbals. That mentioned, typically there are harsh overtones which could be toned down with using some sort of muffling.

Generally, a small piece of duct tape utilized to the underside of the cymbal will do the trick. An alternative choice could be inserting Moon Gel on high of the cymbal, the profit being that it’s simply moved round, permitting you to experiment with placement.


The atmosphere during which you play can have a huge impact on the sound of your cymbals (and drums) as properly. Giant rooms will are likely to amplify the brightness of your cymbals. The identical can be true for rooms which have a number of laborious, reflective surfaces on them.

Excessive Modifications – Holes, Rivets, Tambourine Jingles, Chains, Oh My

A phrase of warning: Lots of the next ideas require typically everlasting modifications to cymbals and will solely be tried if you’re completely certain you wish to alter your cymbals completely.

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That mentioned, the following pointers can be probably the most enjoyable and rewarding choices as you will usually uncover distinctive and totally different sounds which could make you and your sound stand out in a crowd. I at all times advocate doing a few of these issues with cymbals that are of respectable high quality (ie they will final a very long time), however that do not actually sound that nice. That means, if the outcomes are good – you will have a very cool instrument to play for a very long time.

Drilling and Rivets

This method of including rivets to a cymbal got here out of the jazz world, as it’s nonetheless to this present day fairly in style so as to add them to trip cymbals. This technique entails drilling small holes within the cymbal and inserting specialised cymbal rivets into them.

Fast Tip:

If in case you have a cracked cymbal in your arms that you’ll need to drill holes in anyway (to cease the crack), you may as properly experiment with rivets as you are drilling these holes. If you happen to do not prefer it, you possibly can at all times take away the rivets and return to the acquainted sound you are used to from the instrument.

The easiest way I can describe the ensuing sound is that it provides sizzle to the cymbal. If you happen to’ve simply added a number of, the cymbal’s main sonic traits will nonetheless be within the forefront, however you will hear what appears like an elevated maintain and delicate high-end sound.

If in contrast you’ve got added a number of rivets to the instrument, the sizzle will turn out to be a extra pronounced facet of enjoying the instrument, which is likely to be the way in which to go if you happen to didn’t benefit from the sound of the cymbal to start with!

There may be an attention-grabbing, non-destructive different to including rivets to your cymbal. A number of corporations make cymbal chains, that are a substitute to the cymbal stand’s felt disc with a sequence hooked up to it. This chain, when draped over the cymbal creates a really comparable sizzle impact achieved by the rivets, with the primary distinction being that you have not truly drilled any holes into the cymbal. This one occurs to be my favourite.

One other, extra excessive possibility could be so as to add tambourine jingles loosely to your cymbal, utilizing the rivets to connect them. This may undoubtedly change the attribute of the instrument in a extra dramatic style, including a particular trashy rasp but additionally slicing down on the maintain.


If you happen to’re not into the sizzle of rivets, you may attempt slicing a number of bigger holes across the circumference of the cymbal. There are particular results cymbals on the market which have this characteristic and supply a novel look and sound.

Reduce The Bell Out

I’ve seen a number of examples the place somebody has taken a hopelessly trashed cymbal and minimize off the whole lot apart from the cymbal bell itself. The Zildjian cymbal firm makes a product the Zil Bell, which is named primarily simply the bell of a cymbal. This is likely to be a cheap means of experimenting with making your individual.

Please do train warning when slicing or drilling metallic although and put on correct protecting gear.

Really useful Studying:If you happen to appreciated what I wrote right here, you may also like an article I wrote on the way to make your low cost drum set sound nice.

Associated Questions

Tips on how to drill holes in cymbals:

  • Mark your drill areas
  • Use a metallic punch to make an indentation in your mark
  • Use a drill bit rated for slicing metallic
  • Begin slowly to ensure the bit does not journey
  • Apply regular strain and improve the drill pace till you are via

What ought to I do with low cost cymbals? It is doubtless you will not just like the sound of those cymbals by themselves, so attempt mounting them on high of one other cymbal to make some type of trashy particular results sound. You may also use them for ornamental functions, or as props on your subsequent YouTube video during which you faux folks out by destroying your ‘favourite cymbal’.

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