The Meinl musical instrument company was founded in Germany in 1951 and has become one of the four top cymbal manufacturers along with Sabian, Paiste and Zildjian. Their cymbal collection is diverse, with a product line that ranges from affordable entry-level cymbals to professional-level and artists’ signature models. Meinl cymbals are known for their excellent build quality and tone, and they are endorsed by top recording artists from all over the world. If you are looking for professional-quality cymbals, consider the Meinl Byzance Ultimate Cymbal Set.
Cymbals fall into four groups, including crash, ride, hi-hat and effect. Crash cymbals are notable for their explosive sound with a quick decay that is great for adding emphasis. The ride cymbal has a high-pitched ping that drives a groove. Hi-hats come in pairs and keep time with a stabbing, muted tone. Effect cymbals embellish your set, adding color to your performance with a varied tonal palette. These can include splash and china cymbals as well as novelty cymbals with distinctive sounds.
Generally speaking, the thicker the cymbal, the higher the pitch. A thicker crash cymbal will last longer if you are playing hard rock, whereas jazz and funk players favor thinner crashes for their versatility of expression. When it comes to cymbal diameter, their width adds a lot to the tonal character of a cymbal and it’s worth trying out a few sizes. Beginners tend to opt for the median size in a range, for example, a 16-inch crash (these usually range from 14-18 inches) or a 22-inch ride (these usually range from 18-26 inches).
Most beginners favor an entry-level drum cymbal set, as they are still building their chops and prioritize durability and practicality over tonal quality at this point. The Meinl HCS series is notable for its excellence in quality and sound for beginner cymbals. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Meinl’s Byzance line of professional-quality cymbals. Only top drummers use these as they have the best materials.
The best cymbals are bronze, which is an alloy consisting of copper and tin. Two formulas generally used in cymbal manufacture, which are B8 and B20. B8 contains 8% tin and 92% copper while B20 contains 20% tin and 80% copper. B20 is considered the best material and is used in most high-end cymbals, but there are many variables between these ratios, some of which are highly sought-after in vintage cymbals.
Meinl cymbals, particularly their premium Byzance range, are renowned for their “dry” tonal qualities compared to other high-end cymbals from Zildjian and Paiste. This is to say that they project fewer harmonic overtones when struck and don’t ring and sustain as much as others. This lends them a more subtle percussive nature that many artists appreciate, but ultimately, trust your ears and listen to online demos for a better idea of a cymbal’s sound in context.
Within their leading Byzance line of premium cymbals are sub-groups of which anyone buying the best Meinl cymbals should be aware. Top of the line is the Foundry Reserve. This group is limited to a hi-hat, crash and ride cymbals and is an exclusive line that uses the best materials. The Byzance Vintage and Byzance Traditional series are more versatile and evoke the cymbals of bygone eras. Similarly, Byzance Jazz has a thinner, retro sound that is lower in volume and good for other musical styles. Byzance Brilliant cymbals are intended for rock music and are durable, with a hard attack and neutral in tone.
Beginners can buy an entire four-piece set of entry-level Meinl HCS-branded cymbals for under $200. At the other end of the scale, a single Meinl Byzance cymbal can cost over $400, with plenty of mid-range options in between.
A. There are currently six Meinl cymbal series. In order of quality from high to low, they are Byzance Series, Artist Concept, Pure Alloy Series, Pure Alloy Customs, Classics Custom, Generation X and HCS.
A. If you are just starting as a drummer, focus on the essentials. These are a pair of hi-hats, a crash and a ride cymbal. This is enough to practice rudiments and develop your technique. Once you are familiar with the basics, the sky is the limit and you can customize your kit as you see fit.
What you need to know: The Meinl Ultimate Cymbal Set is extensive and contains everything you need to embellish your kit with a broad tonal palette.
What you’ll love: This B20 bronze alloy set comprises 15-inch hi-hats, 16-inch crash, 18-inch crash, 20-inch crash/ride, 22-inch crash/ride and a 10-inch splash. All cymbals are hand-hammered in Turkey and beautifully crafted in two metallic tones.
What you should consider: While it is high-quality, this set is light-on effect cymbals for such a highly-priced ensemble.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This entry-level set is well-crafted in B8 bronze to give a bright tone with good sustain.
What you’ll love: Not only does the variety set have everything you need to get started, including a pair of 14-inch hi-hats, 20-inch ride and a 16-inch crash, but it also features a trash crash for added flavor. This set is made in Germany and displays a laser-etched Meinl logo on each cymbal.
What you should consider: While these are among the best in the HCS range, you might consider spending a little extra for a mid-range Meinl set.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This aesthetically pleasing mid-range set features fully-lathed and highly-buffed surfaces to produce a bright and distinctive sound.
What you’ll love: Classics Custom cymbals are made of B10 bronze alloy and are ideal for heavy hitters playing classic rock and metal. Their tone is well-balanced and they produce plenty of volumes that cuts through a mix.
What you should consider: You will have to buy extra effect cymbals if you want to embellish this set, but it does more than cover the basics with its two crash cymbals.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.