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Made from B8 alloy material. They are also lightweight allowing for a bright tone and delivers a big punch while playing.
Pricier than other sets.
Manufactured from tough stainless steel that is dent and stain resistant. They are sensitive and sound just like traditional cymbals.
Have higher tonality.
Will complete any beginner drum kit to get you started. Gives a sharp and full-body tone to help fill out many music styles.
Recommended for practicing only. Not professional sounding.
Features hand drilled holes that contribute to executing a 60-70% lower volume output. Made from authentic stainless steel to give a realistic sound.
Minor sound quality is diminished due to lower volume.
Great sound for rock, pop, metal, and more. Hi-hat delivers a nice, crisp tone with a ring that fades out well. Sound is sophisticated and controlled.
Expensive. Tone is quite bright, which may not mesh perfectly with jazz or fusion music.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Cymbals add spice and consistency to a drum kit. While the snare, bass, and toms handle the main rhythms, cymbals accent important beats and add color and fill to the music. Purchasing a set of cymbals is a great way to build up an existing drum kit or start a new one.
The most basic drum cymbal sets come with only the essentials: hi-hat, ride, and crash cymbals. Pricier sets build upon this foundation with an extra crash, splash, or china cymbals for different effects.
In this guide, we look at what you should expect from a basic drum cymbal set as well as the extras that you may (or may not) want with your purchase. We point you in the direction of our favorite drum cymbal sets and answer your frequently asked questions. Learn more about selecting the right cymbal set for your drum kit.
A typical drum kit includes seven pieces: floor tom, tom-toms, snare, bass, ride cymbal, crash cymbal, and hi-hat. Before we delve into the types of cymbal kits you can buy, let’s examine what the individual pieces of a drum kit look like.
Floor tom: This sits on its own adjustable legs (three or four) and is played with sticks. You can use a floor tom to create rhythmic patterns or fill.
Tom-toms: These sit directly in front of the drummer, adding rhythmic excitement and serving as fill.
Snare: The snare is a double-sided drum with a buzzy sound. Musicians use it to create a wide range of articulations.
Bass: The bass drum is usually the largest drum in a kit and is operated with a foot pedal to keep time and add depth to the sound.
Ride cymbal: This is played with sticks and used to keep time and add color and sustain.
Crash cymbal: This is played with sticks and produces accents and punctuation.
Hi-hat: This can be played with sticks or a foot pedal and is used to keep time and add sizzle.
Basics: As we’ve mentioned, drum cymbal sets come with at least three pieces: ride, crash, and hi-hat. A lot of the sets we examined included a 20-inch ride, 16-inch crash, and 14-inch hi-hat. However, you can find sets with slight size variations, such as a set that comprises an 18-inch ride, 14-inch crash, and 13-inch hi-hat.
Cymbal additions: In addition to the basics, some sellers throw in extras to sweeten the pot. For example, you might find a kit that also includes a 10-inch splash cymbal. Another common add-on is a 16-inch china cymbal. Why would you want these extras? Both can add color and depth to the usual crash sound. Interestingly, we note that a lot of companies tout these additions as “free” extras. Whether the product is actually “free” is uncertain, as the price could very well have been adjusted to cover the additional pieces!
Other extras: A drum cymbal set might also include drumsticks, gig bag, cleaning cloth, and even a code for “free” online drumming lessons. Note that these additions will most certainly inflate the price. It’s always nice to have an extra pair of drumsticks, but you might not need another gig bag or online lessons. If these extras are offered, make sure you really want them so you don’t end up spending more than necessary.
Most drum cymbal sets for beginners are made of brass. The brass may sound thin, dull, or bright, depending on the quality of the metal.
Buying a cymbal set is convenient because you get everything you need in one fell swoop. The tradeoff, however, is that you do not get to tailor each cymbal to your particular tastes. Instead, you must determine which set offers the best combination of qualities. For some musicians, this means they must compromise on cymbal material.
Most cymbals are made of brass or bronze. Brass cymbals are cheaper; bronze cymbals are pricier but also better in quality. Cymbal sets in the budget and mid-price ranges are generally made of brass, which means the sound quality may not be as good as that of a handpicked set of bronze cymbals.
Unless you are dead set against brass, however, we don’t think you should immediately discount these brass sets. In fact, for a beginner on a budget, a cymbal set made of brass could be the best choice because it removes a lot of guesswork from the kit-building process and doesn’t require a huge investment.
If you want to buy a ready-made set and you want it to be bronze, you’ll need to look harder and be prepared to pay a handsome price. But if you’re at the point in your musical career where you know exactly what kind of bronze cymbals you want, it may be better to forgo the set idea entirely and buy each piece individually.
You may also have to compromise on cymbal size if you buy a set. As we’ve mentioned, a lot of sets on today’s market include a 20-inch ride, 16-inch crash, and 14-inch hi-hat. But what if that’s not exactly what you want?
If you buy a kit and later decide you’re dissatisfied with the size of, say, your crash cymbal, you could certainly buy another one. In fact, experienced drummers often own multiple crash cymbals of different sizes. However, this could eventually put a strain on your budget. Your best bet is to make an educated guess about what you need today as well as what you might need several years from now.
Inexpensive: For $100 to $200, you can get a set of brass cymbals — ride, crash, and hi-hat — for a beginner’s drum kit. The sound will be brighter than that of bronze cymbals, but for most novice musicians this purchase would be more than sufficient.
Mid-range: For $200 to $500, you can get a set that includes a ride, crash, and hi-hat of slightly better quality than those in the budget range. The brass may have been extensively hammered and lathed for better sound quality. Notably, it’s rare to find cymbal sets made of bronze in this price range.
Expensive: For $500 and up, you can find drum cymbal sets made of bronze. Many of these pricier sets come with two crash cymbals instead of one. Expect to pay closer to $900 for a high-quality set of bronze cymbals.
A. There should be a knob on your hi-hat stand, right beneath the cymbals, that you can loosen or tighten to tilt the bottom hat. Play around with this knob and continue testing the sound. The cymbals need a little give to sound right, and chances are you’ll find the right sound if you keep fiddling.
A. Not necessarily. Dirt and dust collect in the lathing grooves over time, but some musicians think this patina enhances the sound. If the dirt bothers you, take a conservative approach to cleaning your cymbals. Dab gently, don’t use abrasive cleaning agents, and make sure the cymbals are completely dry after you’ve finished cleaning them. Better yet, take them to an instrument repair shop for a professional cleaning.
A. Yes. Cymbals are actually quite fragile, especially on the edges. Once cymbals crack, they often cannot be repaired. If the grandkids must play, teach them to play in moderation.
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