The cymbals are independent musical instruments and contribute greatly to the sound of the drum kit as a whole. This is why special care should be taken when choosing them. The selection is huge and ranges from inexpensive, factory-pressed brass cymbals to hand-made instruments manufactured from high-end B20 alloys. There is something for every budget and every sound! Because they are a whole subject of their own, we have put together a separate Online Guide on Cymbals.
Complete drum kit bundles do not usually come with cymbals, unless it is clearly stated otherwise. For beginners, a Hi-hat, a ride cymbal and a crash cymbal will generally be sufficient. Splash and China cymbals are so-called effect cymbals and may be added later. Here, we'll take a look at the the standard variants.
The Hi-hat consists of a bottom and a top cymbal, sold as a matched pair. The most common diameter is 14". Both cymbals are mounted on the Hi-hat stand and can be played by foot and with drum sticks. By opening the Hi-hat to varying degrees, a variety of sounds can be produced.
The ride cymbal commonly measures 20" in diameter and is the second accompanying cymbal in the drum kit, the Hi-hat being the first. Like the Hi-hat, it is mostly used for steady time-keeping patterns to complement the groove of the bass and snare drums. Thicker cymbals have more "ping", making them a good choice for louder styles, while thinner cymbals have more "wash" and may also be used as large crash or crash/ride cymbals. The bell in the centre of the cymbal has a distinct, piercing sound ideally suited to accented figures.
The crash cymbal is primarily used for accents. It is played to emphasize sections and "hits" within the arrangement of a song, especially on the downbeat after a fill-in. In some styles, the crash cymbal may also be used to play steady, accompanying patterns like the Hi-hat and ride. The most common size for crash cymbals is 16". Advanced players should consider adding a second, larger crash to increase their sonic possibilities.
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