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Tell me which cymbal you want, and I'll tell you who you are.

2024-05-22 16:54

Matteo Garzaro

Perform School of music, Teachers, Education, Perform School of music, Drums, Drummers, Matteo Garzaro, Piatti, Crash, Charleston, Ride, China, Splash, Hi-hat, Ufip, Paiste, Sabian, Zildjan, Meinl,

Tell me which cymbal you want, and I'll tell you who you are.

Plates may all seem almost the same, if we observe them more closely, but especially if we listen to them, we will discover that there is an infinite variety of

While cymbals may initially appear indistinguishable, a closer examination and attentive listening reveal an astonishing diversity. Indeed, it is often claimed that each cymbal possesses a unique voice, and even two crashes from the same lineage, bearing identical dimensions and characteristics, can produce subtly distinct tones. Therefore, divulge your preferred cymbal, and I shall endeavor to discern your drumming persona.

 

Material and Types of Cymbals

Almost all professional cymbals are made of B20 bronze (80% copper and 20% tin).

A set can include various types of cymbals (hi-hat, ride, crash, splash, china, stack, effect cymbals, pizza cymbals... oops, wrong article) depending on musical needs.

Today, I would like to discuss the physical characteristics of cymbals and how these affect their sound.

Physical Characteristics and Their Effects

Size

The diameter is measured in inches. The larger the cymbal, the lower and darker the pitch. It will also have greater volume and sustain (duration of sound). The smaller the cymbal, the higher and brighter the pitch, and the lower the volume and sustain.

Typical sizes:

- Hi-hat: 13″ – 16″
- Ride: 20″ – 24″
- Crash: 14″ – 20″
- Splash: 6″ – 12″

Hear the differences:

Profile

We can say that it indicates how flat the cymbal is. It is the vertical distance from the bottom of the bell to the edge. A high profile results in a high pitch and a fast attack, while a low profile leads to a low pitch and a slower attack.

Hear the differences. Click Here

Weight

It is determined by the thickness. Thin cymbals are darker than thick ones, which are brighter.

Hear the differences. Click Here

Bell size

The size of the bell influences the pitch and volume. A cymbal with a small bell is quite controlled and has lower volume and pitch. As the bell size increases, the volume, pitch, and sustain also increase.

Hear the differences. Click here

Bell treatment

A bell that is not lathed (raw bell) will produce a sharper sound, increasing the volume and sustain. Lathing reduces the mass of the bell and makes the volume more controlled.

Hammering

Hammering influences how sound vibrations move through the cymbal. If it's dense, it will require more energy to strike for an open sound, but it increases volume, pitch, and gives a sharper attack. Sparse hammering allows vibrations to spread more easily, resulting in a darker pitch and softer attack.

Lathing

Lathing is the process by which the cymbal is "peeled" of its outer raw material. Turning on the upper part makes the cymbal sound more closed, unlike turning on the lower part, which makes it more open. Therefore, the ratio between upper and lower turning regulates the overall tension of the cymbal.

 

In general, a lathed cymbal has greater volume, sustain, and a more open and brilliant sound. A non-lathed cymbal has lower volume and sustain, and a more closed and darker sound.

Holes

Some cymbals can have holes, which vary in number and size depending on the model. The holes reduce the mass of the cymbal and change how sound waves propagate. Cymbals with holes are also called "trash cymbals" because of their dirty and acidic sound. They have a soft attack and little sustain.

Hear the differences. Click Here

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Some examples of perforated crash cymbals. (Photos from the official websites of Zildjian, Sabian, and Meinl)

Conclusions

Clearly, it's impossible to predict exactly how a cymbal will sound without playing it, but knowing these characteristics will give you more information the next time you want to buy one.

If you found the article "Tell me which cymbal you want, and I'll tell you who you are" interesting and would like more articles like this on specific aspects, or if you have any observations to make, please leave a comment below.


You will find more articles on my page by clicking here.

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