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What it does – The Cymbals

Cymbals are instruments that belong to the drum family and are mainly used in drum kits.


They are often sold in kits, usually in sets of five.

Most drummers prefer to choose them individually in order to complete and find the perfect tones to match the kit : indeed, cymbals have a multitude of tones due to their construction and alloy types.

A cymbal has a hole in the center so it can be installed on a cymbal stand.

Cymbals types

A standard cymbal kit is made up of four types of cymbals.

The Hi-Hat/Charleston

The hi-hat is the element that gives the tempo. It consists of a pair of colliding cymbals both crossed by an adjustable axis and attached by a stand with a pedal.

The drummer uses his foot to move the pedal up and down, allowing the cymbals to touch each other, causing them to close.

It is possible to play by leaving it open: the sound becomes slobbery, ideal for rock and metal music.

The Ride Cymbal

The ride is a cymbal recognizable by its size: it is usually the largest cymbal in the kit.

Its diameter varies between 18" and 24" and offers a wide range of sound varieties.

The striking surface is divided into three parts:

- The dome, in the middle of the cymbal, the impact of the stick causes a "ping".

- The body, the large surface where most of the playing is done.

- The edge, allows to use the ride as a crash, but remains fragile.

The Crash cymbal

It is mostly used at the end of a Fill to mark the break between a verse and a chorus, or to accentuate the transitions in a song.

The diameter is generally from 12/13" to 21", then we speak about crash/ride for certain models.

Effects cymbals

Other cymbals with a more specific use exist. They can be grouped in the category of effects cymbals.

The Splash is a smaller version of the crash with a much shorter, colder and sharper sustain. Because of its size, it allows to accentuate and give faster strokes than a crash. Its diameter varies between 6" and 12".

The China is a very common effect cymbal used in metal music, recognizable by its upside down shape.

With an explosive and sharp sound, it is perfect for joining a snare drum in a heavy marked pattern.

It ranges in size from 8" to 22".

There are also other effects cymbals like chimes, stacks, O-zones... the whole list is endless!

The Hardware

Each of these elements integrates a drum kit through hardwares.

It is an aluminum structure which receives the cymbals by the hole in the center of the dome. They are protected by felt pads and held by tilters (metal or plastic screws), and have a plastic neck to protect the cymbal to avoid keyholes.

They are materialized by tripods, or by perches that can be attached to another stand.

Hardwares are elements of the drum kit mainly used to hold the equipment: cymbals with cymbal stands, the drummer's seat, toms stands, but also mechanisms of the drum kit, such as bass drum and hi-hat pedals.

There is also a structure called a rack, which can hold both the cymbals and the drums in front of the drummer, as well as all kinds of percussion.