Blend vs cutting

AtlantaDrumGuy

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Been listening to some different drummers lately. I was in a rut of always using big dark cymbals that blend with the music. But in listening to Charlie Watts and Doug Clifford, they each had some cymbals that would sort of stick out and make more of a statement. Mainly the small crash sound, and in the case of Charlie, the additional China sound. I’m a fan, and I like it. Sometimes a big 20” dark crash almost sounds too tasteful and safe, because it doesn’t stick out much. But when Charlie and Doug hit that 16”, you hear it. And it almost makes a statement. I’m becoming more of a fan of that as opposed to everything being low and safe sounding.
 

moosryan

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It's a good question to debate. I've always loathed pingy cymbals, but lately I've seen a lot of drummers in NYC using big dark cymbals in situations where they just get absolutely lost in the band and muddle the mix--it's trendy and sounds great alone, but it's not serving the band. I try to have a mix of some of both, depending on the setting.
 

k_50

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I haven't given much thought to it until just now. But I tend to go with one of each - Most often a blending main crash/ride, and a more cutting crash to the right.
Like an 18" medium-light, dirty Hollow Block A left, and a 17" A Custom right:




Or the same A with an Agop Xist Ion




Or an A + a Paiste + a Zanki (20" 60's med-light, 20" 505 ride, 20" pang):

 

CC Cirillo

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I have two sets of cymbals—my rehearsal/recording set and a live set.

The former is typically darker, and when I want more ping on a ride I move up closer to the bell and that usually gives me more cut, sort of like moving up an octave.

The live set has a heavier ride, like a Sabian HH RBDR or a slightly thicker K Zildjian, and then for a crash I have a thin old 20” A Zildjian that can also crash ride.

(For me, my hats are interchangeable. I can get sets to work in both settings, through modification of technique. That may part be me, or part be the nature of hats. Mine at least—that they can be really cutting in the mix.)

It’s my live rig that poses the issue which you note, Atlanta. For years I would only be bringing two cymbals live, a ride and a crash. There have been times I’ve wanted some extra picante cut that you are mentioning. This would mean bringing—gasp—a third cymbal and stand.

Well, with not much to do during the Pandemic I actually bought a third cymbal stand a few months ago with this issue on my mind.

Big step for me, considering my minimalist paradigm. I’ve considered a Crash of Doom, which I think Mr. Watts used at times, but I’ve heard from some that they do not cut. That’s the only one which has grabbed me so far.

I don’t want something that is too One Trick. I don’t know what the answer might be so I’m going to follow this thread.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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For example, if you listen to a lot of the John Mayer songs, you’ll hear a low crash. It’s very tasteful and safe. Doesn’t get in the way. Which is fine if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…lol. (I love Mayer’s music by the way).

But cue up some songs from Blue and Lonesome. You’ll hear those Charlie crashes, and it just sounds so rock and roll to me. Gives it a bit more dirty character. Also, CCR Wrote a Song For Everyone, that crash really just makes a statement. Gives the song some personally…I can tell that was likely a little 16. It’s a bit more in your face.
 

tbird8450

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If it suits the performance, I prefer for the cymbals to be heard. I generally take the "better to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission now" approach. Start out cutting and then dial back / swap cymbals per feedback.

However...

For example, if you listen to a lot of the John Mayer songs, you’ll hear a low crash. It’s very tasteful and safe. Doesn’t get in the way. Which is fine if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…lol. (I love Mayer’s music by the way).
When the band's name is your lead guitarist / vocalist, it's probably best to keep a low profile. ;)
 

moosryan

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When the band's name is your lead guitarist / vocalist, it's probably best to keep a low profile. ;)
Or, perhaps more to the point, when the main instrument in the mix is a treble-y electric guitar tone, you can get away with darker cymbals without cluttering the mix.
 

Rock Salad

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Give that 20" a good whack! Hard to imagine that wouldn't be a little stomp in the walk, wouldn't it?
I don't really know though. I heard only one drummer whose crashes didn't punch. But he had brand new Ks and I think he was babying them.
 

premierplayer

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I'm fortunate, the rest of my band loves my gear and selections. I've always got at least one broken glass, brash in your face cymbal up, and not afraid to use it, it's the way I roll.
 

Seb77

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"Cut" totally depends on the arrangements/instrumentation of the band. Just think of all the different guitar sounds.
For a long time, my focus was on finding cymbals for big band, and I wanted both a cushion of sound and rhythmic clarity from a ride. I guess I have always tried to get a blend between the two. No dedicated high crash sounds, more of the Mel Lewis "crash the rides" school. In that context, I never liked wash/crash sounds that were really low or dry, there should be some overtones/pitch/colour that lets you distinguish between two or more cymbals.
With crashes in a rock/pop context, I think of presence/pitch, but also duration. A longer sound also has a bigger presence, it's not just about volume/frequency. I might use the exact same 20" crash ride for both big band and rock band.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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I haven't given much thought to it until just now. But I tend to go with one of each - Most often a blending main crash/ride, and a more cutting crash to the right.
Like an 18" medium-light, dirty Hollow Block A left, and a 17" A Custom right:




Or the same A with an Agop Xist Ion




Or an A + a Paiste + a Zanki (20" 60's med-light, 20" 505 ride, 20" pang):

Nice drums / cymbals here!!
 

k_50

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Nice drums / cymbals here!!
Thanks :)
I've had the 6 ply Ludwigs for well over a year now. But Covid put a damper on all things drum/band related, so I'm still getting to know them - And the better I do, the more I like them
And I'm very particular about cymbals. You can always tune a naff drum to get it sounding decent, but with cymbals it's either/or. And when you find "the one" it's just awesome! I've gone through a lot of vintage A's to find my keepers - Most are good, some are duds, and a few are magical, like that 18" HB stamp and my 24" trans stamp. The 20" 60's one is weird inasmuch as it's kind of bland by itself, but it always sounds great as a part of the kit.
 

FitDrummer

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For example, if you listen to a lot of the John Mayer songs, you’ll hear a low crash. It’s very tasteful and safe. Doesn’t get in the way. Which is fine if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…lol. (I love Mayer’s music by the way).

But cue up some songs from Blue and Lonesome. You’ll hear those Charlie crashes, and it just sounds so rock and roll to me. Gives it a bit more dirty character. Also, CCR Wrote a Song For Everyone, that crash really just makes a statement. Gives the song some personally…I can tell that was likely a little 16. It’s a bit more in your face.
Good call with John Mayer! I know with Mayer, 2 of his drummers on rotation include: JJ Johnson and of course, Steve Jordan. Yes, really great washy cymbal sounds! Johnson used large K Constantinoples and Jordan used large Paiste (still does) Traditionals.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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Good call with John Mayer! I know with Mayer, 2 of his drummers on rotation include: JJ Johnson and of course, Steve Jordan. Yes, really great washy cymbal sounds! Johnson used large K Constantinoples and Jordan used large Paiste (still does) Traditionals.
I love Mayer’s music. I think the dark cymbals do sit well in that style. I guess it all depends on the style and what sound one is trying to achieve.
 

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I like soft crashes but also like to use a smaller crash when the song needs a bit of punctuation in a part. When I was in a band covering “Working for the Weekend”, I would punctuate in the second verse with a 16” china, and it was well-received. For most gigs, it was 16” china, 18” crash, 22-24” ride along with 14” 602 hats (my favorite hats EVER).
 


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