Cymbal Weight FAQ

MasterBlaster

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Can the differences between cymbal weights be explained? I'm always seeing weights displayed, but I have no idea what it really means. I mean - I'm just guessing ride cymbals are heavier that crash, but I'm just guessing. What is the range between different weights for the same cymbal type? Do I want a heavy cymbal or a lighter one?

Pleas school this noob... thanks!
 

JDA

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Weight means pitch, volume- how fast or slow- is response.
Mostly volume if in real world- I had to pick one.
Volume ceiling.
Some very heavy cymbals are difficult to "wake up" so may appear "quieter" but- look out if really played hard.
Conversely Light cymbal that open easily may appear played heavily loud at first

So Volume ceiling and ceilings

Zen has some lovely low medium and hi weight charts
sure he'll be glad to show.
 
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Mongrel

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+1

and...

I use weights as a way of judging how a cymbal will fit into my setup. For example if I am looking at a set of hi hats I have a general idea how a different set or single cymbal-of the same make and series (Zildjian A for instance) *may* fit in with what I already have. I have used this method to replace a bottom New Beat cymbal with a lighter bottom cymbal for instance.

I find it very helpful for evaluating a ride cymbal and I have been able to get a general idea of how say a 22" K will sound if I know the weight by going online and finding another K that is close to that weight. Certainly not an exact science but it works for me.

I just picked up a 16" K crash that I intend to try out as a top hi hat cymbal. I checked weights online at places like "mycymbal.com" to see what weights are used for K hi hat pairs. This 16" crash fits exactly in the weight range for both 16" K regular and 16" K sweet hats. I have an old, very dirty, 50s A that fits exactly in the weight range for the bottom "K" regular and sweet hats that I intend on pairing it with as an experiment. (Understanding, of course, that taper and edge thickness will come into play as far as potential cracking) But for mostly acoustic and low volume gigs I am not worried about cracking the crash.
 

drums1225

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At this point, cymbal manufacturers should just indicate the weight (in grams) of every "pro level" cymbal on the underside of the bell. MyCymbal.com has done wonders for online cymbal shopping by including weights and video examples of all their "Exact Cymbal" listings. In an age where online purchases have become the norm, and extensive information is readily available on virtually every topic under the sun, the indication of cymbal weights should already be an industry standard.

Thin, Med-Thin, Med, etc. are fairly general classifications, and 2 cymbals of the same size/model often vary in weight significantly. In the case of 22" rides, I've seen variations of more than two hundred grams. Case in point, MyCymbal currently lists 22" Meinl Byzance Extra Dry Thin Rides ranging from 2235g to 2500g. Though stamped the same, these two cymbals would almost certainly sound and feel quite different. I briefly had both a 2300g and a 2425g and there was a stark difference in both sound and feel.

Thanks to MyCymbal.com for recognizing the importance of this information. Cymbal manufacturers, you listening?
 

Tama CW

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For hi hats the weights can help you dial in the expected sound pretty well. So knowing the top and bottom weights is pretty crucial to the expected sound. For rides and crashes it's not so easy.

I've been "studying" 1950's to 70's A Zildjian 18's and 20's the past 2 yrs and have been surprised at how good some heavier cymbals sound and how lousy "some" lighter cymbals sound....contrary to what you'd expect. You can run across very light Zildjians that are essentially lifeless - like banging on a piece of wavy sheet metal. Just this past week I picked up a very light 20" at 1810 gms. I expected quite the "fast" crash. It wasn't. Surprisingly, it sounded nearly identical in ride and crash quality to a heavier one I already owned at 2050 gms. Effectively, 20" A's can run from 1750 - 2850 gms. Quite a wide range. From extreme wash with excellent crashability to extreme ping and no crashability. For those who want to minimize excess cymbals or cost, a nice play to be is with the middle of the roaders that can do both very well - usually around 2000-2300 gms.

Other factors in the sound of cymbal besides weight and size are material, bell size, contouring, and tapering. Basically where the cymbal carries that weight. Weight and size may get you 65-80% of the expected sound. You also have the concert/band/marching/hand cymbals that tend to be the heaviest of all, that can have limited to no application in a drum kit.....figure another 10-20% in weight above kit cymbal weight ranges.
 
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bongomania

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What's "medium" for one brand might be extra heavy, extra light, or extra thin for another. I recently posted about my Agop sig ride being "heavy" and a few people responded that the weight was light to medium by normal standards; of course I meant "heavy" for that specific line as produced today.
 

zenstat

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What's "medium" for one brand might be extra heavy, extra light, or extra thin for another. I recently posted about my Agop sig ride being "heavy" and a few people responded that the weight was light to medium by normal standards; of course I meant "heavy" for that specific line as produced today.
This! The main reason for giving a weight is that it takes the guesswork out of what somebody else means when they say "medium" or "medium light". Joe mentioned a similar thing recently as regards the definition of "vintage" and how old a drum has to be to count as "vintage". A thread about that appears every year or so on various drum forums. Opinions vary. The fix (as Joe pointed out) is that while it is fine to say "vintage" if you just add the year (or a likely year range) that settles the matter. For cymbals just give the weight along with your "medium light". It doesn't really matter whether it is in grams or pounds and ounces or even Troy ounces so long as it is reasonably accurate and we can find the conversion. Thank you. :glasses8:

For me there is a hierarchy of information when you are wondering what a cymbal will sound and feel like and if it is the one for you and if the asking price is in the ballpark.

  1. Personal audition in performance context (best)
  2. Try it in person (maybe in a drum shop with noise and poor acoustics)
  3. Good quality sound file
  4. Model and age properly documented (doesn't account for individual cymbal variation)
  5. Weight
  6. Pictures
  7. Verbal description only (need more please)

If I have number 1 I don't really need the rest. If I only have number 7 then pictures add worthwhile information. Weight comes in at number 5 for me. The order might be different for you.

The question of how weight can be used to predict what a cymbal will sound like and feel like is more complex to answer. I've got a list of factors which influence sound (mostly in order by when it happens in the process not by what is most important in the final sound)

  • alloy (what you start with so it is first)
  • casting method (including heating and quenching times and temperatures)
  • blank spreading method (cross rolling vs traditional Chinese vs Italian for example)
  • bell size and shape and volume
  • bell creation method
  • initial bow shaping method
  • hammering pattern and intensity
  • profile height (curvature of bow)
  • specific profile changes (flanges up down or flat -- type specific like Chinas)
  • thickness and taper (thinning of metal towards the outer edge)
  • lathing style (top and bottom and bell top and bottom -- all can be different)
  • surface finish (like brilliant and artificial chemical patina treatments)
  • weight

and although weight is in there, you can think of it as more a consequence of earlier steps than anything else. Modelling cymbal sound is a complex multi-factor game with complex interactions and feedback loops. Asking "which is the most important factor in predicting sound?" is easier to ask than answer in a way that honors the complexity.
 
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zenstat

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And speaking of complexity, this thread contains a bit about why it is hard to answer a seemingly simple question about the impact of lathing on the amount of wash a cymbal will have. Just in case you haven't seen it yet:

 

felis

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....
  • alloy (what you start with so it is first)
  • casting method (including heating and quenching times and temperatures)
  • blank spreading method (cross rolling vs traditional Chinese vs Italian for example)
  • bell size and shape and volume
  • bell creation method
  • initial bow shaping method
  • hammering pattern and intensity
  • profile height (curvature of bow)
  • specific profile changes (flanges up down or flat -- type specific like Chinas)
  • thickness and taper (thinning of metal towards the outer edge)
  • lathing style (top and bottom and bell top and bottom -- all can be different)
  • weight
....

I was the one who asked the question about lathing in the thread you linked to, but this^^^^ post helps me to clarify the question.
The assumption was that all those factors listed are exactly the same, except for the lathing.

Probably an unreasonable assumption, but the question was hypothetical, and depends on quite a lot of factors that almost all of us
can't control and have no first hand experience with.
So basically, I was just asking for guesses based on people's personal experience.


About the weight question though. I tend to look towards middle of the road, medium weight rides.
Not extremely washy, and not unresponsive at the volumes I play at. That's my highly technical definition. :dontknow:
 
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BennyK

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An A Zildjian 20" ping ride is @ 2600 gms . The bell is the cymbal's amplifier - bigger bell = louder cymbal . The more pronounced the taper of the profile, the more focused the note .

I guesstimate from there .
 
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Seb77

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I'd start by getting the weights for the cymbals you are familiar with, both in person and on records, othewise those numbers don't mean much to you. however, the same weight of say two As doesn't means they sound similar - lathing play a role here, resulting both in surface structure and in taper.

Playing volume plays a huge role, though; a medium crash cymbal played heavily, then put low in the mix might seem lighter than alight cymbal played quietly. Most general statement: light playing-->light cymbals, heavy playing-->heavy cymbals. They sound better and last longer (Some have argued thin crash cymbals hit properely last longer than heavier ones because of more flex).
 

multijd

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A wise older drummer once told me when trying a cymbal, “Hit it once.” This is sage advice. Listen to what you hear. The ear has to develop to understand what sounds will resonate with your music. This isn't a process to be taken lightly. Over time, after many cymbal purchases, you will know exactly what serves your purpose.

That being said, another side of this excursion into cymbal sounds is the ability to get yourself in tune with the cymbal. There is a learning curve in making useful sounds on every cymbal. The sound of a cymbal can only be altered slightly with tape/moongel or a variety of sticks. But what you do with your stroke effects the sound more than anything. The stroke is affected by what your ear hears. So again it all starts there. What do you hear? Hit it once and listen.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Elvin Jones would test a cymbal by holding it and crashing on it. Your best tool is your ear. Over time you will learn nuances as to how a large or small bell, thicker or thinner or light or heavy lathing, etc. affect sound (and thanks to gurus like Zen!).....

I have K Cons that are stamped "light" but nowhere near light. One of my best rides is a 22 K Con light that is about 100g more than most of my other 22's so go figure.....and yes, one co.'s light may be another co.'s heavy....my advice is listen to as many as you can and try to remember the properties of good cymbals for reference.
 

JDA

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anatomy 101 from Zildjian Z-Time 2001

weightZ 001.JPG


anatomy 102 to 1299 - was on cymbalholic.
 
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tripp2k

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@zenstat do you feel the mycymbal and similar YT peeps record the true essence of the cymbal such that "we", the buying public, can rely on them? Some of the lesser known video peeps (usually personal) I use to compare and contrast to see how close they come to the real guys but I still question the person capturing the example on all of them. If I knew I could count on what I hear, I might give Memphis Drum Shop consideration.
 

zenstat

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I've bought cymbals from Cymbalsonly and Hazelshould and I can vouch for their sound files now that I have played the cymbals in person. I can also vouch for the Paiste web site sound files. I can also vouch for Craig Lauritsen's sound files.

I haven't bought cymbals from Memphis Drum Shop myself, but I trust their sound files to do a good job. The same goes for Matt Bettis and Maxwells. I'm sure there are others worthy of mention, and perhaps others will know. Mention could be either as "accurate representation" or "not accurate and needs adjustment in this way".
 


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