Did cymbal sizes evolve the same way drum sizes did?

nmosko

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Hey guys! I have a question regarding the evolution of cymbals. I decided to post it here instead of cymbal talk to get a wider range of responses and because it’s more historical than shop related.

anyhow, it’s fairly common knowledge that drums have had different sizes that were “in” at certain points. Are cymbals the same way?

mainly I’m wondering about ride cymbals of 21-24 inches. Were they a common thing in the era from the 40s-70s? Did guys seem to use smaller rides and crashes back in the golden age of rock/big band? I love the sound you hear from the big band cats and the classic rock stuff. Just wanted to learn about the popular cymbals of the day.
 

Talktotommy

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Good question. I’m certainly no expert but in the late 30s early 40s most everyone was playing 26 or 28 inch bass drums. Other sizes were fairly standard 9 x 13 16 x 16 with 12 x 14 thrown in for the Slingerland stuff. You were lucky if you had a high hat. Krupa’s was maybe 13 inch max.
Someone else I’m sure is far more knowledgeable but I’m not sure if Krupa even had a ride cymbal in the early days.
Lots of splash cymbals and percussion. Krupa’s set up in the early 40s was way ahead of its time as it was more drums and cymbals and less of the effects.
 

JDA

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yea in opposite directions

drum began large ....went small..
Cymbals started small...went large..

probably crisscrossed around 1956
20/12/14 drums and 20/21"/14 " cymbals
 
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Velociamator

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I thought the Swing Era top drummers drove the demand for larger cymbals from the mid-1930s onward, and went to Quincy to get them!
 

JDA

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went in the 30s to request "make us bigger ones"
hadn't been done yet

then went overboard


17.5" was tops



18"





It's not like Avedis had them waiting for them " they had to be" told what
was wanted..lol
 
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hsosdrum

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Cymbal sizes changed due to the evolution in the role of the cymbal in popular music. Before 1945 drummers kept time with the bass drum (4 on the floor), and used cymbals mostly for accents. Beginning in 1936 with Goodman and through 1945 in his own band, Gene Krupa used 13" and 16" crash cymbals, a 14" 'ride' on the bass drum, an 8" splash and 11" hi-hats. Around 1940 (Papa) Jo Jones with Count Basie was one of the first drummers to begin keeping time on 13" or 14" hi-hats. In the late '40s bebop drummers began keeping time on the ride cymbal instead of the bass drum, which required a larger cymbal. Kenny Clarke is considered to be the guy most responsible for the shift to keeping time on a ride cymbal — he used an 18".

During the 1950s things settled down, with rides and crash/rides ranging from 18" to 24" and hi-hats settling at 14". However, once the 1970s hit, music got much louder and cymbals got even larger. Since then cymbal companies have responded to the multitude of musical styles and drumming styles with a multitude of cymbal models and sizes.
 

supershifter2

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I got my first ride in 1970. A mid 60's Zildjian 22". About the same time I bought a 16" and 18" crash. 20" 22" rides and 16",18",20" crashes were common in the entire 70's and even now. I only knew one guy with a Zildjian Rock 21" ride. In the early 70's I got rid of the 16" crash and got another 18" crash. From the early 70's through the 80's ,90's, 2000's my minimum cymbal setup has been at 14"/15" hh , 2-18" crash , 22" ride. About 10 years ago i added more cymbals and went to 24" ride. for me its not the size but the sound I like. I dont by cymbals by size but by how like the sound.
 

Dumpy

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I think it’s more cyclical than anything. It’s hard to give away a 16” medium or heavier weight crash these days. To me, it’s a comfortable size, opens up easily, and adds punctuation without it being a splash. But 17” and larger crashes have become the norm. And 14” crashes? Too high pitched for me. But I imagine as tastes evolve, smaller cymbals will become the norm once again.

Just like with drums: the 20x22” bass drum “beer can” that was ubiquitous for the last ten or so years is starting to go away. Smaller, stand mounted floor toms will come back. All that has to happen is the Flavor of the Month player will do something innovative and only one piece of gear in one particular size and configuration will nearly singlehandedly bring it back or a new style of drum or cymbal will make it onto every new kit.
 

nmosko

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Thanks for the info! I’ve been on a month-long quest for “the” ride cymbal. It got me thinking about the popular cymbals through history.
 

JDA

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Elvin's 20
William's 22

in that order
there's probably another but can't think of one
maybe one of Bill Bruford's sound.

you can get modern equivalents of the first two without searching for the originals
 


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