Do cymbals change in sound much over time / use

Tigerdrummer

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I've heard guitar players who claim a given guitar sounds better over time than when new. I wonder if any of you think a cymbal's sound evolves and improves with play assuming there arent modifications or build up of dirt etc. I'm not real experienced w drums so I'm just trying to learn. And I thought I'd ask. Thanks for any insights
 

JDA

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They don't change much but some will fade into memory..or be eclipsed..
Over time, just not excited with certain ones anymore..
That element of discovery sometimes fades or reaches a saturation level.
I think that happens more often than not, than cymbal change in and of itself.
Sometimes takes 20 years or more to say hmm want to try something new..
 
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Redbeard77

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I've been playing A Custom crashes for nearly 15 years and I swear they mellow with age. If you believe that the main part of cymbal aging is based on the vibration of the metal, then crashes should exhibit the most change, followed by rides. I guess hats would be affected more by patina.
 

Mcjnic

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First ... yes. Absolutely various aspects of the sound changes.
As to “improves” ... totally subjective.

I’m with Redbeard. My A Custom crashes mellow out nicely. One of the best used cymbals I ever picked up was from a forum member here ... 16 Zildjian A Custom crash. It has mellowed beautifully. Love that crash.

Unfortunately, I have some that “relax” a bit too much. When I picked them up, I liked the front end attack. After a reasonable amount of breaking in, they no longer possess the aggressiveness I first enjoyed.
This happens from time to time.

I have found that Zildjian K Sweet crashes are very susceptible to this. I picked them up and they had a great front end attack with just enough sustain.
After breaking them in, they lost the attack and had virtually no sustain. It was like a quick pop. Very unpleasant.
 
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EvEnStEvEn

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I wonder if any of you think a cymbal's sound evolves and improves with play (?)
I believe there's validity to this theory as I've always heard there's a break-in period for new cymbals, it's about the molecules settling or something.

Repeated vibration and impact will slowly work-harden any metal.
This is the main source of a crash or cymbal mellowing.
Makes sense, I've experienced some noticeable sonic change in new cymbals after repeated play. Some drummers do a series of mallet roll sessions on their new cymbals as a break-in ritual.

This topic has appeared here before and I enjoy reading the thoughts and hypothesis of others. A fascinating subject.
 

JazzDoc

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My feeling is that the sound of cymbals do become "warmer" or mellower with age, and more rapidly with use. I can't state this as fact, but I base this opinion upon some 50+ years of experience with many cymbals.

What I personally believe is inarguable is that the closure sound and pedal feel of hihat cymbals becomes more articulate and smoother as they "marry" and wear down (i.e., flatten) each other's contact or apposing outer edges over time and use. A new set of hats rarely tells its life story before given time to merge properly.

Just my 2¢.
 

DannyPattersonMusic

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Repeated vibration and impact will slowly work-harden any metal.
This is the main source of a crash or cymbal mellowing.
Agree. While I was at NAMM (or PASIC, can't remember now which one but I'm leaning toward PASIC) I bought a few crashes from Zildjian and Jeff (who is a cymbal tester with Zildjian and helped me pick out cymbals there) said the cymbals will mellow out the more you play them as the metal is being flexed while being played, etc.
 

Tracktuary

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High frequency hearing loss is also common as we get older,, may be a factor for some.
This is definitely part of the equation. Mellower / warmers usually means less highs. So if you get a cymbal with a lot of bite (highs) and then expose your ears to it over a period of time, it makes sense that hearing loss could develop at those specific frequencies. The loss of those frequencies would be interpreted as the cymbal mellowing.

The cymbal is likely kicking out those same frequencies; you're just not hearing them like you once did. And it doesn't take a lot of exposure for hearing loss to occur.
 

GeeDeeEmm

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My subjective experience: No. I'm convinced that the only thing that changes about a cymbal is our ears.

GeeDeeEmm
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Jeff who is a cymbal tester with Zildjian said the cymbals will mellow out the more you play them
Seems like a Zildjian employee would certainly know. I've also read that from numerous sources throughout the years; Modern Drummer and cymbal websites, etc....
We've all seen listings describing a particular cymbal as "played-in" or even new cymbals exhibiting a "played-in" feel & response.
 
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anthony marquart

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My feeling is that the sound of cymbals do become "warmer" or mellower with age, and more rapidly with use. I can't state this as fact, but I base this opinion upon some 50+ years of experience with many cymbals.

What I personally believe is inarguable is that the closure sound and pedal feel of hihat cymbals becomes more articulate and smoother as they "marry" and wear down (i.e., flatten) each other's contact or apposing outer edges over time and use. A new set of hats rarely tells its life story before given time to merge properly.

Just my 2¢.
My early 80s new beats have really worn together a lot. In fact, the top cymbal edge has gotten so thin and sharp that I have smoothed off the edge as not to get cut.
these hats sizzle and close so well it’s amazing. Can’t be found in new cymbals.
 

JazzDoc

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This is definitely part of the equation. Mellower / warmers usually means less highs. So if you get a cymbal with a lot of bite (highs) and then expose your ears to it over a period of time, it makes sense that hearing loss could develop at those specific frequencies. The loss of those frequencies would be interpreted as the cymbal mellowing.

The cymbal is likely kicking out those same frequencies; you're just not hearing them like you once did. And it doesn't take a lot of exposure for hearing loss to occur.
That explanation would be more convincing IF newer sets of the same hats didn't sound more metallic, brighter, more biting and with more “edge” to them. Tough to ascribe the sonic difference to loss of hearing acuity in that frequency if that’s the case, no?
 
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AtlantaDrumGuy

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I have some old As that are still vibrant sounding, yet I imagine the 50+ years has mellowed them to an extent. I just played a pair of my 60s New Beats on a gig today...they lack nothing. There are wonderful old Zildjians out there, but most people want something new/shiny. I often mix vintage with current pies.

I think it can also depend on the specific cymbal...how well it was cared for. How much it was played, and if it was stored in decent conditions. Lots of factors.
 


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