Educate me on cymbals + recommendations

pkburrito

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Ok, so as some of you know, I recently acquired a new Gretsch kit strictly for practicing/playing in my basement. First drumset I’ve had at home in many years and it’s been a long time since I’ve really delved into gear, especially cymbals. The drums were easy, as I knew new heads and tuning would be more important than getting the most expensive shells I could find.

Cymbals though... I knew that would be a challenge. I started doing minimal research and I know from some experience what I like and what I don’t like from a feel and sound standpoint. It’s been so long though, I honestly don’t know where to start with all of the different options out there on the used market, so I’m going to need some help. I see a lot about cymbal weight in grams, which I’ll admit, I know nothing about. My experience and knowledge beyond brand names and some models is fairly limited.

So, I guess what I’m looking for is a bit of knowledge on cymbal weight, brands, models, etc. that would help me narrow down what I’ll be looking for on the used market. Here is what I know:

My first set of decent cymbals was a pack of Sabian AAX. It was fairly standard at 14” hats, 16”and 18” AAXplosion crashes, and 20” ride. Nothing crazy. Somewhere along the way I ended up with an AAX Metal hi-hat top on the standard AAX bottom and loved that combo. I then retired the 16” and bought a 19” HHX Evolution crash and really liked that.

Where I really started delving into other options was at church. We did a lot of experimenting with different setups because the battle of volume and sound between the drummer and sound guy (count me in both categories as I am also a sound engineer) was a constant struggle. After many different brands and experiments, we landed on going with mostly Meinl Byzance stuff. The last setup I played there had 15” Dream hi-hats (I can’t remember which model), two 19” Byzance crashes, and a 21” Byzance ride.

I loved this setup and gained a respect for larger cymbals. I loved the sound they produced and loved the feel of playing that setup. I know I like a darker sounding cymbal and definitely do not like bright anything. Washy is good, especially on the ride. For what I play, I don’t really need a ping-y ride and like it to wash and crash nicely. I definitely prefer medium-thin cymbals by feel, I think, but I know this varies from company to company. And I guess size wise I really grew to liver playing larger sizes than I was accustomed to, so 15” hats, 19-20” crashes, and a 21-22” ride would be ideal.

So, with that said, what should I be on the lookout for on the used market and what recommendations would you have for me, be it used or new? I’m not looking to go out and spend money on a brand new set of Byzance, but I also don’t want to cheap out. What would be a poor man’s set of what I described haha?I’m not in any real rush, so playing the used market and taking advantage of deals when they come along is fine with me. And of course if any further info is needed, ask away! I’m all ears.

Edit: I guess it might help to know what I play most of the time. Primarily, I’ll be practicing and playing worship music and pop/punk/rock/indie type stuff.
 
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JDA

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You know..can experiment with the material of the stick.
A maple stick (from Vic Firth for example) will allow " mucho Quietness-o"
and will change possibly one's entire volume approach
and change what you are hearing from the cymbals you already own..
(otherwise cymbals are 22 year (ongoing) online discussion we used to have; beginning at Cymbalholic)
But Sticks.. think about sticks.
 
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WaggoRecords

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It took me a while to learn about all of the cymbals companies, their lines and offerings, weights, etc. A lot of the info came from Google searches that led me to this forum and others.

I kept returning to this article:http://www.cruiseshipdrummer.com/2012/08/how-to-get-real-cymbals-when-your-poor.html?m=1

If anything, you’ll at least get some of your questions about cymbal weights answered.

I would suggest also looking to social media and buying/selling apps to expand your searches of the used market.
 

mozartist

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I'm in process of putting a kit together from scratch and I've been making cymbal decisions based on YouTube videos. I've always bought Zildjian's A line of cymbals and when it comes to new there's a video of just about every cymbal out there that has helped me zero in on some crashes and the ride sound I'm looking for.
 

hsosdrum

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From your post it sounds like you already know what you like and what 'your sound' is. IMHO it's always a bad bargain to get something that isn't what you really want. If your sound is darker cymbals that are less bright sounding, and if you really liked the Byzance set you played at church, I recommend getting a similar set for yourself. If funds are tight I would limit myself to just a set of hats, a thin(ish) 18"/19" left-side crash/ride and a med-thin 21"/22" right-side crash/ride. (If that's still too tight you can wait on the left-side cymbal.) Once you've played those long enough you'll know what other sounds you need and can add to the set.

Starting out with a set of intermediate-quality cymbals will cost you more in the long run, since you will eventually buy yourself a set of professional-quality instruments to replace them at a loss. You may as well start with what you really want. Buy once, cry once. Plus, the better instruments will inspire you to play better, trust me on that...
 

Rhythm Block

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Oh yeah baby. I love the cymbal hunt

The used market is definitely your best friend when it comes to budgeting and experimenting. I've bought so many cymbals on ebay, offerup and reverb and every single one has taught me something. That, and as mozartist also mentioned already, listening to lots of youtube demos of whatever piques your interest. You'll hear plenty of brilliant drummers make a case for just about any make and model of cymbal out there, it just all comes back to their personal sound and what music they make. Kinda drives me crazy how many good options there are.

Aa far as some more specific suggestions: I've never been a sabian guy, but if you're coming from that direction, I'd suggest checking out the newer HHX complex and AA lines. They seem very well balanced, harnessing the usual cloying brightness of the sabian alloy a little more and complementing it with some more complex and expressive qualities. It'll probably be awhile before those turn up for any good price on the used market though. Zildjian Ks are fantastic and versatile- the custom darks are very popular, but my first favorite hats and ride were just regular K 14s and a 22. I have a 22 K dark medium that's a go-to ping ride for me now. You might consider the 15" light hats and whatever 22" ride (k, dark medium, custom medium, or custom dark) calls out to you most. Last thing I'll say is I think there's a vintage zildjian A out there for every need, the trick is figuring out what production era and weight you want. Old As are so nondescript though, it can be really easy to score a great deal on a real gem. Anyway, happy hunting.
 

Matched Gripper

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Ok, so as some of you know, I recently acquired a new Gretsch kit strictly for practicing/playing in my basement. First drumset I’ve had at home in many years and it’s been a long time since I’ve really delved into gear, especially cymbals. The drums were easy, as I knew new heads and tuning would be more important than getting the most expensive shells I could find.

Cymbals though... I knew that would be a challenge. I started doing minimal research and I know from some experience what I like and what I don’t like from a feel and sound standpoint. It’s been so long though, I honestly don’t know where to start with all of the different options out there on the used market, so I’m going to need some help. I see a lot about cymbal weight in grams, which I’ll admit, I know nothing about. My experience and knowledge beyond brand names and some models is fairly limited.

So, I guess what I’m looking for is a bit of knowledge on cymbal weight, brands, models, etc. that would help me narrow down what I’ll be looking for on the used market. Here is what I know:

My first set of decent cymbals was a pack of Sabian AAX. It was fairly standard at 14” hats, 16”and 18” AAXplosion crashes, and 20” ride. Nothing crazy. Somewhere along the way I ended up with an AAX Metal hi-hat top on the standard AAX bottom and loved that combo. I then retired the 16” and bought a 19” HHX Evolution crash and really liked that.

Where I really started delving into other options was at church. We did a lot of experimenting with different setups because the battle of volume and sound between the drummer and sound guy (count me in both categories as I am also a sound engineer) was a constant struggle. After many different brands and experiments, we landed on going with mostly Meinl Byzance stuff. The last setup I played there had 15” Dream hi-hats (I can’t remember which model), two 19” Byzance crashes, and a 21” Byzance ride.

I loved this setup and gained a respect for larger cymbals. I loved the sound they produced and loved the feel of playing that setup. I know I like a darker sounding cymbal and definitely do not like bright anything. Washy is good, especially on the ride. For what I play, I don’t really need a ping-y ride and like it to wash and crash nicely. I definitely prefer medium-thin cymbals by feel, I think, but I know this varies from company to company. And I guess size wise I really grew to liver playing larger sizes than I was accustomed to, so 15” hats, 19-20” crashes, and a 21-22” ride would be ideal.

So, with that said, what should I be on the lookout for on the used market and what recommendations would you have for me, be it used or new? I’m not looking to go out and spend money on a brand new set of Byzance, but I also don’t want to cheap out. What would be a poor man’s set of what I described haha?I’m not in any real rush, so playing the used market and taking advantage of deals when they come along is fine with me. And of course if any further info is needed, ask away! I’m all ears.

Edit: I guess it might help to know what I play most of the time. Primarily, I’ll be practicing and playing worship music and pop/punk/rock/indie type stuff.
I am not a cymbal expert, but, if you prefer dark, washy cymbals, you should look at cymbals with lighter weights and heavier hammering. This also tends to give cymbals a shorter decay. For that purpose, I like the Zildjian K Custom Dark and K Constantinople lines. Be aware that unlike some other brands, high end Zildjians are very individual. No two cymbals, even of the same line, sound exactly the same. So, you should hear them before you buy them. Another thing to be aware of is that a brand new cymbal that hasn’t been played will sound noticeably different after a few months of regular playing.

If you can’t hear your cymbal choices in person, an online alternative is the Memphis Drum Shop website which has a lot of cymbal demo recordings to listen to.
 
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chillybase

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I started a similar thread a while ago. Lots of good information.

 

Nick Mc

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I'm not sure exactly how decided you are on the sound and sizes but if you are decided, I think the Meinl Byzance line is the best option of that sound in bigger sizes. I think Gabe Helguera of I Prevail and YouTube Channel Drum Bests Online plays cymbals close to what you're interested in so it might help to check out his channel and see what cymbals he's matching together.

If you're a little less decided it's worth mentioning that Zildjian has a cymbal pack of K's called their Worship pack. K's are dark and someone at Zildjian thinks it's a good set for that type of music. It might be worth looking at just to see if you're interested in even one of those cymbals.
 

Rhythm Block

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I am not a cymbal expert, but, if you prefer dark, washy cymbals, you should look at cymbals with lighter weights and heavier hammering. This also tends to give cymbals a shorter decay. For that purpose, I like the Zildjian K Custom Dark and K Constantinople lines. Be aware that unlike some other brands, high end Zildjians are very individual. No two cymbals, even of the same line, sound exactly the same. So, you should hear them before you buy them. Another thing to be aware of is that a brand new cymbal that hasn’t been played will sound noticeably different after a few months of regular playing.

If you can’t hear your cymbal choices in person, an online alternative is the Memphis Drum Shop website which has a lot of cymbal demo recordings to listen to.
Agreed here as well. Figuring out exact weights on whatever you're eyeballing and comparing that to video/sound files of the same make and model that weigh and appear very similar can be a reasonable substitute for playing in person. Also never hurts to ask for a sound file- even a crappy one can be enlightening.
Re: meinl cymbals- I've often felt like their lighter and washier options sacrifice too much stick clarity or projection. Wash is great, I love it, but I don't want all my cymbals to behave exclusively like different sized crashes. The foundry reserve mediums are somewhat of an exception but you'd better not be too attached to both your kidneys if you decide to go that route.
 

pkburrito

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It took me a while to learn about all of the cymbals companies, their lines and offerings, weights, etc. A lot of the info came from Google searches that led me to this forum and others.

I kept returning to this article:http://www.cruiseshipdrummer.com/2012/08/how-to-get-real-cymbals-when-your-poor.html?m=1

If anything, you’ll at least get some of your questions about cymbal weights answered.

I would suggest also looking to social media and buying/selling apps to expand your searches of the used market.
That is a great article! Definitely putting it to use. I’m currently hunting on here, Reverb, Craigslist, and eBay. Any other apps/places you’d recommend?
 

pkburrito

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Thank you all for the feedback! I know asking for recommendations on a forum like this can be tough and I’m usually loathe to do so. The cymbal world is a massive one though and I realize there are hundreds of options out there that will fit the bill.

Naturally, I came across a video of the Paiste 602 crashes and LOVED them, along with the Byzance. It looks like that’s where I’m headed, so I’ll have to start getting some funds together.I went to my local Guitar Center and Sam Ash yesterday and boy... it’s a far cry from how I remember those places. Not much to see or hear unfortunately, especially used.
 

WaggoRecords

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That is a great article! Definitely putting it to use. I’m currently hunting on here, Reverb, Craigslist, and eBay. Any other apps/places you’d recommend?
I have a lot of thoughts about this. For me (and I'm sure a lot of people here), I enjoy the hunt for unique cymbals and deals.

Online, I use the sites you mentioned as well as Guitar Center, Sam Ash and MusicGoRound. GC has a huge inventory but fewer deals compared to Sam Ash, I've found. MusicGoRound is ok, but I've never ordered off their site.

Like I said before, I think the used market has been shifting to social media and apps. Facebook Marketplace seems be emerging as an alternative to Craigslist, and you can now sort through individuals outside your region who are willing to ship. On Instagram, @hazelshould encourages people to negotiate through direct messages about cymbals that might never go up on his website. @drums_for_sale is an account that aggregates and facilitates used gear sales. Anyone who decries social media use is only missing out, because you don't have to be particularly active to take advantage of the platforms. In the case of FB Marketplace, I just used my partner's account to buy and sell.

Finally, OfferUp and, to a lesser extent, Mercari are apps that I've had success with.

It's fun to see all that is out there, and can be amusing to see how much some people want for their gear. I feel like this is going to be preachy, but I think finding and playing cymbals is about the journey, and not so much finding the perfect set. Just my two cents. Good luck!
 

Rhythm Block

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Thank you all for the feedback! I know asking for recommendations on a forum like this can be tough and I’m usually loathe to do so. The cymbal world is a massive one though and I realize there are hundreds of options out there that will fit the bill.

Naturally, I came across a video of the Paiste 602 crashes and LOVED them, along with the Byzance. It looks like that’s where I’m headed, so I’ll have to start getting some funds together.I went to my local Guitar Center and Sam Ash yesterday and boy... it’s a far cry from how I remember those places. Not much to see or hear unfortunately, especially used.
No reason not to ask, I think. I love hearing what people think about their cymbals because it's always an invitation to open my ears in new ways and reconsider my own sound. The fact that we all have different preferences is as intriguing as it is confounding.
 

pkburrito

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No reason not to ask, I think. I love hearing what people think about their cymbals because it's always an invitation to open my ears in new ways and reconsider my own sound. The fact that we all have different preferences is as intriguing as it is confounding.
I’m finding the hunt to be akin to building a pedalboard for guitar. Years back when I built mine, I was swapping out pedals (namely overdrive pedals) at least once or twice a week. What was infuriating was that one drive wasn’t necessarily better than other, just different. There were SO many that were actually good, but the temptation to find something “better” and different was always there. This kind of feels like it could be the same with so many good options out there.
 

Rhythm Block

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Definitely an apt comparison. For me there was a lot of full on trial and error for like 4 years, and I mostly sold or traded cymbals as I replaced them. Now I just keep finding good ones that do different things and I'm having a hell of a time letting anything go. I've always been an acoustic instrumentalist but I think the mouthpiece hunt on saxophone has been the only other journey to give me such a headache. I wouldn't really have it any other way though...
 


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