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I cleaned my cymbals today for the first time in my life. I hated it!

David M Scott

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I know it seems strange but I have played drums for over 20 years and never in my life had I cleaned one of my cymbals ... today was the day ... arrrghhhh!

Long story short, I bought some dream bliss hi hats as a spare to my in house drum, and the seller "did me a favor" and cleaned the cymbals. I must admit they looked neat and he did a good job.

When I got home, I put the cymbals on the stand and immediately my wife says: wowww your other cymbals are really disgusting compared to these; what if you cleaned them hey?

Not wanting to upset my wife who is vert supportive, and lets me have a drum at home and make noise anytime I want, I went to the music store closest to home and bought some of those cleaning fluids.

They had Paiste and Zildjian; as i'm cheap, i went to Zildjian and thought: well this crap must be all the same! Cleaning was the most horrifying thing I did in my life: a complete mess, all dirty cloths flying in all directions, the bathtub ended with black residue from the oxidation patina of the cymbals ... a horror movie!

In the end my wife thought they looked beautiful all shiny and yellow; Personally my thoughts were: I lost 2 hours of my life and the cymbals now sound different and not sure if for the better! I don't think I'll ever do this again in my life.

Do any of you usually clean cymals? Are your experiences as terrifying as mine?
So here’s a trick I learned from a piano tuner who had to clean brass hinges etc. To clean Brass/Bronze use “Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner” be sure and get the one with the dark blue label with “Power” on it not the pale blue or green label types. This stuff is “instant” and With minimal scrubbing removes even discolouration/ stains In a hurry and returns even lacquered cymbal finish to bright. Be sure and wash cymbals well with clear water after cleaning to insure all of the Lysol is off. This product is manufactured by a British company and in Canada. Bet shows that the company has a distributor in New Jersey. Believe me, this takes all the sress and sweat out of cleaning.
 

cruddola

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Never did a deep clean like that, we get a lot of dust in the high desert so I use a dry dust cloth sometimes on the whole kit but no deep cleaning.

As a point of reference I've had my F250 for 10 years now, previously a Ram for 8 years. In the entire time I owned these two vehicles I've never cleaned them once. No car washes, no armor-all on the dash. Maybe wipe out some dog poo I got on the floor mat but that's about it.

What's the point?
Not to worry, I have a 96 f250 pick-up and a 96 f350 with a service truck body. Lucy and Martina roll about equipped with big calves and massive thighs, no stinking Kartrashian carrot legs and tire-tube boobs among them! Two-inch long and brutally ragged jean-skirts. Got them as virgins. Both are 4X4 and have never had a bath except for the little rain that the desert gifts us. They just love the mud. Nothing better than a pair of all-terrain girls, dude. Got a 2006 Crown Vic Interceptor back in 2007. Same thing with Vicky. She'd been around the block for a year before she gave herself to me. She always sports a pair of ugly, butt-less, stained and ragged jeans with the entire front fabric rotted off. 90% of her fabric is missing. Like Lucy and Marty with any body position her vertical eye always watching. Nothing left but a waistband, a useless front pocket and tattered cuffs at the ankles. She refuses to cut off the remaining 10 square inches of fabric still rooted by frail strands on the legs. She'd be naked were they to fall off. She calls them her air-conditioners. All have permanently asphalt-blackened boobs, knuckles, elbows, knees and thighs. All three topped with 3-inch long sweat-rotted, golf-ball sized hole-pocked t-shirts. Nothing more than a well sweat-yellowed collar with sleeves barely attached. No stinking tatts either. Yikes!! I like my girls in greasy rags and dirty! Same with my friggin cymbals!
 

MaskingApathy

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I use Music Nomad cymbal cleaner, and imo that's the only one worth using. Doesn't take too long to clean and if you're careful the logos will still be there. I've never messed around with BKF or ketchup or anything like that. It only works on brilliant finish cymbals though; for natural/traditional finish I think it's better to avoid using any cleaner on it. Just wipe them down regularly.
 

langmick

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I picked up a cheap orbital polisher/sander and a big towel. I put some of that buckaroo polish all over the cymbal, place it on the towel, wrap the towel around, then hit it with the orbital polisher. The polisher does't directly contact it, just through the towel. After that, clean up and give it a wipe, and that's it. I don't spend too much time with it on the cymbal, it never really builds up any appreciable heat. Really saved a lot of time, and wear and tear on my hands.
 

Davo

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I've never owned and never will own a so called brilliant cymbal or anything that relies on a sprayed on finish . I've got all Zildjian A in the traditional finish . (Real Cymbals)
So after almost a half century of playing and owning cymbals , I've run the gamut on what to do . Zildjian cymbal rouge was my first mistake . Thinking I was doing the right thing , it was way too expensive , labor intensive and the results sucked . Patches here and there that never blended in etc . Then it was "NeverDull" . That wadding in the can . Well , I used it exclusively for decades . It eliminated all the elbow grease that buffing with the "cymbal rouge" demanded , and at least the surface wasn't blotchy and tough to try and make look decent . No thanks Zildjian cymbal rouge . The only thing I didn't like about using Neverdull was the dark look it left behind . All the cymbals looked uniform and even in surface but not like new . In the interim , the Internet came about but I was late to the show on it and continued to use Neverdull . One night I was sitting around and decided to go through massive amounts of reviews and threads like this attempting to read between the lines of what others were doing , knowing I wasn't going to buff my arms off to get any results no matter how grand they might be . Abrasives are out as is any kind of power tools due to the fact that the tonal grooves lathed into the cymbal have everything to do with the sound it projects . If you polish those down , you basically ruin the cymbal for its intended sound . (Why I won't own brilliants) . So , the ketchup and the lemon juice and the salt and the vinegar and this and that all came up . Really ? Ketchup ? Yeah it'll work but what a stinking mess . Wanna draw flies ? Then okay . Then Groove Juice came up along with tons of praise but holy moly ! That stuff ain't cheap and I'm a starving musician . Then I started seeing a lot of posts about
Bar Keepers Friend . I dug a bit deeper and found that Groove Juice contained Oxalic acid and that was its active ingredient . And by crackey , Bar Keepers Freind also contained the exact same active ingredient at a tiny fraction of the price . So , I tried it . And lemme tell ya , I can't believe it took me 45 freaking years to find the magic bullet in cymbal cleaning . I was stoked . You don't need the liquid stuff . The powder works just as good . You take an old towel outside , set the cymbal on it , hose it down , sprinkle the powder on it , smear it around into a thin paste or a slurry like consistency , let it sit for a few minutes and hose it off . What could be easier ? And it looks like the day I bought it off the music shops showroom floor . Hey , flip the sucker over and do side two . Towel dry it and move on to the next cymbal . Now rinsing is important because you wanna make sure you get all the Oxalic acid out of the groves . A bit of dish soap on the final rinse works great and towel drying is important for esthetics . Now as any naked bronze will , with time , start to orange up again and fingerprints will follow , but , I found that after cleaning , a light mist of Pledge funiture polish sprayed on and wiped in on both sides with no more labor than polishing moms coffee table , will keep oxygen and finger oils at bay and then just wiping them down with a cotton cloth after the gig keeps them looking like new . Maybe monthly or so depending on how much you're playing , re apply the pledge and wipe down and you can pretty much forget about the cleaning process again as you'll see some green coming off every time you wipe them down .
I'm totally sold on this method and only wish I'd stumbled upon it 40 years ago .
Clean cymbals are happy cymbals and most of mine are true vintage cymbals . I'll try to post a pict .
P.S. If you are one of those guys that must retain the billboards , you won't follow this method . Most of my cymbals came about before they started making billboards out of them and I like them without logos so ...
Another thing to note is that lacquered finished cymbals will suffer from doing this as it will eat away at the sprayed on finish . Only use BKF on traditional finished cymbals !
image.jpeg
 
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DanRH

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Yeah, the last time I cleaned a cymbal was in the 70’s.
 

Slingwig26

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I know it seems strange but I have played drums for over 20 years and never in my life had I cleaned one of my cymbals ... today was the day ... arrrghhhh!

Long story short, I bought some dream bliss hi hats as a spare to my in house drum, and the seller "did me a favor" and cleaned the cymbals. I must admit they looked neat and he did a good job.

When I got home, I put the cymbals on the stand and immediately my wife says: wowww your other cymbals are really disgusting compared to these; what if you cleaned them hey?

Not wanting to upset my wife who is vert supportive, and lets me have a drum at home and make noise anytime I want, I went to the music store closest to home and bought some of those cleaning fluids.

They had Paiste and Zildjian; as i'm cheap, i went to Zildjian and thought: well this crap must be all the same! Cleaning was the most horrifying thing I did in my life: a complete mess, all dirty cloths flying in all directions, the bathtub ended with black residue from the oxidation patina of the cymbals ... a horror movie!

In the end my wife thought they looked beautiful all shiny and yellow; Personally my thoughts were: I lost 2 hours of my life and the cymbals now sound different and not sure if for the better! I don't think I'll ever do this again in my life.

Do any of you usually clean cymals? Are your experiences as terrifying as mine?
I just wipe ‘em down with dry cotton rag.
 

ConvertedLudwigPlayer

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I like clean cymbals in a perfect world.

I had a Zildjian ride that I picked up with some other gear. It was dirty and didn't sound very good to my ears. I decided to sell it. Then, I thought I will clean it first to see if I like it better. I hit it with some groove juice. It sounded much better and stayed on the stand for quite a while.
 

jfgaleener

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40 some years ago, my drum teacher recommended "Klean King" for stainless steel and brass (though they now label it as copper). I line the bath tub with some old towels, and one at a time, get my cymbals wet, pour the KK on, let the water turn the KK into a paste, then scrub with the lathe lines in circles. Rinse and dry with a clean towel immediately, then on to the next.
I like my cymbals to sound bright, and every 6 months or so, this gets them both sounding and looking brand new. I try to work around the labels, but eventually they will go.
 

Davo

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All modern Zildjians are treated with a clear coat protective finish before shipping to dealers.
This is true but others like the Zildjian A Customs have a finish that's more than something to keep them clean of fingerprints etc in the show room prior to them being sold . It's an actual finish that's made to stay put and using Groove Juice or Bar Keepers Friend wouldn't be recommended as it would eat off the finish that is meant to be there as a finish . The "brilliant" finish . Which I personally would not own .
 

MaskingApathy

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This is true but others like the Zildjian A Customs have a finish that's more than something to keep them clean of fingerprints etc in the show room prior to them being sold . It's an actual finish that's made to stay put and using Groove Juice or Bar Keepers Friend wouldn't be recommended as it would eat off the finish that is meant to be there as a finish . The "brilliant" finish . Which I personally would not own .
That is not correct and the cymbal cleaner doesn't remove the brilliant finish.
 

Davo

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That is not correct and the cymbal cleaner doesn't remove the brilliant finish.
Okay then . Use some Bar Keepers Friend on your fancy brilliant finished cymbals then an lemme know how the turn out .
 

MaskingApathy

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Okay then . Use some Bar Keepers Friend on your fancy brilliant finished cymbals then an lemme know how the turn out .
I don't use BKF; I've never had any problems with my preferred product on any brilliant finished cymbals.
 

Cliff DeArment

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Options…

Acids:

BFK - A strong acid (OA), which will eat and lose very small particles of bronze. The lost bronze may be filled in with types of dirt particles where bronze used to be. Ultimately, over time, you may even lose sound (subtle but true). That dirt is stuck in the cymbal forever. BFK will also change cymbal color to a mild yellow. The more you use it, the more yellow it becomes. Go to an old bar and it becomes obvious. They clean them all the time. The older the bar, the more yellow it is.

Lemon - Different type of acid, being natural that we all eat. But, as we all find, don't eat too much or the stomach with burn a hole in your gut. Just like a cymbal can.

Vinegar (ketchup) - Very mild acid. For me that's a last resort. If you eat a bunch of hamburgers with ketchup on it, it's rare to burn your gut. If you can handle it, a cymbal can too.


Alkali (reverse of acids}:

Usually calcium. This is how to build patina without crap...

Avedis Zildjian (1960ish) - "The best products to clean cymbals are Zud, Comet Cleanser, Ajax, Samea or other similar dry powdered household cleaners. It is difficult to remove pastes and waxed from the groves after cleaning. The simplest and most effective methods for cleaning as follows: A. If cymbals are not exceptionally dirty, do not dampen when cleaning. Just rub the dirt out with a clean cloth and the powdered product you have chosen (following the groves). Brush or wipe away all powder residue after cleaning. B. If cymbals are exceptionally dirty, use a little water to form a thick paste and rub in the same manner. Be sure to follow the grooves. When cymbal is clean, wipe dry immediately and thoroughly to avoid oxidation.

For me, if Avedis himself says it above, I do it.


Bases:

Usual soap


Patina - Patina is not corrosion and does not eat bronze. A cymbal may be cleaned well and still have a great patina sound. Real patina builds very, very slowly. Other things like dirt, grime, gunk, tape, and fingers, can kill a great cymbal sound. Most cymbals are just dirt impacted in the grooves, by holding dirty hands, or dropping Coke drinks, etc. That is not a real patina. Some of these will be there forever. Only acid can cut patina. You may call that building character, or hating it.

Dirt - Real dirt is easy to clean with a mild soap. Or as Avedis said, usual dry cleanser.


One more for Avedis's other recommendations... "Under no circumstances have your cymbals buffed by other than an expert. Heat generated from buffing can remove the temper and cause the cymbal to become brittle and susceptible to cracking."
 

John DeChristopher

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All modern Zildjians are treated with a clear coat protective finish before shipping to dealers.
This is correct, with the exception of Brilliant finish cymbals.
This is true but others like the Zildjian A Customs have a finish that's more than something to keep them clean of fingerprints etc in the show room prior to them being sold . It's an actual finish that's made to stay put and using Groove Juice or Bar Keepers Friend wouldn't be recommended as it would eat off the finish that is meant to be there as a finish . The "brilliant" finish . Which I personally would not own .
This is incorrect. There is no coating on A Customs or any Brilliant finish Zildjian. That's why fingerprints and smudges occur so easily. Next time you're in a music store, pick up an A Custom and hold it between your fingers and see how quickly it picks up your fingerprints. The Brilliant finish is the result of buffing, not a chemical treatment.
That is not correct and the cymbal cleaner doesn't remove the brilliant finish.
This is correct. Think of a Brilliant cymbal as a polished brass doorknob. Using brass cleaner would not dull the finish. But as I've said many times, I don't recommend a harsh chemical cleaner to clean cymbals. Heck, I don't even recommend cleaning cymbals. But if you do, warm water and a mild soap works fine.
 

MaskingApathy

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Options…

Acids:

BFK - A strong acid (OA), which will eat and lose very small particles of bronze. The lost bronze may be filled in with types of dirt particles where bronze used to be. Ultimately, over time, you may even lose sound (subtle but true). That dirt is stuck in the cymbal forever. BFK will also change cymbal color to a mild yellow. The more you use it, the more yellow it becomes. Go to an old bar and it becomes obvious. They clean them all the time. The older the bar, the more yellow it is.

Lemon - Different type of acid, being natural that we all eat. But, as we all find, don't eat too much or the stomach with burn a hole in your gut. Just like a cymbal can.

Vinegar (ketchup) - Very mild acid. For me that's a last resort. If you eat a bunch of hamburgers with ketchup on it, it's rare to burn your gut. If you can handle it, a cymbal can too.


Alkali (reverse of acids}:

Usually calcium. This is how to build patina without crap...

Avedis Zildjian (1960ish) - "The best products to clean cymbals are Zud, Comet Cleanser, Ajax, Samea or other similar dry powdered household cleaners. It is difficult to remove pastes and waxed from the groves after cleaning. The simplest and most effective methods for cleaning as follows: A. If cymbals are not exceptionally dirty, do not dampen when cleaning. Just rub the dirt out with a clean cloth and the powdered product you have chosen (following the groves). Brush or wipe away all powder residue after cleaning. B. If cymbals are exceptionally dirty, use a little water to form a thick paste and rub in the same manner. Be sure to follow the grooves. When cymbal is clean, wipe dry immediately and thoroughly to avoid oxidation.

For me, if Avedis himself says it above, I do it.


Bases:

Usual soap


Patina - Patina is not corrosion and does not eat bronze. A cymbal may be cleaned well and still have a great patina sound. Real patina builds very, very slowly. Other things like dirt, grime, gunk, tape, and fingers, can kill a great cymbal sound. Most cymbals are just dirt impacted in the grooves, by holding dirty hands, or dropping Coke drinks, etc. That is not a real patina. Some of these will be there forever. Only acid can cut patina. You may call that building character, or hating it.

Dirt - Real dirt is easy to clean with a mild soap. Or as Avedis said, usual dry cleanser.


One more for Avedis's other recommendations... "Under no circumstances have your cymbals buffed by other than an expert. Heat generated from buffing can remove the temper and cause the cymbal to become brittle and susceptible to cracking."
At least with brilliant cymbals I don't know why you guys are bothering with lemons and ketchup and whatever else when you can just use the music nomad cleaner and get good results with that. So much easier than those other methods.
 

MaskingApathy

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This is correct, with the exception of Brilliant finish cymbals.

This is incorrect. There is no coating on A Customs or any Brilliant finish Zildjian. That's why fingerprints and smudges occur so easily. Next time you're in a music store, pick up an A Custom and hold it between your fingers and see how quickly it picks up your fingerprints. The Brilliant finish is the result of buffing, not a chemical treatment.

This is correct. Think of a Brilliant cymbal as a polished brass doorknob. Using brass cleaner would not dull the finish. But as I've said many times, I don't recommend a harsh chemical cleaner to clean cymbals. Heck, I don't even recommend cleaning cymbals. But if you do, warm water and a mild soap works fine.
Yes finally someone gets it.
 

ranbunctious

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I know it seems strange but I have played drums for over 20 years and never in my life had I cleaned one of my cymbals ... today was the day ... arrrghhhh!

Long story short, I bought some dream bliss hi hats as a spare to my in house drum, and the seller "did me a favor" and cleaned the cymbals. I must admit they looked neat and he did a good job.

When I got home, I put the cymbals on the stand and immediately my wife says: wowww your other cymbals are really disgusting compared to these; what if you cleaned them hey?

Not wanting to upset my wife who is vert supportive, and lets me have a drum at home and make noise anytime I want, I went to the music store closest to home and bought some of those cleaning fluids.

They had Paiste and Zildjian; as i'm cheap, i went to Zildjian and thought: well this crap must be all the same! Cleaning was the most horrifying thing I did in my life: a complete mess, all dirty cloths flying in all directions, the bathtub ended with black residue from the oxidation patina of the cymbals ... a horror movie!

In the end my wife thought they looked beautiful all shiny and yellow; Personally my thoughts were: I lost 2 hours of my life and the cymbals now sound different and not sure if for the better! I don't think I'll ever do this again in my life.

Do any of you usually clean cymals? Are your experiences as terrifying as mine?
Did the cream stuff for 40 years. Got tired of turning black, then rubbing forever to get shine. Now I put them in the sink and pour Lysol toilet bowl cleaner. INSTANTLY clean, but no shine. Just a small dab of cymbal cleaner and they shine like a mirror. No more tiresome black to shine mess.
 

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David M Scott

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I
Did the cream stuff for 40 years. Got tired of turning black, then rubbing forever to get shine. Now I put them in the sink and pour Lysol toilet bowl cleaner. INSTANTLY clean, but no shine. Just a small dab of cymbal cleaner and they shine like a mirror. No more tiresome black to shine mess.
have been using Lysol for years and "bingo" instant clean. The one thing I"m not too pleased with is the fact that Lysol has some animal fat as a thickener and requires a Dawn dish soap wash to remove it but that's a minor concern. As Lysol is basically hydrochloric acid which is available at the hardware store, I might try that. But... Lysol works great, is fast and requires no h d polishing.
 


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