New Drummers and Cymbals: My Advice

Drumolator

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There are many posts on this forum by new drummers about which cymbals to get. I have played drums for over fifty years and have played cymbals by Sabian, Zildjian, Paiste, Meinl, and others that I do not remember. First, a few or a couple of good cymbals are better than many bad ones. The good thing about cymbals is that you can buy them one at a time. That is what you should do rather than buying a pack that you may want to replace in a year. Use and trust your ears, and if you are so inclined, pray about it.

1. Go to a store, even if you have to travel a while to get there.
2. If possible, take an experienced drummer with you. If that is not possible, take an experienced musician of some other type.
3. Start with hi-hat cymbals. Some inexpensive hats sound OK, such as Paiste Alphas, Sabian XSR's and B8 Pros. Buying used cymbals will almost always allow you to get a much better cymbal. Pro quality hats include the following: Sabian AA, AAX, HH, HHX, and Paragon; Zildjian A, A Custom, and K; and Paiste 2002, Signature, and 602.
4. Second, buy a good crash cymbal. Some will disagree with this and say to get a ride cymbal. Most inexpensive crashes sound bad. I suggest getting an 18 inch medium-thin or medium crash from the list of pro cymbals above. Used is good here too.
5. After these two, buy a ride, and another (different-sized) crash. Follow the advice above. Hats, two crashes, and a ride will be enough for most songs.

I have bought many used cymbals and have never had a problem with them. There are also great deals out there. Some Sabian SR2 cymbals are a great value. I bought one few years ago that is an 18 inch Thin that is a great crash and a decent ride. It was $100. Last year I bought two AAX Concept Crashes. The 16 inch was $100, and the 17 inch was $110, which is about half what they typically go for. Some drummers really like Paiste Alphas and Sabian XSR cymbals.

I hope this helps some of you, and I hope some others share their experiences. Peace and goodwill.
 

bassanddrum84

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This is a great. I tell dads that ask me what they should get for there kids to start drumming. I tell them buy used that way in 6 months when your posting this enforcer kit with zbt pack for 700$ on Craigslist when it’s really worth 200$ tops you’re not out money and forced to sell to someone like me for 50$ a year down the road.
 

peter

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My first foray into selecting cymbals when I started drumming was simply guided by my favorite music at the time, which led me towards Paiste Signature-type cymbals (started off with Alpha's, and Meinl Classics hats). I didn't really know that much, but I just knew the general sound & aesthetic I was looking for, which worked out.

Following that, with musical tastes changing I got into darker, more traditional, "artisan" type stuff. First Zildjian KCONs, then Bosphorus, then back to Zildjian, then Agop, some more Bosphorus (until their formula changed, sadly) etc.

Finally I've come full-circle, back to Paiste (Signature Dark Energy), but I've retained a couple Agop 30ths, and have a few independent artisan works (which are my favorite).
 

flatwins

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As a young drummer I was SO desperate for cymbals that I cleaned out my meager savings account and flat wasted my hard-earned money on #<%@ Camber II cymbals. I KNEW how bad they were and yet bought them anyway! They were all I could afford and yet if I had just slowed down I could have bought decent used cymbals one at a time. Chalk it up as being a dumb 14 year old.
 

peter

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Another tip:
If buying online, save the boxes and packing materials so they can be re-sold online.
Cymbal sized boxes can be hard to come by and cutting down a large box is a PITA.
Yes! You don't realize how hard it is to find boxes for disc-shaped objects until you get into flipping pies haha!

If in a pinch and you don't have an exact box in the required LxW, something else that works is simply taking larger sheets of heavy-duty cardboard from any box and essentially "wrapping" the cymbal in several layers of that. Taking care not to leave any open edges, obviously.
 

Cann_Man28

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The first nice cymbal I bought was a beautiful Sabian Manhattan Jazz. This one here:

I drove to the shop and picked it out. I still have it. I ended up getting some hihats later, and a crash last. Because a ride has that cushion to it, I think for some styles it's better to start with a ride you love and pick the supporting cast around that.

For straight beginners, I think a used, budget pair of hats and a crash ride is all you need to get learning, along with a kick that has decent heads (e.g. pre-dampened but not dead, like Evans EQ4 or Remo PS3), and ideally a decent snare (like a Ludwig Super-Lite or PDP black wax) so you can learn how to tune.
 
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mjohnson12

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Also don't assume all copies of a particular model cymbal sound the same. Don't try out a cymbal and then order it online for cheaper expecting it to sound identical. (Although Paiste cymbals might be the exception to this as they are known to be pretty consistent).
 

DrumPhil

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Great advice above. Remember, there is a lot you can do to adjust and improve the sound of drums: changing heads, all sorts of dampening/muffling devices, even upgrading rims. But very little can be done to adjust a cymbal without damaging it. A little gaffer's tape underneath might help an overly ringy cymbal, or possibly squeezing it between cymbal felts on the stand, but that's about it. So choose a specific cymbal by listening to it with your style(s) of music in mind. If possible, try striking it at all volume levels and on all parts of the cymbal, to find out if it is truly musical to your ears.

Nothing kills the desire to practice more than an instrument that makes bad sounds.
 


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