What Makes a Crash sound good?

scaramanga

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As a drummer, and even more so as a recording guy who works digitally, I like a crash with a softer attack, some bloom, and a wide frequency spread (no resonances). But also variety is the spice of life.
 

Phildrummer

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When you put it down on the floor, make the plans to sell it, replace buy and put up a smaller (than the other side) ride

Crash cymbals are best thought of as an unnecessary item
you can hit any cymbal for an accent
Your rides are where everything is coming from

crash specific cymbals are groove-knockers good for the last note ending and about it
otherwise you can hit any cymbal (ride) for an accent

you need the rides you don't need the crashes
crashes interrupt the groove
and provide no groove

they don't flow
they "end"

Sometimes they "begin" but mostly
they're useless wasted Space

of which is limited

If you want/insist on an effects cymbal consider
a splash, a swish, or one of the O-zone type cymbals

Lots of truth in here. Didn't Joe Morello record Take5 on a single 20" ?
 

JDA

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I didn't mean only 1 ride I meant two... maybe three (yes definitely three.. )
 

Seb77

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I agree a wider spread of tones is nice, those tones shold be even/harmonious, there shouldn't be any gonginess. If you can ride it and play the bell, all the better. Some cymbals speak faster than others, that's a matter of taste. Larger heavier ones only speak at higher volume, smaller/lighter ones max out at lower volume. Here you need to choose depending on the context you're going to use it in. In a louder band, much of the lows/mids, and a good deal of the decay will get lost within guitars etc., so you might need a bit more cymbal (bigger, heavier) than what you might think when trying cymbals on their own.
That said, you should be able to hear if one cymbal sounds better to you right away, else it doesn't make sense, at the moment, to spend money on a cymbal someone tells you is "good". If you want to hit/hear it again, good, if not, move on.
Don't go by brand/model name too much.Some of the recent cheaper cymbals are as nice as or nicer than your typical high-caliber offerings.
 

TPC

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... depending on the context ...
Context is everything. A big Ride cymbal will sound like a good crash in a very loud setting. A small, paperthin crash will sound lovely in a quiet setting in a small room. An old Japanese brass piece of crap will sound perfect as an angry effect crash in some avant-garde group. A super clean, vanilla, "beautiful" crash will sound great in many settings. Etc., etc.

If forced to pick for general use (OP fusion), A or K Zildjian, Sabian HHX, 2002, 602, ... Shoot, too many good answers.
 
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XVIII Airborne

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I usually only have 2 crash cymbals, so I look for versatility and contrast in my two cymbals. Like some have said here, record yourself/band and see what it sounds like to the audience and where the sound fits in the music, does it blend or cut? I stay away from smaller, thicker cymbals, like Zildjian rock or anything that says “power” crash, usually much to heavy for my taste.
 

halldorl

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I don’t mean to be an arse but basically it’s your ears that make a crash sound good. What sounds good to me may sound real bad to you. Find a store where you can check out as many as you can and see what you like.
 

Johnny K

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Lots of truth in here. Didn't Joe Morello record Take5 on a single 20" ?
20" Avedis in fact. Great video by John Riley. I have a 22" Avedis that I use with the jazz group. Love it. I also think my 18" K Custom Fast Crash is awesome. It's an explosion of sound that blooms and goes away as fast as it comes on, Like a ice cream brain freeze.

 

CC Cirillo

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A ride is a novel; high hats are an action movie; and a crash is haiku.

Or, depending on what you play, and your temperament, a ride is a bong hit; high hats are cigarettes, and a crash is a shot of espresso and vodka.

I agree with the gentleman from Iceland that our own aural compass guides us.

That said I’ve owned the cymbals you have and if I might play cymbal sommelier and you’d like a suggestion for a b20 pairing, possibly a K Custom Dark crash might blend with what you already have—maybe a 17” if your hats are 13” or an 18” if your hats are 14s.

...for me the pleasure is in the headiness of discovery.
 

5 Style

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Though I like the darker sounds of K or HH (or similar) for rides and hats, I'm OK with the slightly brighter sound of thinner A or AA type cymbals. I have a 16in medium thin A crash that my mom bought be with a kit as a teenager (a cool "big R" rogers that I no longer have) and I love the sound of it. It's kind of what I call a "waves crashing on the beach sound" - very pure, the opposite of "trashy." It blends well with lots of music, though probably not cutting enough for the very heaviest stuff. It sounds very nice... very mellow with mallets too. I just dig that very pure, very pretty tone...

I'm not sure, but I don't think that the newer Zildjain As sound quite as pretty as the one that I have from the early 80s.
 

Bri6366

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Just bought my first acoustic kit and have already bought a k dark ride and k/dyno high hat pair. I bought the two because when I listened to recordings I really liked the tones they produces and how they fit into playing. But now when looking for a crash I'm closed. Previously I stayed away from the budget sets because their sounds weren't really appealing (pingy and washy) but when listening to crashes I can hear that the timbre might be different with the more expensive ones, but I don't see why crashes like the zbt or hcs are worse. What exactly should I be looking for in a crash? (I play a lot of fusion if that helps?)
There are so many options in crash cymbals these days. Even if you just look at the K's, there are the K Darks, K Sweet Crashes, K Custom Darks, K Custom Sessions crashes, K Custom Hybrids, etc., and they are all nice.

One great thing about cymbals is you can get something generic/middle of the road that will work for many styles like an 18" A Medium Thin Crash and as your ear and taste in cymbal sounds develops, you can add cymbals that are more to your liking. But there arguably still isn't anything 'better' than that A. Medium Thin Crash. But to start out, any combination of 16"-19" A. Thin or Med Thin Crashes will work just fine.
 

5 Style

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One great thing about cymbals is you can get something generic/middle of the road that will work for many styles like an 18" A Medium Thin Crash and as your ear and taste in cymbal sounds develops, you can add cymbals that are more to your liking. But there arguably still isn't anything 'better' than that A. Medium Thin Crash. But to start out, any combination of 16"-19" A. Thin or Med Thin Crashes will work just fine.
I have the Sabian equivalent of that Zildjian A medium thin that you speak of and I agree that it's a great "all arounder." I use that one as a ride sometimes too, as well as a crash. On a side note here, if you are checking out Zildjian or Sabian, make sure to check out the other if you can. They're actually both run by folks from the same family and have a lot of cymbals that sound pretty similar, on brand to the other, at least that's my takeaway...
 
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Pounder

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When you put it down on the floor, make the plans to sell it, replace buy and put up a smaller (than the other side) ride

Crash cymbals are best thought of as an unnecessary item
you can hit any cymbal for an accent
Your rides are where everything is coming from

crash specific cymbals are groove-knockers good for the last note ending and about it
otherwise you can hit any cymbal (ride) for an accent

you need the rides you don't need the crashes
crashes interrupt the groove
and provide no groove

they don't flow
they "end"

Sometimes they "begin" but mostly
they're useless wasted Space

of which is limited

If you want/insist on an effects cymbal consider
a splash, a swish, or one of the O-zone type cymbals
Only if you're a jazzer.
 
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JDA

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Only if you're a jazzer.
Only if you're a jazzer?

what was/were/ elvis presley/little richards/ first drummers/ we're all jazz drummers
the sooner everyone gets that /the sooner/ the level of all/ drumming /gets elevated/
the drumset/ itself/a jazz/ invention/ instrument/
that's
like/saying/ you want to be a painter/ but refuse to paint/
that's
like saying /wanna be an auto mechanic/but/refuse to work/on cars
that's
like saying you want to sell/but don't want to talk to people
that's
like saying you want to be a bricklayer/but refuse to touch bricks/

/if you sit behind a drumset/ you're sitting in jazz/ before you even play a note/ so/ think about it
 
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hsosdrum

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Only if you're a jazzer?

what was/were/ elvis presley/little richards/ first drummers/ we're all jazz drummers
the sooner everyone gets that /the sooner/ the level of all/ drumming /gets elevated/
the drumset/ itself/a jazz/ invention/ instrument/
that's
like/saying/ you want to be a painter/ but refuse to paint/
that's
like saying /wanna be an auto mechanic/but/refuse to work/on cars
that's
like saying you want to sell/but don't want to talk to people
that's
like saying you want to be a bricklayer/but refuse to touch bricks/

/if you sit behind a drumset/ you're sitting in jazz/ before you even play a note/ so/ think about it
Oh please...

Yes, the drumset was invented by people who played jazz and was first used to play jazz, and drumset playing has its roots in jazz, but that doesn't make every drummer a jazz drummer any more than playing an accordion makes every accordion player a zydeco musician, or every violinist a disciple of European classical music.

There is plenty of room in the pantheon of music for drummers whose playing doesn't owe anything to the instrument's jazz heritage. Would their playing improve were they to recognize and study the jazz origins of the instrument's development and the jazz origins of many (if not most) of its players? Perhaps it would; perhaps it would not, but a player who does not recognize these things is still a drummer, even by the most narrow definition of the word.

And there's plenty of room in the pantheon of drumsets for setups that incorporate cymbals that serve only for crashing, and ride cymbals that cannot be crashed. And that doesn't hamper the ability of many of us to make music on the instrument, not one bit.
 

Dumpy

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Crashes are subjective. For rock, I don’t play anything lighter than a medium crash; other genres I have to have a thin crash in there. Then there is the subject of special effects cymbals. Charlie Watts plays the heck out of a china. The best advice in this thread was to play as many different ones as possible and use your ears.
 

Neal Pert

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It seems to me that the trend for the last ten years, at least, has actually been toward the kind of cymbal usage that Joe's talking about-- we're seeing bigger cymbals all around and more guys using K Con "rides" as crashes and all that. Look at all these indie guys essentially playing a bunch of jazz-model Agops that are nice, dark, trashy cymbals. Look at the popularity of "multi-use" cymbals like Giant Beats and Keropes. I mean, my core cymbal set is like that and I enjoy having multiple riding and crashing surfaces on my kit. It kinda bothers me when a cymbal really only does one thing. But I guess I don't see that way as the only way.

When I think about the use of crash cymbals, I think of three things: Demarcation, release, and wash. On the one hand, we typically use crash cymbals to mark the transition from one part of the song to another-- end of verse, hit the crash to signal a change in the music. On the other hand, if you think of playing a groove as holding a particular kind of tension, hitting a crash cymbal releases the tension. One of the reasons that the "In the Air Tonight" fill works so well is that it doesn't release the tension at the end of it-- the song just keeps kicking it up and up and gets more and more intense. And the reason the huge one-note fill at the key change of "I Will Always Love You" is so amazing is because of the crash on the one that goes along with this huge emotional release in Whitney Houston's voice. Pshhhhhh. And then the third use is wash, the sort of creation of a bed of noise for the other instruments and the vocals.

So you want to pick cymbals that do one, two, or three of those things. You may want a smaller cymbal for the punctuation/demarcation type thing (Chris Frantz with Talking Heads was expert at having small crash cymbals that marked the transitions without taking up much sonic space or releasing too much tension). You may want a bigger cymbal if you need some big, dramatic releases like Bonham or you need to create a wall of noise like Dave Grohl.

As for me, I am starting to see the usefulness of dedicated crash cymbals again after years of not using them.
 

Slingwig26

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Just bought my first acoustic kit and have already bought a k dark ride and k/dyno high hat pair. I bought the two because when I listened to recordings I really liked the tones they produces and how they fit into playing. But now when looking for a crash I'm closed. Previously I stayed away from the budget sets because their sounds weren't really appealing (pingy and washy) but when listening to crashes I can hear that the timbre might be different with the more expensive ones, but I don't see why crashes like the zbt or hcs are worse. What exactly should I be looking for in a crash? (I play a lot of fusion if that helps?)
So.......what makes a crash sound good is....a good crash.
 


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