Finding the right cymbals can sometimes be a tricky business. To do it right you need to find a set that not only matches your drums but cymbals that match each other. Generally speaking, first you should find a make of cymbal you like. One way you can do this is go to your local drum store and try out different makes. For those who don’t know, popular makes include Zildjian, Sabian, Paiste, Meinl, Istanbul, and Bosphorus. With the first 3 being the most popular.
Sabians wall of cymbals at the NAMM show 2012
Most of these makers have many different types of cymbal, which can get very confusing sometimes. To take zildjian as an example, low end cymbals in there range are their ZBT, ZXT, & ZHT with their high end range being their Z3, K Zildjian, K Custom, A Zildjian, & A custom range.
The ZBT, ZXT, & ZHT are all make from sheet bronze and there Z3, K Zildjian, K Custom, A Zildjian, & A custom’s being made from cast bronze. How high you go depends on your budget. If you can afford to kit your self out with the higher end, go for it. Some of the lower end stuff can sound good for the price too and you can buy pre-matched sets in the lower range at a very affordable price.
Once you have figured out what make of cymbals you like, you now need to find a set that sonically matches. This is not as hard as it might seem. Start with your hi hats then get a crash, ride, maybe another crash, splash, fx, gong. The sky really is the limit these days but if you are looking to get the basics, start out with just some hats, a crash, a ride and maybe a faster crash or splash.
You may like a particular artists sound and you could have a look at what cymbals they use and go try some out at the music store.
Ask your self these questions: Are you looking for a dark or bright sound? What kind of music do I play or want to play? Listen to the songs you like and try to hear the sound of the drummers cymbals. You could even take your Walkman or ipod down to the music store and try to match the sound you hear. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and if you find the guy at the music store is a know it all and just confusing you, don’t be afraid to walk out the door and go somewhere else.
If you are trying to match to the sound of your drums, take your snare down to the store and see how it sounds with a particular type of hats or a ride. If you are trying to match a cymbal to your cajon definitely take that down too and see what works.
Some folks looking at cymbals
As I said the sky is the limit and cymbals are expensive so do your research and find a set that will last you a lifetime.