What Size Cymbals Should I Get for My Drums?

by Chris Brower

The other component important to a drum set besides the drums themselves are cymbals. With cymbals, you have a variety of options, such as size, thickness, sound and brand. While it ultimately comes down to what you think sounds best for your style, keep in mind some size recommendations when thinking about what cymbals you should get for your drums.


Before buying any cymbal, try them out. If the store allows, hit the cymbal several times at different parts on the cymbal, as this will help you hear how the cymbal sounds. As many cymbals are hand-hammered, each cymbal can sound different, even if it carries the same brand and type. When it comes to size, louder/heavier music, such as hard rock or metal, usually uses bigger cymbals, while lighter music, such as jazz, uses smaller cymbals. You're certainly not limited in what sizes you can get, but this is the standard for drummers.


One of the main cymbals of the drum set is the crash cymbal. Many drummers have multiple crash cymbals. Rock drummers often uses crash cymbals that are between 16 and 18 inches, though some manufacturers do offer bigger sizes, such as 19 and 20 inches. Lighter players often play smaller cymbals, such as ones between 14 and 16 inches. Also, drummers who have multiple crash cymbals usually have them in different sizes, so you can have, for example, a 16-inch crash and an 18-inch crash, giving you multiple options.


Another main cymbal of the drum set is the ride cymbal. Ride cymbals are generally bigger than crash cymbals, often in the 18- to 22-inch range. Again, harder/louder players tend to play bigger ride cymbals, while lighter players play smaller ride cymbals. Some cymbal manufacturers make a cymbal known as a "crash/ride," which essentially combines the two cymbals, making it possible to crash on the cymbal, as well as play it like a ride cymbal. These are less common though. While it is also not common to see drummers with multiple ride cymbals, you certainly can have multiple ride cymbals if you'd like to have different options.


Hi-hats are another common cymbal for a drum set. Hi-hats are a set of two cymbals that are on top of each other. Each set features a bottom hi-hat cymbal and a top hi-hat cymbal. No matter the type of music played, the standard hi-hat cymbals size is 14 inches. As far as size, fewer options exist when it comes to hi-hats, but some manufacturers do make 13- and 15-inch hi-hats. The smaller the hi-hat cymbals, generally the higher pitched they will sound. Like other cymbals, you can have multiple hi-hats if you'd like more options.

Effects Cymbals

While hi-hats, crashes and rides are the standard cymbals drummers use, a wide variety of effects cymbals can add distinctive sounds to your playing. The two most common effects cymbals are splashes and china cymbals. Splashes are typically very small, between 6 and 10 inches, and give a high-pitch sound that evokes its name, "splash." China cymbals often come in all sizes between 12 and 22 inches, but are sometimes even bigger or smaller. These give a high-pitched sound that might remind a listener of a gong or other Asian percussive sound. As well, there are other effects cymbals that are less common, but can give unusual sounds to your playing. When it comes to size selection, because these cymbals are not standard cymbals for a drummer, you simply have to pick which size sounds best with your playing. Smaller cymbals are generally higher-pitched and bigger cymbals are generally lower-pitched.


About the Author

Chris Brower is a writer with a B.A. in English. He also spent time studying journalism and utilizes both to deliver well-written content, paying close attention to audience, and knowing one word could determine whether a product is a success or a failure. He has experience writing articles, press releases, radio scripts, novels, short stories, poems and more.

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