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Thread: Test Driving Cymbals

  1. #1

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    Default Test Driving Cymbals

    People ask about the right cymbal to purchase... How to pick them? how much to spend? etc. I like simple answers, and it took me some time to come up with simple answers to these questions. These are a couple of thoughts on buying cymbals...

    1) Listen with your ears instead of your wallet/bank account. Your ears know what they want to hear from a cymbal. The ear also can hear how a prospective cymbal fits into your cymbal arsenal... and you know when you hear THAT perfect cymbal. Remember, you're not paying for a sheet of metal that's been hammered and or lathed. You're acquiring the right instrument that will become a part of your drumming personality. This concept leads to the second point...

    2) Use the sticks you play in studio and on stage when test driving cymbals. Pro Mark makes a lot of its lines of sticks in both hickory and oak. Test a ride cymbal with a hickory 5A and then an oak 5A and you will hear a noticeable difference in sound quality and characteristics of the cymbal. Your sticks are every bit a part of your cymbal sound. Please do not use a porous hickory demo stick at the store when you play with dense oak sticks. You will quickly discover you bought the wrong cymbal for your sound's personality.

    Your ears will know when they've found THAT cymbal so please listen to them. Your sticks are a big part of your cymbal sound so use them when test driving cymbals. These two ideas help to quickly sort through a lot of cymbals and get to the one that is the ideal purchase.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Anderson View Post
    People ask about the right cymbal to purchase... How to pick them? how much to spend? etc. I like simple answers, and it took me some time to come up with simple answers to these questions. These are a couple of thoughts on buying cymbals...

    1) Listen with your ears instead of your wallet/bank account. Your ears know what they want to hear from a cymbal. The ear also can hear how a prospective cymbal fits into your cymbal arsenal... and you know when you hear THAT perfect cymbal. Remember, you're not paying for a sheet of metal that's been hammered and or lathed. You're acquiring the right instrument that will become a part of your drumming personality. This concept leads to the second point...

    2) Use the sticks you play in studio and on stage when test driving cymbals. Pro Mark makes a lot of its lines of sticks in both hickory and oak. Test a ride cymbal with a hickory 5A and then an oak 5A and you will hear a noticeable difference in sound quality and characteristics of the cymbal. Your sticks are every bit a part of your cymbal sound. Please do not use a porous hickory demo stick at the store when you play with dense oak sticks. You will quickly discover you bought the wrong cymbal for your sound's personality.

    Your ears will know when they've found THAT cymbal so please listen to them. Your sticks are a big part of your cymbal sound so use them when test driving cymbals. These two ideas help to quickly sort through a lot of cymbals and get to the one that is the ideal purchase.
    As to point 2, it would seem less expensive to me to change sticks than cymbals if you get it home and it sounds different than it did at the store.

    Before cymbal hitting with sticks I would always hold a cymbal up to my ear on my finger tip and give it a thumbnail twang. Then I could listen for all the different things going on in the cymbal. The result would be pleasing or not pleasing.

    all the best...

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    I always test the cymbals with my own sticks, as well as yarn mallets and sometimes hot rods if it's a crash or ride.
    It's also a good idea to bring at least some of your other cymbals to compare. For example when buying my crashes I would compare new ones to the cymbals I had already bought and was using, so I could get a matched set.
    Another thing: while I wouldn't say you should bring your own felts, they do make a big impact on cymbal sound, at least for crashes, splashes and chinas. The super thick cymbal felts may make a smaller thinner cymbal sound muted. So you may want to experiment with different amounts of tightness on the cymbal in the store if it's on a stand.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    I totally agree with point number one. That's exactly how I found the perfect ride. I was looking at a 20" ride, but my ears preferred the 22" ride (both were Meinl Byzance Sand Rides). I'm glad I went with my ears.

    As for cymbal shopping trips, I plan in advance, so I'm sure to take one of my own sticks with me. I don't like having to resort to using my finger as a drum stick. I'm not a fan of that method for several reasons.
    "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt" - Abraham Lincoln

    Have drums, will travel.

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  5. #5

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    the problem is finding a place that has at least one brand or weight you're looking for. Lots of small stores will have a pair of B8's next to some MCS's. Nothing wrong with those if you like them.

    There's a music store I worked at a long time ago in northern California and every year the owner has his own type of NAMM show. As far as I know he still does them. It's a big deal. The year I was there it was held at a nice hotel with all kinds of booths and clinics all weekend long. Anyway there was a lot to mull over and I spent half the day listening and hitting hats before I bought a pair. I decided on AAX stage hats that day. My Sabian days.
    Last edited by slinky; 02-21-2015 at 11:22 AM.
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    I agree to buy with your ears. I try to ignore the brand, material and price tag and just use my ears. Even if a cymbal is more than I can afford, I still listen to it for comparison. When I bought my main ride cymbal, I walked in the store intending to spend several hundred bucks on a new Paiste. I left with a well used Sabian (unknown series) for about $45. It had the sound I wanted....and I bought a nice Mapex boom stand to go with it. Win-win.
    -Brian

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    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    I also agree with using your own ears to find what you want. Like N2Bluz, I'm brand blind. I have a mix of cymbals that I have found over the years, and almost all of them are used. I have been fortunate that a local music store always had a variety of used cymbals that I checked out whenever I went in. I also became a friend of the store owners, so when I found something I liked, he would let me try it out with my other cymbals, at home, and if it didn't play well with others, I could take it right back for a full refund, no questioons asked.
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


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  8. #8

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    I guess I'll be the first to admit to being semi-brand loyal. My OCD kicks in when I start visualizing a cymbal on my kit. I like them to all look alike - or at least very close. So for years and years now I've had all Zildjians (A & K) and Sabians (HH & AA with one XS20). Of course, the sound of the cymbals within those brands took priority, but I stuck to the brands. And so far I've had no problem obtaining the sounds I'm looking for within those two brands.

    With that being said, I've dreamed lately about buying another kit and outfitting it with B20 cymbals from another brand. But whatever that brand is, I can tell you that all the cymbals will match!

    Shoot me, but I can't help myself.

    GeeDeeEmm

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Test Driving Cymbals

    Quote Originally Posted by slinky View Post

    There's a music store I worked at a long time ago in northern California and every year the owner has his own type of NAMM show. As far as I know he still does them. It's a big deal. The year I was there it was held at a nice hotel with all kinds of booths and clinics all weekend long. Anyway there was a lot to mull over and I spent half the day listening and hitting hats before I bought a pair. I decided on AAX stage hats that day. My Sabian days.
    Sounds like a great event...................any more details?

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