Bright vs. Dark cymbals


What do you guys prefer overall, dark or bright sounding cymbals?

I know each has it's practical application, but which one suits your fancy?


Platinum Member
I have probably never actually played a dark cymbal even though I used to own an AAX 16" Dark Crash. All the cymbals from the Sabian, Paiste, and Zildjian are bright. I do not really know too much about Meinl, although I once had a Meinl crash, which was quite a bit like a Paiste. Peace and goodwill.


I have cymbals that are bright, middle of the road and dark. It all depends on the particular genre of music that I'm playing and many of those genres overlap. I play my Zildjian A Custom cymbals primarily for rock, but I have used them quite a bit for country. I would think that they would be a bit out of place at wedding receptions or corporate parties just because of the feel or atmosphere of those venues. It really all depends on many variables.



Platinum Member
I have numerous A Zildjians, numerous A Customs, I've even still got a couple of Z Customs lying around somewhere and I also have Giant Beats and 2002's from Paiste. Yet I only have two cymbals that could even remotely be considered dark, those being a couple of K' has been MIA for a while now and the other is a splash that never gets used.

So with that lot on board, the proof is in the pudding I guess. Kinda makes it hard to argue that I don't favour brighter cymbals.


Silver Member
I prefer dark cymbals that tend to blend rather than cut through the mix.

I especially like dark washy crashable rides such as my Sabian HH Manhattan, and my Wil Calhoun rides.

The brightest cymbals that I own are AA el Sabors.



Platinum Member
To me, it's not a matter of bright and dark, but how a cymbal opens up. I have plenty of cymbals on both sides of the fence, but if I had to choose, I would choose dark. Most of my dark cymbals have enough of a swooshing trashiness that they would cut through a mix, but some of my brighter cymbals cut so much that they don't blend. I'd rather have the best of both worlds than the best of one world...


Junior Member
Bright seem to get hated on a lot.
They sure do! I only play bright, heavy cymbals. I want them to cut and have fast attack. The brightens keeps them more out of the drums and everything else in the mix since not many things occupy much space in the very high frequencies.


Junior Member
I say mix 'em up. Most of my cymbals are Zildjians. I have a 16" medium crash that kind of sits in the middle, as expected. I have a 17" K Custom Dark China that definitely is kind of dark. I have an 18" cymbal that came with my original kit as a ride/crash. It's kind of dark but tonally sounds like crap. I'm planning to drill a bunch of holes in it and make it into a trash crash. My ride is a 20" mini-cup and I'd say it tends to be somewhat dark. I'm now looking to buy a 17" medium thin crash that i feel will be more bright and round out my cymbal setup. I think versatility is important so mixing dark with bright makes a lot of sense.


Silver Member
I remember having to really decipher the difference between dark & dry.
Dark gave me the blending element aforementioned here. Dry always sounded like a trash can lid.

I do love Meinl's dry ride though (like the one Thomas Lang uses). Cuts through a good sized mix, but not so much that it's overpowering.

The crashes are just not my deal.


Junior Member
I generally prefer brighter cymbals as I like them to be heard in the mix, for all the praise the K const get you'd expect you'd be able to hear them when you're in the audience but they just don't sound like anything when the drummer hits them.
Paiste cymbals on the other hand...
I only play bright, heavy cymbals. I want them to cut and have fast attack.
Heavy cymbals actually take more time to open up, as there's less mass that needs to be set into motion.
One of the characteristics of fast crashes, for example, is that they're lighter than their "regular" counterparts.


Silver Member
I like both/either as long as there's a certain degree of dryness to them.
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I like a cymbal that strikes a judicious balance between brightness and darkness. A piercingly bright cymbal can be rather unmusical, whereas a drearily dark one can be meek and indecisive. Bright enough to state its claim but dark enough to be discreet is a winning formula for my purposes. Can anyone say "Zildjian A Avedis"?
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Well-known member
I don't even know if I'll say this right. I like the paiste 2002 for their brightness..glassiness. I like the zildjian k's for the darker side. I like the K because they blend into the music..blends?..hides? Inside it?...warmer..fuller..I'm already messed up. Am I a jazz guy at heart?.
Always trying to find that perfect mix in between. My favorite cymbal right now is the 70's nostalgia ride. The only thing I don't like about it is the piercing bell.


Junior Member
Heavy cymbals actually take more time to open up, as there's less mass that needs to be set into motion.
I've always disagreed with that viewpoint (and I've done a LOT of testing on cymbals). Heavy cymbals (assuming you're hitting them hard) have an instant attack and ramp up to full volume much quicker... comparable to a "crack" of sound. While thin cymbals have more of "whoosh" to them and lack that instant attack.

Look at it this way... let's agree a table top is more solid than a soft rubber ball. Hit both with a hammer... hitting the table gives you an instant attack, while hitting the ball lacks that instant crack of sound. Overall volume aside, hitting something more solid gives you much faster attack than hitting something with more give to it. The more something flexes, the less attack you get.

I've tried and played thin cymbals, and they really lack that instant attack. It's the same reason why you get much less instant attack on kicks using large soft beaters than wood or plastic beaters. Soft has more give than hard, thus less initial attack.


Platinum Member
Found my happy place with K Dark Thin Crashes, I get cut, warmth and they open up beautifully at any volume.