Buy Cymbals by the Gram?

While shopping online for a dry ride cymbal with a woody stick sound, I was shocked to discover how closely the weight of the cymbals corresponded to the sound my ears heard. The correspondence was so close that I can almost recommend buying ride cymbals by weight alone.

Here's what I did: I focused on 20" old A Zildjians, thinking I should find what I wanted in a vintage cymbal for cheap, although I also looked at the newer K Zildjians labeled dry, since these are designed for drummers looking for the dry sound. Of course, a few other contenders by different makers popped up too. In any event, I made a list of every cymbal I found with a sound file on various sites, and made notes about each that included weight, price, and my general impression of the sound. In the end, I had a list with notes of 12 old A Zildjians and 5 newer K dry Zildjians, as well as a half dozen or so cymbals by other makers.

Upon analyzing my list later, I was astonished to see that the A Zildjians that appealed to me had similar weights (between 2646 and 2724 grams, or an average of 2681) while those that didn't appeal to me had measurably different weights (between 2188 and 2455 grams for an average of 2352). Even more shocking was that the smaller sample of K Zildjians I liked had an average weight of 2642, only 39 grams different from the average weight of the A Zildjians I liked. With the K's, which are heavier on the average, those I didn't like were heavier, an average of 3083 grams.

Crazy about this is that presumably there are lots of differences in the manufacturing of the old A and the newer K cymbals, but those differences didn't matter much to my ears. Oh, they did matter a little. I really liked one slightly lighter weight K at 2341 grams, which was about the average of the A's I didn't like. Also, the few I liked from non-Zildjian manufacturers had an slightly lighter average weight of 2352 grams. There's therefore something to the differences in manufacturing. However, within the same mass produced cymbal company, the weight of cymbals the same diameter seems all you need to know to judge the sound.

To the issue of my ears, which I doubt are the most refined, I was also surprised that I was able to discriminate between different weight cymbals based on listening alone. (That is, I listened to the sound files first, and only later calculated the relationship between my subjective impression and cymbal weights.) In my case, it appears that I can hear about a 10% difference from my prefered weight. Assuming, that is, that I like a cymbal weight about 2650 grams, cymbals that weigh less than 2385 or more than 2915 grams stand out to me as sounding different from what I'm looking for. Cymbals within this plus or minus 10% range are frankly difficult for me to discriminate among by sound alone. My ear starts to turn to mush and I'm less confident in my judgments. I suppose though this just means that I can probably live with any cymbal close to my target weight, which makes sense.

To another issue that is often mentioned, I didn't find listening to different sound files recorded differently with different drummers much of a problem. Oh, there are differences. (For the life of me I don't know why people would demo dry rides by bashing them, when that's not how you play a dry ride, and I sure wish demo drummers would play the bell less.) However, I found that my judgments were consistent across different sound files.

Mostly, though, while I'd be hesitant to buy any cymbal without at least hearing a sound file, my shopping experience persuades me that you can darn near buy cymbals by the gram and get what you want.

Tentative disclaimer: I was only searching for a dry ride. Weight may be a less useful indicator for a washy ride, and I suspect it is. Whereas washy rides are almost always lighter, the color of the wash may vary by factors besides weight. It's just that in my search for a dry ride I was shocked by how closely weight and sound corresponded.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Nice study.
This effort might be much harder to do with hammered cymbals, say a larger set of K's or HH's. The hammering would be a variable superimposed on a cymbal of identical weight.

A weight of 2600+ grams for a 20 inch ride would put things in the 'heavy' regime for me ....surely I can see it being 'dry', but likely not crashable at all.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Way too many other variables to consider besides just weight.

At most, it's a start. But at least it's something.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I’ve suspected this myself to some extent, but never tested it in any detail. I like your reasoning, and I’m going to weigh all my 20” Zildjian Rides to see just how heavy they are.

I suspect I’ll prefer a fraction lighter than you, but I’m intrigued.
 

Mike Stand

Silver Member
I have a spreadsheet with a list of cymbals I've owned over the years.

The weight is always listed.

As has been said, it's not the only criteria but I do think that a drummer can narrow down the ideal weight range for each type and size of cymbal.

One thing is important IMO, that's how the weight is distributed across the cymbal and the profile of the cymbal.

I know a drummer who takes his cymbals very seriously and constantly has some for sale online.

He always indicates the weight and describes how thick or thin the different parts are in relation to each other(bell, bow, edge) as well as posting a photo of he profile of the cymbal.

For experienced drummers this really helps to get a "feel" for the cymbal.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
A start and an end - for hand-hammered cymbals for my last purchase I wanted a light ride cymbal so it would be quiet and also a bit of wash: more wash/ less ping. So I only looked only at cymbals 1900 grams or less. The one I picked is very thin (20" and under 1,700 grams) and sounds like shimmering glass, with a beautiful wash plus a quick decay. No stick metallic ping. I knew a 3000 gram Zildjian thick piece of metal would sound like a dull wood stick hitting a piece of heavy plate metal maybe a lot of ping but not much character or musicality no shimmer no wash. I used grams to start my search and end my search.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Definitely interesting. I got curious enough to take a peek at mycymbal.com -memphis drum shop.

For 20" rides, out of 428 listed, the heaviest is the AAX Metal ride at 3308, and the lightest is 1400 Bos. Master Vintage flat at 1400 even.
I've got hi hat bottoms that weigh that much, ha ha.

What I found more interesting though are the differences in cymbals that are very close in weight.

For example, these two cymbals are only 2 grams apart:
Meinl Byzance Extra Dry Medium at 2589- https://memphisdrumshop.com/meinl-20-byzance-extra-dry-medium-ride-cymbal-b20edmr-1062016eee
and the Sabian AA Medium Briliiant at 2587- https://memphisdrumshop.com/sabian-20-aa-medium-ride-cymbal-brilliant-22012b-1021315s

meinl-20-byzance-extra-dry-medium-ride-cymbal-b20edmr-1062016eee_1.jpg


sabian-20-aa-medium-ride-cymbal-brilliant-22012b-1021315s_1.jpg


There are sound clips on those links that show the extreme difference in sound.


Edit - one more example:

2435g: https://memphisdrumshop.com/meinl-20-byzance-dark-raw-bell-ride-cymbal-b20rbr-1062016ggg

2433g: https://memphisdrumshop.com/used-zildjian-20-a-custom-ride-cymbal-ua20518-1042617z
 
Last edited:

opentune

Platinum Member
quite the research Wildbill.
Just noticed in one of those vids the MyCymbal kit was a Gretsch and NOT the usual Yamaha Maple or Birch Custom.
I do kinda agree with the OP that at first pass you can help yourself narrow down a lot knowing what weight range you are interested in, at least for a cymbal of a given class (say lathed vs dry, vs heavily hammered etc.).
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Ya - I know.
Not a fair comparison, without taking a lot of other stuff into consideration.
But yes - weight can be a starting point.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
This thread is good timing for me. I just today grabbed a new Agop ride from Memphis Drum Shop/MyCymbal.com and I finally paid attention to the grams.

I really like that I'm buying the exact cymbal I'm hearing. Otherwise, I wouldn't buy online.

My particular cymbal that I pulled the trigger on was removed from the website post haste too. (Indris Muhammed 22" ride) They say it's heavier than most Agop rides of that size. I liked it's sound the best.

I did this only once before at mycymbal.com with my first Agop cymbal, and it sounded exactly like what I expected it to sound from hearing the soundfile online. I did order some Soultone hi hat cymbals online, but I didn't get to hear them first. Luckily that worked out OK.

I never paid much attention to the gram thing. I honestly don't know why. I geek out on everything else. Of the 3 choices they offered in the model I wanted, one was 3092 grams, one was 3201, and the one I liked best (not by much) weighed in at 3218 grams. So the gram weight finally does interest me. Just in the last few days too. Strange. Hey it's even more to geek out on :)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
By the gram is an okay way of doing it I suppose.










But you get a good discount if you go for an ounce or more.
 
Definitely interesting. I got curious enough to take a peek at mycymbal.com -memphis drum shop.

For 20" rides, out of 428 listed, the heaviest is the AAX Metal ride at 3308, and the lightest is 1400 Bos. Master Vintage flat at 1400 even.
I've got hi hat bottoms that weigh that much, ha ha.

What I found more interesting though are the differences in cymbals that are very close in weight.

For example, these two cymbals are only 2 grams apart:
Meinl Byzance Extra Dry Medium at 2589- https://memphisdrumshop.com/meinl-20-byzance-extra-dry-medium-ride-cymbal-b20edmr-1062016eee
and the Sabian AA Medium Briliiant at 2587- https://memphisdrumshop.com/sabian-20-aa-medium-ride-cymbal-brilliant-22012b-1021315s
(Links don't work unless you copy and paste)

meinl-20-byzance-extra-dry-medium-ride-cymbal-b20edmr-1062016eee_1.jpg


sabian-20-aa-medium-ride-cymbal-brilliant-22012b-1021315s_1.jpg


There are sound clips on those links that show the extreme difference in sound.


Edit - one more example:

2435g: https://memphisdrumshop.com/meinl-20-byzance-dark-raw-bell-ride-cymbal-b20rbr-1062016ggg

2433g: https://memphisdrumshop.com/used-zildjian-20-a-custom-ride-cymbal-ua20518-1042617z

You're as neurotic as I am, and yup, you found some good examples of different sounding cymbals of the same weight. (I kind of liked one of the Byzances.) I did focus the bulk of my search within the Zlidjian family though.
 
I have a spreadsheet with a list of cymbals I've owned over the years.

The weight is always listed.

As has been said, it's not the only criteria but I do think that a drummer can narrow down the ideal weight range for each type and size of cymbal.

One thing is important IMO, that's how the weight is distributed across the cymbal and the profile of the cymbal.

I know a drummer who takes his cymbals very seriously and constantly has some for sale online.

He always indicates the weight and describes how thick or thin the different parts are in relation to each other(bell, bow, edge) as well as posting a photo of he profile of the cymbal.

For experienced drummers this really helps to get a "feel" for the cymbal.

Interesting point, thanks.
 
I’ve suspected this myself to some extent, but never tested it in any detail. I like your reasoning, and I’m going to weigh all my 20” Zildjian Rides to see just how heavy they are.

I suspect I’ll prefer a fraction lighter than you, but I’m intrigued.

Oh, I like light rides too--and already own one. I'm just looking for kind of the opposite sound, although now I'm wondering if maybe I should buy one in between and hope it works for both sounds I want. They say that good stick technique can get either sound out of a middle-of-the-road cymbal, and I'm really into as much set simplicity as possible. Alas, though, my stick technique sucks.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
To me it's like the Hobbit-Bellbow LOL. I look at the bell, then the curvature and taper of bow-fatter tapered are brighter and thinner darker, flatter bow is lower pitched and rounder higher, hammering whether random or in a row affects pitch, whacking it to see if it is stable. I've never paid much attention to weight either.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
You're as neurotic as I am, and yup, you found some good examples of different sounding cymbals of the same weight. (I kind of liked one of the Byzances.) I did focus the bulk of my search within the Zlidjian family though.


Ha ha - it only took about half a minute to sort by 'weight - high to low' and vice-versa.
I did spend a bit more time looking at how different some cymbals are that are close to the same weight though.

Cymbal weight is a really big deal to some people.
For myself, I usually seem to end up with with medium to medium thin weights for rides.
 

Mike Stand

Silver Member
Two criteria that nobody has mentioned so far: the drummer and the choice of sticks.

Two drummers might like to use the same model of 18'' crash to get the same kind of sound.

However, drummer A will use 5A sticks and hit moderately hard whilst drummer B will use 5B sticks and hit quite a bit harder.

So drummer B will use an ever so slightly heavier cymbal to in effect get approximately the same sound (but louder).

The more the weight increases, the harder a cymbal has to be hit to make it move and create "that" sound.

I think this is where the difference between thin and medium-thin cymbals come into play. The latter are for drummers who just "brush" the cymbal edge and the former are for drummers who like to give it a good whack!

So the "ideal" weight of a cymbal is still variable according to the individual playing style of each drummer.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
When I chose my last ride and went to Cymbal House in Cincinnati (N. KY) I took my own sticks. You're right - sticks can make a huge difference. But in answering OP's question about grams - I think that the weight gets you in ballpark.

Two criteria that nobody has mentioned so far: the drummer and the choice of sticks.

Two drummers might like to use the same model of 18'' crash to get the same kind of sound.

However, drummer A will use 5A sticks and hit moderately hard whilst drummer B will use 5B sticks and hit quite a bit harder.

So drummer B will use an ever so slightly heavier cymbal to in effect get approximately the same sound (but louder).

The more the weight increases, the harder a cymbal has to be hit to make it move and create "that" sound.

I think this is where the difference between thin and medium-thin cymbals come into play. The latter are for drummers who just "brush" the cymbal edge and the former are for drummers who like to give it a good whack!

So the "ideal" weight of a cymbal is still variable according to the individual playing style of each drummer.
 

ZildjianLover

Senior Member
I always include a cymbal's weight in my decision to buy it or not, especially when the cymbal in question is a ride. As a jazz drummer who likes to cross over into rock occasionally, the ride cymbals I buy tend to be medium-weight, with a 55:45 to 60:40 ratio of ping to wash, a strong bell, and the ability to crash at least moderately well. When compared to other cymbals of the same model, they tend to be in the middle as far as gram weight does, or a tad below that mark. My 22" K Dark Medium Ride that I bought through the Memphis Drum Shop weighs 2930 grams. The other three that were up for sale at the same time weighed 2810 grams, 2945 grams, and 3091 grams. As a rule, I do not buy cymbals with gram weights that start with a "3" unless the cymbal is 23" or more in diameter.
 
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