CLEANING CYMBALS

adamosmianski

Senior Member
Personally I'm an anti-cymbal cleaner. To me that's like scouring cleaning a well seasoned cast iron skillet.

But if you do have to clean, I would go with less is more. For one, you'll have to clean them less often if you handle them with rags when setting up and tearing down, and always give them a wipe down before you put them back in your bag.

When I worked in a drum shop, we used to use this stuff called Zud. It's a non-abrasive powder. Always worked really well.

But again, just don't clean your cymbals.
 

Pyromaniac777

Silver Member
Thanx. I'll take a look at furniture wax. As long as it doesn't have something acidic (citrus oil) it should be fine.

I think that most of the misconceptions in this thread have to do with the protective coating. The branded cleaners for cymbals clean the coating, but do not remove it. Which is perfectly cool. A little spritz and a wipe and all is well.

When you clean/buff a cymbal with Brasso/Moms/BKF, you're removing the protective coating (and a small amount of metal), and need to add a new protective layer to prevent staining and oxidization. This type of cleaning is done once in a blue moon, and only when the protective coating has already failed.
So would toilet bowl cleaner take the protective coating off also?
 

Krampuz

Junior Member
Anyone got experience with the large manufacturers cymbal cleaners & polish?
I wish to know more about all of them; MEINL, Paiste, Zildjian and Sabian.

What are the pros/cons, were they easy to use, did you get the result you were hoping for and last but not least, how were the aftermath?
If you used cymbal protectant, did you feel it helped? And if you did not, did your cymbals oxidate or get messed up in some way?

Please, I do not want to use steel wool or other hardware/home-related products, only the manufacturers own products.
I'd be very happy for thorough answers, I want as much information as possible!

Peace!
/Hampus the Krampuz
 

Coelacanth

Member
I've cleaned dozens of vintage cymbals over the years and here's what works for me. Note that these are vintage cymbals with a bunch of munk accumulated on them, not more modern cymbals with coatings. Some of them stank of smoke, sweat, funky cheese and God-knows-what-else just opening the boxes they were shipped in. Some may call that "patina", but me...meh...not so much. I want a cymbal to sound more or less how it was when it was made, not how it ended up after gigging in smoky roadhouse bars for decades. To each their own. ;)

If you want to preserve the logos, cover them with good automotive masking tape (the green stuff) beforehand.

I spray a 50:50 mix of Kaboom! bath & shower tile cleaner and water. It's a bit pricey, but it still works very well diluted...and is still WAY cheaper than any brand-name cymbal polish, which are rip-off niche products. One spray-bottle of Kaboom!, diluted 50:50, will clean at least 10 - 20 cymbals or more, depending on the diameter. I spray it on, let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes, then scrub it with one of those Teflon pan-safe dish sponges, the ones with the blue side. The green & yellow ones can be a tad too abrasive and you'll see fine swirl marks. I try to scrub around the cymbal following the grain/grooves. After they're scrubbed top & bottom, I rinse them off well with hot water. Then dry and you're done.

This method doesn't "bling up" your vintage cymbals, because that kind of ruins it for me. It's just strong enough to remove most of the munk without getting too medieval. Polishing a vintage cymbal is blasphemous, IMHO. :)
 

Pyromaniac777

Silver Member
Yet again, another triumphant cymbal cleaning with lysol toilet bowl cleaner. All I did was put some on a towel, distribute it evenly on the whole cymbal, and then let it sit for like 3 seconds. It takes off all of the green oxidation and just does an amazing job.
 

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Coelacanth

Member
Yet again, another triumphant cymbal cleaning with lysol toilet bowl cleaner. All I did was put some on a towel, distribute it evenly on the whole cymbal, and then let it sit for like 3 seconds. It takes off all of the green oxidation and just does an amazing job.
Looks good, but make sure you cover your ink logos with masking tape before putting cleaning chemicals on them...if you want to keep 'em, anyway. :)
 

Pyromaniac777

Silver Member
Looks good, but make sure you cover your ink logos with masking tape before putting cleaning chemicals on them...if you want to keep 'em, anyway. :)
I just make sure to not scrub on the logos. I wipe the cleaner lightly on them and then I just rinse the cymbal off with water. Pretty much no elbow grease is required with this stuff.
 

DW-Doug

Senior Member
I finally decided to break down and clean the top side of some cymbals. I did not fool with undercarriage. I have avoided logos on newer cymbals (purchased 14-15). One old one I cleaned had a large mark that almost looked like tape, but it wasn't tape, dang if I know what it was. But it was ugly. First I cleaned with Weinol Chrome and metal polish. That didn't quite cut it. I took the worst and put it under papertowels wet with windex, and then used Bar Keep as my cutting agent. Similar to Comet, but is not as abbrasive, is designed not to scratch stainless steel finishes specifically. Then I wet it down under sink and towel dried.

So, what I came out with was pretty good results. I had to really bare down on that bad mark, and some darker spots. The edges on these 40+ year old cymbals proved a little tougher. I didn't quite get all residue off the edges (last 1" or so around it) I may work it a bit more.

I may go ahead and do top of my other two Zilcos. Who knows, they may actually sound better.
 

Dignan

Silver Member
K Custom Special Dry Ride

This is more of a question about the huge variation in color and texture I've seen in KC Special Dry Rides. I have one and it looks like this, it's dark brown in color and dull in brilliance:

http://chicagopawners.com/products/zildjian-21-k-custom-special-dry-ride-cymbal


However, I often see other pics of KC Special Dry Rides that look like this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zildjian-K0969-K-Custom-21-Special-Dry-Ride-Cymbal-CYM0969-/161467234284

Still others have an almost blue/gray color to them and also look polished. Are people polishing these or what? Why such a huge variation in colors and shine to this cymbal?
 

goatatl

Member
For my money, Cymbal Doctor is far and away the best on the market.

http://cymbaldr.com/

Far superior to anything else I've used. However, it is a bit pricey and time consuming. Takes me about an hour to do an 18 and 19 crash, and a 22 ride. It's a 3 step process (cleaner, polish, sealer). BKF is a close 2nd and way cheaper and quicker.

BTW, why is it that the first time you put them up after a good cleaning, the first thing people want to do is put their grubby fingers on them, and go "wow, those look great"? WHY?!?!?
 

Thunder 42

Silver Member
2 cups generic Walmart ketchup, mixed with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar - painted on with a paint brush - let sit 20 mins each side - rinse, dry, wipe with cymbal cleaner, buff with clean towel...good as new in 60 mins. Removed 28 years of grime and bird dirt off my 16" Paiste Alpha. It sat in my brother's barn for years - this worked like a dream.
 

brya0125

Junior Member
I have some praise for BKF and some praise for lemons.
So I was borrowing this red label Paiste 2002 16" Medium crash from my church. I don't have a picture of it from the before shot but it looked old and dark colored and it had some black "stuff" in the grooves around the outside. I think it was just dirt, but it looked pretty bad as it was.

I had done experiments with lemons before on a few cheap Zildjian Planet Z cymbals before and had gotten immediately shocking results. I also tested the lemon method on the planet z's so that I could see if there were any unforeseen after effects. There were not so I decided to give it a try on the Paiste. I had also seen someone using a lemon in a YouTube video cleaning a Paiste 2002 green label and it worked.

So I taped off half of the cymbal and cleaned it with the lemon. I had immediately great results. The whole thing cleaned up almost completely except for the black stuff on the edges. I did the other half and it worked equally as well, but I used up the whole lemon on just the top because it was dirty enough. The top looked great. I didn't do the bottom

After that I was still bugged by the ugliness of the black "stuff" on the edges. so I took a very small experimental amount of BKF and rubbed it on the black stuff lightly with my fingers. The black stuff turned into a very fine paste as it mixed with the BKF and water that quickly turned to a black-green color. It came right off immediately. I was very happy.
Next, I heard about how the BKF might be abrasive so I did my best to rinse the cymbal with lukewarm water from the sink. I dried it with a clean towel afterwards. The cymbal looked great but it seemed that after a day or so it picked up a ton of fingerprints. Whenever there was a fingerprint, the fingerprint looked extremely yellow which worried me. I was wondering if I had taken off the Paiste coating that they add to the cymbals. I didn't have a picture of a new 2002 so I had no reference to whether the newly cleaned cymbal still had the coating on it.

So just yesterday I decided to clean it again with just BKF. this time the cymbal looked even better. It was shocking how much the lemon had missed.

I then did the bottom using only BKF because I had no lemon on hand. The BKF worked just as quickly and well as the lemon. The bottom also had some of the black "stuff" on the edges. I had to add more to these areas and just rub it in for minutes at a time with my fingers. I once again got the black-green paste as it all came off. After one cleaning of the bottom, it looked just as good as the top. I'm really pleased with the results.

As far as I could tell, the BKF didn't affect the Paiste logos. After I had cleaned the top, there were just little snippets missing from the top logos. I think it was like that from before when the logos had been covered in the dirtiness. The bottom logo was hardly affected, but I didn't need to try cleaning it at all.

Overall, the lemon and BKF worked incredibly well. As long as you remember to wash and dry off the cymbals well, you should be golden.

Here area some pictures of the newly cleaned Paiste shot from my iPhone (So it is not great quality). Later I'm going to clean some Sabian B8 hats and some of my very lovely Heartbeat cymbals (Think Istanbul Agop). I had cleaned one of the Heartbeats with a lemon before, but it didn't do much because it was not very dirty.

Hope this helps someone!
 

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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
After reading 6 pages of tips I have come to the conclusion that the best method is to coat the cymbal with lemon juice, BKF, and ketchup and bury in the back yard for 7 months and 3 days.
 

Thunder 42

Silver Member
2 cups generic Walmart ketchup, mixed with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar - painted on with a paint brush - let sit 20 mins each side - rinse, dry, wipe with cymbal cleaner, buff with clean towel...good as new in 60 mins. Removed 28 years of grime and bird dirt off my 16" Paiste Alpha. It sat in my brother's barn for years - this worked like a dream.
Picture before below is after 20 mins of brasso and zero results. The acidity in the ketchup and vinegar worked wonders.
 

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mike d

Silver Member
Holy Crap! I'm just amazed that no one has come up with "the answer" for cleaning cymbals. I know some people think they have, but there is no consensus, and almost all of the solutions have a but...
I want to clean my "not very dirty" cymbals of stick marks and and some finger prints. I want to have the logos stay there, and I would like it to look good for as long as it did originally. (Jeez.. The Sabian renewal program is looking better and better. jk, I don't have the time or money).
 

Squarepants

Junior Member
When I want to get rid of really big dirty stains off my cymbals, I simply used ketchup. It really does the trick.

Though when I just want to clean fingerprints and light stains, a lemon or lime works great.
 

Mouse

Member
All iv'e ever done (and rarely) is wash them gently in soapy dishwash water luke warm, and dry off with a soft cloth.

Really don't care much about looks, when gigging all I want is good sound. A clean does brighten ( soundwise)dirty cymbals for a while.

Here is some info on chemicals safe for bronze..

http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-bronze/

If you are polishing the magic genies out of your cymbals perhaps before so take pictures, then if a label disappears you have record of what the item originally looked like (you may sell it one day, item info is handy to a buyer). I habitually record all my cymbal details and serial numbers where provided (in case of theft mainly).
 
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