Cymbal Longevity

SAINTDRUMS

Senior Member
I've always wondered which weight cymbal provides the longest longevity. Now, by longevity, I'm talking about the resistance to cracking, etc. For arguments sake, let's assume that the drummer has a perfect technique on hitting cymbals and strikes them with average force. Which weight cymbal would you consider to provide the best longevity? From my personal experience, I've cracked more heavy cymbals than their lighter weight counterparts. Would this be because a lighter cymbal will absorb more impact and have more "give" to disperse the shock wave? Would the opposite be true with the heavy weight cymbal not having as much ability to flex after a strike? Does the bronze composition (B20, B12, B10, or B8) make a discernable difference in resistance to cracking (i.e. one material being more brittle than the other)?
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
Re: Cymbal longevity - Thin, Medium or Heavy? Material?

I don't have scientific evidence to back it up, but my experience has been that, all other factors being equal (mfg'er, model/line, playing technique, etc), thinner cymbals are more durable.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
Re: Cymbal longevity - Thin, Medium or Heavy? Material?

I would assume that B8 is less durable due to the common conception that cheaper cymbals (usually B8) and Paistes crack more often. I know that the only cymbal I have ever broken was an APX Ozone which is a B8 cymbal. So my personal experience backs up that idea.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Re: Cymbal longevity - Thin, Medium or Heavy? Material?

One cymbal does not a trend make.

B8 is a more malleable alloy than B20. B20 is more brittle.

The major difference is in manufacturing the bronze. B8 is malleable and is able to be rolled into sheets, then cut and shaped from those sheets. B20 is too brittle to make into sheets, so each individual cymbal has to be cast - this raises the cost of manufacture significantly. B20 is in absolute terms more liable to cracking.

The interesting points start with the 'other' bronzes. B10, B12, B15 and B18 - all of which have been used at various points (and even others, like B5 - although rarely). I know that some sheet cymbals have been made at B15 and those cymbals were more prone to cracking because of the extra stress the metal is put under in the sheeting process. As a result, most manufacturers now cast cymbals B15 and above. I believe that B12 is still commonly produced as a sheet material with few ill-effects.

Cracking cymbals is about how brittle they are. Apply excessive force to a brittle material and it will crack.
 
D

DamoSyzygy

Guest
Re: Cymbal longevity - Thin, Medium or Heavy? Material?

I don't have scientific evidence to back it up, but my experience has been that, all other factors being equal (mfg'er, model/line, playing technique, etc), thinner cymbals are more durable.
Agreed. B8 is softer than B20, yet more flexible.
B20 sturdiness with thin flexibility is a good middle-ground.

Of course, playing any cymbal with poor stands, felts and technique will destroy it regardless.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Would this be because a lighter cymbal will absorb more impact and have more "give" to disperse the shock wave? Would the opposite be true with the heavy weight cymbal not having as much ability to flex after a strike?
It's an argument that I've seen quoted as fact often. There's no doubt that it sounds perfectly reasonable and sensible....but it also flies in the face of my own experience. Personally, I've only cracked thin and a paper/thin cymbals before, whilst I've been able to play my thicker, rock weight cymbals with a much heavier hand and larger stick. That's what they were designed for......to fulfill a certain playing application that is outside the relm of normal playability of a thinner cymbal.

Add that to the fact that in the 70's cymbal manufacturers made a distinct move towards making their cymbals thicker in order to stop the rock guys breaking them and I'm not as convinced in the argument as many others seem to be.

I have no doubt that playing any cymbal in a way that it was not designed for will see its longevity reduced. But a blanket statement like "thin cymbals last longer than thick cymbals due to their increased ability to flex" just doesn't go deep enough towards fully explaining the longevity issue IMHO. If we were able to closely examine every cymbal broken, i reckon you'd find a fairly even match between thick, thin, B8, B20 etc etc.

All cymbals are prone to premature breakage....and all cymbals are capable of lasting a players lifetime given the right amount of TLC.
 

themazk

Member
IMO and that of the metal working world AFIK, is that B8 bronze is always going to be much "tougher" than B20 could ever hope to be. The same thing that makes B20 so musical is also it's down fall. High tin bronze is "harder" and not as durable as B8 bronze, simply because of the higher tin content.
B8 bronze also known as malleable bronze is capable of being beatin into shape and reshaped without first having to anneal the metal between each hammering operation, I have done this many times in my cymbal repair gig I have.
You break thicker heavier cymbals because you have to hit them harder to open up, and thin cymbals open up more quickly because they flex quicker and thus move the air around them much easier. But like I tell my customers, if you are breaking cymbals;"you have the wrong cymbal for the job". Just because a company sells a cymbal as a crash or ride or whatever, does not mean that it will do the job you need it to do, basically don't believe the hype.
I know that when we see our favorite drummers beating the crap out of their cymbals, we think "Oh so that is how you are "suppose" to play", well that, those guys and gals get paid to play and get free cymbals to boot, once again, don't drink the koolaid.
 
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wildbill

Platinum Member
I go by what the manufacturers say - use thicker cymbals for bashing/heavy hitting.

I posted quotes from several manufacturer's sites a while back, but am not up for searching for that thread right now.
 

RickP

Gold Member
I have played 46 years, a variety of volume levels and venue sizes and have never cracked or broken a cymbal. Proper technique is paramount to keeping your cymbals from breaking. All the major cymbal manufacturers have sections on their websites on proper technique.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Tried a search - it only goes back 100 threads, and it was before that.

Not going to go through all the manufacturers again, but here's one example from Sabian:

http://www.sabian.com/en/pages/buying-cymbals-101


"....Remember, if you're a heavy hitter and like to play loud, choose bigger, heavier cymbals. Not only do they put out more volume, they're more durable and less likely to break. Smaller, thinner models are best for low-to mid-volume playing, because thin crashes are not durable or loud enough to play as a main crash in high-volume situations. Lastly, heavier rides and hi-hats will give you more definite sticking, for cleaner, clearer, penetrating strokes..."


Rick - I also have never cracked or broken a cymbal. I play pretty lightly nowadays, but not so in the past.
 

porter

Platinum Member
That's a silly statement from SABIAN. Thin crashes are definitely able to to be used as main crashes in high volume situations.

I think thin cymbals are more likely to be cracked over time, especially if you hit hard, with big sticks (or 'follow through' the cymbal instead of glancing/pulling out of the stroke) but heavy cymbals are more likely to crack from a singular incidence of high force. Just theoretical, though- I've never cracked a high-end cymbal (save for the one Saluda crash that was taken on a ride by a falling stand... :( ) I play a lot of metal too.

I think smaller cymbals are more likely to crack due to their size- again, theoretical, but a 24" cymbal could probably distribute the force of a crash better than a 13" one. Of course, that should be compensated for by using varying degrees of stroke power on each cymbal.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
That's a silly statement from SABIAN. Thin crashes are definitely able to to be used as main crashes in high volume situations...


Paiste is kinda' silly too then, I guess:

http://www.paiste.com/e/support_selecting.php?menuid=317


".... Smaller, thinner will not distinguish themselves in higher volume situations and their characteristic beauty can get lost. This will cause the drummer to overplay and eventually destroy a perfectly durable cymbal...."
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
I was thinking about this a bit, and what they say makes sense to me.

Thinner cymbals are currently all the rage. Traditionally though, I think they were used more for smaller venue, low volume, and more acoustic type settings. In those situations, playing requires a bit of finesse, and a variety of sticking techniques in order to draw out the various tonal qualities thinner cymbals are capable of producing.

In large venues with highly amplified instruments, there's a tendency to bash the cymbals more in order to be heard, playing finesse goes out the window, and thick cymbals tend to project more. Manufacturers have rock and metal series of cymbals that are usually thicker than the other series available.
 

porter

Platinum Member
Paiste is kinda' silly too then, I guess:

http://www.paiste.com/e/support_selecting.php?menuid=317


".... Smaller, thinner will not distinguish themselves in higher volume situations and their characteristic beauty can get lost. This will cause the drummer to overplay and eventually destroy a perfectly durable cymbal...."
Well, it doesn't cause the drummer to overplay, does it? The drummer would be overplaying if they had chosen the wrong cymbal and were over compensating. Smaller, I agree, but really any crash cymbal's character will get lost in a high-volume situation. Especially if the cymbals are unmiked.

Now, Holy Chinas- those don't cut through. That's probably a combination of their weight and dryness. I'm not saying that thin cymbals will cut through, just that thin cymbals can absolutely work in those situations.

(Also, should have quoted the part I thought was silly- only the middle part about how thin cymbals aren't durable or loud enough.
 

risewiththefallen

Senior Member
Lately I've been breaking cymbals a lot. I've tried everything to stop it. I've changed my technique, cymbals angle, felt, sticks, thin and thick. The only cymbal i have that has lasted me forever is a sabian aa rock crash. Idk why but it is indestructible, at least for the last 8 years.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
You left out hitting too hard,which is often mistaken for technique.

Where you hit,how you hit are also components of technique,as well as how you mount,and where you mount a cymbal.

If you still breaking cymbals,you need to break all of those things down and reexamine all of it again.If your breaking cymbals a lot........it's you,not the cymbals.

Steve B
 
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