Cymbal Quality Over Price

EarthRocker

Senior Member
I notice a lot of reviews on Youtube of so called "beginner" or "budget" cymbals. And every time I watch the videos, I hear cymbals in the set and think "That sounds fine. I wouldn't mind using it." and then I scroll down, and I see hundreds of comments "Those sound like trash - save your money and buy _____ or ______ cymbals." And in all honesty, I find all that extremely frustrating.

I think there are multiple standards for cymbal quality, and I think way too many drummers associate low prices with bad sound via placebo effect. I'll use the Jojo Mayer Fierce ride by Sabian. A $500 ride cymbal - and it sounds like it's cracked. Or the Zildjian A Breakbeat rides, that sounds like someone went overboard with duct tape. And yet people pay that kind of cash for it, and have the nerve to say "Oh, that cheap ZBT ride sounds awful."

I have a 20" Sabian B8 ride. I do ride on it, but for the most part, its my main crash. I've played live with it, and I've done some studio sessions. I've never been told it sounded bad, and I've never been asked to change it out with another cymbal. In fact, I've been complimented on how well my cymbals sound on a live mix.

Zildjian have revamped their ZBT line, and I gotta' say, the new ZBTs sound great compared to the old ones. But I still see the same Youtube banter. And it's always the same replies "Buy some Zildjian Ks" or "Pick up a set of Paiste Alphas".

It just seems to me like experienced drummers who focus on PLAYING cymbals, rather than just bashing them, would appreciate the value of a good pie. If you don't like the way a cymbal sounds, why can't you just say "Too washy, too harsh." That's how we are when we're dealing with more expensive cymbals. But if its a B8, a ZBT, or some people even trash the ZHTs "Those cheap cymbals suck." or "Those are good for a beginner, but if you want to gig, you need to upgrade."
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The important thing to remember with cymbals, is that they sound different. What I mean is, a ride is basically intended to make a ping sound, a crash wants to have wash and decay, and hats are mostly played while pressed together for a short "chick" or sizzly wash.

As such, different levels of design and "quality" may or may not be required for each, and that quality may or may not manifest itself.

For example, a crash is most readily judged as being good or bad. It's the cymbal where decay and harmonics play the biggest part in the sound we want to hear. While budget crashes aren't necessarily bad, top-of-the-line models usually sound markedly better. I always suggest not trying to cheap-out on crashes - spend the money, get the bestt sound.

But, with a ride, where you really just want a ping, most budget cymbals sound perfectly fine doing that. Money can definitely be saved by not investing in high-end rides (and can then be spent on nicer crashes!)

And hats shiould be judged on how they sound when closed, or slightly open, not how they sound separately. Budget or mid-priced hats can sound great - I picked up a pair of used 13" B8 hats yesterday, and they're terrific. And, inexpensive!!

I'm not saying that nice rides and hats don't sound great, but I view crashes as needing the most specific qualities, and rides and hats not so much.

Bermuda
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
I'm not saying that nice rides and hats don't sound great, but I view crashes as needing the most specific qualities, and rides and hats not so much.

Bermuda
this X10!
also its east to spend other peoples money. not everyone posting that says buy 2002's actually own them
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I think its a beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder type of thing. I am an admitted cymbal snob and there are plenty of expensive cymbals I dont like, but there are far less cheap cymbals that I do like. I cant think of a single cast bronze crash that I have ever liked. I have had the misfortune of playing more different drumset and cymbal combinations than I can count, and without fail every cheap crash I have had to play has sounded like crap. I have played some cheaper effects cymbals that I have liked, but I think the clankyness of the cast cymbals adds its own sound to some effect cymbals.

That being said, I dont necessarily play the most expensive cymbals either. I dont really care for HH or HHX cymbals. I'm not a fan of Zildjian K's or Meinl Byzance either. I mostly play Sabian AA and AAX lines. Its not always about price, but in the world of musical instruments, you usually get what you pay for.
 

jeff_r0x

Member
The important thing to remember with cymbals, is that they sound different. What I mean is, a ride is basically intended to make a ping sound, a crash wants to have wash and decay, and hats are mostly played while pressed together for a short "chick" or sizzly wash.

As such, different levels of design and "quality" may or may not be required for each, and that quality may or may not manifest itself.

For example, a crash is most readily judged as being good or bad. It's the cymbal where decay and harmonics play the biggest part in the sound we want to hear. While budget crashes aren't necessarily bad, top-of-the-line models usually sound markedly better. I always suggest not trying to cheap-out on crashes - spend the money, get the bestt sound.

But, with a ride, where you really just want a ping, most budget cymbals sound perfectly fine doing that. Money can definitely be saved by not investing in high-end rides (and can then be spent on nicer crashes!)

And hats shiould be judged on how they sound when closed, or slightly open, not how they sound separately. Budget or mid-priced hats can sound great - I picked up a pair of used 13" B8 hats yesterday, and they're terrific. And, inexpensive!!

I'm not saying that nice rides and hats don't sound great, but I view crashes as needing the most specific qualities, and rides and hats not so much.

Bermuda
Funny, because this is the advice I usually give as well. When I know friends are wanting to upgrade cymbals on a kit, I always tell them to focus on the crash first, as that will be where they see the most change, or bang for your buck.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Well, you know, it IS YouTube. I don't normally look to YouTube for insightful, helpful comments.

As far as the cymbals themselves, different strokes for different folks. Most higher end cymbals, in my experience, really do have greater complexity, nuance, and musicality than their cheaper counterparts, but that doesn't mean less expensive cymbals sound horrible.

Bermuda gave excellent real-world commentary, as usual.

I end up playing a wide variety of cymbals as I make my way around various open jams, mostly because people don't want to put their expensive bronze out there for strangers to bash on. I can say without a doubt that the cheaper cymbals can be perfectly usable. I don't prefer most of the B8s I've heard but some of the ZBTs are pretty good, if a little bright and one-dimensional. The only cymbal I've come across that I just refused to use, though, was an older 18" ZBT crash. It was VERY gongy with a terrible tone. The newer ones sound OK though.
 

Drumsinhisheart

Silver Member
I agree with Bermuda on this, up to a point. Given the cymbal collection he has, he's certainly an expert. I've owned a lot of cymbals over the years, hundreds, and have some from all lines in my current set-up, both B20 and B8 alloys, and Paiste's alloys. I have heard B8Pro crashes that were fabulous. With lesser alloy rides sometimes the bells sound clangy to me and overall the rides can sound "gongy," but the same can be said for B20's too. Just depends on the models.

I have a recording coming out soon. I played the guitarist's drum set. Beginner's set. I brought some of my own cymbals, but not hats. His are beginner's. Brass hats. You would never know it on the recording. I was shocked upon play back. Hats can be a real surprise in lesser models.

I've had such poor luck buying Zildjians on-line I just don't but them at all anymore. Spoke with a Zildjian rep about it. He wasn't very appreciative of my complaints and said they trash 45,000 cymbals a year, maintaining strict quality control. I don't know. Who wants to argue about Zildjian? Kind of ridiculous to argue with centuries. On the other hand getting cracked brand new cymbals multiple times, or 'dead,' lifeless cymbals, or poorly lathed ones ... doesn't make sense to me.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Yes. excellent commentary by Bermuda. That is almost perfect.

I have a set of ZBT (from 4 years ago) hats that, to me, sound great...however, the ZBT crash I have is horrid. I don't care for the 18" ZBT ride, but it could be used in a pinch.

Then I went to ZHT and I hate the crash, but it is not horrid...the hats are fine and the ride imo is much more pleasing.

After that I went to what I feel is a good "rock" standard all around set; A custom 22" ping ride, A custom master-sound hats, K and 2002 crashes.

but I can still use the ZBT hats anytime...the paiste alpha hats also sound great...since I'm 50, I probably prefer 2002 cause I grew up listening to deep purple and zeppelin; does not mean they are better, just what has been programmed
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Depends what is used, I guess.

Lots of people use only hats and rides - no crashes.

That said, I agree that if you're going to use a crash, use one that sounds good.
 

brady

Platinum Member
Depends what is used, I guess.

Lots of people use only hats and rides - no crashes.

That said, I agree that if you're going to use a crash, use one that sounds good.
Exactly.

I play mostly jazz and blues and I have spent countless hours finding the perfect ride and hats.
 

coolhand1969

Senior Member
For gigs I play Zil New Beat hats, an old Alpha Power ride, a new Alpha med crash, a Sabian AAX crash, a PST5 crash/ride and a little PST5 China. I also do not use my best kit. If I were to put some of these in a studio environment, people might freak, but playing live, most people think I am playing 2002's (which are my good set and do not leave home). It is the sound not the cash, I love the 2002 sound, but am not taking those out to have beer spilt on them or somebody yak all over them. The Alphas and PST5's sound close enough live. One of the best chinas I have heard is the B8 Pro China.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
As drummers we agonise over the minutiae of our sound. And there's nothing wrong with that. We have a sound in our head that we want to get out of our kits. Or sets.

But add in the rest of a band, and it's really hard to hear those fine points.

As a f'rinstance, earlier this year I attended a fund raiser party evening at my 10yo son's school. There was a very competent covers band playing. The drummer used one of the school kits, a Pearl Forum kit with ZBT cymbals that has had years of having the stuffing smacked out of it 5 days a week by enthusiastic school kids. And it sounded just fine. When I hear the kit in isolation I hear what I don't like about it. When I hear it played with a band, I hear music.

It's not about the kit you play, it's about how you play your kit.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
....I think there are multiple standards for cymbal quality, and I think way too many drummers associate low prices with bad sound via placebo effect. I'll use the Jojo Mayer Fierce ride by Sabian. A $500 ride cymbal - and it sounds like it's cracked. Or the Zildjian A Breakbeat rides, that sounds like someone went overboard with duct tape. And yet people pay that kind of cash for it, and have the nerve to say "Oh, that cheap ZBT ride sounds awful."...

So many things come into play with this subject. First and foremost, is what sounds good to you. Some things can get talked up and trendy, and seem like they'd be good. And yet when you try them, it can be a letdown.
Other times, you can run across some less expensive gems that aren't so well known, talked up, or trendy.

There is a tendency with new cymbals to think that more money will get you a better cymbal, and there is some truth to that.

For someone like me though, who buys most all of my cymbals used, the price to quality ratio doesn't apply quite so much.
I've got a couple cymbals that I got dirt cheap, that sound really sweet to me.

I don't have any prejudice against B8's, ZBT's and such. It's just that I haven't run across any I would care to use. If I ever came across one that served a purpose for me, I would have no objections to using it.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Still yet to hear a ZBT that I actually like. When I do my position on this might change and I'll start spouting their praises. But until then, I'm gonna continue suggesting people reach a little higher. Simply because that's the exact same advice I'd tell myself or someone near and dear to me.

That said, I took a guy out on Thursday of last week to help him and his 12 year old select his first kit and cymbals. We walked away with a box set of B8 Pros, because despite how hard I looked and how hard I wanted it to be the case.....I just couldn't fit him out with a used set of pro level cymbals for the same price.

So it's not a matter of dismissing "cheap(er)" cymbals as a matter of course.....it's a matter of dismissing what I've heard and just haven't been able to cop. It'll take a hell of a lot more than what I've heard previously for my ear to be convinced that ZBT's are the best option available for the budget conscious. If that pisses guys on a drum forum off, then so be it.....but I'd rather give you my most honest answer, than a sugar coated one.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Still yet to hear a ZBT that I actually like. When I do my position on this might change and I'll start spouting their praises. But until then, I'm gonna continue suggesting people reach a little higher. Simply because that's the exact same advice I'd tell myself or someone near and dear to me.

That said, I took a guy out on Thursday of last week to help him and his 12 year old select his first kit and cymbals. We walked away with a box set of B8 Pros, because despite how hard I looked and how hard I wanted it to be the case.....I just couldn't fit him out with a used set of pro level cymbals for the same price.

So it's not a matter of dismissing "cheap(er)" cymbals as a matter of course.....it's a matter of dismissing what I've heard and just haven't been able to cop. It'll take a hell of a lot more than what I've heard previously for my ear to be convinced that ZBT's are the best option available for the budget conscious. If that pisses guys on a drum forum off, then so be it.....but I'd rather give you my most honest answer, than a sugar coated one.
Won't piss me off. ZBTs are certainly *not* the best option under any circumstance....I agree there, and I'm a guy who is in disbelief that I actually like a set of ZBT hats...total disbelief. I'm talking ZBTs from 4 years ago...the ZBT crash/crash ride I have are horrid trash can lids...but I understand the new ones are an improvement.
 

Kudzu Monroe

Senior Member
Although I have a good size cymbal collection mostly, higher end Zildjians, a few Sabians and a couple of Paistes,
I have a soft spot for finding and playing great bargain cymbals.

I have full set of Paiste 404s a vintage "beginner" line that sounds really good.

I have the 404 14" heavy hats, with 18" and 20" mediums (think multis) and the 22" ride, they are kinda like dark
and maybe less complex Giant Beats ... also have a spare 20" ride. I've got a 16" Stagg double hammered crash,
that I bought on the way to a gig, turned out great cutting and trashy. Picked up a Zildjian ZHT 10" china splash for
$10 one of my favorite accents.

Always open for great sounding cymbals regardless of the price.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Still yet to hear a ZBT that I actually like. When I do my position on this might change and I'll start spouting their praises. But until then, I'm gonna continue suggesting people reach a little higher. Simply because that's the exact same advice I'd tell myself or someone near and dear to me.

That said, I took a guy out on Thursday of last week to help him and his 12 year old select his first kit and cymbals. We walked away with a box set of B8 Pros, because despite how hard I looked and how hard I wanted it to be the case.....I just couldn't fit him out with a used set of pro level cymbals for the same price.

So it's not a matter of dismissing "cheap(er)" cymbals as a matter of course.....it's a matter of dismissing what I've heard and just haven't been able to cop. It'll take a hell of a lot more than what I've heard previously for my ear to be convinced that ZBT's are the best option available for the budget conscious. If that pisses guys on a drum forum off, then so be it.....but I'd rather give you my most honest answer, than a sugar coated one.
Pfog, every word you've typed is spot on.

But I suspect that you aren't the sort who would comment on a YT vid to say "Ditch the ZBT's cos thay sux man, you need what Travis Barker has gotz."

A considered opinion on what you don't like with ZBT's is not the same thing at all.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Still yet to hear a ZBT that I actually like. When I do my position on this might change and I'll start spouting their praises. But until then, I'm gonna continue suggesting people reach a little higher. Simply because that's the exact same advice I'd tell myself or someone near and dear to me.
Agreed.

As for price, there are other options on the market.

Wuhan makes decent cymbals that sound much, much better than ZBTs. They still aren't pro cymbals, but they sound a heck of a lot better and are a better value.

Sabian Xs20 cost a bit more, but are many times more worth it.

I don't rally against ZBT/ZHT and Sabian B8's out of cymbal snobbery, I rally against them because there are better values on the market.

I get most beginners are on a tight budget, and buying pro used is not always possible.

But I think for being two industry leaders, both Sabian and Zildjian could serve the entry level market much better than they traditionally have.
 

jspitza

Senior Member
You may pry my Wuhan china and splash, sitting right next to my UFIP and HHX's out of my cold dead hands. 'Not professional" my ass.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Like a lot of things in drumming, it's the subtle things that make a lot of difference once you know how to play and know "what to listen for".

A "real" handmade cymbal responds completely differently to everything than a cheap stamped sheet metal cymbal will respond to the same thing. Things like building intensity/wash or doing swells, and just the whole range of possible sounds are very limited with the beginner lines of cymbals.

And that doesn't even really get into the sound matters. To me, most cheap line cymbals have a "clang-y" tone to them that bothers me a bit when I hear it. I've heard "pro-level" cymbals that were meant to sound that way too, and if that's the sound you're going for, and you play music that doesn't really get affected by the subtle stuff you won't get out of the budget lines, then use the cheap stuff! - and all that said, as mentioned by a few folks so far... I've heard a few b8 rides that I actually like... Seems like the older ones sound better to me than the newer b8's. The lathing looks different now and they sound sharper and more clang-y again.
 
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