Cymbal question (NOT another "what should I buy")

Daisy

Senior Member
Don't ask me why - I've had them so long I can't remember - but I have two 16" crashes, a Sabian AAX Stage, and a Paragon. I use the AAX as crash 1 (higher) and the Paragon as crash 2 (lower). Most of the time this sounds fine to me.

But just occasionally, I have sometimes found that they sound "the wrong way round" - the AAX sounds lower and the Paragon higher.

I've only noticed this occasionally. All the recordings I have of me, the cymbals sound as they should. I've never noticed it in a band situation, it seems to be just occasionally playing on my own that I notice they sound different, the wrong way round. BUT - the first band I was in, one of the guitarists said once "Your crashes are the wrong way round". I'd never noticed it then and ignored him.

I dare say it's the way I've hit them but when I try to reproduce it, I can't. I use filter type ear plugs - always, wouldn't play without them - and I understand they cut out more high frequencies than low. I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

This is probably a bit obscure, but I wondered if anyone who has experience of either or both these cymbals (or just generally more knowledgeable about cymbals than I am - which would be pretty much anyone!) has any ideas? It bugs me because I can't work it out.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Yeah, I bought 2 18" crashes recently and there isn't a huge difference in their pitch but the Zil is definitely lower than the Sabian. I tend to set them up left side (primary) lower, right side higher. I did have a confusing moment where the right side sounded lower than the left... but since that day it has returned to normal...I put it down to a variance in my own perception, for some reason on that day my ears were hearing it that way. I dunno, maybe the ears hone in on a range of the many tones a cymbal produces.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
Yeah I have had similar experiences, and also with the pitch that different sticks give on a practice pad for instance. I guess it is just the different tones produced by an object, and the ear is just picking out one specifically. It may also be more common when certain earplugs reduce some frequencies more than others. I would be interested to know what the scientific reason behind this is, because it happens to me often.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
It could well be a combination of how you're hitting them and which frequencies your ears are picking up. Ears are not microphones and never hear the same thing twice. It could be a number of things, like placement, the sticks you're using and where you hit on the cymbal. Cymbals are not just simply 'one sound' - you get a variety.

From experience, I would expect your Paragon to be the slightly lower-pitched of the two but I don't think it really matters. They are quite similar in terms of their construction.
 

ggmerino

Senior Member
My two cents: Generally speaking, given two cymbals of the same size, the pitch of a cymbal rises with the weight of the cymbal (heavier cymbal = higher pitch). Other aspects of the cymbal can play a role, but the weight will likely be the determinative factor in determining pitch. This tends to be the opposite of what most people assume in my experience. The thinner cymbal can seem higher to people probably because the thinner cymbal responds faster and has a shorter sustain. THis effect seems to go away as you distance yourself from the cymbals. Maybe this explains why you felt one way when positioned close up to the cymbals, but why they sounded the oposite to someone standing farther away?
 

Daisy

Senior Member
Generally speaking, given two cymbals of the same size, the pitch of a cymbal rises with the weight of the cymbal (heavier cymbal = higher pitch). .... This tends to be the opposite of what most people assume in my experience.
That's certainly what I had assumed. The AAX is heavier so I thought it would be the lower of the two. There's not a huge amount of difference between the two, but enough to work for me, and I really like both of them.

It's interesting that others had experienced the same thing. Thanks for the replies.
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
Usually, people put the "sound" (cymbal) where it seems right when they play it.

I always used to have the higher sounding cymbal by the hats. I've been swapping stuff around, but mainly a lower sounding cymbal is on my right (right handed kit).

Some drummers will have a larger cymbal by the hats, and a smaller cymbal over the floor tom(s)--Carmine Appice, and Patrick Keeler come to mind for that type of set up.

Any band memeber who say's your stuff is in the wrong spot should be ignored.
Actually, anyone who say's "you can't do that", or "it's not supposed to go that way", when it comes to your set up, should be ignored.
As long as the music sounds good, and it's not a train wreck, it's all good, so be yourself.
 

Lunar Satellite Brian

Senior Member
The main things I would imagine to do this would be where you hit the cymbal, and the kind of sticks you are using.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes two sticks in a pair have a different pitch, therefore if you happen to use one stick in your right hand most of the time, you get use to a certain pitch associated with that hand, if you pick up the stick you normally use in your right hand with your left, it may sound a bit different.

This is why companies like Pro-mark try to "Pitch pair" their sticks and Vic Firth tries to "weight-pairs" them .
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
A cymbal is a complex instrument. They don't have one specific pitch.

Gently tap your crash with your finger, and then gradually hit it harder with your stick, and you'll notice the pitch changes.

Now hit it just once with your finger, by itself, with nothing else going on. You'll notice a slight pitch bend, either up or down.

How hard you hit the cymbals, different sticks, different other sounds going on with it, and even different rooms can all alter your perception of the pitch.

And if one has a tendency to pitch bend up, while the other tends to pitch bend down, that can really alter how you here them.
 

ggmerino

Senior Member
That's certainly what I had assumed. The AAX is heavier so I thought it would be the lower of the two. There's not a huge amount of difference between the two, but enough to work for me, and I really like both of them.

It's interesting that others had experienced the same thing. Thanks for the replies.
I have two Paiste 17" crashes: one is a fast crash (lighter) and the other a full crash (heavier). I also assumed the heavier one had a lower pitch and it drove me bananas when I heard them on recordings and it seemed the opposite. It wasn't until I read about the effects of weight (in The Cymbal Book and elsewhere) that it finally made sense. Then I was able to not focus on the speed of the crash sound and focus on the predominant pitch and it was clear to me that the fast crash was a lower pitch. Check it out on the Paiste site that has good recordings of the cymbals: http://www.paiste.com/e/cymbals.php?category=2&family=3&action=category&menuid=239.

I agree that cymbals are typically regarded as "non-pitched" due to all of the overtones and the variety of ways of hitting them etc.. However, I think there is clearly a predominant pitch to most crash cymbals (certainly bells and chimes).
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Don't ask me why - I've had them so long I can't remember - but I have two 16" crashes, a Sabian AAX Stage, and a Paragon. I use the AAX as crash 1 (higher) and the Paragon as crash 2 (lower). Most of the time this sounds fine to me.

But just occasionally, I have sometimes found that they sound "the wrong way round" - the AAX sounds lower and the Paragon higher.

I've only noticed this occasionally. All the recordings I have of me, the cymbals sound as they should. I've never noticed it in a band situation, it seems to be just occasionally playing on my own that I notice they sound different, the wrong way round. BUT - the first band I was in, one of the guitarists said once "Your crashes are the wrong way round". I'd never noticed it then and ignored him.

I dare say it's the way I've hit them but when I try to reproduce it, I can't. I use filter type ear plugs - always, wouldn't play without them - and I understand they cut out more high frequencies than low. I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

This is probably a bit obscure, but I wondered if anyone who has experience of either or both these cymbals (or just generally more knowledgeable about cymbals than I am - which would be pretty much anyone!) has any ideas? It bugs me because I can't work it out.
I think it's time to buy new cymbals.

(see what I did there? ;)
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I also don't get the "wrong way round" statement. There is no rule on where cymbals of different pitches go. Since the ride is lower pitched, it may make sense to some folks to have a crash that is higher pitched on that side. This may also go back to the days when folks basically had two crash ride cymbals and that was it. Some jazz cats still do this.

I put them the other way around and here's my reasoning. The crash on the right side gets used for lighter accents off the hi-hats or fills that only involve the snare or shell tom. If I'm going to go off the ride or all the way around to involve the floor tom, the music is usually at a louder dynamic so the larger and deeper crash is on that side. The exceptions are that on quieter gigs, I'll often put a sizzle chain on that 18" crash and use if in soft spots. Or I'll do some linear fill that ends up with my right hand on the floor tom and crash with my left on the 15" cymbal on that side. There really are no rules as long as what you are doing is musically appropriate.
 

Daisy

Senior Member
I also don't get the "wrong way round" statement. .
If you mean the guitarist's comment that I mentioned ... it wasn't about my set up as such. I have my primary (higher) crash on my left. If I want to play two consecutive crashes, higher then lower, I go left then right. And vice versa. I think now that guitarist experienced what I have occasionally experienced since - he heard them the "wrong way round" - going higher then lower when the opposite was more appropriate for whatever we were playing at the time. Looking back, I think that's what he meant at the time. And if that's the case, I can see his point - now that I have occasionally myself heard them the "wrong way round".
 
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