Cymbal Set?

Geoffrey J.

New member
I'm piecing together my first kit and am looking for recommendations for cymbals. I'll probably start with high-hats, a couple of crashes, and a ride. Curious as to which cymbals I could purchase for less than $500 a set which would have the richest/ fullest sound. So hard to hear the difference on online videos. Thanks in advance.
 

Roy E. Munson

Senior Member
Get yourself some used 2002's, Zildjian A's, or Sabian AA/AAX. Professional level cymbals. Will hold their value when you go to upgrade. Cant go wrong with em. Shop around though. Plenty of deals to be had right now. Especially if you have cash and can buy local. Good Luck, and I recommend Paiste!
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
Get yourself some used 2002's, Zildjian A's, or Sabian AA/AAX. Professional level cymbals. Will hold their value when you go to upgrade. Cant go wrong with em. Shop around though. Plenty of deals to be had right now. Especially if you have cash and can buy local. Good Luck, and I recommend Paiste!
Good suggestions but I doubt you can find a set of used 2002's for anywhere near that. I'm loathe to recommend budget cymbals but you could get a set of Paiste PST7's for about $500 in the US. They're the least terrible budget cymbals I've heard.

Second-hand Zildjian A Customs can be affordable as well. Nice cymbals.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I would also recommend used cymbals, but unless you can find a whole set for sale, you're taking a chance piecing a set together one-by-one. But that will be the best way to get good cymbals on your budget.

Rough pricing:

20 or 22" ride - $125-150
14" hats - $125-150
18" crash - $100
16" crash - $90

Pawn shops often have great prices, and sometimes cymbals show up as a whole set. I picked up a set of A Customs - 10/16/18/20 & 14" hats in an SKB case - for $400 in Phoenix just 3 years ago.

Don't be afraid to look at older cymbals, maybe '60-70s, they'll sound sweet and are well broken-in. Look and listen closely for cracks of course.

Bermuda
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Richest, fullest sound? It's impossible to make objective recommendations for qualities we all experience differently. While I agree that listening to online demonstrations is no substitute for in-person sampling, it's a much better measure than relying upon descriptions you'll read in a forum. Explore some offerings and see what appeals to you in your price range. Paiste, Zildjian, and Sabian all make great cymbals, as do other manufacturers. Let your ears be your only guide.

Note: Ignore "budget cymbal" stigmas. Most are completely irrational, based upon slavish adherence to marketing. If you like the sound of something, go with it.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
Note: Ignore "budget cymbal" stigmas. Most are completely irrational, based upon slavish adherence to marketing. If you like the sound of something, go with it.
That's pretty dismissive, don't you think?

It's patently obvious that budget cymbals generally sound poor compared to professional grade cymbals. There's virtually zero debate about that. Nobody ever says "I gave the Zildjian K's and Paiste Modern Essentials a try but in the end I went back to my beloved Zildjian ZBT's".

Hands up if you've ever bought a budget cymbal and just wished that you had saved up a bit longer and bought the pro grade cymbal you eventually ended up with....

🖐
 
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RayI

Well-known member
Hands up if you've ever bought a budget cymbal and just wished that you had saved up a bit longer and bought the pro grade cymbal you eventually ended up with....

🖐
I can attest to that , slap me on the head and call me stupid but now I'm working on making a clock from one of the budget low cost cymbal using an old pair of sticks as the clock hands , the other I'm using as a shooting target it has a better ping when I shoot it verses the sound when I hit with a drum stick...lol
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
That's pretty dismissive, don't you think?

It's patently obvious that budget cymbals generally sound poor compared to professional grade cymbals. There's virtually zero debate about that. Nobody ever says "I gave the Zildjian K's and Paiste Modern Essentials a try but in the end I went back to my beloved Zildjian ZBT's".

Hands up if you've ever bought a budget cymbal and just wished that you had saved up a bit longer and bought the pro grade cymbal you eventually ended up with....

🖐
I'm dismissing nothing, yammyfan. I simply reject the almost robotic perspective that every "professional grade" cymbal on the market sounds better than every specimen classified otherwise. Cymbals have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the way we interpret their characteristics is highly subjective. The idea that buyers should avoid anything other than, for instance, a Zildjian A or K (or anything other than B20 alloy) is presumptuous to me. I'm simply encouraging the OP to rely upon his own ears when evaluating cymbals, not on someone else's preconceived notions about what sounds "professional" and what doesn't.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I'm dismissing nothing, yammyfan. I simply reject the almost robotic perspective that every "professional grade" cymbal on the market sounds better than every specimen classified otherwise.
And that's fine but I think that this "robotic perspective" can also be described as "consensus".

I try to be careful with the language I use which is why I said "generally" poorer. You seldom hear words like "rich" and "full" used to describe budget cymbals which is why I personally recommend affordable professional grade cymbals like A Customs and Sabian AAX's.

The OP's admission that they're building their first kit and having trouble discriminating between online samples leads me to believe that he or she is a beginner and probably unable to pick a diamond in the rough like more experienced guys like you, can.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
And that's fine but I think that this "robotic perspective" can also be described as "consensus".

I try to be careful with the language I use which is why I said "generally" poorer. You seldom hear words like "rich" and "full" used to describe budget cymbals which is why I personally recommend affordable professional grade cymbals like A Customs and Sabian AAX's.

The OP's admission that they're building their first kit and having trouble discriminating between online samples leads me to believe that he or she is a beginner and probably unable to pick a diamond in the rough like more experienced guys like you, can.

An example of how consensus means little to me: Ks are broadly assumed to be Zildjian's top-shelf line. As a rule, I don't like them. I prefer brighter A Customs, which you describe as "affordable professional grade." And are you ready for this? I like Zildjian's S Family (B12) even more than A Customs. Price doesn't inform that stance; what registers with my ears does. I've been drumming thirty-six years and have owned lots of different cymbals (including Ks), and the S is one of the best lines I've played, "I've" being the operative term. Consensus isn't law. Preference is a funny thing. Sometimes the marketing hierarchies just don't apply.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
...what registers with my ears does. I've been drumming thirty-six years...
Well, there's the problem right there! 😄

Kidding aside, I know you're big on the Zildjian S line. It might have been good just to recommend them from the start. I think the OP is looking for concrete suggestions. I assume he or she hasn't developed an ear yet.

I get where you're coming from though. It's not always best to follow the herd. Buffalo jumps wouldn't be a thing if it was!
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
Question for drummerdom....

What is each companies' least expensive professional tier (not trash) cymbal? I'm only really familiar with north-american vendors.

For example....

Zildjian A
Sabian AA / XS / XSR
Meinl - Custom Classic and CC Dark?
Paiste - PST7 or Alpha?
Istanbul - Mehmet?
Dream - Ignition?
Whuhan - ?
Bosphorus - Traditional series?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Well, there's the problem right there! 😄

Kidding aside, I know you're big on the Zildjian S line. It might have been good just to recommend them from the start. I think the OP is looking for concrete suggestions. I assume he or she hasn't developed an ear yet.

I get where you're coming from though. It's not always best to follow the herd. Buffalo jumps wouldn't be a thing if it was!
I get your points as well.

Cymbal selection is a tough proposition. We all have different tastes and sonic needs, so our preferences and recommendations will vary widely. Beginners, especially, can be overwhelmed by the vast array of options, as well as by the voices that promote them.

About the S Family: I'm actually shocked to like it so much, but I just can't find any fatal flaws. That I've always favored brighter cymbals is a factor. Consistency across the line is another plus. You can buy them blind and know what you'll end up with, whereas with some As and Ks, two cymbals of the same model can sound drastically different. As with all things drumming, it comes down to your own value system.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I'm piecing together my first kit ........ I'll probably start with high-hats, a couple of crashes, and a ride ...... for less than $500 ..... richest/ fullest sound.
The used cymbal market is pretty depressed, right now. Has been, for a few years, but this pandemic has really kicked it down.
Figure out first, whether you prefer brighter sounding cymbals ..... or darker sounding. Then digging deeper ..... do you prefer a ride with a lot of pingand little wash, or a balance .... or a lot of wash/and not so much ping?

You might not be able to get two crashes ..... but for $500 ..... you could probably score a high end set of hats, a ride, and one crash. Depending on your luck ..... maybe two crashes.

You're right about "some" video's out there. But a lot depends on your computer speakers of headphones. I find Memphis Drum Shop (mycymbals.com) video's sound pretty good.

In selling some cymbals for a friend (Zildjian) .... I sold some 14" A Custom hats for $215. + shipping. I had a non-pay bidder on a 16" A Medium crash ..... and a 20" K heavy ride. PM me, if you're interested in either of those. I'm a Sabian guy, so I've no need for either.
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
I played with Sabian XS20s for years. Very versatile cymbals, mine were second hand and even when I sold them on had taken no damage.
 
I'd just get some good allround cymbal. $500 is enough for a very good set. Be flexible, don't care for looks and small keyholes and mix some brands. This is a good site for used gear: https://www.musicgoround.com/product/40123-S000075750/used-zildjian-new-beat-sabian-aa-hh-cymbals-14
They have offerings from different stores, so if you find a store with several good cymbals, just mix and match to save shipping. Maybe there's even one close to you. So what, if you decide to change one cymbal in a year - you'll get the majority of your money back easily.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I played with Sabian XS20s for years. Very versatile cymbals, mine were second hand and even when I sold them on had taken no damage.
I was saddened by Sabian's transition from XS20 to XSR. What I had hoped was a simple label rebadged was ultimately a new product line which went for a brighter "A Custom" sound, when I really just want an inexpensive set of A/AA's to recommend to drumming-newcommers and people looking for a good $500 set.

FWIW - I sold my A Custom boxed set for $500 on CL 3 years ago, and included an extra 10" splash.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Richest, fullest sound? It's impossible to make objective recommendations for qualities we all experience differently. While I agree that listening to online demonstrations is no substitute for in-person sampling, it's a much better measure than relying upon descriptions you'll read in a forum. Explore some offerings and see what appeals to you in your price range. Paiste, Zildjian, and Sabian all make great cymbals, as do other manufacturers. Let your ears be your only guide.

Note: Ignore "budget cymbal" stigmas. Most are completely irrational, based upon slavish adherence to marketing. If you like the sound of something, go with it.
My issue with the phrase "budget cymbal" is that it can be misinterpreted to mean any and every cymbal that sits below the top tier cymbal by that manufacturer. While the terminology itself is strictly speaking true in monetary tems, there are connotations that go with it that people may not see the nuances of. Maybe one way of saying it is that "there are budget cymbals and there are BUDGET cymbals". I'm under no illusions that my Paiste Alpha Pros are not "almost" 2002s, however they're closer to a 2002 than they are to a budget brass Paiste 101.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
My issue with the phrase "budget cymbal" is that it can be misinterpreted to mean any and every cymbal that sits below the top tier cymbal by that manufacturer. While the terminology itself is strictly speaking true in monetary tems, there are connotations that go with it that people may not see the nuances of. Maybe one way of saying it is that "there are budget cymbals and there are BUDGET cymbals". I'm under no illusions that my Paiste Alpha Pros are not "almost" 2002s, however they're closer to a 2002 than they are to a budget brass Paiste 101.
In the guitar world, there are items we call "Guitar Shaped Objects".

Paiste Alpha, Sab XSR, etc are economy cymbals.
Paiste 101, Zil ZBT, Sabian B8, Meinl HCS are "Cymbal Shaped Objects".
 
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