Jazz Cymbal set up

Rolltide

Well-known member
Cymbal set up for jazz, the right side ride cymbal with the left side ride/crash that compliment each other . What would be some suggestions as well as the theory behind why this combo would work . I am intrigued more and more about playing jazz . Thx
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The configuration you're referring to is really just a means of diversifying the cymbal voice of a setup. Generally, by adding a second ride to the mix, the drummer aims to broaden tonality. For instance, the first ride might be dark and diffused, whereas the second might be bright and defined. Also, one might be more of a crash ride than the other. Not all jazz drummers use this arrangement, and it's not a convention unique to jazz. Players of any genre might elect to do it, though I never have. I play a medium ride with three thin crashes. I use the ride as a ride only and the crashes as crashes only. Cymbal functionality is left to the discretion of the drummer.
 

Peedy

Senior Member
Cymbal set up for jazz, the right side ride cymbal with the left side ride/crash that compliment each other . What would be some suggestions as well as the theory behind why this combo would work . I am intrigued more and more about playing jazz . Thx
That’s was a very common setup during the be-bop and bop eras of jazz, 1945-70. Wasn’t the only setup but enough to become the cliche. Thing is that the people who made that famous were hugely talented drummers who were able to do way more with way less.

I’m not that good so my kit has a few more pieces on it.

Pete
 

EhhSoCheap

Member
Mel Lewis’ thoughts...

Some quotes that have stuck with me:

“With the saxophones, you want a roaring sound to envelop, because reeds don't have the power that the brass has. That's why I believe that during a sax solo -- where you have five saxophone players standing up playing together -- nothing sounds better behind them than a Chinese ride cymbal, because there's a blend.”

“You should treat the different sections with different ride cymbals. Even in my dark sounds there is still a higher sound, a medium sound, and a lower sound. I'll use the high sound behind a piano. I'll also use the lowest sound behind a piano. But I won't use the middle sound behind the piano because it's too much in the piano's range. Behind the piano, a flute, or a muted trumpet, I'll also use the hi-hats or brushes. When I'm playing behind, say, a trumpet solo followed by a tenor solo, and I know that the tenor player is a hard-blower, I'll use the Chinese cymbal. Now, if it's just going to be a trumpet solo, or if the tenor player has a lighter sound, I'll use my normal 22-inch ride cymbal. But I'll always save my Chinese for the hardest blowing soloist.”
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Here's the Sabian HH Vanguard Series. 21", 20" 18" cymbals. Sabian neither labels them rides or crashes .... 14" hats. They also have a 22" and a 16". Wonderful cymbals. I have the 5 cymbals and the 14" hats.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Mel Lewis's rule that everything is a ride, everything is a crash, is pretty universal among jazz drummers. Maybe an 18-20 on the left and 20-24 on the right. Typically the cymbal on the right would be the main voice, and the one on the left contrasting-- usually lighter, sometimes heavier. Maybe one of them will have rivets. Tony Williams's thing in the 60s was to use a ride and a crash, and not ride the crash-- I have a 17 I really love, so I do that type of set up often. A third cymbal on the far right might be a crash, or a second larger cymbal, or a flat, or a chinese cymbal. General concepts anyway-- people do all kinds of things.
 

ALotSirSwings

Well-known member
I prefer dark and trashy cymbals, for a more modern sound. If you have the means don’t be afraid to put together multiple setups for different types of jazz. I have a modern setup, and a more traditional jazz setup cymbalwise. Really helps serve the music better.
 

RickP

Gold Member
Mel Lewis was right on with his statement that you need the ride cymbals not the crash cymbals for Jazz . Multiple ride cymbals are needed for the different instruments you play with , plus it gets boring hearing the same ride cymbal all the time . I play with a 21 piece Big Band and I need multiple ride cymbals . I like rides that are crashable as well for added versatility . Remember you can also use your hats for riding and crashing as well .
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I use a 17" K Dark Custom crash on my left; a 22" Zildjian from the 1950's as my ride on the right; and an 18" Zildjian crash/ride with rivets also from the 50's, sort of "middle", right above the 22"...

all of the cymbals are used as ride depending on the timbre I want.

No rules, just how and where I want the sounds. The group is me, bass, guitar, and usually a trumpet. We do old swing/ragtime stuff, and also jump-blues. Lots of Louis Jordan stuff.

I tend to like the way the big ride sits when the guitar is soloing, so I use it a lot for that. The 17" K sits well as a ride when the trumpet, or tenor sax solos, so I use it in. that situation. I am using brushes 100% of the time in this group.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Cymbal set up for jazz, the right side ride cymbal with the left side ride/crash that compliment each other . What would be some suggestions as well as the theory behind why this combo would work . I am intrigued more and more about playing jazz . Thx
When I think of Jazz drummers and their cymbals, the first thing that comes to mind is:

"Ride" and "Crash" are the verbs that describe what the drummer is doing with a particular cymbal, and not adjectives that describes the cymbals' attributes.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Cymbal set up for jazz, the right side ride cymbal with the left side ride/crash that compliment each other . What would be some suggestions as well as the theory behind why this combo would work . I am intrigued more and more about playing jazz . Thx
I mean... there are some guidelines for what a "Jazz" ride cymbal set up...but really jazz and the spirit of jazz is for you to find your voice and come up with your own sound.

You might immediately think - darker - washier cymbals that can fill a lot of space in the context of intrumental music...but there's nothing to say that you can't have have a Tony Williams-esque pingier cymbal if that fits your playing.

Now having soap boxed for a while - I've played jazz for decades and I feel like I have a decent cymbal rig and concept for you. As noted above - Cymbals are very important in jazz - as your cymbal sound is the really the blanket that the rest of the band rides on...a cymbal sound can completely define the tone and feel of a song in jazz much more than other genres.

I think it's to have a couple of different main tones because in any given song there will be shifts in energy and intensity and different types of instruments you'll need to support - so I like to have two distinctly different, but related primary cymbals.

In my case I got lucky and Ari Hoenig is a good friend so when he designed his Bosphorus set, I got a couple and they are amazing...but this brand and specific cymbals aside - there are characteristics of each cymbal that you might find useful in whatever brand or cymbal you get.

I have a 21" Boshporus Lyric Series with rivets on my left side - this is probably the best cymbal I've ever played - especially in jazz its got a warm shimmer - but it still has some stick definition so on uptempo patterns, you can clearly hear what the sticks are doing so it's not lost in in the mix. I think it's important to have at least one cymbal that falls into this category with jazz....flat rides are beautiful for this too. Something with some definition.

The second cymbal I use is a 23" Lyric ride...this is more like riding a big wave and it might be more of what you think of a traditional "jazz" cymbal to be. It's dark and washy and can fill SO much sonic space on slower passages - and it has a stronger bell than the 21" for latin stuff, etc. It can totally get away from you though and building a ton of wash - which is why it makes such a great crash when needed.

So my thoughts more concisely are: I would find a set of cymbals that give you two distinct ride sounds - one with more definition for fast passages - one with more wash for filling up space on ballads or slower tunes, both that can be crash-able when the music get more intense, something with a versatile and strong bell, and two cymbals that are kind of related tone wise so you can switch back and forth during songs without being too sonically jarring.
 

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Rolltide

Well-known member
Thank you for that , very thoughtful and informative - everybody has great thoughts on this, I undestsnd there isn’t one way but the philosophy is very interring to me as I ponder my set up- many thx everyone
 
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