Repairing Cymbals...

SquadLeader

Gold Member
I want to invest in a good quality, larger rock crash cymbal but really lack the finances to do so.

I've noted some on Ebay which suffer from small (or large) cracks...

Is it fairly easy to repair these if one has the machinery to do so ?

Can anyone elaborate on what machinery is required? Just metal cutting and polishing machinery?

My son has a friend who works in metals engineering...I'm wondering if I send it to him, explaining that it needs a chunk cutting out, then the edge buffing, whether that will work.

Just some general advice would be fantastic if anyone has some..

Thanks

Martin
 

kzdruma

Senior Member
In my (fairly limited) experience with cracked cymbals, they are not very repairable. Some people do repair them, but from what I have heard they do not sound the same...
 

Thud

Senior Member
It is easy to fix certain types of crack. If it is in the centre bell then it might not matter too much. After all that bit is damped by the felt.

If there is a small radial crack at the edge then that can be fixed by drilling a hole through it at the right spot. This stops the crack getting bigger.

The longways cracks are harder to fix because they spread along the grain of the metal but drilling holes before they get too big can have a good effect.

As for the sound... has any one of you listened to a drummer playing and said "That cymbal has a crack in it". The truth is you can't tell the difference.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
It is easy to fix certain types of crack. If it is in the centre bell then it might not matter too much. After all that bit is damped by the felt.

If there is a small radial crack at the edge then that can be fixed by drilling a hole through it at the right spot. This stops the crack getting bigger.

The longways cracks are harder to fix because they spread along the grain of the metal but drilling holes before they get too big can have a good effect.

As for the sound... has any one of you listened to a drummer playing and said "That cymbal has a crack in it". The truth is you can't tell the difference.
Serious ?
So, if I purchased one pretty cheap with a fairly small crack, and did nothing with it, I'd get a fair amount of use with it?
I'm talking of getting like a £300 cymbal for £40 because of a minor crack...
I'm inclined to just sod it and go for it...
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
You can't "repair" a cymbal...you can only prevent it from getting damaged further.
So this suggests that the sound quality is irretrievably damaged regardless of what action I take on the cymbal ?
Is the sound impaired so much by a small crack?
And what's the effect of cutting a small wedge out of the edge to 'cure' the crack ?
Sorry for all the questions..I have yet to crack a, or use a cracked, cymbal
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
The trick with the drilling a hole is to try and get ahead of where the crack is propagating though the metal. If you have access to someone who has done a fair amount of metal fatigue analysis, you may get lucky and stop a small crack before it really adversely affects a cymbal. Most often you just slow it down and the cymbal still goes.

Small radial cracks at the edge (going from the edge towards the center) less than half and inch or so, definitely no more than an inch, are the easiest to deal with. Circumferential cracks that follow the lathing are just about impossible to stop. Although while they last, them can make interesting sounding crashes.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Circumferential cracks that follow the lathing are just about impossible to stop.
Oh yeah, they can be stopped. If the crack isn't too large it can be 'covered' by a hole. I've modded several cymbals this way, giving them an Ozone'ish look. And get rid of the cracks. Well if the cracks are too big it wouldn't make sense to do holes as they would be too large, too. But anything up to, say, around 6 cm is no prob. Provided the holes would still be placed 'free', not being too close to or touching the bell/rim area.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Oh yeah, they can be stopped. If the crack isn't too large it can be 'covered' by a hole. I've modded several cymbals this way, giving them an Ozone'ish look. And get rid of the cracks. Well if the cracks are too big it wouldn't make sense to do holes as they would be too large, too. But anything up to, say, around 6 cm is no prob. Provided the holes would still be placed 'free', not being too close to or touching the bell/rim area.
You must be putting pretty big holes in there. Similar to the Ozones. I was referring to the more common practice of drilling small 1/8" holes at the apparent end of the crack to stop it propagating. Invariably, there is some cracking hidden in the metal beyond where the hole gets drilled and folks just chase it around the cymbal until they're left with a splash. If you did a large Ozone like hole and deburred the edges with something like Cratex rubberized abrasive for a nice polish, you might get the cymbal to last. I would think it would affect the sound more though. There are times when that really short sustain of holey crashes is great. But it won't get the OP a $400 cymbal for $40.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I was referring to the more common practice of drilling small 1/8" holes at the apparent end of the crack to stop it propagating. Invariably, there is some cracking hidden in the metal beyond where the hole gets drilled and folks just chase it around the cymbal until they're left with a splash.
Agreed. Drilling always has mixed results. I've either done it or seen it done a bunch of times.......sometimes it stops the crack, sometimes it doesn't. It's worth a try but it's not a guarantee.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
@ Aeolian
Right - sure there will be sonic effects. Less sustain, less volume, less resonance, less kick... which might be even a good thing. Holes make a cymbal more 'airy', less focused.

On one 17'' crash 1 placed 3 holes, roughly in 120 degree configuration. 2 holes were made to cover the cracks (1 bigger, 1 small crack), I did the 3rd hole for cosmetics and offsetting the balance of the cymbal. Worked pretty well. The less holes the closer you'll stay to the original sound.

@ Pocket
I think (I'm sure) if people placed that stopping hole safely enough and big enough the crack shouldn't go on. It's only due to misplaced drilling holes (=too close to the crack, not considering the (invisible) microcracks) that cracks keep getting bigger.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
So this suggests that the sound quality is irretrievably damaged regardless of what action I take on the cymbal ?
Is the sound impaired so much by a small crack?
And what's the effect of cutting a small wedge out of the edge to 'cure' the crack ?
Sorry for all the questions..I have yet to crack a, or use a cracked, cymbal
Sometimes when a crack develops it causes a metal-on-metal buzzing sound. Drilling/cutting out the suspect spot definitely will get rid of that extra noise, but removing part of the metal will definitely redirect how the energy travels around the disc, thus affecting the sound.

Drilling/cutting a cymbal doesn't guarantee that the previous "crack path" won't continue even after it seems to be "repaired".
 

Obzen

Member
I've cracked many a cymbal in my time (about 8). I'd written them off and put them away (but not thrown them out).

A few months ago BOTH of my crashes cracked in the same week and I was in no financial position to replace them any time soon, I took them to my workmate (a typical DIY bloke with a garage and metal cutting tools), with not alot of hope, just kinda "well, we'll see what happens, they can't get any worse".

He cut out the cracks (in one case a particularly large crack, about 1/5th of the cymbal has been cut out). Using some kind of metal cutting saw, and buffed the edges, he did a mighty fine job, fixed 2 crashes and a china.

To be honest, I can barely tell the difference (well the character of the sound is maybe a little bit 'different' now, but I definitely wouldn't say worse), these cymbals are as good as brand new to me now. I'm gonna take a couple more cymbals (some with bigger cracks) to my workmate, gonna make a splash from an ex-crash ;)

Most of my favourite cymbals have chucks cut out of them now, and I have no complaints at all..... well if I had to make a complaint I'd complain that my crash with a 1/5th chunk cut out sometimes 'flops' in odd directions on the stand due to weight distribution, but it just takes a little bit of extra attention when setting up the angle of the stand.

This is a good example of what has been done to some of my cymbals (the 'concave' cut):


Now my only problem is I don't have enough stands for all my lovely revitalized cymbals!
 

Embalmer

Senior Member
I found a cheap Sabian HHX Xtreme 18" crash with a 1/2" crack on the edge. I was able to remove an inch in diameter using a jig and a cut off tool. Here are some pics.









 

Guillermo

Senior Member
Well, I don't know if I'm not very up to date... but in my experience, once a cymbal goes, it goes. Recut cymbals usually don't spread the same. But hey, maybe new sounds come from it right?
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I have two crashes that I use regularly that have edge cracks, maybe half an inch long, that haven't spread after years of use. Others I've tried to drill and so on and nothing could stop their demise. That's the ebay risk - you may get a dud, or a trusty piece.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Well, I don't know if I'm not very up to date... but in my experience, once a cymbal goes, it goes. Recut cymbals usually don't spread the same. But hey, maybe new sounds come from it right?
It goes... yes, in terms of having the full original sound. But when you reduce it moderately the characteristics will still be there, they 'only' get lesser somewhat. You're losing fullness, impact, level.

Apart from 'minimal' repairs (cutting as less as possible, as much as needed) - those will definitely stay truest to the initial sound - you can do a 'more intense' mod like reducing the diameter or doing Ozone syle holes, or you can cut them down completely to a bell. So "once it's gone it's gone" (in my book) doesn't mean you won't have any more use out of that cymbal. It will never be the same - yes.

I have one used Avedis crash with moderate cracks at the rim. It still sounds very nice, the cracks aren't really audible. But as someone said it's just not good to have cracked material rubbing/working against each other I'll do a minimum repair and flex them out. I'll try to not remove a lot of material as suggested (doing 'soft' curves) because cymbals get out of balance very quickly if you remove some material. And then they're prone to develop keyholes.

Some other effect when cutting down cymbals is that some cymbals have a taper towards the rim end, or less/no hammering/structures/patterns. So after reducing it you'd have thicker rims - which changes the sound additionally. Or might work not really work out if you're going to use those cymbals as a hihat set. I've done that a few times, those cymbals just don't make nice hihats.
 
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