Small Ride Cymbals <20"


Senior Member
Hey guys,

Every now and then I see a 18 or 19 inch ride for sale (never in stores/internet only), and I wonder who actually uses them and what for.

The smallest I've ever used is a 20" and the largest was a 24". It seems that for the same cymbal model increasing the size lowers the pitch, but why does everyone stop at 20".

Do/have any of you use a ride smaller than 20" and why? Also, would it make a drastic difference if I had say a 19" ride instead of a 20"?


Gold Member
I have owned a couple of rides smaller than 20 " ( by the way Steve Gadd played/plays an 18" ride for decades).

Ones I have owned are :
19 " Armand "Beautiful Baby " ride - coms with three rivet cluster from factory - definitely has a volume threshold- more suited for a second ride han a main ride IMHO. very pretty rivest will cause it to wash out if played forcefully.

18 " K Custom Session ride - really pingy and I have owned two - this is one ride I really wanted to like ( I am a big Steve Gadd fan) they were not loud enough for the amplified classic rock band I was playing with and sold both of them. They were too pingy for my jazz gigs.

18" Paiste Dimensions Medium ride - more suited to being a crash ride than a ride.

18" Paiste Sound Creation Medium dark ride - best 18 " ride I have ever played - perfect blend of ping and wash - good volume threshold - I ended up trading this for something else ( can't remember what).


Gold Member
Al Jackson played on 14" hats, and 16" crash, and an 18" ride. Thats it.

Small ride are mainly used in studio situations. Smaller/dryer rides don't wash out as easily as larger ones and their pitch allows for more cut in the mix. The same goes for hi hats, 12" and 13" hats are popular just for there cut, so they aren't drowned out in the mix of recording


Platinum Member
No real experience with rides smaller than 20", except for those that have cracked and been cut down to a smaller size. Most noticable difference with those is less volume and wash.

That said, I think there's a lot more <20" that are labeled 'crash/ride' than there are labeled 'ride'.


Platinum Member
I've owned 16", 18", and 19" rides. I still have a sweet 19" Zildjian A ride from the 60s, and an 18" 70s A ride (I use it in my orchestral crash pair...). I have different sound desires, and I like a ride with more complexity and variety to it. I don't find that in rides under 21". Yeah, I still use 'em sometimes, but I mostly default to larger rides...


I've never used a ride cymbal that was less than 20" but I own quite a few that are 21" and no larger. In fact today I just picked up a Zildjian A Custom 21" Medium Thin ride which sounds very nice.



Platinum Member
I played an 18" A Zildjian Ride once at a church event, and I liked its sound: pingy with good tone. Peace and goodwill.

Kudzu Monroe

Senior Member
I have an old long discontinued 16" Zildjian "Mini Cup" ride cymbal that is quite heavy.
I use it sometimes on the left just forward of the hi-hats as an alternitive time keeper it's kinda like
having a bigger Zil bell in that respect (all dry ping) ... Usually though it resides under a
16" A Custom projection as a bottom hat.


Senior Member
Back in the 1920's, 30's, & 40's, hi-hats were typically 12", crash cymbals 14", and rides were either 16" or 18". Although, as unusual as this sounds, Stan Kenton required his drummer to play a 24" Zildjian ride. I'd like to hear a 24" Zildjian ride from that era if anyone owns one.

Cymbals, like everything else, tend to change with music styles, volume levels, and personal tastes. I believe that cymbals are the single-most intriguing musical instrument on the planet !!
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Silver Member
Will Carroll of Death Angel: 8" bell I believe

Bryan Newbury of Death Toll Rising & Into Eternity, custom 14" power bell ride


Silver Member
I have an 18" Zildjian 'medium sizzle' cymbal. The markings would suggest it's from the 70s. I use it for a ride in jazz stuff, occasionally, but I also use it as a cool trashy sounding crash in other situations.


Platinum Member
I have been searching for a decent small ride for 20 years and I think I've tried just about everything under the sun, including every cymbal mentioned in this thread so far.

I have recently discovered the Zildjian K 18" Crash Ride and it's the one for me. May not work for you but if you like the K thing at all, please check it out.

I used to have the Zildjian 18" Session Ride - the so called 'Gadd ride' - but his ride cymbal doesn't sound anywhere remotely close to this cymbal. The Session ride is very heavy and clangy. Actually, I had the 18" Session ride twice , as I thought I may have gotten a bad one the first time.

19" Armand ride was okay - but too thin for my tastes.
As others have mentioned, try vintage. I have played some old 60's/70's Zildjians that were nice 18" ride cymbals, maybe keep an eye out for those.