Thoughts on Cympads?


Senior Member

If you're not familiar with them:

I've recently tried them and have some thoughts, if you'll indulge me................

The "Optimizers" are the flagship line and come in three different thicknesses: 8mm, 12mm and 15mm, with 15mm being their standard model. All of them are 40mm in diameter, the standard cymbal felt washer size.

I like the 8mm model. They are thin and are good for vintage stands that don't have a lot of threading exposed, for which you have to use a shorter sleeve. The 12mm are also good. Those feel (playing wise) more like "normal" felt washers.

When it comes to their standard 15mm model....I just don't like them. It alters the motion of the cymbal, and consequently the feel of the stick on the cymbal. It is most noticeable with crash cymbals. I don't use top felts on my stands, and I use Camber "T-Tops" so I don't use wing nuts either. Camber T-Tops are like the old Zildjian Cymbal Snaps but without the rotating center piece. You just take your cymbals on and off at an angle and you leave them screwed onto the stand. Very convenient!

Anyway, because of this, my crash cymbals are free to move and swing back and forth uninhibited. On a normal felt, when I strike a crash with a normal hit, the cymbal swings back and forth about 5 or 6 times. With the 15mm Cympads, it only swings back and forth twice. The cymbal is still free to move around, but the Cympad is limiting it's movement. It's almost like the cymbal is "fighting back" and resisting slightly when I hit it. It's definitely noticeable from a feel standpoint. Also, when I strike the crash with the Cympad, it has a "softer" feel (not volume). I don't know how to really describe it, but it's not as satisfying as hitting a crash with a normal felt. It's almost like there is a cymbal spring attached to that stand/cymbal, if that makes sense. Another way I can describe it is imagine there is cushioned grip tape on the stick where you are striking the crash. It doesn't sound any different, but it feels "softer" and less satisfying, to me. One final analogy: Imagine you are used to dunking a basketball on a fixed rim bolted directly to the back board. Now imagine dunking on a breakaway rim. It feels like that! I didn't notice this at all on the 8mm Cympads, and it was much less noticeable on the 12mm Cympads. They also have a thicker, 18mm pad for rides and heavier crashes, but I have not tried that. They also make a hi-hat seat and two hi-hat clutch sized pads. These are fine and like them with no difference in sound or feel. I actually like them a little better than standard clutch felts, because they don't compress as much and are more resilient, especially the top clutch felt, which can get squished/wonky/misshapen on occasion, as we all know.

The cool thing is that they also make "Chromatics", which are in different colors, so you can color coordinate (or contrast) your kit. This doesn't help me much since I don't use a top felt, but I ordered some to color coordinate with a few kits (at least it will look cool when I am setting up, or from underneath when I am elevated on stage)! Sadly, they only make the 15mm size for the Chromatics, and no hi-hat sets.

The one thing I did notice about the Chromatics are that they are stiffer than the regular issue black 15mm Cympads. This makes the softer feel and limited motion issue even more noticeable. Something to keep in mind.

Finally, I also noticed that if you leave your cymbals set up on the Cympads, the Cympads will become misshapen and conform to how your cymbal sits on the stand. This would also be the case if you tighten down the wing nuts or have tension on the felts during transport and storage .If you lean your cymbals towards you, for example, then one side of the Cympad will be flatter than the opposite side. If you take the cymbals off, they will eventually regain their shape, but it takes several days, or even longer depending upon how badly they are misshapen. For this I am speaking about the 15mm, black Cympads. I haven't tried it with the stiffer, Chromatics yet. I imagine it would still happen, but not as quickly. Cympad's website also claims that they provide better isolation from stands and mounting hardware. This is true. I have a 8" splash mounted on my bass drum, and that thing rattles around like crazy every time I hit the bass drum (again, no top felt or's freeeeeee!). I tried a Cympad on it and although it still rattled and moved around, it was less noticeable with the Cympad as compared to a normal felt.

All in all, they are worth checking out to see for yourself. They are fairly inexpensive to use as a "test run". If you don''t like them, you're not out that much.

I did notice just a slight difference in sound. None with the 8mm or 12mm pads, but with the 15mm Pads I noticed just a slight reduction in resonance/sustain. It was very slight, but I did notice it. They have another series called "Moderators" that are designed to eliminate overtones and control sustain. I'm sure you'll browse/check out the site.

I hope this helped. Enjoy! For those of you that are using or have used Cympads, what are your thoughts?

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Platinum Member
I'm not a fan. The compression effect when you angle your cymbals and they compress into a wedge shape makes cymbals twist and turn in odd ways when played. That drove me crazy, when crashes wouldn't return to the correct downward angle after striking. I could not detect any sonic change between these and regular felts but I also feel that isolation comes more from whatever is covering the center rod, not what the cymbal is sitting on. I think these are another example of a product that's a solution looking for a problem.