too many cymbals?


Silver Member
I noticed when I went to record my last album, I wanted to make sure there were a variety of cymbals on my kit.

Here was my set up :

Zildjian 14" A Custom ReZo Hats
Sabian 8" AA Splash
Sabian 10" XS20 Splash
Sabian 13" AA El Sabor Thin Crash
Meinl 15" Byzance Thin Crash
Meinl 16" Byzance Medium Crash
Meinl 17" Byzance Medium Thin Crash
Zildjian 16" K Custom Session Crash
Sabian 16" AAX Dark Crash
Sabian 21" AA Metal-X Ride

a total of 10 cymbals. Not seemingly excessive; but I noticed it hampered my creativity a bit. I ended up having so many cymbals I just hit whatever I felt like, not really thinking about the tonality or sounds of them. After I finished recording, I realized I was overwhelmed with cymbals so I had no room to breathe. I also had five toms, which also smothered me.

The album before that, I had a more simple set up. I had three toms (as opposed to five), and my cymbals were simply :

Sabian 13" Hand Hammered Bright Hats
Sabian 10" XS20 Splash
Meinl 15" Byzance Thin Crash
Sabian 17" AA Medium Crash
Sabian 21" AA Metal-X Ride

I listen back on the recordings and I did so much more with half the cymbals, and had more room to create sounds.

So I guess this long winded post is trying to say, more cymbals doesn't necessarily mean more creativity - it can sometimes mean the opposite depending on how you play.


Senior Member
I use ride, two crash, one splash, hi hats.

If you use them put them up.

For a long time I "retrained" myself and did some experimenting.

I only used a bass drum, hi hats, and a ride.


Senior Member
For jazz gigs I like to use:

1 China, 2 Rides and 1 Hi-Hat (Both rides are very crashable)

For almost any other gig I use:

1 Ride, 1 Hi-hat, 2 Crashes, 1 China

In the home studio it varies A LOT!!!


Some people may think I have two cymbals, But I kind of do a Wackerman, Bozzio, Harrison thing.

2 pairs of hats, 2 crashes, 1 ride, 2 splashes, 3 bells, 3 chinas.

I like my FX cymbals ^_^


Junior Member
I think that you grow into your set up as you grow in music, but every set up is always a work in progress. I look back at when I first started playing, and my friend and I would put our 5 piece kits and cymbals together and have a massive kit we could mess around on. We listened to a lot of metal and harder rock, so we wanted to have the big set ups like the drummers we saw playing for those bands. Now, I'm in a cover band that sticks mostly to one or two styles. I have grown in my playing, and I know how to do more with less. I use hats, 2 crashes, a ride and a splash or two on a four piece kit. With that being said, I do agree that you can never have enough cymbals, but I do think that it looks weird to have 5 crashes, 2 rides, 4 splashes and hats on a small 4 piece kit, and vice versa with a small array of cymbals on a 7-8 piece kit.
1 Ride
1 Hi hat
1 China
2 Crashes
3 Splashes ( I love splashes for some reason)

I would like to add one more Ride and 1 Crash when I have the money.And maybe a bell.


Junior Member
I use

3 crashes
one ride
2 splashes
2 china's ( the basic 16'' or 17'' and a smaller 10'' or 12'')


Senior Member
I think as long as you know what you're doing with them it's hard to have too many ... unless you're gigging. Then you can get to "too many" real quick.

My biggest (and current) set-up has been:

1 hi-hat
1 ride
4 crashes (sometimes 5)
1 china
1 splash (would eventually like one more)

We play classic rock, but we like to jam it out on a lot of tunes. My last show I tried using only three crashes and felt like I really could have used that fourth.
Sometimes i think i have too many... but at the same time I don't because i do more cymbal work than tom work. They're my true colors on the kit..

This is my setup

13" K/Z Hi Hats
17" K Hybrid (primary crash)
18" A Custom EFX (effects crash)
21" Holy China
10" A Custom Splash
06" Zil Bel
14" A Custom Fast Crash (now that my 9" Hybrid splash is cracked the Fast Crash is back in my setup, but id like to replace it with either a new hybrid or a 12" A Custom Splash)



Junior Member
I play with 3 crashes, a splash, a china a ride and hats, all zildjan a custom except the hats which are paiste sound ed,ge. The sort of stuff my current band does demands this number of cymbals on at least half the tunes.


Silver Member
I think there is probably a serious thought behind this question - and for me it relates to drums too (but I'll keep to cymbals for now!). There IS a point for the player where the number of cymbals presents more problems than they may solve, both in terms of positioning & choices whilst making music. I won't talk about carrying the damn things since I was generally advised to "go work out" in my thread about the weight of hardware...!!

But, of course that point is different for each player & probably different for changing bands / musical styles. We should be careful not to fall for the subtext of "He uses less cymbals - he must be a better or more-evolved player." That's way too simplistic.

In my jazz band I use a hi-hat, 2 rides, 1 crash & sometimes a Pang. But that is because I feel that is what the music needs, plus whilst I could easily add more Rides (I own 10!) too many choices can be a distraction. Nowhere is this more keenly felt in music production (studio) for instance. Restriction can be such a powerfully creative tool.

In my "party band" (it pays the mortgage) I use 2 hi-hats, a ride, 2 or 3 crashes & sometimes a China or a Splash. I also use a tamborine & everything gets used & really helps me recreate drum parts more authentically.

In a progressive rock setting I used: 2 hi-hats, 3 crashes, 1 Ride, 1 Splash , 1 Pang & 3 Chinas... but it was all necessary to play the music of Genesis. I could have added more, but the positioning of voices around the set is something you have to be very careful with IMO lest things start to feel cluttered or unnatural.


"Uncle Larry"
I use the same drum kit and the same cymbals no matter what type of music I play and they always work. I know the voices my kit makes and it's up to me to use them appropriately for the style of music I'm doing.

I've played rock, blues, pop and jazz on the exact same kit. Never felt anything was lacking. It's in the player not the tools.


Silver Member
I use the same drum kit and the same cymbals no matter what type of music I play and they always work. I know the voices my kit makes and it's up to me to use them appropriately for the style of music I'm doing.

I've played rock, blues, pop and jazz on the exact same kit. Never felt anything was lacking. It's in the player not the tools.
That's exactly what I was referring to... how's the view up there?


Pioneer Member
I've been playing with two crashes forever, but adding a 3rd crash on the left a few years ago added so much. I've experimented with a million cymbals when I was younger, but the vast majority of it wasn't necessary so I got rid of all of them.

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I remember as a teen my friend was watching me play the drums, he wasn't a very bright guy but he observed that I was giving each cymbal a 'turn' as I was hitting them, as though they were people, and they all wanted to have their fair say.

I realized while you have your different cymbals for different settings, he was right. I think when they're melodic as Bozzio uses them, or positioned to work with tom rolls as Donati uses them then it's cool but when you watch guys like Portnoy with a ridiculous amount of cymbals and they just hit them randomly with no real thought/musicality behind it then it can look a bit unnecessary. With a bit of dynamics and personality you can get all the sounds you need from a small setup. I think 2 differently pitched crashes compliment each other, and I really like playing an ex-hat on my right side, so I find those useful. I no longer use effects cymbals like splashes or chinas because I hate being surrounded by cymbals, especially if I'm hardly ever going to use them. I guess I'm a minimalist lately. My splashes, china and stack are just ornaments lately. I might pick them up again one day.

My ideal setup is: 2 crashes, 2 sets of hi-hats, 1 ride. This is my current setup:



"Uncle Larry"
That's exactly what I was referring to... how's the view up there?
You're implying I'm above it all? Nah. I'm just a creature of habit. All my sets are set up the same way, tuned the same way, and even the cymbals sound similar. When I like something, I stick with it.

My philosophy is I need a fast, a medium, and a long duration crash. Plus I need a 10" splash. 1 pair awesome hats a ride to die for, and I'm set. 7 cymbals, worlds of possibilities.