Tried cleaning/polishing some cymbals: REALLY disappointing

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Oh, well. I like shiny cymbals. For over forty years I've used BKF applied with the lathing lines. To me, clean cymbals sound better, while heavily tarnished and dirty ones sound muted. But it's a good thing that I don't care about logos!

GeeDeeEmm
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
I started out taking jazz drum lessons as a kid, age 13, and my teacher was a bonafide serious jazz player. Unfortunately he got sick with colitis and illitiis which ultimately took his life. But he knew his music, how to excute at the highest level and knew his instrument. He always told me never to clean my cymbals. He said with age they would accumulate a natural patina on them over the years which would warm the sound of the cymbal. And I've grown to realize he was absolutely correct. As a result I've never cleaned any of my cymbals. I might dust them off with a rag but never have I considered applying any kind of cleaner or polish to them. In spite of my early learnings about not cleaning cymbals, I recently asked my good childhood friend who also plays the drums and took lessons from the same teacher that I was thinking of cleaning my cymbals, and what he thought. His answer was immediate and one single word.......NO. I just needed the confirmation of what I already knew. I'm sorry to hear of the OP's misfortunes. That is why I will ask people who's opinion I respect before I go and do something like this.
 

Peedy

Senior Member
Yeah, it’s the jazz players who are the most serious about their vintage cymbal AND the ones who drive the used market. A little dish soap, ok. But nada mas.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
Not to oversimplify things, but all you need to clean your cymbals is some crushed pumice stone and 80 grit sandpaper. When you're finished apply a nice coat of marine wax and it'll keep the grime off.
 

Destroyer772

Gold Member
I will use simple Windex on my brilliant Cymbals to keep sticks marks down and to keep them shiny. I just keep my traditional Cymbals dusted off with a dry rag. I use gloves when I handle them, so they stay fairly clean anyway. I did use bar keepers friend (powder) once on a really filthy Cymbal at my Church and it did a great. If you want to keep them looking nice you do have to do a little work, it's all preference. But Windex does a good job and wont take off the logo's.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
I plan on trying different products. Brasso, (suggestions).

Anyone tried Buckaroo Cymbal cleaner???
Curious- and maybe I missed it in the thread- have you attempted cleaning again with anything yet? I feel that cleaning cymbals neither ruins nor improves the sound, it just changes it. If I were playing bop or something else that needed smoky, dark-sounding cymbals, I'd get K's, HH's, or equivalent, and never clean them. I'd do the same even with A's, AA's, etc. if they were only for studio work. With the pop/rock/r&b stuff I typically play live, I use A's, AA's, or equivalent, and I choose the cymbals that sound like I need them to sound when they're new- no need to wait for them to mellow- so I keep them cleaned. It also makes them look better under stage lights, which is a good touch for showmanship & presentation. My cymbals are regular finish B20's- if I used any with a brilliant finish, I'd just clean off fingerprints with glass cleaner.

To your questions in the OP: I used Brasso on the marching cymbals back in high school, with mediocre results. It cleaned some, but not well, and kinda turned the cymbals' color. (Maybe it was residue I didn't completely remove...?) I've used Buckaroo some; highly effective, but messy, and it's a long, two-part process. You pick off a wad from the larger, what smells like light kerosene-soaked wooly wad in the container, and rub it (with the grooves, not against), and it creates a black smudge-y residue on the cymbal. I presume this is the grime that it's removing. (I recommend wearing black sweatpants, a shirt you don't care about, and hold the cymbal in your lap.) You can do a section, or the entire side of the cymbal. Then, you use a black towel or otherwise rags you don't care about, and buff off the black residue. Works very well, but will make your hands/fingers sore from all the buffing, and the black residue that will inevitably end up on your fingers won't wash off for a couple of days. The smell will linger in the room for a day or two.

I've had equal results with faster and less messy effort & process with Zims / Groove Juice. I put the cymbal in the bathtub, spray it generously with the cleaner, leaving no part of the up-facing side uncovered (if it's bell-up, start in the middle and move in a circular motion outward; bell-down, do the opposite). The instructions say to let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse it off; I scrub the cymbal lightly but thoroughly with a nylon-bristle bathtub brush in the same circular motion first. Then, rinse the cymbal. If I've let it go for a while and they're really dirty, I repeat it once or twice. I dry them with a regular towel and place them straight back in the cymbal bag. They don't end up brand-new looking, but close. Logos are gone, of course, but it doesn't matter to me, I'm gonna use them until they begin to crack, and I'm not hard on cymbals. I've had most of mine for a couple of decades.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Curious- and maybe I missed it in the thread- have you attempted cleaning again with anything yet? I feel that cleaning cymbals neither ruins nor improves the sound, it just changes it. If I were playing bop or something else that needed smoky, dark-sounding cymbals, I'd get K's, HH's, or equivalent, and never clean them. I'd do the same even with A's, AA's, etc. if they were only for studio work. With the pop/rock/r&b stuff I typically play live, I use A's, AA's, or equivalent, and I choose the cymbals that sound like I need them to sound when they're new- no need to wait for them to mellow- so I keep them cleaned. It also makes them look better under stage lights, which is a good touch for showmanship & presentation. My cymbals are regular finish B20's- if I used any with a brilliant finish, I'd just clean off fingerprints with glass cleaner.

To your questions in the OP: I used Brasso on the marching cymbals back in high school, with mediocre results. It cleaned some, but not well, and kinda turned the cymbals' color. (Maybe it was residue I didn't completely remove...?) I've used Buckaroo some; highly effective, but messy, and it's a long, two-part process. You pick off a wad from the larger, what smells like light kerosene-soaked wooly wad in the container, and rub it (with the grooves, not against), and it creates a black smudge-y residue on the cymbal. I presume this is the grime that it's removing. (I recommend wearing black sweatpants, a shirt you don't care about, and hold the cymbal in your lap.) You can do a section, or the entire side of the cymbal. Then, you use a black towel or otherwise rags you don't care about, and buff off the black residue. Works very well, but will make your hands/fingers sore from all the buffing, and the black residue that will inevitably end up on your fingers won't wash off for a couple of days. The smell will linger in the room for a day or two.

I've had equal results with faster and less messy effort & process with Zims / Groove Juice. I put the cymbal in the bathtub, spray it generously with the cleaner, leaving no part of the up-facing side uncovered (if it's bell-up, start in the middle and move in a circular motion outward; bell-down, do the opposite). The instructions say to let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse it off; I scrub the cymbal lightly but thoroughly with a nylon-bristle bathtub brush in the same circular motion first. Then, rinse the cymbal. If I've let it go for a while and they're really dirty, I repeat it once or twice. I dry them with a regular towel and place them straight back in the cymbal bag. They don't end up brand-new looking, but close. Logos are gone, of course, but it doesn't matter to me, I'm gonna use them until they begin to crack, and I'm not hard on cymbals. I've had most of mine for a couple of decades.
Yes, this thread has been back n forth, I was called a moron, lots of interesting things being said here. :rolleyes:

I simply used Dawn dishsoap and warm water and a lot of elbow grease. (y)

I'll let you review how things went if you want. :cool:
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Looks good
What the person in that video is doing is different than cleaning though.
Cleaning removes substances that are foreign to to cymbal material.
He's actually reworking the cymbal by removing a small amount of the cymbal material with sand paper.
Yes - the dirt/grime/ and other junk is removed, but so is a small amount of the cymbal.

Also, if a cymbal has lathing and you do that,
you most likely won't get down into the grooves and will only remove a bit off the top of the lathing.
If you take it down far enough to remove all the lathing, you will have removed enough material to be
noticeable when weighing it.
A polish will work good on that type of cymbal though.

I've removed the lathing from several cymbal bells and polished them to a high shine.
IMO, they look and sound real good.
 

cdar

Junior Member
Over the years I've used many of the same methods meny have mentioned: Groove Juice, Brasso, BKF, lemons..... The last time I cleaned them (lemons, years ago), I swore was the last. Now, after every gig or even practice where I might be choking the cymbal (yeah, I know what's coming now...), I just wipe 'em with a barely-damp micro-fiber cloth. More than enough to keep crud, stickmarks & fingerprints to a minimum while they grow old...
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Over the years I've used many of the same methods meny have mentioned: Groove Juice, Brasso, BKF, lemons..... The last time I cleaned them (lemons, years ago), I swore was the last. Now, after every gig or even practice where I might be choking the cymbal (yeah, I know what's coming now...), I just wipe 'em with a barely-damp micro-fiber cloth. More than enough to keep crud, stickmarks & fingerprints to a minimum while they grow old...
New cymbals require very little to keep them looking like new.
I think this thread is more about when you get a used cymbal that's been neglected or abused.
I've bought some used cymbals that looked like a dog threw up on them, then baked in an oven,
and then left outdoors for a decade or two. Cymbals like that require a bit of work, but it can be done.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I notice someone used sandpaper in a different thread started earlier this year. And, I saw some vids. . .

So this guy rigs up a drill press I think. Uses a sanding bar/pad. This was on a cymbal that was DANG old. He said 30 years or more. It was definitely 50 yrs old or more. As you can see, the cymbal looked AMAZING! There is no before and after sound test. Obviously, it removed any "finish", that had been applied.

In cleaning a cymbal with sandpaper or a scratch pad, etc---what are the bad things that can happen? Rust? Sonic differences?
Uhh you don't SAND CYMBALS. Especially not very old K. Zildjians or any K. Zildjians or any cymbal of any value whatsoever. Struggling to respond to that video WITHOUT a torrent of f bombs frankly
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
If you ever run across cymbals given a urine patina like these, you'll need more than water to clean them:

I would also definitely recommend using disposable gloves and a face shield if cleaning those,
or whenever you don't know what caused dirt/grime/corrosion/patina,
or any other discolorations.
 
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timmdrum

Silver Member
Yes, this thread has been back n forth, I was called a moron, lots of interesting things being said here. :rolleyes:
Hm, yes, there's a few classless folks on here. I've learned they're still the overwhelming minority here; they're only noticeable because they like to hear (see?) themselves bark. I find it amusing and let it roll off like water off a duck's back. 💯(y)

I simply used Dawn dishsoap and warm water and a lot of elbow grease. (y)

I'll let you review how things went if you want. :cool:
If you have before/after pics, or at least after, I (we?) would love to see.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Hm, yes, there's a few classless folks on here. I've learned they're still the overwhelming minority here; they're only noticeable because they like to hear (see?) themselves bark. I find it amusing and let it roll off like water off a duck's back. 💯(y)


If you have before/after pics, or at least after, I (we?) would love to see.
Tim, there honestly wasn't much change AT ALL as far as how they looked. I probably won't put the effort into that, sorry.


New cymbals require very little to keep them looking like new.
I think this thread is more about when you get a used cymbal that's been neglected or abused.
I've bought some used cymbals that looked like a dog threw up on them, then baked in an oven,
and then left outdoors for a decade or two. Cymbals like that require a bit of work, but it can be done.
If you ever run across cymbals given a urine patina like these, you'll need more than water to clean them:

I would also definitely recommend using disposable gloves and a face shield if cleaning those,
or whenever you don't know what caused dirt/grime/corrosion/patina,
or any other discolorations.

WildBill! You seem to be one of few that get it. Not saying others are wrong. But Bill seems to understand a little more of the why. THEY'RE DIRTY.

Luckily there was no dog vomit, but some serious funk.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
......WildBill! You seem to be one of few that get it. Not saying others are wrong. But Bill seems to understand a little more of the why. THEY'RE DIRTY.

Luckily there was no dog vomit, but some serious funk.

I was buying quite a few used cymbals for a while, and really, you never know what you're getting.
Some are in really good shape - others, not so much.
I clean all used cymbals I buy, even if they look like new.

A lot of people on drum forums recommend buying used cymbals because of the large chunk of change you can save.
That's true, but there might be some trade offs.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
Tim, there honestly wasn't much change AT ALL as far as how they looked. I probably won't put the effort into that, sorry.
Oh, you never attempted another cleaning after the polish incident? I still recommend trying the Zims / Groove Juice process- I get great results with minimal effort.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Oh, you never attempted another cleaning after the polish incident? I still recommend trying the Zims / Groove Juice process- I get great results with minimal effort.
Tim, I had replied to one of your posts previously. I did clean them, with Dawn dish soap. It removed some of the black and gunk. But I took no before pics. It simply didn't shine them up or change them much at all.
 
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