What exactly is a "Buttery" sound?


Senior Member
"Buttery" is being used more and more to describe certain cymbals and yet the dictionaries haven't caught up with what it means.

I have a general idea of what a "buttery" cymbal sounds like. (They sound great to me!) But I can't quite put my finger on what makes a cymbal sound buttery.

I've heard buttery used to describe the Zildjian K Sweet line, and the Meinl Byzance Extra Thin Hammered 20" (TIME STAMP 0:38) in particular.

To me, Buttery cymbals always seem to be larger sizes (18" or more), and tend to be thin and darker. Full and explosive.....but never harsh. Always a pleasing sound.

However, there are plenty of cymbals that fit that description.....but they aren't buttery.

So what makes a cymbal buttery?
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Well-known member
...to me, buttery is smooth, savory, and warm...comforting.

I use that to describe all kinds of things in music....a buttery tom sound; having buttery chops; "man, that groove was like butter"...it is always something that just makes you go "ahhhhh....warm. Smooth. Relaxing"

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think it applies to big thin ride cymbals - where the "ping" sound is actually closer to a "tah" sound. Like it spreads out over the cymbal rather than away from the cymbal like a little exclamation mark. But it could also mean other things.


Gold Member
I think they are referring to a buttery feel, not sound.

I take that as meaning the cymbal has some "give" to the stick feel as opposed to being very stiff feeling.
What Larry said, exactly. I don't recall ever having seen a cymbal's sound described as "buttery," only its feel under the stick. In a word, they simply feel soft without a pronounced rebound.



Senior Member
I have described the K Sweet cymbals as 'buttery' before. They definitely feel that way.

I think they sound that way too, perhaps due to their extra thinness. It's an apt description for the 19" Crash, anyway.


Platinum Member
I agree that the term usually refers to a buttery feel more than sound. If it’s a crash it is thin and bends easily under the stick. It won’t sound harsh or pitchy, but have a wide spread of overtones, including lower tones.


Junior Member
This term was first used back in 1996 by Paiste when they first introduced the Traditional Line. It described the way the cymbals felt, not a sound characteristic. Those pies have a certain soft feeling, as if the stick sinks in a bit as you play. But over the years the term has been used, inaproprately, imo, to describe a sound quality.


Senior Member
I agree with Larry about the feel, but also think it's a mellower sound than a harsh ping. Also, I think people are just bored of their adjectives and are coming up with new ones like "buttery", instead of "sexy", or "smooth", or "lovely". For example, a hilarious parody: