The ride cymbal is a very important and personal part of the drummers sound. Like the hihats, we spend a lot of time playing on the ride cymbal, so it naturally becomes a big part of our sound, and often something we are identified by, by other drummers or musicians in general. Every drummer has a different style and taste, but regardless of what sound you like, there are a number of factors to consider in choosing your ride. Let's look at some here..
1) The stick to wash ratio.
Generally you want a ride cymbal where you have clear stick articulation and some wash. How much of each comes down to taste. Personally I'm not a fan of either extreme. If you tap the ride cymbal and it explodes into an uncontrollable wash, it's going to be very difficult to get any stick articulation heard. At the other end if the ride is so dry that you only get stick sound and no wash at all, it is going to have very limited application, unless that sound is specifically what you're after.
2) The type of stick sound.
When playing on the bow of the ride cymbal, does the stick contact make a high pitched "ping" sound? Or more of a dry "tah" sound?
3) The overall pitch of the ride cymbal.
Again a very personal choice. Do you want a ride that cuts, or blends? A lot of commercial/rock cymbals are higher pitched so as to cut through the music in the louder setting. Where as with jazz and other acoustic music, it's more about the cymbal blending with the ensemble, not cutting across as such. Here's a tip: ask the musicians in your band what kind of ride sound they like.. a lot of sax players for instance don't like a high pitched ride, as it can interfere with the high register of their instrument.
4) The clarity of the bell.
Some players like the bell of their ride to really activate the wash of the cymbal so as not to sound like a separate entitity. Other players find that bell type annoying, stating if they decide to play the bell, it's because they want to hear the bell, now the wash. Again, personal choice.
* In this video I'm playing 3 Zildjian 20" rides:
- K Heavy Ride
- K Custom Dry Light Ridfe
- K Ride
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