Choosing A Ride CymbalFeb 20, 2023
Choosing a great ride cymbal is an important decision for any drummer. The ride cymbal is a crucial component of a drum set, and it's often used to create the rhythmic foundation of a song. When selecting a ride cymbal, there are several factors to consider, including stick definition versus wash (white noise), clarity and tone colour of the bell, overall pitch of the cymbal (dark for Jazz or bright for Rock - or not!), the sustain of the cymbal and its crashability.
Stick Definition versus Wash
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a ride cymbal is stick definition versus wash. Stick definition refers to the clarity of the sound produced by the cymbal when struck with a drumstick, and how much attack is on the front of the note. It's important to have good stick definition when playing in a band, as it helps to cut through the mix and allows the other musicians to hear your playing clearly without needing to play too loud.
Wash, on the other hand, refers to the sustained sound produced by the cymbal. A cymbal with a lot of wash will produce a sustained sound that can fill out the mix and add depth to your playing. This is especially useful when playing slower or more ambient music, as it can create a dreamy and atmospheric sound. Just be careful your cymbal doesn't completely wash out all the stick definition.
Clarity and Tone Colour of the Bell
The bell is typically used to create accents in the beat, variation in the tone of the beat, or maybe to mark the beginning or end of a phrase. The clarity and tone color of the bell are important factors to consider when selecting a ride cymbal.
A ride cymbal with a clear and defined bell sound is ideal for genres like Rock, Metal, Latin or Funk, where precision and articulation are important. A cymbal with a more complex and darker tone color can be used for genres like Jazz or Orchestral, where a more aggressive and subtle sound is desired.
Overall Pitch of the Cymbal
The overall pitch of the ride cymbal is another important factor to consider when selecting a ride cymbal. Different genres of music require different pitches. For example, Jazz music typically requires a darker and more subdued cymbal sound, while Rock music requires a brighter and more cutting sound.
If you're looking for a ride cymbal with a bright and cutting sound, you'll want to look for a cymbal with a higher pitch. A cymbal with a lower pitch will produce a darker and more subdued sound. It's important to find a cymbal that works well with the genre of music that you play.
Sustain of the Cymbal
The sustain of the cymbal is another important factor to consider when selecting a ride cymbal. The sustain of the cymbal refers to how long the sound continues after it's been struck. A cymbal with a long sustain is ideal for genres like rock or metal, where a sustained sound is desired. A cymbal with a shorter sustain is ideal for genres like jazz or funk, where a more staccato sound is desired.
The crashability of a ride cymbal refers to how well it can be used as a crash cymbal. In some genres of music, the ride cymbal is also used as a crash cymbal. It's important to find a ride cymbal that has a good crash sound, as this can be an important part of your playing. Be careful here, many don't!
A ride cymbal with a good crash sound will have a lot of volume and sustain when it's crashed. It's important to find a cymbal that can produce a good crash sound without sacrificing its ride sound.
Finally, it's important to consider the versatility of the ride cymbal. While it's important to
find a cymbal that works well with the specific genre of music you play, it's also important to find a cymbal that can be used across multiple genres. This is especially true for drummers who play in different bands or who play different styles of music.
A versatile ride cymbal will have a sound that works well across multiple genres of music. It will have good stick definition and wash, a clear and defined bell sound, and a pitch that works well with both bright and dark music. It's important to find a cymbal that can be used in a variety of musical situations, as this will help you to become a more versatile drummer.
In conclusion, choosing a great ride cymbal is an important decision for any drummer. When selecting a ride cymbal, it's important to consider stick definition versus wash, clarity and tone color of the bell, overall pitch of the cymbal, the sustain of the cymbal, its crashability, and its versatility. These factors will help you to find a ride cymbal that works well with the genre of music you play, and that can also be used in a variety of musical situations. If you don't get a versatile ride, you're going to be changing rides every time you play a different gig. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just be aware.
Ultimately, the sound of a ride cymbal is subjective, and what works well for one drummer may not work well for another. It's important to try out a variety of ride cymbals and to find one that speaks to you and that fits your playing style. By taking the time to select the right ride cymbal, you can improve your playing and create a sound that is uniquely your own.
What are some good brands and models for cymbals? All of the big manufacturers make great cymbals and also cater for smaller budgets and drummers who are just starting out. They wouldn't be in business if they didn't. Here are some great options available on the market today:
Zildjian: Founded in Turkey in 1623, Zildjian began making cymbals and moved to the US in 1929, growing to become one of the world's largest cymbal manufacturers.
Sabian: Founded in Canada in 1981 by former Zildjian employees, Sabian grew to become a major player in the cymbal industry, known for their innovative designs.
Meinl: Founded in Germany in 1951, Meinl began producing cymbals in the 1970s and has since become a popular choice for drummers in many different genres.
Paiste: Founded in Switzerland in 1906, Paiste has been a major manufacturer of cymbals for over a century, known for their bright, clear sound.
UFIP: Founded in Italy in 1931, UFIP has been producing high-quality cymbals for nearly a century, with a reputation for their warm and complex sound.
Dream: Founded in Canada in 2005, Dream Cymbals is a relatively new entrant to the cymbal market, known for their handcrafted, unique-sounding cymbals.
Soultone: Founded in Turkey in 2003, Soultone is a newer cymbal company that has gained a reputation for their high-quality handcrafted cymbals, popular among drummers in many different genres.