Education - Buying Cymbals 101

SABIAN is all about designing and creating cymbals and sounds that are right for you.

What style of music do you play? Do you know what cymbals and sounds you want? The choice can be overwhelming for even experienced drummers - let alone a novice buyer! With so many models and styles available, buying the right cymbal for your playing style is important.

For example, a very thin cymbal sounds great when tapped with a finger or played lightly with a stick in-store, because thinner cymbals respond easily. But if you're a metalhead who likes to thrash hard on your cymbals, it may not be strong enough to survive. Medium weight models may be a good starting point. From there you can move up or down in weight until you find a suitable sound.

In short, consider where and how you'll be playing your new cymbal, and test it in the shop the same way you will be playing it live.

Buying Tips

  • Set the cymbal on a stand and angle it as you would in your set-up. Then sit and play it as you normally would. This will reveal how it feels and how much sound you'll hear from a playing position.
  • Put yourself in the same frame of mind as when you're playing with your band and play at similar volumes, both as light and as loud as you would normally.
  • Listen for where the sound kicks in or out. Some cymbals perform best within certain volume ranges.
  • If the store allows, you may want to consider bringing your other cymbals along to test it in your set-up.
  • Have the salesperson or a friend play the cymbal while you walk around the store. Does it project? Is it musical enough? Is it too loud? Not loud enough?
  • Use your own drumsticks.
  • The drum specialist at your music store can be a good source of information, and so can other, more experienced customers - don't be shy, ask questions and get opinions.

Remember, if you're a heavy hitter and like to play loud, choose bigger, heavier cymbals. Not only do they put out more volume, they're more durable and less likely to break. Smaller, thinner models are best for low-to mid-volume playing, because thin crashes are not durable or loud enough to play as a main crash in high-volume situations. Lastly, heavier rides and hi-hats will give you more definite sticking, for cleaner, clearer, penetrating strokes.