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Cymbal Care

Tips & Techniques

Cymbal Care

A Little Care Goes a Long Way

Cymbals are some of the more delicate percussion instruments.  Though they can last for over a decade a cymbal can crack if you don't care for or play it correctly.

Treating your cymbals with care, including setting them up properly on your stand and choosing the 'right' cymbal size and weight for you musical style necessarily reduces the risk for damage.

Here are 7 great tips to extend the life of your cymbals:

1. Play the right cymbals. Every cymbal has its strengths and limitations. Hitting a smaller or thinner cymbal harder and harder to get a bigger sound or make it louder isn't the answer - it wasn't designed to be so loud. So don't use small, thin cymbals for high-volume, hard-hitting playing (unless you want a contrast in your set-up... but don't hit them as hard as the rest.) For volume, power and durability, choose bigger and heavier models. And consider the brighter sounding series, like AA, AAX, PRO and Sonix®. Their sounds are higher pitched and more effective at cutting through a loud band. Lower pitched series, like Hand Hammered and HHX, also offer models suitable for powering any style of music.

2. Prepare your stands. No cymbal stand is complete without the following:

A nylon or plastic tube over the center rod so the metal of the stand doesn't hurt the cymbal and from the bottom of the cymbal tilted to the top;

A metal support washer to prevent the cymbal from sliding down too far.  Felt on top* of the metal washer, under the cymbal, to prevent metal-to-metal contact then add the cymbal before topping it off with;

A felt on top of the cymbal*

A wing nut that isn't tightened down too tight

*Use smaller felts on smaller cymbals (splashes, hi-hats, etc.)

3. Do not over-tighten the cymbal. A cymbal must be free to vibrate. Vibrations are what generate sound in the metal. The looser the cymbal, the better the sound. Tightening it will kill that sound... choking it the same way as if it was being held, or dampening it in much the same way as a piece of tape. If the cymbal isn't free to move, then the pressure of your playing creates stress in the metal and that can create cracking. Cracking due to over-tightening usually happens around the base of the bell or straight in from the edge.

4. Do not over-angle crash cymbals. These cymbals should be positioned fairly flat and angled only slightly toward you, so your stick can slice across their edge. A cymbal that is angled too steeply is restricted from moving freely and it will suffer the same stress as if it were bolted down too tight. This will restrict the sound and can lead to cracking.

5. Play your crash cymbals correctly. The edge of the cymbal is meant to be 'crashed', but there are two things you can do to get the most and best sound out of your crashes plus avoid cracking them:

6. Protect Your Cymbals. Your cymbals are in danger once they are off their stands. They can get knocked over and their edges damaged if you lean them against your stands or other objects while 'tearing down' your kit (a small nick on the edge can grow to become a major crack!). Other band members can step on them if they're lying on the floor. Avoid these dangers by putting them directly into a quality cymbal bag or hard-shell cymbal case. Inserting dividers between the cymbals in the case will prevent metal-to-metal contact. Pieces of cloth, inexpensive kitchen towels (also good for wiping the cymbals clean after playing), or the original plastic bags the cymbals came in, are some options. Always stack cymbals so smaller models fit into larger models.

7. Clean Your Cymbals:  Cleaning your cymbals once or twice a year (or when needed) is another way to protect, restore and extend the life of your cymbals.  Cleaning can also be a way to gain greater insight into the design, materials and manufacturing process of your cymbals.


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