Cleaning Cymbals

any ideas?


I just discovered this ancient looking ride cymbal in a cupboard at my church. Thing is that the church kit has two crashes but no ride and I keep having to bring my ride from my practise kit at home whenever I drum.

My question is; “How do you clean it?” cos it’s so dirty. My wife has found some brass and copper cleaner but I have some idea that cymbals are made from bronze and this might damage it.

Does anyone have any useful ideas on how I should go about getting this thing into working order?

Thanks guys


It depends on what kind of brass and copper cleaner it is.

I use Wright’s Brass Cleaner or Brasso usually, but most of the liquid amonia based brass cleaners out there do fine. Don’t use the paste that comes with a sponge or silver polish - and definitley don’t use any of that stuff that remove tarnish by dipping the metal in it. That stuff can turn cymbals black (don’t ask how I know that)

Most “real” cymbal cleaner is the Wright’s/Brasso type liquid stuff repacked with a nice price jack.

Use a small rag to cover it with a thin layer of the cleaner (shake well first) gently rubbing it in a little while applying. Let it dry completely. Use a soft clean cloth-towel and some elbow grease to remove it and buff at the same time. Keep using the clean areas of the cloth most of the time, but the areas of the buffing rag with tarnish buildup (removed cleaner that is dark green and black) can be used to buff/clean even deeper. Rub in the direction of the grooves. Finish up with a good wiping with a clean cloth to get rid of the last bits of the cleaner. Some will stay in the deeper grooves no matter what so don’t worry about it.

Don’t use any kind of motorized buffer or anything else on it.

Do one side at a time.

It’s very simple but will make your arms thumbs and fingers sore. :)

Some folks don’t like what cleaning does to the sound since to will make them a little brighter sonically. I like it myself.

Can you tell what brand it is? You might have a gem on your hands.

I just use straight ammonia for most routine cymbal cleaning tasks. Most of the Brasso stuff is a ammonia paste with a bit of fine abrasive. Just take it easy becuase you can take labels of cymbals. Some cymbals are coated (kinda like clear coat on a car) and you can screw that up too.

Thanks guys,

I’ll give it a go.

btw, I can’t tell you made it, it just has “made in England” stamped into it. The other problem is that I’m such a newbie to drumming that I’m not really sure if I am going to be able to tell if it’s any good or not - lol!

Anyway I’ll see how it goes.

Thanks again


Mike, you might want to try recording it before you clean it. You might like the sound of it. I got some old cheap camber cymbals at a garage sale this past summer and they sound pretty bad live but recorded they sound pretty good - I guess the dirt and all shortens the sound in a way that mixes like. Just a thought.