Cymbals that sound good recorded


I bought a set of hi hats and a crsh/ride at a garage sale a few days ago, along with the pieces of a ludwig double kick thing (can’t quite figure out how it was supposed to work! :) ) all for 10 bucks with some misc drumsticks and heads thrown in for good measure. The cymbals are Camber, are really tarnished, sound cheap when you hear them live, but recorded they actually sound better than the Sabian B8 cymbals and the jazz fusion hihats I’ve been using.

Now why is that?


Don’t ask why. Just be happy… But IMO and totally not to be insulting, the B8s are sort of trash can lids to me. Though, most sheet cymbals are. Having said that, it also has a lot to do with the recording setting. For punky stuff or metal, that stuff can work swell. Cymbals just like guitars fit better in different styles. An A Ping Ride is a nice cast cymbal, but I would never ever use it in jazz just as I would never use a big old K with rivets for metal. NOt that you can’t be creative, stick it to the man blah blah blah, but if you want to fit in with an established style, one size doesn’t fit all usually. (Though A Custom Crashes and a dryer K Constantinople Ride can fit in nicely in most styles.) Sorry, drummer gear slut talking.

No, no, that’s what I want to hear. I have thought more and more that “trash can lid” describes the Sabians. If these cheapos sound better, I guess it means that I gotta save up for a large purchase and get something that sounds real. :)

Well, okay. That’s the spirit… turn lemons into GAS. :) ANything in particular you are looking for? I might have some stuff I am willing to part ways with. What sort of sound do you want? Sorry, I am a total cymbal nerd, so I woul dlove a reason to geek over cymbals. (Amongst other things.)

Its funny what records well though. One time I had a prog rock band that had a crash with the biggest crack in it. I suggested using something else but the drumer wanted to use it. Scarey thing is that it actually sounded really cool recorded…

It was in the Spring of’64… I remember that well… We needed a rim-hit snare… I have tried it after that and, a few times… But I could never duplicate it…

I held a small paper-board box in my hand and hit it with the handle of a screwdriver… I don’t remember the mic I used… But I remember, there was some Fisher Space Reverb on it… From the Fisher Spring-Tank Reverb Unit I still have/use…

Anyway, it fit the song… Well ??? :laugh: I think, it did…


Live, I like the dark sound of heavy Turkish Zildjians (spelling?).

But for recording, you want a thin cymbal with a quicker decay like Sabians.

Be sure to use the 3/1 rule on overheads (unless in X-Y type coincident arrangements) to avoid cymbal phase problems that sounds swirly. For spaced pair overheads (usually omnis) the mics should be three times as far apart as they are from the signal source.

Quote (Bubbagump @ Aug. 03 2005,23:54)
Well, okay. That’s the spirit… turn lemons into GAS. :) ANything in particular you are looking for? I might have some stuff I am willing to part ways with. What sort of sound do you want? Sorry, I am a total cymbal nerd, so I woul dlove a reason to geek over cymbals. (Amongst other things.)

Well, I’d like to find a transcendently beautiful sound that has never beed heard before and yet sounds intimately familiar, full of harmonic richness without interfering with other elements in the recording, and - oh, yeah - it has to make me a million dollars at least.

Got one of those? :)

I can fully understand the attraction of cymbals.

Tom, I wouldn’t go so far as to specify brand. They all make their equivalents… But you are probably thinking of Ks or something like that. Pretty much a dark “jazz” cymbal. It all depends.

Tom, I use a mix of stuff depending on the gig. For the more rock like gigs I’ll use a Zildjian 18" A Custom crash, a Paiste Signature 17" Full Crash, and a Paiste 20" Signature China. (The China gets used very rarely. Chinas have their use tastefully very rarely I find.) For pop/country stuff I keep the same as before minus the china, add a Paiste 8" Sig splash. For my jazz gigs, I use an A Custom 16" crash, the splash, and that’s it. I find that these cymbals record well and sound good live. Perhaps something to think about when buying cymbals. I very much had the versatility thing in mind when I was buying. I find the A Custom line very very versatile as is the Paiste Signature line. I use A Custom 14" hats, but I sometimes wonder if I don’t want a pair of New Beats for versatility. The A Custom hats are very mellow in a way where as I also could see room for a New Beat sound which I find is “harder”. (Hee hee, I got to geek over cymbals. :) )

About all I have laying around at the moment that I don’t use is a Zildjian 20" A Ping Ride. It is very rock sounding, which is not what gigs I am doing lately. It would be perfect for heavy rock and more alternativey stuff. (Think Ben Folds or Cold Play.)

I really like the sound of New Beats - favorite sound of any hi hats owned by the several drummers I hang with.

Ben Folds - I only have one CD of his, it is BFF, goodness, which is it? Anyway, the sound of it is righteous. Love the drums. Gotta go look see what it was.

Some things to consider is that cymbals that sound good onstage sometimes don’t translate to recordings as well. The reasons being that cymbals that may be good on stage usually are brighter and cut through the volume better. That can make them to bright and bleed too much when recording. That’s not always the case for sure, but it’s a good starting point to more controlled drum recording. I think it’s WAY easier to bring out good recording cymbals when on stage than it is to figure out how to calm down cymbals that work great in a loud band.

The same holds true for the drums themselves, but to a lesser degree. It’s not too hard to add a little tape or padding to a drumhead or to tune them a little different when recording. Cymbals don’t have lugs and tape generally just kills them, even a little.

I used tape on my stage ride for MANY years so the ping was all that was left. That gave it a very dry sound. It did not sound good when recorded this way.

I prefer thinner cymbals in general. I’ve discovered that thicker cymbals sound higher in pitch, probably because they are harder and don’t bend as easily as thin cymbals - more tension == higher pitch. I tried out marching band cymbals on stage for a while - when playing very hard and loud. They worked fine on stage, but once I got back home and recorded something with them they came across like using a ride in place of a crash. They didn’t work, though it’s hard to describe why.

I don’t like sheet metal cymbals at all. Almost every one I’ve play on sounds like pinging a bell. It’s too easy to pick out individual pitches in them. The cause is less harmonics. A great cymbal is almost all noise - a good ssssssshhhhh sound. Not a bell ping. Even rides and when playing on the bell should sound like ringing a triangle that has a definite pitch that can be picked out. Cast cymbals have a lot more harmonics - even cheap cast cymbals, though some REALLY cheap ones are still crappy.

One sign a cymbal is cracking is that it will start to loose harmonics and start picking up a “ring”. Cymbals can crack internally before the cracks become visible. Some cymbals with obvious cracks can sound really great though.

I picked up one of those CHEAP Wuhan splashes a while back. It’s got a definite Chinese twang to it, but it sounds good on recordings for a splash. I also picked up some small 13" Zildjian recording hi-hats. They sound really good for recording (so far - only done one) but are so quiet by comparison to the Sabian 14" that I don’t think they would work on stage at all. It might be time to see what’s comparable in crashes.

My recording ride is a medium Zildjian 21" ride. I’ve had it for a good 30 years but never used it onstage until the last cirkus reunion. I should have. I was forced to use it since my longtime ride didn’t make the trip from NC to WA (lost in the move). My other ride, a 20" thin Sabian, has way too many harmonics. It’s a great ride is you don’t want any ping and all sssshhhh. It could double as a big crash.

One last thing to ponder is finish. I LOVE brilliant finishes, but they add a bit of sparkle to the sound that could be a little over the top when recording. That’s here going thinner and smaller can compensate. The only cymbals I record with these days that are brilliant as three 16" Sabian thin or medium-thin crashes. The Sabian 14" hi-hats are brilliant also, but they have been retired for now. They will continue to be my stage hi-hats if I ever get on stage again.

I have never liked overly bright cymbals on stage either. I find overly fast and bright on stages makes for papery sounding cymbals in the mix. It just isn’t my thing. I like rich and I find rich does well both on and off stage. That’s just me. But of course, style is very important. I don’t do much really heavy stuff any more. I have a pile of Scimitars for that… :D

Very interesting, guys, very interesting. In my book quieter hi hats would be a good thing for recording, and in a live situation where there is actually a hi hat mic I suspect it might be good as well, at least for the FOH person.

So, what’s the cheapest decent lathed option out there? ???

Quote (TomS @ Aug. 04 2005,19:40)
So, what’s the cheapest decent lathed option out there? ???

Wrong question. You have to have to have go to the local drum shop and try stuff. The world of cymbals is so varied. You can get cheap cast cymbals that sound like trash can lids too (Zildjian has some doozies… Z Custom, Remix… What are they thinking?) But where to start looking for more or less balanced and modern sounding cymbals try:

Zildjian A Series
Zildjian A Custom
Zildjian K Series
Sabian AA Series
Sabian HH Series
Paiste Signature Series
Paiste 2002 Series
Paiste Traditional Series

These are just starting points. But go nuts and find what you want. Why go cheap and be unhappy. I personally would rather wai tand save and get what I want than blowing it right away for something that I am “settling” for.

Part of the problem is that I know what it is when I hear it coming back over the speakers, but I can’t correlate the live sound with the recorded sound sitting in a mix. :angry:

Well, I would hit the web and see what guys are using on recordings you like. Also, it helps to knwo the history of cymbals a bit to get a better idea of what you are looking at. If you know which Zildjian son invented the K and during what period, you can guess what styles of music they were commonly used in.

Now, that is arcane knowledge, Bubba. Any good sources fo rthis? Books or websites?

Zildjian timeline
Zildjian bios (read the old ones…)
More Zildjian
Even more Zildjian
Zildjian again
K Zildjian

In case you didn’t know, all these cymbals except Paiste (Zildjian, Sabian, Istanbul…) are all Turkish, and all from the same family if you go back far enough. Avedis Zildjian essentially invented the modern cymbal in 1623. All development stems from Avedis. Paiste essentially was catering to the eastern European market based on the Turkish designs. The 1900s ushered in all the big romantic orchestras in Russia and Paiste went after that market where as Zildjian survived goign after the new jazz market. Now they all compete for the same things, but it is interesting to see their origins and how Avedis was the Leo Fender of the cymbal world. Essentially we have as many cymbal companies as we do becuase no one in the Zildjian family or factories can get along. These companies are all results of splits, family feuds, and pissed off brothers. :)


In the early 1980s Agop Tomercuk and Mehmet Tamdeger, two former workers for the K. Zildjian Co., formed a new Turkish cymbal-making company called the Zilciler Kollektif and begin marketing a line of cymbals named “Istanbul”. When Agop died in 1996, Agop’s two sons and Mehemet split to form “Istanbul Agop” and “Istanbul Mehmet,” respectively. After that split, many other Turkish cymbal companies emerged. A large company that emerged named Bogazici Zil began marketing a line of cymbals called “Bosphorus.” Other Turkish cymbal companies include “Masterwork,” “Grand Master,” “Anatolian,” and "Turkish."

Hee hee, so much drama in the cymbal circle.

Cool stuff Bubba - many thanks!