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Crash Cymbals

Today, the term cymbal refers to a large round metal plate with a hollowed center, however in the Middle Ages the term was also used for small bells. Cymbals are a concave plate of mixed alloys that can be played a number of different ways including struck by a stick or mallet and played against another cymbal[1].

Etymology and Alternative Spellings

Fr: Cymbales; Ger: Becken; It: Cinelli, Piatti; Lat: Cymbala; Sp: Cimbalos [2].

The English word ‘’cymbal’’ is derived from the Latin term, ‘’cymbalum’’ and the Greek ‘’kymbalon,’’ both of which refer to a bowl, or drinking cup [3].


Since the mid-1600s cymbals have been made from an alloy of approximately 80% copper and 20% tin and often traces of silver. Due to the extremely brittle nature of tin, it has been determined that the method of mixing the metals is one of the key components in successful cymbal construction.


Castings of the aforementioned alloy that have been sorted by weight are transported through an oven with temperatures around fifteen-hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Once softened by the extreme heat, the castings are sent through two rollers that act to flatten, thin and enlarge them. This process can be repeated numerous times. Not only does this process begin shaping the cymbal, but it also ensures that the tin and copper is thoroughly mixed, creating a stronger plate. After the pressing process has been completed the cymbal is placed on a spindle where circular cutters will trim the cymbal to a specific diameter. The cymbal is then pounded or hammered. This can either be done by hand or by a hydraulic press directed by a computer. The cymbal is then placed on a lathe and cut into by a craftsman as it spins on an axle. The bottom of the cymbal is lathed both by hand and by machine, whereas the top is done only by hand. After lathing the cymbal is placed on an edging machine to smooth out the edges. After final manufacturing touches have been added and after upwards of twenty-one days, the cymbal is now complete.



Crash Cymbals

Other Terms used for a pair of Orchestral Style Crash Cymbals:
Cymbals à2
Cr. Cymbals
Hand Cymbals
Cymbals Pair

Crash cymbals are a pair of cymbals held by a strap, one in each hand, that are clashed or crashed together.

Suspended Cymbal

A suspended cymbal is a cymbal that has been suspended by a strap through its hollowed center or by placing the cymbal on a stand with a rod that goes through the hollowed center. Multiple forms of suspended cymbals are used on the drum set as well as in an orchestral setting.

Ride Cymbals

A ride cymbal is a type of cymbal that is a standard part of most drum kits.Its function is to maintain a steady rhythmic pattern,sometimes called a ride pattern, rather than to provide accents as with, for example, the crash cymbal. A drummer will normally place the main ride cymbal near their dominant hand. Striking on the bell makes a higher sound.[4]

Splash Cymbals

splash cymbals are the smallest accent cymbals. Splash cymbals and china cymbals are the main types of effects cymbals.

The most common sized splash has a diameter of 10", followed by 8". Most splash cymbals are in the size range of 6" to 13", but some splash cymbals are as small as 4".

Some makers have produced cymbals described as splash up to 22",[1] but a splash of 14" or more is more often described as a crash cymbal.

Splash cymbals include:

  • Traditional splash cymbals, medium in weight with little or no taper.
  • Rock splash cymbals, heavy but often with a slight taper.
  • China splash cymbals.
  • Salsa splash cymbals.
  • Thin splash cymbals.
  • Bell cymbals.
  • Specialised stack cymbals.[5]

Ancient Cymbals

Ancient cymbals differ greatly from the suspended and crash cymbals. The primary differences are that ancient cymbals have a definite pitch and are much smaller and thicker than orchestral cymbals.

Chinese Cymbals

In western music, China-type cymbals are a distinct type of crash cymbals designed to produce a bright, crisp, and explosive tone. It is for this reason that they have been nicknamed "trash cymbals". The name "China cymbal" is derived from its similarity in sound and shape to Chinese gongs. They are most frequently mounted upside down on cymbal stands, allowing for them to be more easily struck for a better sound.[6]

Sizzle Cymbal

A sizzle cymbal is a cymbal to which rivets, chains or other rattles have been added to modify the sound, attached either by means of holes bored in the cymbal or by means of an attachment known as a sizzler.

These rattles have two main effects on the tone of the cymbal:

Most obviously, the sound of the 'wash' of the cymbal is made louder and more penetrating, and is dominated by the sound of the rattles themselves. Also important but less obvious, the cymbal loses some of its sustain and dynamic range, because whenever there is insufficient energy left in the cymbal to lift the rattles, the sound cuts out sharply. Both effects have musical uses, and can also be used to mask unwanted overtones in cymbals of lesser quality. However the best results are still generally obtained with high quality cymbals.[7]

Cymbal Stack

A cymbal stack is simply a cymbal on top of another one. You can use something as small as a splash or as big as a crash or china cymbal.

What makes them different is the fact that they hit each other when you strike them and provide a bright, trashy sound, which works well as an accent during any grooves or fills.

On top of that, some stacks are specially designed to simulate electronic sounds, like 8-bit hand claps, without the need to carry an electronic drum pad around.[8]



  • Aegean Cymbals
  • Alchemy/Istanbul
  • Amedia
  • Anatolian
  • Avedis Zildjian Company
  • Bosphorus Cymbals
  • Constantine Cymbals
  • Diril Cymbals
  • Dream Cymbals
  • Fandy's Cymbals
  • Istanbul Agop
  • Istanbul Cymbals
  • Italian Bellotti Cymbals
  • Latin Percussion
  • Masterworks
  • Meinl
  • Murat Diril Cymbals
  • Name Brand Cymbal Company
  • Orion Cymbals
  • Ozimar
  • Paiste Cymbals
  • Sabian Cymbals
  • Soultone Cymbals
  • Stagg
  • Supernaturals Foundry
  • Saluda Cymbals
  • TRX Cymbals
  • Turkish Cymbals
  • Turk Masters Cymbals
  • UFIP
  • Wuhan
  • Yamaha

See Also


  1. “Beck, John, and John H. Beck, eds. 2007. Encyclopedia of percussion. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.”
  2. “Beck, John, and John H. Beck, eds. 2007. Encyclopedia of percussion. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.”
  3. “Beck, John, and John H. Beck, eds. 2007. Encyclopedia of percussion. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.”