Cymbal choices are some of the most exciting and overwhelming decisions that must be made when customizing a drum kit. For the drummer ready to move beyond basic cymbals and start building a personal sound, or the professional drummer looking to enhance a drum kit with a brighter sound or a trashier vibe, a drummer has a wide range of styles, sizes and brands to choose from.
Many cymbals are geared toward specific styles of music, and have descriptive terminology that can ultimately define the sound. When looking for the right sound, emulating a favorite drummer or artist can be an effective tool to help discover the desired harmonics. Cymbal brands like Meinl, Zildjian and Sabian all have information throughout their websites that list the artists and the cymbals they endorse. It can also help to research videos of artists, or the different videos that these companies have developed in order to help drummers choose. If you are lucky enough to live near a music store that stocks cymbals, testing the sound in person is a great way to find the right cymbal, but it should be noted that the sound of a cymbal in a music store is different than the sound heard during a performance or recording session
It can also help to understand the basic structure of a cymbal and how its resonance and sustain are affected by the different weights, lathing or even the finish of a cymbal. Louder music like heavy metal, or that played in a marching band typically requires a heavier cymbal that can stand a beating and keep up with the rest of the music being played. Lighter rock, jazz or country can be enhanced through the sound of a thinner cymbal.
Professional, student and amateur drummers must all look to enhance the sound of a drum set, eventually, whether through wear and tear, or the desire to customize a personal sound. By researching the types of cymbals available and the differences in design, construction and feel, drummers of any level of experience can find the cymbal that completes the overall sound of the rhythm as well as the music.