As every drummer knows, a drum kit is only as good as the care given to it. Since most drum kits consist of drums, cymbals and hardware that puts it all together, it is important to protect the various components within the kit from damage during transportation, including the cymbals. Cymbal damage usually occurs during transportation or storage, but by following a few guidelines, this damage can be reduced or eliminated.
The metals used in cymbals are sturdy, but can still be damaged by improper handling or through environmental changes like temperature. The oils and sweat from eager hands can also cause the finish on cymbals to degrade over time, causing corrosion and changing the sound quality of the cymbal. Protect the cymbals by handling them at the edges, or by using gloves or soft towels. This is especially important when removing cymbals from stands and hardware, since the majority of the handling occurs during the construction or deconstruction of the drum set.
The right bag can make a big difference in the way cymbals are handled, as well. Most cymbal manufacturers, like Meinl Cymbals, have specialty bags tailored to fit the needs of particular cymbals or picky percussionists. These bags help keep cymbals safe and protected, and many have individual spaces for multiple cymbals or the ability to neatly stack cymbals together, ensuring they are protected by layering towels or cloths between each cymbal.
If cymbals appear dirty, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions or take the cymbals to be professionally cleaned. Abrasive cleansers or scrubbers can permanently damage the cymbal’s protective coating or the metals used in construction. If you must clean your cymbals, use a soft cloth, gentle strokes and follow the grooves in the metal. Always be sure when dismantling the drum kit to ensure cymbal stands and hardware are treated gently, as well. Fold up stands and mounts and keep nuts and stackers in one place. Store all hardware and cymbal equipment together in a well-fitting equipment bag.
Keeping cymbals, hardware and equipment in good shape is essential to the longevity and survival of the drum kit through the years. Whether a drum kit is constantly on the move for performances and gigs, or a centerpiece of a garage band that changes location on occasion, keeping cymbals safe, protected and well-maintained can let the music continue to play for years to come.