The best drum cymbal set
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The best drum cymbal set

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The designations B8 and B20 refer to the percentage of tin used in bronze cymbals. B8 cymbals are generally less expensive than B20 cymbals. (BestReviews)

A drum kit isn’t complete without a good set of cymbals. Hi-hats add a steady sizzle, while ride and crash cymbals bring extra punch to certain beats. Some drummers prefer to shop for individual cymbals from different manufacturers, but it’s easier and more economical for students and beginning players to invest in a basic drum cymbal set.

What to know before you buy a drum cymbal set

Set contents

Many drum cymbal sets marketed for student or beginning drummers contain three essential pieces: a hi-hat, a crash and a ride. While sizes may vary from set to set, these three cymbals can create a decent if basic foundation. Some sets also include a splash or a china cymbal, often promoted as a free bonus piece. The hi-hat tends to be the component that receives the most praise from experienced drummers.

Construction material

Virtually all cymbal manufacturers use brass or bronze to create their products. Brass is less expensive in general, so it’s the preferred material for entry-level drum cymbal sets. Brass cymbals produce a decent tone but don’t always have the warmth of a higher-end bronze cymbal. Beginning drummers may start out with an affordable brass cymbal set for rehearsals, then slowly upgrade to bronze pieces as they can.

Even within bronze cymbals, there is a distinction in quality. Bronze cymbals are graded according to the amount of tin used to create the bronze. A B8 bronze cymbal is less expensive than a B20 bronze cymbal, based on the percentage of tin it contains.

Music genre

One important consideration when choosing between cymbal sets is the drummer’s preferred style or musical genre. Some cymbal sets are better suited for a softer jazz or warmer gospel sound. Others have the ring and brightness for rock or country. Some of the cymbal sets we examined were actually assembled for a specific genre of music, based on the traditional drum dynamics of that style. A budding rock drummer may not be happy with the sound of a jazz cymbal set.

Drum cymbal set features


While additional components can be purchased separately, several drum cymbal sets include such items as drumsticks, a carrying case (gig bag), polishing cloths and felt spacers. Basic cymbal collections rarely include any of the necessary stands or other hardware required for a complete performance setup, however.

Instructional videos

Some drum cymbal sets marketed towards self-taught amateurs or students include an instructional DVD or an access code to free online lessons. These materials may not override the one-on-one experience of a live instructor, but they can be useful for future reference.

Drum cymbal set cost

Basic brass cymbal sets for entry-level players can be found for as little as $100-$200, but sound quality is variable. Better-sounding brass sets cost $200-$500, while high-end bronze sets retail for at least $500.

Drum cymbal set FAQ

Is there anything I can do to make my cymbals quieter during practice?

A. If volume is a concern for yourself or others, you can buy special mutes for all components of a drum kit, including cymbals. You should still get close to the same feel and response, but you won't have to worry about disturbing the neighbors.

Can I use commercial brass cleaner to restore the shine on my cymbals?

A. Generally speaking, you don't want to be too aggressive when it comes to cleaning brass cymbals. Dust will settle into the cymbal's grooves over time, but this shouldn't affect performance. Most brass cleaners contain too many abrasives, so if you need to clean your cymbals, dab them with a moistened cloth and allow them to dry completely.

Which drum cymbal set should I get?

Best of the best drum cymbal set

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