Cymbals are as vital to a drummer as the drums themselves. No two cymbals sound alike, and drummers and percussionists each have their own tastes in cymbal brands, sizes, and sounds. This leaves beginners stuck in a seemingly impossible situation, as the options buyers have to sort through are countless. Here's how to get started.

The Bare Essentials

Other Options

Cymbal Buying Strategies

The most common approach beginners take is to buy a matched set of cymbals, meaning that all of the pieces are made by the same manufacturer and from the same line. Most new drumsets come without cymbals, so beginners tend to gravitate towards starter packs, which range anywhere between $220 to $2200. However, after developing a unique taste, drummers tend to mix and match. Ignoring brand names and loyalties gives you a better opportunity to find an instrument that fits your style. Some brands tend to be more expensive than others, so purchasing an unmatched set has the potential to save you a considerable amount of money. Keep in mind that the best way to find cymbals that suit you is by going out and trying a handful of them out for yourself!


In a nutshell, all cymbals are made of bronze, which is a combination of tin and copper that is mixed in a cast. When the mixture hardens, the cymbal is hammered into its final shape. The cup (or bell) is then added, and the entire thing is spun on a lathe to make it perfectly round.

''That explains why no two are alike, but why are some more expensive than others if they're all made of the same material?''

To provide players with a cheaper alternative, most manufacturers have lines made of sheet bronze. These have a distinct sound that most players consider cheap and unusable; however, most are pretty durable, considering the price.  Many professionals use them on occasion while doing gigs where they'd rather not have their more expensive cymbals crack. Some professionals have even developed their signature lines with sheet bronze. Jack DeJohnette's entire line through Sabian is made of a similar metal as their B8 line.

Major Manufacturers

Here's a list of some of the most popular cymbal manufacturers.
* Bosphorus
* Istanbul
* Meinl
* Paiste
* Sabian
* Zildjian
* Eagletone
* Turkish

Related Guides

* Cymbal Accessories
* Cymbal Stands
* Drum Sets
* Drums and Percussion
* Portable Drum Sets