The Best Drum Cymbals for Beginners: Which Crash/Rides Should You Get? - Rolling Stone
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Best Cymbals for Beginners: Which Crash/Rides Take Top Brass?

Get the benefits of a crash and a ride cymbal in one

the best crash cymbals for beginners

Shutterstock / Anastasiia Marynych

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Whether you’re building your first drum kit, or traveling with minimal gear, a crash/ride cymbal is an absolute necessity.

“When you’re looking to add cymbals to your setup, a crash/ride offers the dual benefit of performing as both a crash as well as a ride cymbal” says Arafat Kazi, Boston-based drummer for The Attempted Band.

What You Need to Know About Crash/Ride Cymbals

The crash/ride cymbal was originally called a “medium” in early drum kits, for the simple reason that its sound acts as a middle ground between the largest crash cymbal and the smallest ride. The main jobs of a crash/ride are actually really one job at two different volumes and velocities. When played at a soft volume and intensity, it provides a more general ride tone than would be produced from a traditional full-sized ride cymbal. When played at loud volumes with hard hits, its crash effect will ring out longer and fuller than a standalone crash cymbal.

“And if you already have a ride,” Kazi continues, “that’s great. Set up your crash/ride on the left side and get more versatility. Crash/rides tend to combine the sonic qualities of a big crash with lots of sustain, and a smaller ride, usually with good ping and way less washy than your main ride. The 18 to 19-inch sizes are versatile, easy to transport, and an affordable way to add lots of options to your sonic palette.”

A slight note: these cymbals are not to be confused with a ride/crash cymbal, which is similar in design and function, but less common, and provides a slightly different sound. It’s generally heavier and less tapered, for the purpose of prioritizing the ride over the crash.

These days, your drum kit doesn’t have to be uniformly branded with all the same company’s cymbals; you can mix and match and choose whatever fits with the sound you’re going for, creating a setup that’s unique to you and your style. But whether you’re building an entire outfitted kit with all the bells and whistles (which can also include other percussion instruments) or sticking to a minimal three-piece bass/snare/tom setup, a crash/ride cymbal is a must-have for all drummers.

1. Meinl 18″ Crash/Ride Cymbal

If you can’t decide between a crash or ride, and only have the space or budget for one, the 18″ Meinl is a solid choice. Its edges create a bright crash effect that resonates and swells, while using its center as a ride is easy, and stands up to your sticks no matter the style.

The brass alloy cymbal is durable and designed to maintain its clear tone no matter how hard it’s hit, adding a mix of sound and color to your way of playing. Perfect your technique with sticks, mallets and brushes for a variety of different results, as you create crescendos and cap off fast fills with big, smooth crash hits.

Meinl is the newest member of the Big Four cymbal companies (the others being Zildjian, Sabian, and Paiste) and this is a fine place to start. Go ahead and experiment with techniques and genres – the Meinl is ideal for finding out what fits you. This is a great cymbal for beginners, whether practicing at home, playing with friends, or performing live.

PROS: Users report this can take a beating and still provide its wide array of sounds with a warm mix of undertones for at least a couple years of intense playing. The pronounced bell gives you a ride option with a fair amount of ping as well.

CONS: While this cymbal (and the entire set) is great for practicing and small live shows, you may want to choose a higher-end model if you’ll be recording. It’s also slightly heavier than some other brands’ crash/ride cymbals, which, when added into an already heavy kit, can make schlepping it around a pain.

Courtesy Amazon

2. Zildjian Planet Z 18″ Crash Ride Cymbal

It’s tough to go wrong with a company that’s been crafting cymbals for almost 400 years. Zildjian, still family run after 14 generations, has found their way into numerous different genres over its nearly four centuries in business. From Turkish military bands and bellydancers wearing finger cymbals, to early 1900s American jazz and modern rock, it’s become the cymbal of choice for drummers like Ringo Starr and Questlove.

The Planet Z is a first step into the expansive world of Zildjian products. Geared mostly toward beginner drummers, Planet Z’s crash/ride features a nickel silver alloy build and a nice crisp tone. Loud, clean, and ready to take a beating, these solid but accessible entry-level cymbals give your fills an explosive punch and a bright resonance.

PROS: Drummers who are happy with Planet Z and want to stick with Zildjian can do so for a lifetime – the company makes a diverse array of upgrades and options.

CONS: Some users report the residual effects ring too long, and the crash sounds more like a China cymbal than a true crash.

crash-ride cymbal

Courtesy Amazon

Courtesy Amazon

3. Sabian SBR1811 SBR Series

Much like Puma and Adidas, or Liam and Noel Gallagher, the cymbal industry saw a famous brotherly feud as well. Sabian was started in 1981 by Robert Zildjian, of the legendary cymbal-producing Zildjian family, after a fallout with his brother Armand. In just under 40 years (compared with Zildjian’s almost 400), the company has made huge strides and quickly become one of the world’s “Big Four” cymbal makers.

“SBr cymbals feature the same hand-guided, high-pressure hammering and traditional hand lathing applied to more expensive professional cymbals,” says Sabian’s Master Product Specialist Mark Love.

What that means for you: the same quality as some of their professional sets, but developed with beginners and casual players in mind. The sound is clean, consistent and reliable. The crash/ride delivers full-bodied riding and loud crashing equally well.

PROS: Their SBr brass line is ideal for the novice-level drummer, and a smart first step into quality cymbals. It’s even great for professionals who want to save the wear and tear on their higher-end cymbals.

CONS: Some users report that after months of heavy usage it can lose some of its brightness or even crack.

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