How to choose cymbals for your drum set - Complete guide

One of the defining features of the modern American drum kit is the cymbal set. The “trap set”, as these drums were initially nicknamed, got its reputation from its appearance of “trapping” the drummer behind a wall of cymbals. If you are experienced in drumming, then you will know the reason for the importance of cymbals is that the cymbals give the drummer a “voice”. Drums are a powerful instrument, but cymbals are the key to allowing them to stand out. Anyone seriously interested in becoming a decent drummer, whether professionally or for personal enrichment, must become adept with cymbals.

Drum Kit

Our Rating

Price

Our Review

Zildjian ZBT Starter Box

zildjian

$$$

Sabian SBr Performance Pack

Sabian Sbr Pack

$$$

Meinl Cymbals HCS1314+10S HCS Pack

Meinl Cymbals

$$$

When you are just starting out it’s best to go with a cheaper drum kit. Some more expensive drum sets might be really eye catching, but it is a good idea to get your feet wet in the shallow end first. It follows then, that if you are looking for a set of cymbals, you should look for the cheap cymbal packs first. This will allow you, or the loved one you are purchasing it for, to develop a greater understanding for the improved range of musicality available to a drummer, with the aide of varied cymbals, without breaking your bank account.

A Brief Intro Guide To Cymbals For Beginners

There are a lot of different types of cymbals out there and within each type there are yet still more variations available. There is everything from crash cymbals for optimizing rock music to cheap ride cymbals for polishing jazz music, out there for drummers to use.

Some really experienced drummers even have two or three different variations of a particular type of cymbal in their set. These different variations of a specific type of cymbal allow the drummer to bring out different sounds for different songs. So what are the main types of Cymbals?

The High Hat:

This piece contains a pair of cymbals that are inverted in on each other and mounted on a tension rode. Mainly used for keeping time.

The Ride:

These are hugely important part of any drum kit. This cymbal is instrumental to bringing out a drummer’s “voice” and also is used for keeping time.

The Crash:

Just like the name implies, these cymbals are used to produce loud crash sounds. Crash cymbals are used in drumming in the same way exclamation marks are used in writing.

The Splash:

These cymbals are like mini cheap crash cymbals, but apart from being used to produce accents they can also be used to create special effects.

The China:

China cymbals look like regular cymbals, but turned upside down. These are another type of accent cymbal and are used to create an extremely bright crash.

Cheap Drum Cymbals and Cymbal Packs

Zildjian ZBT Starter Box Review

Rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Zildjian is the oldest name in the business as far as all things cymbals are concerned. These cymbals were originally created in the Renaissance by a brilliant Turkish metal smith named Avedis who latter came to be titled as Zildjian by other metal smiths: which means “Cymbal Smith”. This is one of, if not the, dominant brand in the cymbal industry and has come to be associated with excellence. Many of their assembled cymbal packs go for hundreds of dollars apiece. Fortunately, they are producing cheap cymbal packs as well.

Currently, the cheapest base pack of Zildjian Cymbals available is the Zildjian ZBT Starter Box. This cheap cymbal pack is the best value you can get a that price, depending on where you purchase it from. The ZBT is a highly rated product that comes with an 18″ crash ride, a 13″ hi-hat, and a bonus 14″ crash. As the name suggests, this is definitely a great place to start when it comes to cymbals. To compliment this cheap cymbal pack you may also want to purchase a Zildjian ZBT Splash/China 2 Pack.

This package deal rounds off the starter pack at a really great price. The 2 Pack comes with a highly rated 10″ splash cymbal and a 16″ china cymbal. For anyone beginning an endeavor in drumming, Zildjian is a brand that you can trust. Having access to their instruments at affordable prices is a great deal overall and probably the best place to start. Many drummers continue using Zildjian equipment as they progress and tend to buy their more expensive options.

Pros:

  • Only two packs required to have a full starter set of cymbals
  • Belongs to a great and highly dependable brand
  • Good overall price

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than Sabian
  • Cymbals in the Starter Box are smaller than cymbals in the Sabian Performance pack

Sabian SBr Performance Pack Cymbals

Rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Another highly respected cymbal brand is Sabian. In actuality, Sabian is an offshoot of Zildjian. However since the early 80’s each brand has had slightly different manufacturing philosophies. Regardless, Sabian has become a brand that drummers look to for quality. The Sabian SBr Performance Pack, although cheap, is possibly the best starter kit out there.

It is manufactured to be not only a great foundation kit for beginners, but also be useful to more experienced drummers that are low on funds. The overwhelming majority of ratings given for this product on amazon are four to five stars. In this performance pack you will find an impressive 20″ ride, a 14″ hi-hat, and a 16″ crash. One of the key selling points marketed by cheap Sabian cymbals is that each of these cymbals is delivered sonically matched.

This means that they have been tested and group matched to give the best sound. The Sabian SBr Performance Pack can make a great gift this Christmas because of the value/price deal you’re getting. Unfortunately, unlike with Zildjian, there is not Sabian Splash and China cymbal dual pack on amazon. However you can easily purchase a cheap Sabian 10″ SBr splash for only better price. Finally you can also buy a Sabian 31416B B8 Pro China cymbal for a bit more but also the quality is better. Adding both of these to your SBr performance pack will make your base cymbal set complete.

Pros:

Pros:

  • Best cheap cymbals for sale at the moment
  • High quality sound
  • Great for beginners and more experienced users

Cons:

  • The Splash and China cymbals do not come as a pack

Meinl Cymbals HCS1314+10S HCS Pack Cymbal Box Set

Rating:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

The HCS pack from Meinl is probably the cheapest good set of cymbals available. Surprisingly, even though they cost only about two thirds as much as the Sabian set we reviewed, they have received stellar ratings. Many people who purchase these cheap cymbals are genuinely surprised by the quality of sound that they provide. Unlike the Zildjian and Sabian set, they Meinl cymbal box set does not come with a cheap ride cymbal.

Instead the HSC pack offers buyers a 14″ crash cymbal, 13″ hi-hats, and a bonus 10″ splash. This combination means that this pack is probably best geared towards those interested in rock over those interested in jazz. Unfortunately, this means that you have to buy ride cymbals and china cymbals separately.

Pros:

  • Cheapest cymbal set
  • Comes with a tutorial videos for beginners
  • Produces good sound

Cons:

  • No ride cymbals included
  • Appeals to less styles of music

Conclusion

No matter what genre of music you want to get involved in as a drummer, cymbals are an important part of your base repertoire. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend several hundred dollars to get started in this department. In addition to getting any one of the cheap cymbal sets that we have reviewed here, you may need to invest in some cheap cymbal stands as well. No matter if you want to go pro or just want to rock out with your garage band, there is something available for you to get started this Christmas. For more information check out this page.