It is useless to talk about the best ride cymbal overall because it depends on your taste. What is possible is to pick the best value for the money ride, the best ride for metal or the best ride for jazz, the most versatile ride and so on.
Also, every company has its candidates so, I decided to choose the best ride cymbals from Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl and Paiste and pick best in every category.
Although Zildjian has many rides that can be used for jazz I choose the Kerope because the entire series has a mellow sound with a soft attack. Steve Gad, Steve Smith, and many jazz drummers love the Kerope series.
In case you decide to look around more let me give you a few alternatives.
The Constantinople series is a great option if you play jazz. In comparison to the Kerope series, this one has a variety of options when it comes to ride cymbal.
K custom Flat top ride is the best for jazz in the K Custom series. Don’t forget about the K series, any ride from this series would fit in jazz.
In comparison to Kerope series both K custom and Constantinopole series are more versatile but the Kerope is just perfect for Jazz.
Best Rock and Metal Ride Cymbal - 22" A Custom Projection
I didn’t want to seclude just one ride from the A custom series because they all have a similar price – little over $300.
I am not saying it is not expensive but not as the K series and for that price it offers a great sound, Zildjian’s historical quality and enough versatility to adapt almost every music genre except for jazz.
This is the sweetest sounding ride I was able to dig up. Like many jazz rides it doesn’t have a bell.
It is so thin that when you play it you can see how it bends and makes waves. It is very quiet so playing up-tempo jazz comes naturally to this ride.
Byzance is the highest cymbal class that Meinl makes so the price goes trough the roof. I don’t know if you have almost $500 to spend on the ride but if you do and you like this kind of sound, go for it.
Byzance Jazz series is dedicated jazz cymbal series but the Sand ride and Pure Light ride under Byzance Vintage or Foundry reserve series are perfect choices for jazz drummers.
Best Rock and Metal Ride Cymbal - 22" Byzance Brilliant Heavy Hammered
First I want to emphasize something I don’t like. You can get this kind of sound for less money with Sabian AAX or Zildjian A Custom. I don’t find these series to be better in any way.
All the new series from Meinl are focused on the dark, dry sound so the Brilliant series is a big exception. This cymbal has all features of rock or metal cymbals.
It is heavy, with a strong attack, dark sound, a large bell, and loud as hell. It is not as nearly versatile as A Custom and AAX, in matter a fact this would be something like Paiste Alpha Metal Ride for the rich people 🙂
If we put all cons aside this whole series is a perfect choice for heavy music. Check out 24″ Byzance Brilliant Pure Metal Ride also, they are very similar.
Most Versatile Ride Cymbal - 21" Byzance Traditional Medium
Pure Alloy rides cost little over $250 which is not too expensive having in mind that Classics Custom cost the same but are made from b10 Bronze instead B12 like Pure Alloy.
What I don’t like with Meinl is the fact they change material as soon as you step out of a top-class such as Byzance which is not the case with Zildjian and Sabian.
I personally don’t dig the Pure Alloy or the Pure Alloy Custom sound but the fact is, these are middle-quality cymbals at a great price. I would much rather go with Byzance but it is not as nearly affordable.
I always loved Nicko’s ride sound. The old model was in the Paiste Alpha series and it was great for heavy gigs.
With price over $500 can’t fall under affordable but it is one of the best rock rides I was able to find.
It has a great attack with a little bit lower pitch but just right for rock cymbal sound. Just go listen to Iron Maiden and you will hear how that ride sounds in the live situation with 3 guitars and a bass.
Few rides can cut that much distortion and with a lower price, it would be easily the number one rock ride in the world.
Most Versatile Ride Cymbal - 21" Signature Dark Energy Mark II
Dennis is a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and a blogger. He wants to expand the drumming community and to educate new drummers about technique, equipment and sound. Exploring the drumming world and discovering new drummers is a way of life he says.