Cymbals With Holes? Ultimate Guide

August 18, 2023

 What are cymbals with holes?

Cymbals with holes are made in order to produce certain sounds that can be defined as trashy and sharp. Many cymbals fanatics use them for experimenting with sounds and volume. Sabian claims they are the first company who come up with these kinds of symbals in cooperation with Dave Weckl.

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The model they made is known as Sabian O-Zone Cymbal from Dave Weckl’s Evolutions series.

The different companies have different names for these cymbals.

If you have been in the music industry for some time now, you have probably seen some cymbals with holes in them.

Many people find them strange and even wonder if the cymbals have been accidentally damaged.

Here are some types of cymbals with holes:

  • Effects Crasher
  • Splash and China Cymbals
  • Low Volume Cymbals
what are cymbals with holes
Dave Weckl's O-zone Evolution Crash

Effects Crashes

These are the most popular ones, known for their big holes.

They were given the prefix “effects” because they create specific accents of effects.

However, recently Effects cymbals have been a commonly used term for all kinds of cymbals, even for some who do not have holes.

An outstanding characteristic is that they deliver a more aggressive and sharp sound that produces complex overtones.

There is no one of a kind; the number, size and shape of the holes vary from model to model.

These factors are important for the production of sound and should be considered before buying.

china with holes
Chad Smith's Holly China

Splash and China Cymbals with holes

Deliver a more precise, dryer and quicker sound.

The “Holy China” is the most famous China cymbals designed by Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Low Volume Cymbals

Low volume Cymbals have numerous small holes that actually reduce volume, unlike Effects cymbals that are intended to produce a certain sound.

They can reduce volume up to 80%, said the manufacturers.

This is especially handy for practice sessions, where you need to play the same sound repeatedly.

These cymbals are also lightweight, designed from specialized, flexible alloy.

O-Zone cymbals

Cymbals with holes in them were actually invented accidentally by the Sabian company.

They named them O-Zone cymbals, and the name is often used today instead of cymbals with holes in them.

Apart from O-Zone cymbals, we can also hear “ vented” cymbals and “effects cymbals” to refer to the ones with holes.

Difference between regular cymbals and cymbals with holes

Cymbals with holes are more prone to breaking, and you can easily damage them.

Of course, it depends on the person using them and their experience with this instrument.

Plus, some artists love older cymbals because they produce a more mellow sound than new cymbals that produce a bright and loud sound.

A quick tip for beginners, these cymbals are not usually advised for playing the bell because you can damage either the cymbals or the drumsticks.

As for the price, both cymbals and cymbals with holes vary a lot depending on the material, size and brand.

However, cymbals with holes offer you a wide variety of sounds, so if you are a cymbal enthusiast, you just have to own them.

The most popular cymbals with holes

Here is a list of the most popular cymbals with holes according to customers and artists all around the world.

If you are willing to buy drum cymbals with holes, don’t forget to check out these down below.

  • Zildjian EFX
  • Sabian O-Zone
  • Meinl Trash Crashes
dawe weckl o zone cymbal

Cutting Holes in Cymbals

If you are wondering is it possible to make the holes in the cymbals on your own, the answer is yes.

However, making the holes in cymbals is not easy if you have never done it before.

If you don’t have specialized equipment, it’s best left to professionals who know what they are doing. But, if you really want to give it a try on your own, you can do it with standard hole saws or carbide tipped hole saws.

Useful tips:

  1. Drilling from the bottom makes a cleaner and safer cut.
  2. Turn the cymbal over once the hole is nearly entirely through and carefully remove the final bit of depth from the top side.
  3. Make sure the hole saw doesn’t seize as it breaks through, so keep a firm grasp on the cymbal.
  4. After drilling the holes, you should make the edges of the holes even and make them smoother with sandpaper.

If you are new at this, it would be useful to try it out on a broken cymbal that you don’t use anymore before you drill holes in the cymbals you plan to use.

However, the best variant is buying the manufactured cymbals with holes created by professionals so you can have the top quality.

Manufacturers use automated machines that cut holes in the desired shape and location with absolute precision. 

The machines also have regulated temperature control systems that prevent unwanted cracking and warping of the metal during the process.

Who invented cymbals with holes?

The first company to mass-produce cymbals with holes was Sabian. The first perforated cymbals were produced as part of the Evolution line, developed with Dave Weckl in 2002.

The funny thing is – the cymbals with holes were invented by accident.

Sabian’s cymbal manufacturer wanted to experiment with the cymbal sound by placing evenly spaced holes.

The company did some research and tryouts, and they discovered that holes in the cymbal distort the soundwaves and create an aggressive tone.

Dave Weckl, the American jazz fusion drummer and leader of the Dave Weckl Band, got interested in this discovery and helped develop it.

Some kinds of modified cymbals were used before Sabian’s discovery, and it’s possible that they inspired the later developments.

Cymbals with rivet holes, called sizzle cymbals, were used since the 1930s in jazz music.

A sizzle cymbal has rivets, chains or other rattles attached either using holes bored in the cymbal or using an attachment known as a sizzler.

The purpose of rivets was to modify the cymbal’s sound to become louder and more penetrating.

The most commonly used sizzle cymbal was a large ride cymbal with rivets loosely fitted but captive in holes spaced evenly around the cymbal.


Cymbals with holes produce sharp and aggressive sounds, and they are great if you want to experiment with sound and volume.

Sabian was the first company that invented this kind of cymbals in cooperation with Dave Weckl, but the forefathers were sizzle cymbals with rivet holes found in 1930s jazz music.

Some types of cymbals with holes are Effects Crasher, Low Volume, Splash and China Cymbals.

If you feel confident and skilled to do it yourself, you can try drilling the holes in your cymbals.

But, if you want a professionally manufactured cymbal with holes, you should check out popular models such as Zildjian EFX, Sabian O-Zone and Meinl Trash Crashes.

The downside of cymbals with holes is that they can be damaged and broken more easily than regular ones.

However, if you want to broaden your cymbal set and experiment with different sounds, you should definitely try them out.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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