How to Play Cymbals? Figure out in 5 Minutes

March 28, 2022
cymbal finder

Fill out the form, and I will hand-pick the best cymbals for you and drop you an email.

Unfortunately, the type you picked is rarely used in the genre you choose.
Therefore, I will not be able to find the right cymbal for you.
Your Budget: 0 USD

When it comes to drum gear, everyone knows cymbals play one of the essential parts of a drum set. Hi-hat and ride cymbals are those cymbals that every drummer will play more often than crashes or splashes.

You should know that cymbals are used to make accents in crucial parts of a song – you will need good ones that will cut through any band mix.

In this article, I will try to cover as much as I can about how to play cymbals most drummers use in a drum set, so stay with me.

Propper techniques and good quality cymbals will help you achieve good sound and maintain the gear in good shape – also, the method will reduce the possibility of the cymbal breaking before time.

Before I say more about each cymbal and how to play them, every drummer should know one thing: where to hit the cymbal.

There are three parts where you’d hit them to make sound:

·       EDGE: Strike the outer edge of the cymbal with the shoulder of the drumstick.

·       BOW: The bow is the most significant surface of the cymbal, and you’d strike it with the tip of the drumstick.

·       BELL: Some cymbals may not have a bell, but for those who have, you’d strike the bell with the shoulder or tip of the drumstick.

Now, let’s get into more details about how to play each cymbal.

How to play cymbals (hi-hat, ride, crash)

How to play hi-hat cymbals?

How to play Hi-Hat cymbals

As I already mentioned, hi-hats are the most playable cymbals in a drum kit. You would hit the hi-hat with the tip of a drumstick against the cymbal’s bow.

If you want to achieve louder or more accented strokes, you will hit the hi-hat’s edge with the shoulder of the drumstick.

This playing technique will allow you to achieve a trashier sound that will easily cut through any mix.

For example, drummers who play metal or hard rock will often strike near the hi-hat’s edge with the drumstick’s shoulder.

To be more precise, there are three trips for properly playing hi-hats:

Varying with the length of notes

Whether you are playing eight or quarter bites, you can always make the notes sound shorter or longer. When you hit the hi-hats with the tip of a stick, the tones will be brief. On the other hand, if you play hi-hats with the shaft, the notes will be longer.

Play the pedal heel-to-toe

When you want to open your hi-hats and get a more open and intensive sound, you should play the cymbals with your foot moving from heel to toe.

Swiveling the foot side-to-side

If you swivel your foot side-to-side, it will be easier for you to play the four-quarter notes.

How to play ride cymbals

How to play ride cymbals?

The position of the ride is mainly on the right side of a drum kit, and it serves to maintain steady rhythmic patterns. Some other parts depend on the drummer’s preferences.

There are several things you need to pay attention to when striking the ride cymbal:

Attack angle

You should pay attention to the proper relation of the stick and ride. The best is to position it in a way you can reach it, and your stick needs to be parallel with the playing surface of the ride cymbal.

Strike zones

Depending on which type of sound you want to get, the sound needs to be clear and articulate in most of the patterns you can play on a ride.


The most typical zone is midway from the edge to the center of the bell. Playing with the tip of the stick on this ride cymbal area will reveal the cymbal’s true character, and you will get an articulate ride pattern.

If you want to go for a trashier sound and lower tones, play the rife with the tip of the stick closer to the edge. For drier and brighter patterns, play the ride closer to the bell.

If you increase the stick’s angle so that the tip of the stick is striking a cymbal from above, you can end up with drier but more articulate patterns and reduced wash of overtones.


If you want to get your ride to explode with a burst of overtones, you should play the ride with the stick shoulder on the edge of the ride cymbal.


The different sizes of the bell will give other effects on the ride’s character, but it will always give dry, bright, and articulate sound. This is because ride patterns are mostly syncopated.

You can play the bell with the shoulder or with the tip of the stick also. The stick shoulder will produce a bigger sound, while the tip of the stick will give a sharper sound.

How to play cymbals

How to play crash cymbals?

When it comes to playing crash cymbals, most of the playing is on the edge of the crash because of the instant response intones. Therefore, it is essential to mount crashes higher and make them flatter than the ride cymbal.

Most of the time, crashes are played with the shoulder or a stick’s shaft on the cymbal edge. The key is to get that explosive sound that will result in desired tones if you play it on edge.

If you play a flat of the crash with the tip of the stick, you will get quieter tones, and if you swipe with the hit, this technique will allow your crash cymbal to get softer but full-bodied sound.

How to play splash and china cymbals?

Like with the techniques for playing crash cymbals, the same goes with the splashes and chinas. You would play them similar as you play identical as you do with the crushes.

Final Thoughts

I hope I covered everything any drummer who is beginning their journey should know about how to play cymbals.

One excellent tip to know is that drummers who are more experienced and professional tend to play cymbals with precise dynamics and intention, so make sure you pay attention to them during your practice.

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.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Drum That