7 Types of Cymbals You Need to Know About

As you may already know, cymbals are an essential part of any drum kit. They help with shaping beats and provide richness of the sound. 

There is a variety of different cymbal types on the market nowadays, but the basic ones you should have within your drum kit are:

  • Hi-Hats
  • Crash cymbals
  • Ride cymbals

Most beginner drum sets will have these three types; however, you can expand yours by including the others – as there are several types of cymbals. 

To get to the point of this article, let’s get further into this topic and explain the types of cymbals you would need to complete your drum set.

Here are some major cymbal types you should know and use:

  1.  Crash
  2.  Hi-Hat
  3.  Ride
  4. Splash
  5. China
  6. Stack
  7. Effects Cymbals
types of cymbals

1. Crash Cymbals

The crash cymbal is surely the loudest piece of a drum kit. It is a stand-alone cymbal that gives a loud, sharp, and explosive sound to emphasize certain parts of a song.

This type of cymbals gives dramatic accents when being hit, usually at the end of a musical phrase – this adds much excitement and variety to your sound.

This type of cymbals comes in different styles and sizes, but the most typical ones are those from 14 to 18 inches (35.56 to 45.72 cm.)

They can vary in weight and thickness, leading to a difference in sound – the more thick the crash cymbal is, the brighter sound it will produce. The standard drum set will have at least one or two crash cymbals.

2. Hi-Hat Cymbals

Hi-hat is a set of two matching pairs of small or medium-sized cymbals facing each other from the bottoms and put together on a stand.

Along with this set, you will need to include a foot pedal as well. The pedal will open and close the pair of cymbals and create the “chick” accent whenever you strike the top one with the drumsticks.

The weight of cymbals is quite important, for the jazz kit, or use in smaller venues, you should go for the smaller ones – 10”, 12” or 13” – and if you play in a more dynamic and powerful band, or louder settings, you should go for the larger ones – 15” or 18”.

These days, the most common Hi-Hats are 13 and 14 inches, but many drummers go for those 15 and 18 inches cymbals.

You can mix and match different cymbals to achieve a top sound – for example, the lighter top will give you a more dynamic range, and the heavier bottom will give you volume.

ride cymbal

3. Ride Cymbals

The ride cymbal is usually the largest on a drum kit and is most often used to play patterns.

By playing those patterns, you will enhance the grooves, and depending on which ride you will pick up, you will get different tones.

There are many different types of rides, heavy, light, with different shapes and sizes, and the most standard ones you will find are 20 inches ones.

Since there are different sizes, the ride cymbals come in sizes from 16 to 26 inches.

Depending on where you hit the ride, you’ll get a different sound – which is good for different styles of music.

A lot of times, drummers will crash the edge of the ride if they are playing a heavier style of music, the body of the ride is for normal and lighter-in-nature patterns, and the bell that sits at the center of the cymbal gives more punctuated accents.

Read more

  • 7 Best Ride Cymbals for Rock {2021 Update}
  • 5 Best Sabian Ride Cymbals - Jazz, Rock, Versatility, Overall
splash cymbal

4. Splash Cymbals

Splash cymbals help drummers to provide their riffs and solos with accents. The design of the Splash cymbals allows them to create a short and sharp sound, precisely the one that resembles a splash of water.

These cymbals are usually smaller, but they range in size – from 6 to 13 inches. The most common sizes that drummers use are 8” and 12” splash cymbals.

china cymbal

5. China Cymbals

China cymbals are named after the Chinese gong because of the resemblances in look and sound.

The edges are upturned, the bell cylindrical, and the sound they create is dark and trashy.

This type can also sound explosive and crash-like, so they are played in a similar way to crash cymbals.

They come in different sizes, ranging between 16 and 24 inches. There are also smaller ones, like those of 12 inches, which are also called china splash cymbals.

stack cymbals

6. Stack Cymbals

Stack cymbals are two or more cymbals stacked on top of each other, and the sound they produce often gives a gritty and trashy tone.

Sizes are different, and it doesn’t matter. The stacks can be combined with different cymbal types as long as they fit well together.

If you don’t want to buy a manufactured set, you can make your stack cymbals.

Be aware that it can be tricky due to many different and possible combinations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a great and unique one.

effect cymbals

7. Effect Cymbals

Effects cymbals can be a wide variety of cymbals. You may know that the Splashes, Chinas, and Stacks are considered effects cymbals – but there are those with larger holes and funky hammering that deliver sharp and trashy sounds.

Nearly all brands have been experimenting with this type of effects cymbals. Many Hi-Hats, Crash, Splash, China, and other types feature different shapes of holes within the cymbals, which distort the sound waves and create that special effect of a sharp and aggressive sound.

The O-zone cymbals are effect cymbals manufactured by Sabian. This type of cymbals is the one with lots of holes in the cymbal, and it delivers a bright and shimmering sound.

There are also Bell cymbals which are small and thick. These cymbals are usually mounted on top of another cymbal and produce a unique and high-pitched tone.

Another way you can achieve the different effects of your cymbals is by using Cymbal Bacon Sizzler that will make it sizzle. It is perfect for Rides, Crashes, and Chinas, but it can fit on top of any cymbal that is up to 22”.


All in all, as there are many different types of cymbals, I hope this was informative enough for you to understand some of them.

Since the cymbals can craft and sculpt the sound of your drum set, try out as many different cymbals as possible and find your unique tone.

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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