What is a Ride Cymbal? Learn How to Play it

March 28, 2022

Although heavily associated with jazz and modern music, the ride cymbal can be heard in practically any genre and is used by drummers worldwide. 

It’s a staple tool for drummers, and knowing its purpose and features helps us get better acquainted with it.

What is a ride cymbal?

The ride cymbal is the most common cymbal in drum sets. It has a big, low-toned sound and helps keep time in a song.

Ride cymbals are commonly used in jazz, funk, and rock music. They allow a drummer to add accents and subtle variations to their rhythms, providing a more complex sound.

There are many different ways to ride a cymbal and use it in combination with other cymbals. It all comes down to your creativity. To fully explore the world of ride cymbals, you should experiment more with playing techniques and learn a few more.

Why is it called a ride cymbal?

It’s called a ride because it kind of “rides” along with the song’s tempo, which means it should be played in time with the rhythm throughout.

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what is a ride cymbal

When was the ride cymbal invented?

The ride cymbal was invented in 1815 by Swiss-born instrument maker Antoine Courtois. It was initially known as a charleston cymbal and was used in military bands.

Before that, there was no such thing as a ride cymbal, which is the name of a particular cymbal larger than those typically used for crash cymbals and is played with a constant “ride” pattern. That means that the drummer hits it on every beat or every half beat, depending on the time signature.

What does a ride cymbal look like?

A ride cymbal is the kind of cymbal that looks like a big, round plate. It’s usually used as background noise in music, reverting with a “tinging” sound.

The average ride cymbal is about 20 inches in diameter and weighs about 15 pounds.

Do you need a ride cymbal?

The role the ride cymbal plays in music is crucial. It’s often used to keep time and create a steady beat for other band members to follow.

A ride cymbal is an essential part of your drum set. It’s the cymbal you’ll be playing most often, which helps anchor the tempo of a piece of music.

What is a ride cymbal used for?

A ride cymbal is used to keep a constant beat or rhythm during a song. A ride cymbal provides background beats, or “rides,” in music. It can also be used to count time, keep rhythm, or provide accents.

The ride cymbal also comes in handy when you’re playing jazz because when you’re jamming in jazz, you’re often improvising and need to keep time for yourself and other musicians. The ride cymbal is usually the instrument that does this job.

history of ride cymbal

Where do you hit the ride cymbal?

There are 3 sweet spots on ride cymbals:

Body – most common way of playing the ride cymbal. It is mainly used in jazz due to its sweet and mellow tone.

Bell – mainly used only for accent due to its harsh and loud tone. This sweet spot is ideal for rock and metal drummers, and they don’t hesitate to hit it.

Edge – used for “crashing the ride.” It’s a technique where you play ride like a crash cymbal. Primarily used in song outros. It gets loud pretty fast, but it is a great way to emphasize to song end.

How should a ride cymbal sound?

Turns out, it depends on who you ask. And maybe even some other factors like how old you are, or what kind of music you play.

Ride cymbals are generally the most giant cymbal on a drum kit, and they have a particular job to do: 

A ride cymbal is supposed to provide the rhythmic melody in a song, give it some good rhythm, finish off strong beats, and carry on throughout the whole song without sounding like it’s dragging.

Some people think that ride cymbal should be high-pitched and bright, like bells; others think they should be smooth, low-end thumps; still, others think they should be somewhere in between

How do you identify a ride cymbal?

You can identify a ride cymbal by the way it sounds!

A ride cymbal has a specific sound that is recognizable even to not musicians. It is crisp but has a low-pitched tone. It also doesn’t decay very quickly—so when you play it, you’ll hear a long, sustained sound.

How can you tell the difference between a ride and a crash cymbal?

The difference between a ride and crash cymbal is that a ride is used to keep time, while a crash cymbal accents certain parts of a song.

A ride cymbal is also larger than a crash cymbal.

You can also tell the difference by the sound they make. For example, a ride cymbal has a mellow tone, while a crash cymbal has a louder and sharper sound.

Can you use a ride cymbal as a crash?

You can use a ride cymbal as a crash, but you shouldn’t just play it like you would crash a cymbal. 

For example, an excellent way to crash your ride on beat 1 is to let it ring for beat 2 and then hit the outer edge with your drumstick on the “&” of 2, letting it ring out into beats 3 and 4. 

This provides an interesting pattern and lets you make more use of your ride cymbal.

The weight of the cymbal will determine how much force is required to produce sound, and in general, ride cymbals tend to be heavier than crash cymbals. 

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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