A crash cymbal is one of the main components of every drum set. Every drummer will have at least one, and it’s because of what these instruments are used for.
In other words, crashes are synonymous with drums.
And since they are that important, one must always have the best one.
But you will find thousands of crash cymbals on the market today. Every manufacturer promises the best in them. However, you will find that not all of them are good and will offer what you may need in terms of sound quality.
When it comes to rock and heavier music, one must be very particular in their selection.
To make this easy, I have reviewed some of the best crash cymbals for rock and heavy hitters out there. It does not mean you can only use them for the style, but they perform better there.
Crash cymbals 101
Before we go further, how much do you know about crash cymbals?
I was once a beginner, and I bought cymbals just because that is what the internet said I needed. But the truth is, you need to understand more about any cymbal type to make the right choice.
Cymbals are percussion instruments that have been used for many years. Originally, they were used in religious functions and similar ceremonies.
Over the years, they have been transformed into the most crucial components of drum sets.
For your drum set to be complete, you will need at least two types of cymbals accessories.
And now, whether you are just beginning or you have been playing for years, you need a good set of cymbals. Your music will feel more complete with them.
Basically, cymbals come in four categories, hi-hat, rides, crashes, and effects.
When searching, you can always skip ahead to the exact cymbal you need. For there, you can compare the options and have them work in your favor.
Crash and ride cymbals
You may be wondering why I put a crash and ride cymbals together.
Well, I have never come across a set-on-stone rule that says a specific rule must be used specifically as a crash or a cymbal.
The main difference is in the way they are used. Their intended purposes seem to differ a lot, and that is what may make one believe they are different.
In most reviews that I have met online, the crash is largely connected to the crash. Hence they say, ‘the best ride/crash cymbals.’
Rides are intended to deliver steady rhythmic patterns, like the straight 8th notes to rock and pop. In jazz and blues, they deliver the swing notes.
On the other hand, crashes are dedicated to single accents in punctuating key moments within a piece you may be playing.
Technically, you can use any cymbal for these purposes. Get me right, though. I am not saying there are no notable differences between rides and crash cymbals.
In terms of sizes, ride cymbals are larger, mostly 20 – 22-inches, they are thicker and come with a more consistent taper from the bell to the bow.
The idea behind this design is perhaps to give them that “pingy” note ability. They also offer a stronger attack and weaker wash.
Crash cymbals are much smaller, coming between 14 and 18-inches. This is mainly the major factor that differentiates them. They are also thinner and with a more varied thickness (taper).
The bell is also thicker than what you find on the ride cymbals. The idea behind this design is to produce sound with very minimal articulation and extended wash. 18 to 20-inches is the gray area between these two extreme physical differences. You will find cymbals labeled as ride/crash, which means they can be used for either purpose.
Well, the most important thing is making sure you have picked the right crash cymbals that will ring across the mix with ease. Your aim should be to find a perfect solution with every component of your drum set.
And for this reason, check out the following list of seven best crash cymbals for rock out there.
7 Best Crash Cymbals for Rock Reviewed
Zildjian has always been one of the most favored cymbal makers. This is because of the quality of products they give.
Their Sweet series of cymbals is considered one of the most musically expressive lines. And there is a good reason for this.
Within the line, the 15-inch Sweet hi-hats are the most popular, being even top sellers on the market.
And you can bet on the 18-inch crash to have the same lovely properties.
The crash comes with dark and musical sounds. It gives out a full sound that will pull out quickly from the initial stick impact. It’s defined by great smoothness and a moody character.
When you hold in your hands, it feels paperweight. But this changes a bit when your sticks land on them as they begin to feel a bit medium weigh. It is their thickness that ensures that moody tone that will easily blend into your mix.
Besides, crash cymbals are very versatile. You will therefore use if for rock, metal, and any other music style you desire.
However, one thing you must be aware of is that it does not have enough punch, and therefore cannot be used as the main accent cymbal. But will give a great performance as a warm side crash to hit when looking for that blend. You can also ride it in choruses to make good use of its wash.
Be ready to dig a bit deeper into your pockets, though. This is one of the most expensive cymbals out there. But its versatility and top quality are worth the price.
Pros and cons
This cymbal is incredibly versatile and great for riding in choruses. It is also light-weighted, and hence, easy to transport.
On the negative side, it is a very expensive 18-inch crash. Therefore, it might not be a good recommendation for a beginner.
When I think of Meinl cymbals, I think of affordability and versatility. The Classics Custom Dark Series says it all. These cymbals are designed for loud music and heavy hitters with a harsh tone. You will see them mainly with metal drummers because they serve better in this category.
The 19-inch delivers a big and loud sound, which is what a metal drummer needs. You may never come across a louder crash that this. Hence, perfect for your rock band,
It gives out a beautiful dark tone with a nice stick definition. The crash will cut through the mix of other instruments without any trouble. And you won’t even have to hit too hard for it to perform.
Besides, this is a very versatile cymbal. This means you can get away with any music style. One great thing is that the
Meinl Dark Custom Classic cymbals affordable. Mid-range buyers will find them very useful.
Pros and cons
This is one of the most aggressive and loud instruments I have come across. They are also great for heavy music. They are strong and durable.
But they are not very versatile. You can play them with other music genres but be ready to struggle a lot.
Do not be surprised if this whole list comprises of Zildjian cymbals only. After all, this is the oldest and most popular cymbal brand on the market.
Their 18-inch A Custom cymbal is one product famous for its classic features and sounds. When you think about playing a crash cymbal, the A Custom might be the first product that comes to your mind. It is a top brand and the ultimate solution for all your crash needs.
It offers that natural and full-bodied sound that is necessary for heavy hitters. It’s also bright without being overly high.
You can get delicate and nuanced performances even with the slightest touch. The big and bright sound that comes out when you give it all your energy cuts through the mix with a nice sharpness.
You should also know about the 18-inch A Custom cymbal because it comes well balanced and has a wide range of use. It does not matter the music style you are playing; this piece of musical instrument will fit right in.
I have been using this product as my go-to cymbal for a very long time. It does not offer anything specific, which makes it a good choice altogether.
But I would not recommend it if you are looking for some specific sounds. Nevertheless, it will not be a bad idea just to have one lying around in your bag for emergencies.
Sometimes I never even use mine as often as I would want to, but it’s always there waiting for me.
Pros and cons
This cymbal does not play too high or too low. It is also very versatile.
I have not seen much to complain about this product, except that you won’t get much for specific sounds.
I consider Paiste to be the second-best cymbal maker after Zildjian. This is not only because it is the second oldest, but because of the quality of its products as well.
The Paiste PST line comprises of traditional looking and sounding cymbals that are not very far from the famous 2002 line. But they are more affordable.
Bright and shimmering sounds emanate from the 18-inch crash cymbal, ringing energetically through the mix. It comes with a medium weight that gives it enough room and presence to sound full and good.
Top and bottom side lathing ensure easy opening and clear sound at any volume. You can always rely on Paiste quality for top performance.
With these qualities, you have a very versatile crash cymbal. And to make it even better, it is one of the most affordable crashes on the market. You can, therefore, access it with much ease.
It falls somewhere between the entry and mid-range levels. Hence, you should expect a lot from it if you are a professional drummer.
Pros and cons
The main advantage of this cymbal is its affordability. It is also versatile and sounds clear at any volume.
However, it is not a good as a slightly higher cymbal.
Sabian is one cymbal company that does not need any introduction. They make the highest quality cymbals using all the modern technologies.
There XSR series features the same high-tech functionality found higher-end products. You, therefore, have a good-quality mid-range cymbal.
The XSR Fast 18-inch crash is a wonderful cymbal that will not disappoint you in any way. It features a glossy, yet rich tone that is not present in any other product at this price range.
It’s also very bright, and hence, will cut through the mix with ease. For high-energy playing styles, you can bet your performance on this product.
Use it as an accenting cymbal to give you music that punches it needs to support the hits. It offers a wonderful sharp initial impact and fades away almost immediately, which is another reason you should have it.
These cymbals are generally a nice deal for the money.
Pros and cons
Sabian is a highly reputable brand. This product cuts through any mix with ease, and it’s good for rock and worship songs. It will give you good accenting hits with your band.
I have not seen anything to complain about it yet.
Versatility and high-quality define Sabian cymbals. And the HHX line is among the top lines of products from the company. Professional drummers love them for their high quality.
This means the 16-inch HHX thin crash is for advanced drummers, yet available for all.
It offers a well-controlled dark sound, making it highly musical. It features a small bell that gives you a fast attack while ensuring you also get a good accent.
Being thin gives it a shimmering tone. It is also much lighter than other crashes you may have owned, making it highly portable.
Drummers like Dave Weckl and Chad Smith endorse this cymbal. And it’s mainly because it’s among the best money can buy.
You should be ready to invest a fortune into the cymbals.
Pros and cons
The controlled dark sound is the biggest advantage of using this cymbal. It also sounds very musical and is great for accents.
On the negative side, it is very expensive. However, this should not be an issue if you are looking for top quality.
Wuhan is a good cymbal maker, and I can verge for the products. They all come with good quality and sound besides being affordable. You will get the same goodness in the 16-inch medium thin crash.
If you are in for a dark cymbal, you will enjoy the one. It offers a lot of character from its washy and dark properties. You can therefore ride it on to fill the choruses with a nice crash tone.
A well-balanced stick articulation of the cymbal is quite clear. And it delivers a perfect measure of wash underneath.
In terms of sound quality, I think you get more than what you pay for. Wuhan gives their cymbals a remarkable quality to be useful in a different setting.
Unfortunately, Wuhan cymbals are not the most reliable instruments you will find out there. But this does not mean they are any worse.
If you buy two 16-inch medium thin cymbals, you will notice slight differences in their sound. They are also a gamble if you are in for specific sounds. But for the money, you will not regret investing in them.
Pros and cons
These cymbals are very dark and with a well-balanced stick articulation. They are also among the most affordable instruments out there.
Not all models sound the same on the bad, which can be alloying if you want a good combination of clear sounds.
Besides the crash cymbals reviewed above, there are many other products on the market you may want to look at.
In this case, this buying guide should be enough to get you on the right path.
How Do You Choose A Crash Cymbal?
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing the right crash cymbal.
There are three main stages involved in manufacturing cymbals that determine its quality.
The first stage is metal selection. Here, we get brass, B8 Bronze, B10 Bronze, and B20 Bronze as the main material used in making cymbals.
Brass is typically found in beginner cymbals. The metal itself is cheap and sounds the worst.
B8 and B10 bronze is found with mid-priced cymbals. They are more expensive than bronze and sound better.
B20 metal is the most expensive and popular metal alloy found in the cymbal world. You will therefore find it in higher-end products.
You will also come across a combination of B8 and B20 metals, which delivers high-end sounds, and also the most expensive cymbals.
Next, consider the shaping options.
This is where you need to look at the five specific shape metrics for cymbals, depending on what you are building. You should pick the right diameter, thickness, bell size, profile, and taper.
You can create any cymbal by mixing and matching these dimensions using different combinations.
Once you understand the right features, consider now the manufacturing method.
In this case, there are two common ways cymbals are made: the cheap method and the more expensive method.
Cheap cymbals come from cutting and shaping a large metal sheet. One advantage is that they are cheap, and their sound is more uniform.
But they will not give you good sound as you would get from cast cymbals.
Cast cymbals are defined by a richer, more complex sounds that only gets better with age. They also have uniquely distinct characters with each individual product.
If you have the money, go for B20 cast cymbals. They are more durable and will take in a lot more punishment than cheaper options.
Crash cymbal size
As stated above, a crash cymbal lies between 14-inch and 20-inch. This is the main factor that differentiates them from rides. And anything smaller is a splash.
Some sizes like 14-inch and 15-inch are not very common. They are mostly reserved for children. 20-inch crashes are also rare as they would be easily confused for rides.
So, when you are picking a crash cymbal that will fully serve its purpose, go for something between 16 and 19-inches. You are sure about the sound you will get.
It is the specific sound qualities that differentiate crash cymbals from the other cymbals. Besides, there are size differences within the category that makes the differences in sound too.
Heavier crashes will give you brighter and louder sounds. On the other side, larger ones are darker and warmer.
For a crash cymbal that will cut through the mix, brighter ones are recommended. This makes them suitable for rock and other heavy music.
Dark cymbals do not cut through. Instead, they blend in the mix.
What Is the Best Crash Cymbal?
The good thing about crash cymbals is that you can use any cymbals, and they will still sound good.
Nevertheless, the most popular crashes come from Zildjian K Custom, Zildjian A Custom, Sabian HHX Evolution, Sabian AAX A-Plosion, Paiste 2002, and Paiste Signature.
What Are the Best Sounding Cymbals?
Cymbal sounds a very subjective matter. Some people like darker sounds, while others love bright sounds.
However, there are certain features that are common in both situations, and that is quality. The best sounding cymbals are cast and hand-hammered from B20 metal alloys.
Also, the brand matters. All top products from Zildjian, Paiste, Meinl, and Sabian are good sounding.
What Are the Best Cymbals for Rock?
Rock and other heavier music genres call for heavier and brighter cymbals. They come from top manufactures like Paiste, Sabian, and Zildjian.
Toplines of cymbals dedicated to rock include Paiste legendary 2002 line, Zildjian A Custom series, Sabian AAX line, and Meinl Byzance Brilliant.
Investing in a good drum set means every component you buy should be the best of the best. And this guide on best crash cymbals for rock was aimed at helping you build that perfect drum set. I hope it has been helpful.