A cymbal is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world not just accessories. They go way back, as far as the 7th Century. Cymbals have been used in religious rituals and many other celebrations and festivals.
The first cymbals were introduced in China and Asia in the 4th BC. And they performed different functions, especially related to religion, as mentioned above.
Then they appeared in the 16th and 17th Centuries before military bands made them official in performances. Later, they found their ways into orchestras.
As Buddy Rich played tunes, the bang crash went missing for a while, but Keith Moon and John Bonham brought them back.
Today, they are a crucial part of a modern drummer’s kit. This is why you will need to get the right one if you want to play drums.
But finding the best cymbal can be a costly journey. There are several manufactures for cymbal packs.
I will be introducing you to the best ones.
What Are Cymbals Made Of
No drummer can operate without a good set of cymbals. However, many users only know what cymbals are from what they can do.
It is good to take some time and understand what material goes into these important components. Let’s see.
Four main copper-based alloys make cymbals. They include bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, and nickel silver.
Bell bronze metal
Bell bronze is also known as bell metal. It is a classic alloy used in making fine cymbals, gongs, and bells. It is said to be a part tin to four parts copper – 20% tin, though there have been different variations.
Big and small bells are made with different amounts of tin, while some bells, gongs, and cymbals feature a small, yet significant amount of other metals, including silver, gold, and phosphorus.
Bell bronze is a two-phase alloy, which means some of the tin is not dissolved in the copper grains, yet used altogether. This is why the metal is very hard, yet brittle compared to single-phase.
These are generally the most popular cymbals among drum kit players. Examples include Bettis Custom Cymbals, Zildjian A and B Custom, Zildjian K and K custom, Zildjian Z Custom, and Zildjian Z3, among others.
Paiste was the first company to release professional cymbal series made with sheet metal bronze and about 15% tin. This was in 1989.
The manufacturing process requires the material to be rolled hot in certain stages. But it is not tampered like the classic B20 cymbals; they are instead annealed.
This alloy gives the cymbals greater consistency between blanks. The best ones include Paiste Signatures. The Zildjian Project 321 series used this alloy explicitly. Meinl is known for using both alloys.
This material is made as an alloy of tin and copper, with 8% tin. It is a single-phase alloy and allows for cold rolling into a sheet. The material is easily available in different grades and thicknesses.
Cymbal bronzes with 8% tin as called B8 alloy. These Paiste products with this alloy are called 2002 alloy.
Paiste produced the top line of malleable bronze cymbals that could withstand harder music. Zildjian and Meinl also make high-end cymbals with this material.
Many of the finest traditional gongs and china-type cymbals are built from brass, just like nearly all zills. The material is widely used for cymbals, too, although they are inexpensive and beginners’ choices. This is because they are not meant to last long.
These cymbals are about 38% zinc in copper. This is a very easily worked alloy and readily available. Examples include Harpy B, Meinl Marathon M38, Meinl HCs, and Zildjian Planet Z, among others.
This material is used in cymbal making. It is an alloy of copper and nickel, with about 12% nickel. It is not the best material; hence, found mostly with beginner cymbals. There are very few specialized high-end cymbals from nickel silver.
The material is malleable and readily available on the commercial market. It gives a bright tone but lacks the shimmer and sensitivity of tin bronze.
Some Cymbal manufactures have also used silicone and aluminum bronzes, though they are not very popular today.
Best cymbal packs reviewed
Now that you know what cymbals are made of and which material is the best, it should be easy to pick the best ones. Here are ten of the best:
If you ask anyone where the best cymbals come from, they will tell you it’s from Zildjian. This is one of the most popular brands among professional drummers.
The brand carries a long history, since 1618 in cymbal manufacturing. Hence, they have the experience to understand what every drummer needs.
The Zildjian K cymbal package is known for its dark and warm tone. They are also very versatile. They are perfect for jazz, Latin, acoustic, and rock.
From the pack, you get 14″ Hi-Hat, 16″ K Dark Crash Thin, 20″ K Ride, and an 18″ K Dark Crash Thin as value addition. With these, you have the most important cymbals for all your needs.
The best thing about these cymbals is the build quality and design. You will appreciate the detail and refine the job through extensive hammering techniques and low profile. A short decade sound with a great response to the crashes makes them the best.
They are long-lasting, too—a good option for the money.
Are you looking for the best cymbal pack ideal for rock, pop, gospel, fusion, and worship? Zildjian has the answer for you. It is one of the best quality cymbals at a reasonable price.
The pack comes with four cymbals: 14″ A custom hi-hats, 16″ A Custom Crash, 18″ A Custom Crash, and 20″ A Custom Medium Ride.
These cymbals are a bit brighter compared to the K series. Though it still maintains and expensive sound.
Rock drummers require strong components with their drum kit, and Zildjian knows how to deliver. This cymbal pack is ideal for rock, metal, country, and gospel genres.
This Avedis line from Zildjian is among the brighter options on the market. The pack features four cymbals: 14″ Mastersound Hi-Hats, 17″ Medium Thin Crash, 19″ A Medium Thin Crash, and 20″ Ping Ride.
These cymbals are very durable. Even if you are the hardest hitter, you can be sure to get a lot of life from them.
The pack is ideal for touring drummers who need touring cymbals. Leave your more expensive cymbals at home and take these on your tour.
Moving away from Zildjian, Meinl is another reputable manufacturer. And the Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbal pack could be all the cymbal solution you will ever need.
They offer a unique dry tone and a complex, rich sound. You can play any musical style and still feel like the cymbals were made for it.
In the pack, you get 14″ Dark Hi-Hats, 16″ Dark Crash, 18″ Dark Crash, and 20″ Dark Ride. These cymbals offer an expensive, ultra-premium sound.
It is generally the best cymbal pack available for the money. The dark and versatile sounds make them an incredible choice.
This Benny Greb’s signature cymbal line by Meinl are high-end products that sound incredible. They are a good solution for professionals looking to upgrade.
These cymbals offer great tonality and timbre. And with the sound of the Byzance line, you will understand why the price is so high.
They are extremely dry and dark sounding cymbals. You can never go wrong with these pieces.
Mat Halpern from Periphesy is a big fan of these cymbals. The cost may be hard, but the quality of the sound you get is equally expensive.
I did not like the ride cymbal very much, though. It is too dry with a very low sustain. But for metal, that should not be a big issue.
I have been looking at the best cymbals overall, and Meinl never ceases to impress. The HCS line of cymbals is much similar to ZBT or B8 from other main manufacturers.
It could be the cheapest line of quality cymbals suited for beginners and student players. The sound quality you get is not very great – but you can’t expect anything more at this price range. Nevertheless, it is better than most.
If you are looking for your first line of cymbals, you can never go wrong here. You can upgrade in the future, but it is always good to start with something reliable.
Sally, Billy, and Andy – Sabian is not a new name in the world of cymbals. This is another trusted brand, which spawned out of a dispute after the appointment of Robert as the main Zildjian CEO.
The company has a wide collection of professional and affordable cymbals.
Sabian HHX cymbal pack is an excellent solution for pop, rock, R & B, Fusion, and other styles. There are among the best cymbals you will ever need.
The cymbals are hand-hammered, which makes them very unique. The sound is dark and full of life. And the sound is great too.
In terms of durability, thin cymbals may not be the best option for harder players. This option would, therefore, be better left for the studio.
Getting a good intermediate cymbal pack may not be as easy as it sounds. But with the Sabina XSR line of cymbals, these are much easier.
They’re designed more towards rock and metal sounds – in my opinion. They may not be the brightest you can get, but they are thick enough to handle the pressure.
The pack features 20″ XSR Ride, 18″ XSR Fast Crash, 16″ Fast Crash and 14″ XSR Hi-Hats. This is a great value for the cymbal.
The cymbals are built with sturdy materials; you can, therefore, expect them to last long. They are not the best sounding cymbals, but intermediate or beginner drummers will find them very useful.
The B8 line of cymbal from Sabian is among the most famous products on the market. And anyone who has not heard about them may be living in a different world.
If you are looking for the best entry-level cymbal pack, consider the B8. You can never go wrong here.
At this price point, it is surprising that they sound better than the ZBT line. But you still cannot expect much from them.
Use the cymbals to learn drums so that you can upgrade easily. They feel really nice, with an accurate representation of what more expensive cymbals should look like.
If it is not Zildjian or Meinl, Paiste is another brand that can rely on quality cymbals. It is among the oldest manufacturers.
The PST7 is an excellent mid-range price that has a lot to offer in terms of quality and sound. They produce a brilliant and bold character with a shimmering, open sound.
The cymbals are hand-lathed by Swiss craftsmen, delivering a distinctively traditional look and sound. This ensures a precise, clear, and versatile cymbal for high-end production.
From the pack, you get 14″ PST7 Hi-Hats, 16″ PST7 Crash, 18″ PST7 Crash, and 20″ PST7 Ride. It is a great value for money.
Frequently asked questions
What Are Drum Cymbals Made of?
Cymbals are among the oldest musical instruments. They are made from four main alloys, which are all copper-based. The alloy includes bell bronze, malleable bronze, brass, and nickel silver.
How Much Do Cymbals Cost
The cost of cymbals depends on the material they are made from. But they are generally costly because making them involves a lot of skill, time and research.
What Are the Best Cymbals?
The best cymbal is the one that meets your needs. As such, you need to consider how much you want to invest. Meinl Benny Greb Sand Pack offers the best overall performance, similar to the Zildjian ZBT Complete Cymbal Set (for beginners).
When buying cymbals, consider the material, the weight, diameter, and bell size.
Are Meinl Cymbals Good
Yes. Meinl is one of the leading manufacturers of cymbals. Their products, just like Zildjian, are made for the higher-end market.
This is my ultimate list of recommended cymbal packs for your acoustic drum set. Note that this is only a guide, and there are many other products out there. But the options are worth noting.