Playing a modern drum kit without a hi-hat never feels right. I cannot even start imagining how a major pop band would sound if it missed this vital cymbal.
The hi-hat offers an added depth and variety to your rhythm. Striking it adds and extra complexity to the drummer’s beats.
Let’s step back a little bit.
For those who don’t know what a hi-hat is, it’s important to explain it. This is on the most important drum accessories for every drummer seeking to understand parts of the drum set.
Hi-hats are cymbals that are placed on top of each other. They are played using a pedal, just like the bass drum.
The cymbals are pulled together when a player steps on the pedal. This operation creates a sizzling sound like no other. Some players hit play it with a drum stick too. It all depends on the genre of music you are playing.
Picking the right Hi-Hat
Because of its central role in a drum setup, picking the right hi-hat is critical to our sound production. You obviously want the best sizzle and effect.
But let’s face it. There are so many options on the market that it becomes overwhelming to choose the right one. And perusing through them can seem like a tiresome journey.
And this is why this article is good for you. I have done the preliminary homework to present you with the best approach to picking a perfect pair of hi-hats. Also, there you will get a list of seven best hi-hats out there.
Here are three important factors to consider in hi-hats.
Hi-Hats are a pair of cymbals in a drum setup. They come in different sizes, ranging from about 12-inches to 16-inches. There are bigger ones that extend to 17-inches.
When it comes to choosing the best sounding hi-hats, the biggest ones are not always the right one. Sometimes beginners get excited, thinking that picking the biggest hi-hat offers them more variety.
So, where do you draw the line? Simple, it is more about the type of music you want to play.
Note that, a cymbal produces sound based on its size and weight. A small cymbal creates a bright and crispy sound. The sound becomes high-pitch and with a short sustain.
Understanding the needs of a music genre makes choosing much easier. For instance, punk, disco, and fusion often require small hi-hats as they need crisp sounds.
Bigger cymbals produce dark and warm sounds. Hence the sound becomes low-pitched and with a more extended sustain. Such sounds are needed for styles like rock, metal, and jazz. They require bigger and more filling sounds.
Therefore, we can never say smaller or bigger cymbals are right or wrong. The music genre should guide you in choosing the perfect combination.
There are many cymbal producing companies in the world. Each one has unique ways of producing.
What you may not know is that the way cymbals are hammered has substantial effects on how they sound.
In my experience, I prefer hand-hammered cymbals. These are cymbals that are created using hands-on methods. Someone sat down with the cymbals and manually hammered it.
One of the major advantages of such products is its unique pitch, sound, and looks. Machines are programmed for a specific production, but artistic hammering creates uniqueness in every cymbal.
Therefore, when you buy hand-hammered hi-hats, you will realize they sound different and much better than any other pair. It is not easy to find hand-hammered hi-hats that sound the same.
Machine hammer Hi-Hats are characterized by consistency. Those that come from the same producer will most likely sound the same.
Hence, you don’t need to worry much about breaking your current pair. You can easily replace it with others with the exact same sound.
Hammering style choice depends on personal preference. But of course, hand-hammered ones are a bit more expensive. Yet, they are worth every penny.
Just like with drum heads, the material of your cymbals is a critical consideration. And different materials make hi-hats.
You will find sheet hi-hats, which are made by combining certain metals, and then shaped to size. They sound brighter than heavier ones. This means they are right in need of higher-pitched sounds. Styles are rock and metal calls for such pitches.
And then there are cast hi-hats. These are made by the process of melting bronze and pouring it into a mould. They are then pass through a lathe for flattening and shaping. Lastly, they are hammered manually by hands.
This means such hi-hats sound darker. Hence, they are perfect for styles like jazz and orchestral music that don’t require too much noise.
And as you may have already guessed, cast hi-hats are considered to be of the highest quality. This is evident in the processes that go into their production. And so, be ready to invest well in these items.
And now that you know the difference, it is up to you to choose what you need. It is most important to put your music style ahead of your selection.
7 Best Hi-Hats Reviewed
If you have the budget, these are the best hi-hats to invest in. They offer the perfect combination of quality and price, making them by far the highest-quality products.
They produce the quality dark, warm, and explosive sound that will make your performance sound amazing. They come with a refined tone and a powerful character.
The hi-hats are made from quality B10 bronze alloy with extra hammering.
In terms of responsiveness, they are supper. Also, they produce a premium, dry tone.
The combination of a dark finish and additional hammering creates cymbals with excellent, complex, and rich sound. Whatever music style you are playing, you can be sure these cymbals will not disappoint.
They are played while closed. Despite this, you will still get a tight, clean “chick” sound that can also translate to a mellow and low pitch.
When opened, they give out a dark and powerful explosive sound.
The dark finish is not only for the looks. It is the reason players receive a premium, drier sustain. I believe this is all drummers seek in cymbals.
You will enjoy playing these hi-hats. They produce a realty cool musical tone with an excellent attach. Also, they fit perfectly in the overall setup of a drum kit.
They are recommended for pop, rock, hip-hop, fusion, funk, and metal, among many other genres.
My verdict: the Meinl Classic 14-inch are the best cymbals your money. For those seeking for a professional set of hi-hats, you cannot look any further. And that is why I have placed them at the top of this list.
- Highest professional quality
- A died range of premium sounds
- Value for money
- It would be better if they featured a B20 bronze alloy.
Zildjian is one of the best manufactures of cymbals. And there is a good reason why many drummers buy cymbals from this brand.
The company has been producing cymbals since 1963. It is such experience that makes drummers like Travis Barker, of the Blink 182 swears by the brand. And with such a long term experience, it is much easier to trust any product they put on the market.
These hi-hats feature ZBT alloy, which is 92% copper and the rest Tin. It is nicely playable, producing definite sound. Whether you play closed, or open, you will not regret the sound.
In many cases, drumming becomes overwhelmed and overtaken but other instruments. But this pair produced bright and fast sound, which puts you above all other sounds.
It comes with a lathing groove on the top. These are made more attractive with round hammer strikes that make a definite pattern, producing the right character and texture.
It is a greatly versatile pair, offering a great approach to all types of music. Hence, you can enjoy playing jazz, pop, rock, and any genre you want.
It is, however, more recommended for beginners. It will help you learn different styles with a lot of ease.
- Very affordable
- Highest quality beginner cymbals
- They produce great sound
- Suitable for a variety of music genres.
- Even with the great sound, it is still an entry-level pair.
Paiste is a Swiss cymbal manufacturer that has been making quite impressive products. For those in need of high-quality hi-hats, you can count on the PST7.
They come at a very attractive price, and perhaps this is the reason they are very popular. And they possess the clarity and tonal variations you would expect from premium and more expensive hi-hat.
It is constructed with a bold and strong character and produces a brilliant open tone. Playing closed brings out cleans and well defined “chick” sound, great for pop, rock, and metal, among other modern music styles.
And when you play it open, you get energetic and bright sound. This is also suitable for a variety of music genres.
Apart from being highly versatile, these cymbals produce an excellent tone. They are built with CuSn8 bronze alloy that is not very common. This is a feature of the legendary 2002 series.
Also, the cymbals come with a traditional lathing finish. This promises a distinctive and smooth tone.
The cymbals have been highly commended for their premium quality sounds and affordability. They are also very expressive, a feature that makes them excellent for professional playing as well as a development practice.
Well, if you are running low on budget and need hi-hats that will sound professional, then I would recommend this pair.
- High-quality cymbals
- Sturdy and durable
- Highly affordable
- Premium sounds
- It is not made with a B20 bronze alloy.
These cymbals come from the AA like of cymbals by Sabian. The company is also known for making high-quality cymbals.
The AA 14-inch Medium cymbals carry a versatile music sound that comes from professional drumming.
In terms of build, they are crafted from premium B20 bronze, which is the best material for making cymbals. Also, it is lathed into the finest cymbals in the world by high experience craftsmanship.
They are made for high responsiveness. Therefore, they are expressive, but not too loud like other similar products. And it fits smoothly with your cymbal setup.
On playability, you will enjoy playing the Sabina AA hi-hats. They offer a satisfying stick, feeling that makes life fun. You will not experience any noisy or ringy overtones, common with closed hi-hats. And when open, you get a washy, but excellent music sound.
They are premium cymbals; hence you will not need to upgrade once you invest in them. They will blend easily with all music and playing styles. You also get a well-balanced hi-hat presence within your drum setting.
In a nutshell, these are perfect hi-hat cymbals for a professional setting. They feature top-notch B2o Bronze.
- Beautiful musical response
- Sturdy and satisfying stick output
- Professional quality
- Suitable for mellow music styles only
- Quite costly.
We have seen the Meinl 14” hi-hats above; these are their little brothers. They are produced for budget-friendly needs.
The HCS series bears a construction of brass alloy, which is cheaper. Despite this, they sound pretty good.
Traditionally, brass is of very poor quality. But somehow Meinl has found a way of producing products that compete favorably with more costly bronze cymbals.
They are manufactures in the same German-based factory as other premium cymbals. As such, they also come with a two-year warranty.
The cymbals produce a wonderful, crisp sound chick when played closed with a foot. And when played with a stick, in the same manner, they give out a clear sound, without too many overtones.
And they are highly responsive, sounding well with most musical styles.
My verdict: they are not as good as mid-range and professional cymbals, but you get a pretty impressive sound for the money. They are also durable.
- Versatile and perfect for beginner
- Manufactured by a decent brand
- 2-year warranty
- You can’t get the same quality with brass as you would with bronze
- It does not have premium quality.
If your factor of consideration for buying musical instruments is the brand, the Zildjian should be on your list.
Although the company creates modern percussion instruments using the highest tech, it is pretty old. As seen above, it dates back to the 17 century. Such experience is unbeatable.
Based on this reputation, I was not surprised to discover the good value in the ZBT 13” hi-hat.
Not that, this hi-hat is specifically for entry-level drum players. As such, is would not recommend it for professional options.
But this does not mean it is not quality. It comes with some of the best pros you can find in a cymbal. And it is a cheaper option for most cymbals in the same category.
You can benefit from the experience of the company. As we all know, a brand can make a great contribution to the drumming experience.
The top of the cymbal is made with a medium-thin weight. The bottom, on the other hand, is of a medium weight. Thinner cymbals don’t have much character, and they produce relatively quieter sounds.
Therefore, this cymbal may offer the brightest voice compared to others on this list. They are bright and highly focused, thanks to their size and voicing.
- A quality brand
- Bright sounding
- Good price.
- It is not recommended for professional work.
Did you know that Paiste is the third-largest cymbal manufacture in the world? Well, that is not all. It is all among the oldest brands dating as back as 1906.
Given its reputation and experience, you should not expect anything less from the Paiste 2002 Classic hi-hat cymbals.
The 2002 series by Paiste features 2002 bronze, which almost similar to B8 bronze. The alloy is not the best on the market, but you can trust the manufacture. Paiste has a reputation for hammering and lathing their products.
Also, their size is quite impressive. They are in the middle, not good and not bad. But you should know that cymbal size affects the tonal output.
It comes with a warranty but based on the cause of the damage. Paiste only compensates for flaws in the construction or material.
The cymbals sound very ‘lively.’ This means they are brightly voices; hence they can cut impressively through a loud pop mix. This is also useful in a recording situation.
A major flaw is on the control. Some users have complained they can be a bit hard to control, compared to those with mild voicing.
- A reputable brand dedicated to high quality
- Great sounding.
- It does not have B20 bronze.
- For entry-level.
There are very many hi-hats on the market. Some drum sets come with their cymbals, especially beginner sets.
But you should buy other cymbals because those that come with the sets are not of good quality. I hope the information in this article and the reviews above help you choose easily.