Have you ever seen a drum set without ride cymbals? Well, I doubt, because I have never seen one.
Ride cymbals are among the most integral parts of a drum set. They produce a “ping” that defines a unique drum sound of different genres of music.
Generally, cymbals are not visually distinctive. Hence, it can be a bit challenging to decide which cymbal you really need.
Again, cymbal choice is quite subjective. What one drummer likes may not be what another drummer needs, since it comes down to personal choices.
Also, cymbals are made from various alloys. And the craftsmen who craft the have different techniques. Most cymbals are defined by their creator, who has protected technology. This is why they may seem to give various tonal qualities. You should also be aware that cymbal comes if varying quality, majorly based on their price aspect.
Choosing the best ride cymbal to meet your needs can be tricky. But don’t worry. You have come to the right place for this. Or perhaps you are just looking for several stellar recommendations.
No problem, I will be sharing some information about ride cymbals that should make your choice much easier.
Understanding ride cymbals
As stated above, there are different types of cymbals, which cannot be distinguished by looks. You need to know what you are working on before starting your search.
Generally, there are four categories of cymbals; crash, rides, hi-hats, and effects.
A ride is the biggest cymbal a drummer can ever have in their kit. They serve the same purpose as the hi-hats and rides – playing steady patterns. Rides deliver shimmering tones with lots of sustain, whereas a crash delivers an explosive tone.
Drummers combine crash and ride cymbals in most cases, creating one unit that merges both types of cymbals’ sound and response. When combined like this, they don’t deliver the best performance as dedicated units do, though you get greater flexibility.
Different musicians will get different values from them. If you are looking to get started on drums as cheaply as possible, this combination is a great idea.
Another subjective issue with ride cymbals concerns their response. Some drummers feel like a ride should have a pleasing response when played on both the playing surface and a bell. But the extent of this tone depends on the player’s preference.
The factor that determines cymbal tones is not easily comprehensible. It would be best if you put a wide range of things in mind to get the right ride cymbal tone.
Here are four basic features that should not miss on your list of considerations.
The making processes
There are two basic methods used in making cymbals: the cheap method and the expensive method. The cheap method involves cutting the cymbal from a large piece of iron sheet. This is a simple method and saves a lot of production time and money.
Cymbals made this way are often brighter in sound and light. They can be improved by how they are shaped in the end.
On the other hand, cast cymbals – the expensive process is crafted by melting/mixing metal alloy, and they pour into a cast of shaping.
Cast cymbals are considered the best quality and seem more expensive than those cut from a larger sheet.
They are more durable. Hand-hammered is a term that is a bit deceptive. It can mean the cymbal was literally hammered by the hands of a craftsman, blow by blow. It can also mean the maker was using a machine.
You can tell the difference. True hand-hammered cymbals tend to be darker, with a harmonically richer tone. They also vary from cymbal to cymbal.
Machine hammered cymbals are defined by more consistency. But they are seen to have a generally more inferior sound to those truly hand-hammered.
Whatever cymbal you pick, be sure to understand the tone you need. Since both cymbals have almost similar qualities, it comes down to your personal needs.
The cost of ride cymbals is largely determined by the alloy that makes them. This is the metallurgical composition of the cymbal, which is basically a combination of metal.
Cymbals are made from four types of alloys, which are all copper-based. Bronze and copper is seen as a more superior composition than brass. This is because it offers more musical tonality.
Brass is brighter than bronze, which means they cut through the mix much better. But it is not very strong and may not take you for long, especially in more aggressive drumming styles.
B20 alloy that has 20% tin is considered the best metal for making cymbals. It is found in more expensive high-end products from top manufacturers.
B10 metal is found in mid-range cymbals. It is below B20 but better than B8 and brass, which feature in entry-level cymbals.
In this case, the choice depends on your budget and how much you want to get from the cymbals.
Cast vs. Sheet
I have already talked about the production method in the previous section. However, it is crucial to emphasize that cymbals are either case (molten metal into a mold) or cut from metal sheets.
Casting cymbals is very lengthy and involved. It is also more expensive to make cast cymbals than simply cutting them from sheets.
Despite these obvious differences, the craftsman controls every aspect of the building process when making cast cymbals. This gives them a more superior quality than those cut from sheets.
Lathed vs. Unlathed
Lathed cymbals will have a greater harmonic response, but with less definition. Unlathed cymbals deliver a more defined sound but with less harmonic content.
The lathing process is secondary to the manufacturers, design of the product, and the alloys involved. Therefore, it is not necessary to assume that lathed cymbals are better than unlathed ones, and vice versa.
Apart from these aspects of choosing the right ride cymbal, consider also your budget. Some of these cymbals are very expensive, and the last thing you want is to overspend.
And before I forget, there are so many cymbal makers on the market today that sometimes choosing becomes a headache. However, there are a few makers considered the best on the market,and from whom you can be sure of a good deal.
My favorite brands are Zildjian and Sabian. If you have been drumming for a while, you probably have or have used their products.
Zildjian cymbals are considered the market-best, while Sabian is reputable for its innovation and versatility. But I don’t see any difference when looking at specific products.
Other cymbal makers include Meinl Paiste and Wuhan. Paiste has been on the market for several years now, and their quality is on the same level as Zildjian and Sabian.
What Is the Best Ride Cymbal?
We can all agree that ride cymbals are a crucial part of any drum set. And this the reason drummers will go to any length to discover the best ride cymbal.
In my experience, the Sabian SBR series 20-inch ride cymbal is the best. Even though Sabian has a troubled legacy after splitting from Zildjian, their cymbals offer the best for all musical styles.
These rides are hammered and lathed. However, the cymbals feature on the entry-level market, more so because the company has not specified whether they are hand-hammered or machine-hammered.
Another great ride in the entry-level market is the Meinl Cymbals HCS20R 20-inch HCS Traditional ride cymbal.
It offers a tight and defined tone that you will find very attractive. It is the quality of its tone than puts it in the best position with the drummer.
Meinl is a reputable brand that has been making cymbal since 1951; therefore, it has what it takes to deliver high-end results in all its products.
This particular product does not only have a great price value but tends to perform better than other brands in the same price range.
They deliver a lively tone that works for a variety of music genres. The HCS20R is recommended for all intents and purposes. Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Ride cymbal is another product that deserves to be appraised.
Zildjian is the oldest cymbal company and has the best experience to deliver top-notch performance. These cymbals are not less what the company stands for.
Buying the K Custom Special Dry ride cymbal does not only expose you to the best manufacturer, but to incredible sounds as well. This cymbal has everything you need to create good music.
Best ride cymbals reviewed Zildjian
Zildjian has been making cymbals for more than 200 years. There is no drummer who does not know the brand.
Their cymbals have unrivaled quality, which is why they are used as industry-standard products. You can always count on a Zildjian cymbal.
Here are some of their top rides.
22-inch Kerope Medium
The 22-inch Kerope medium cymbal is dedicated to the jazz industry. Zildjian has many rides that can be used by jazz drummers, but I have been using the Kerope for a long time, and I know they are the best.
The entire series offers a mellow sound with a soft attack. They are endorsed by drummers like Steve Gad and Steve Smith, among many others.
If you think these are not enough and you still want to look around, you find several other options just as appealing.
Consider the Constantinople series, for instance. It has been found to offer the best performance for jazz drummers. Compared to the Kerope, it comes with a variety of options in the rides.
Also, the K Custom Fat top ride in the K Custom family is what you truly need for jazz. Any ride from the K series will deliver a good jazz tone.
22-inch A Custom Projection
Are you looking for the perfect rock/metal ride solution? Look no further. This is a cymbal feature in the line of the heaviest cymbals from Zildjian. The whole of A custom series comes with a Brilliant finish, which gives a slightly higher pitch.
Apart from this, they are defined by a stronger attack, which enables them to pass through the guitar riffs, especially when you hit on the bell.
Despite their quality, they come at a very affordable price, perhaps that reason they are very famous. They have the respect of drummers like Tommy Lee, and Lars Ulrich, among many others.
20-inch K Custom Brilliant
This 20-inch K Custom Brilliant ride is one of the most versatile cymbals from Zildjian. It features at the middle-range price, yet has all the factors for a top-end product.
It delivers a middle pitch that is not overly aggressive. For jazz, this cymbal can be played on the body, and it does not sound too sharp. And for rock drummers, play it on the bell to achieve a stronger attack.
It’s not too either but offers the high pitch sound of the A Custom.
This ride is a perfect choice for those who need one cymbal for all music genres. It may be a little on the negative with its 3195g weight, but that comes down to your needs.
If it does not give you a good feeling, consider the 20-inch or 22-inch K custom medium. Also, the K series is another great choice, except for rock.
A Custom Series
I did not want to put the A custom series on this list just yet. But if you are looking for the best value of money, this is a great option.
It’s not the price of these cymbals that you should be concerned with, but the sound. Zildjian’s quality and versatility can be witnessed in these series.
Sabian offers incredible solutions for drummers of all levels. Here are some of the best products.
20-inch Manhattan Jazz ride – for jazz
This ride cymbal has the least amount of attack compared to other Sabian Cymbals. It is light enough to deliver a dark tone. It is higher in price than HHX rides.
It delivers a dry enough sound, but without too much sustain. It can be easily controlled with this 20-inch model for jazz.
The cymbal has been endorsed by Dave Weckl, who plays the Legacy series on jazz music.
Many people think about the Artisan when you talk about the perfect jazz cymbal. But this one is a bit expensive and throws out many users.
21-Inch AAX X-Plosion- for Rock and Metal
Sabian presents to you the AAX-X-Plosion ride cymbal. It is not the heaviest you can find with Sabian, but its attack should be good enough for this genre.
It is its price and versatility that makes me add it to this list. You can find the HHX premium series right below it.
A strong attack, a large bell with a high definition, and its excellent sound qualities will easily cut through guitar distortions.
On the sounds, it feels as though it needs a second to open when you crash. And when it opens, you will love the loud sound and long sustain it delivers.
Its tone leans low on the pitch, yet with great quality. You can be sure no uncomfortable sounds will distort your perfect pitch.
The 21-Inch HHX Evolution ride
If you need great versatility and quality from Sabian, consider the HHX Evolution series. These cymbals come with a great reputation as one of the most popular products by the manufacturer. And it is because of their versatility and top-notch quality.
Best of all, it’s designed in collaboration with Dave Weckl, giving it a strong establishment in the Sabian world.
Its brilliant finish ensures you get a decent amount of attack while retaining a sweet, mellow tone.
Tonally, it is in the middle, just like with it sustain, volume, and every other aspect.
Those who like dry cymbal will not like this one. But if you want something that you can use in more than one music genre, go for the HHX Evolution.
AAX Series Ride
If you don’t have enough to spend on the higher-end products mentioned above, the AAX series can be your perfect solution. This series has a wide range of great rides that do not cost a lot.
It does not really matter which one you choose, since they all have the same quality. However, the X-Plosion could be the best sub-type if you are serious about getting sweet Sabian cymbal tones. It cost a little over $300. It’s a higher mid-range series with premium sound.
One thing I like about Sabian is that most of their cymbals are crafted from B20 bronze alloy. And this series is not different.
From Sabian, we come down to Meinl, which in my opinion, is the third-best cymbal maker. I will also share a few of their rides, just in case you want specific products.
20-inch Byzance Jazz Tradition Flat Ride
Every major cymbal company has one line of products dedicated to a specific type of music. And for Meinl, these Byzance Tradition Ride cymbals are for jazz.
This could be the sweetest sounding ride you will ever have. It does not have a bell, just like many jazz rides.
Apart from that, it’s thin when you play. You can enjoy seeing how it bends as it makes the waves with every strike. It is also very quiet, making jazz playing easy.
Byzance is the highest line of cymbal from Meinl. This means you should be prepared to dig dipper in your pockets if you really want to have one.
22-Inch Byzance Brilliant Heavy Hammered Ride – Rock and Heavy Metal
Let me just say that this one of my best ride cymbals overall. Even so, I don’t really understand why they are so expensive. Cheaper products like Sabian AAX and the Zildjian A
Custom offers the same quality. Every new series from Meinl has a focus on dark, dry sounds, which makes the Brilliant series a big exception. This cymbal bears all the features of rock and metal cymbals accessories.
It is heavy, with a strong attack and dark sound. A large bell makes them sound really loud.
If you don’t consider its negative side, this could be one hell of metal for heavy-hitting.
21-Inch Byzance Traditional Medium – Versatile Ride
This one is all solution is a more versatile ride cymbal than the Byzance Dual. It delivers great sound, even when you change the hitting sound.
I have been playing the Foundry Reserve for a long, but it’s more for jazz. This is where the Byzance
Traditional comes in, allowing you to play different types of music with perfection.
Paiste is the true definition of evolution in the world of cymbals. It is dedicated to delivering the latest technology in their instruments for modern sounds.
20-inch Signature Traditional – Jazz Ride
You will love the sound of this ride cymbal, though not much with the price. At $600, this Paiste ride cymbal is more expensive than what you would pay, and a high-quality Zildjian or Sabian ride.
Its sound is great, though a bit high. It does not weigh as much as regular jazz cymbals, but you can get a sweet, soft, and friendly sound.
Nicko McBrain’s 22-inch Signature Reflector “Powerslave” bell Signature
Nicko’s ride sound on this cymbal is perfect for rock drummers. It is not the most affordable product, but you will love its sound for metal and heavy gigs. Its attack is a little lower
in pitch, which is perfect for rock sounds. It has such distortion, great for a lower price than can easily be your number one rock ride.
Frequently asked questions
What Zildjian Ride Cymbals Are the Best?
The A Custom series cymbal offers both value and affordability. It is also a versatile series that will deliver a great foundation for all types of music.
What Are the Best Cymbals for Rock?
For rock drummers, heavy cymbals are the most convenient. Consider darker cymbals, with less responsiveness. These will take on the punishment of heavy drumming while cutting through the guitars.
What Are the Best Sounding Cymbals?
This is a very subjective matter. It also depends on the music genre you play. For instance, thin, light cymbals with crisp sound is perfect for jazz, while darker ones are good for rock.
It all depends on how they are crafted. Hand-hammered cast cymbals sound better than cut-from-sheet cymbals.
These ride cymbals reviewed above are the top-of-market products that will not disappoint. You can try out several of them before choosing the right one because personal preferences vary. But I hope it makes your choice much easier.