When putting together a good drum set, cymbals are one aspect you can never ignore. And the ride is the most crucial part of some setups.
From rhythms in a jazz trio to the power of a heavy metal full ensemble, you will always find the rid. It is one sound the is present in any groove. Hence, it’s important to complement your kit and the style you are playing.
One important thing you should know about ride cymbals is that they are usually the largest. The smallest ride is 20-inches, and they can extend to 22-inches or more.
They are usually larger than effects cymbals or hi-hats, which is why they cost a bit higher in price. A good ride can cost more than three times what you get for a china cymbal.
However, this does not mean that you should despair if you are on a budget and looking for a cheap alternative. Several options cost much and come with excellent quality for a wide variety of accessories and genres.
In this guide, I will be reviewing some of the best cheap ride cymbals as well as share a few ideas on how you can choose them.
What are cheap ride cymbals made from?
There is a wide range of materials used in making cymbals. And this is the main feature that brings out all the differences. All the main materials are copper-based in nature.
In other words, they are metal alloys.
You may be wondering what an alloy is. It is a mix of different metals melted together in specified ratios. Each metal in the mix gives the cymbal a distinctive tone and sound.
There are some alloys considered best for certain uses. But you choose based on personal preferences. It is never easy to say for sure that a certain cymbal sounds better than the other because they sound a subjective matter.
Some drummers love dry sounds, while others prefer the brilliant ones. Therefore, you choose cymbal with features that you know will make you happy.
Back to the materials, the most common cymbal metal is bronze, which is a mix of copper and tin. Sometimes it may include materials like silver.
The letter B is used to show the ratio copper to tin, with a numeral in front. B20, or ‘bell bronze,’ is the most popular alloy, found in more expensive cymbals. It contains 20% tin. B8 metal has 8% tin, and it’s found on mid-priced cymbals and some cheap ones.
The cheapest cymbals are made from brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. Just because they are cheap, it does not mean they are any worse. It’s only that brass is not the most durable material, and it does not sound as good as more expensive materials.
Let’s look at some specific differences.
The thickness of the material brings out the difference between cymbals at varying price points. Specialized alloys tend to be more costly.
More tin or zinc in an alloy means the material is thicker, and therefore better. More expensive cymbals have this ratio, which means you should go for lesser if you are looking for a cheaper option.
Other metals alloys that include silver also tend to be higher in price.
We all look for the best sound in cymbals. And therefore, the material used in a cymbal should matter. More copper in the mix leads to a brighter and more focused sound.
A cymbal that has B8 metal has 92% copper. They deliver higher frequencies in sound than B20 cymbals. This is why they are often found more with rock and heavy metal drummers.
More tin means a richer and sustained sound. They are pricier for this reason, although some manufacturers use more tin in their affordable cymbals.
Brass comes on the cheapest cymbals. It tends to have a more muffled sound compared to bronze. They are no also very durable as they break too soon. In terms of tonal range, brass is more limited.
The best thing about brass is that it’s a readily available material and easy to work with. This should be one of the reasons they are very cheap.
A good rule of thumb is that you must find the right balance between cost and sound. You can have cheap ride cymbals that sound really good.
Besides, for beginners, you may not need to invest in something too costly.
Best Cheap Ride Cymbal
Buying the right cymbal goes beyond the price. If I were, to be honest, I would say go for the most expensive ride cymbal money can buy.
But this never works most of the time—for instance, those who own a budget end buying poor quality cymbals. Beginners also have the same issue as they could be overwhelmed with options.
Don’t worry, though, in my experience, I have come to know which cymbals sound great and which ones will give you the service you need.
Here are some of the best cheap ride cymbals.
If you ask any experienced drummer about the best cymbals company on the market, they will mention Sabian. This brand is one of the four best cymbal manufacturers in the world, together with Zildjian, Paiste, and Meinl.
Sabian is known for making high-quality cymbals, and this cheap ride is not less good.
The ride is hammered and lathed on the surface, which gives it a tightly focused sound. It is made from high-quality brass without any skimping on the craftmanship.
Even though brass is not the best material for cymbals, Sabian has found a way to make it a remarkable choice. The mix of hand-hammering and lathing results in a product tested for durability and consistency. This means you will enjoy playing this piece for a long time without feeling like it’s cheap.
Brass gives out a bright tone, with a better presence in higher-end frequencies. As such, this piece is perfect for loud rock and country music. But this does not mean you cannot use it in any other music style. It comes with a natural finish and a sleek design that will look great with any kit.
Sabian has invested greatly in versatility. This is one of the reasons it has emerged into one of the biggest cymbal companies today.
This ride may be cheap, but don’t let the price fool you. It could be the only ride for you will need for a very long time.
Meinl has been one of my favorite cymbal brands for a very long time. They understand what the modern drummer needs and will go to any extent to deliver. This HCS20R Traditional ride is one of their most affordable products.
It is another wonderful option for a rock drummer. It’s a warm tone, and great sustain is meant for pop and rock ensembles. You get plenty of penetrating stick definition so that ride can ring through your setup.
HCS series is the most affordable and the lowest line in the Meinl family. They are made from brass, which has been well created to achieve perfection.
Unlike other cymbals, a similar material, Meinl has used all the standard measures to ensure durability and a good sound. This ride will, therefore, withstand all the punishment you throw its way while delivering great musicality. It’s also made to achieve a wide array of clear pitches and tones from the different hitting surface.
Tonally, these cymbals show a relatively shorter sustain leaning towards mid – to – low range frequencies. This gives you wonderful sound complexity and depth.
You can never expect much from Meinl HCS cymbals or any other made from brass. But at this price range, the HCS20R ride delivers everything an affordable cymbal can give. It lets you add a professional-level touch to your kit.
Besides, it comes from one of the best manufacturers, which should tell you about its quality. You can rely on any Meinl cymbal for a good performance, and this one is no different.
Zildjian is the biggest and best cymbal company in the world. The company was started more than 200 years ago and has become the mark of quality for all generations. If you are looking for a brand that offers the most reliable products, Zildjian should never miss on your list.
And this is why this ZBT 20-inch ride cymbal is included here. It should have been the first on this list, but there is a good reason I decided to put it here.
For those who need an all-purpose ride cymbal, you can never go wrong with this product. It will serve you well across a variety of styles, which makes it perfect for a beginner.
The ZBT line from Zildjian is a highly recommended line of cymbals that offers some of the market’s best features. A lot of drummers have used these cymbals, and each one of them says positive things about it.
It is made from a unique bronze that allows exclusive to this series, delivering and intense, bright sound with the clearest articulation. Also, it assures a tight control of the overtones, ending in a quick response with a quick decay.
I have used some low-end cymbals in the past, and they never sound good. Some of them are so bad they will make you regret drumming.
But Zildjian knows well not to compromise quality, even in their more affordable products. This is why the ZBT line is incredibly consistent, giving the user complete control over their sound and pro-level performance.
No one said you could not get a professional feeling from an affordable cymbal. Zildjian has proved this over and over with the musically sweet ZBT line.
This ride features advanced hammering and lathing techniques in its construction, which improves its durability. Durability has been one of the main issues in cheap cymbals, which is why you should have this ride. You will use it for a longer time than you would with any other product at this price range.
There is no need to introduce Zildjian. I have already talked about the brand in the product above. If you still cannot afford the ZBT above, and yet you still want a Zildjian cymbal, this Planet Z 20-inch Ride cymbal should be the best option.
Any drummer would feel proud to play Zildjian cymbals. It is one company that has the best reputation, with the most expensive cymbals.
And even though this ride is only a fraction of the most expensive Zildjian cymbal, it comes with the same quality.
Planet Z line is a series of cymbals created to offer a clear definition of every attack. It is a very bright cymbal made from nickel-silver alloy. They are more expressive than brass.
Nickel-silver is a cheaper material and easier to work with than B20, but this does not mean it’s any worse. Besides, coming from the world’s best cymbal makers, you can always rely on it.
They offer a very impressive response compared to other cymbals at this price range. Its variety of sonic possibilities is more than what you can expect here.
Also, this ride cymbal is very versatile. It’s more forgiving as well, which is why beginners and students will find it very useful.
Sound-wise, it is not very tinny. However, it has a rich sound that will work well, even on the stage. And the best part is that this ride is very powerful. It can produce massive volumes of sound, especially when you strike along the outer edge.
Coming from Zildjian, you are right to believe this piece is made to last. It is not going to crash any time and only gets better with time. You will never consider another low-price cymbal once you have tested this 20-inch ride.
Best cheap cymbal packs with rides
It is always more advisable to buy individual cymbals. This is how professional drummer put together their kits, as it allows them to create the most desired sounds.
However, sometimes buying cymbals in a pack can be more economical. Sometimes you can even get a full package containing a cheap ride cymbal withstand.
So, here are some of the best cymbal packs that have incredible rides.
As you already know, Zildjian is one of the main cymbal makers running the drumming realm. Their ZBT line contains a great deal of starter cymbal sets.
This cymbal pack is made from Zildjian Bronze Technology, which is a mix of 92% copper and 8% tin. This is where their name comes from – B8 bronze.
B8 alloy is a better material for affordable cymbals than brass. It offers better sound characteristics. It is also cheaper than B20 alloy, which why the ZBTs are cheaper. But this does not mean they don’t sound good.
They are just brighter and more focused. If you are looking for a great started cymbal set with a good ride, go for this set. You will be happy you did.
Wuhan is the largest cymbal company in China, and they have been leaving a great mark in other parts of the world. You may be thinking of ignoring this cymbal pack because they are made in China, but just wait a while, and you will understand why they are good.
Manufacturing them in Chinn allows Wuhan to hand-hammer these cymbals from B20 bronze. And therefore, you will be getting high-end cymbals at the lowest price.
Most budget-cymbals are made from brass or B8 bronze and punched out from a larger sheet. But these ones are made from B20 and hand-hammered, which makes them the best cheap cymbals.
In particular, the ride offers a clear and distinct sound you would expect from a high-end cymbal. They are really good.
Frequently asked questions
What Is the Difference Between A Crash Cymbal and A Ride Cymbal?
The first and most noticeable difference is in their sizes. Ride cymbals are larger, 20 to 22-inches, while crash cymbals are smaller, 16 to 18-inches.
Another difference is in how they are used and their sound. The crash is used for accents, whereas the ride is for keeping steady patterns. Crash cymbals have a rich and explosive sound but have a shimmering and sustaining sound.
What Size Ride Cymbal Should I Get?
When buying your first ride, look for one that is 20 to 22-inches. These are the standard rides, and they will give you the best sound features.
Can You Crash A Ride Cymbal?
Yes, you can crash any ride cymbal. This depends on the cymbal itself and your personal preferences. However, understand that rides are bigger than crashes, which means crashing them, will feel ‘heavy’ and not ‘light.’
Are Cracked Cymbals Worth Anything?
It all comes down to the cymbal itself and what you prefer. Cracked cymbals tend to go sour if they are crashes. Some cracked cymbals are completely useless, and it can get worse with continued use.
Repairing them is worth it, though. Also, sometimes the value of cymbals may mean keeping them cracked is better.
If you were not sure about buying your first ride cymbals, now you do. The cymbals reviewed above have a good value, and they come from reputable manufacturers.
However, you may want to try out a few options before choosing one that suits you.