Drum Tips - The Best Cymbals for Jazz Music

Choosing the right equipment is a very important part of creating a great sound. Always remember that the most expensive equipment is NOT always the RIGHT equipment! The right equipment produces the best sound for the particular gig. A beautiful, warm, dark sounding ride cymbal that sounds great in a smoky little jazz club might not sound too good if your in the studio cutting an alternative track.

For jazz drummers the right ride cymbal is crucial because in jazz much of the rhythm is carried through patterns played on the ride cymbal. When playing with an acoustic bass many jazz drummers prefer darker cymbal sounds that blend well with acoustic bass. It's great if you can find cymbals that sound good, blend well with the other instruments, and give you the flexibility to adjust your volume level.

Practicing with ear plugs is a great way to protect your hearing, however, try to remain sensitive to the sound and volume you are producing. Remember, no matter what your seeing on MTV - drumming is not always a violent act that requires loud cymbals, powerful drums, and sticks and heads that won’t break. Drums are an acoustic instrument, like an acoustic piano, and the sound your drums and cymbals produce can vary immensely depending on your touch.

Certainly, if you are playing alternative/punk/thrash/rock/etc.. cymbals that “cut through” are important. Cymbals can be very loud, it’s generally not too difficult to find volume and projection. On the other hand, It can be a long, exhausting search to find ride cymbals that sound nice at a variety of volume levels and in a variety of different rooms, and don’t get too loud, or build up too many overtones that tend to wash out the attack. This is one reason to have several. I have been in some rooms where my favorite ride cymbal sounded terrible and my back-up sounded fabulous.

When playing jazz or other light acoustic music in a small room, I generally use a 20" or 22" K. Zildjian dark ride on my right and have an 18" Sabian HH crash that has a beautiful tone as a ride cymbal at very low volumes.