We are always talking about instrument maintenance and with all the info regarding cymbal care, it can be a misleading and can be a pain in the ass task. Especially with all the bad info that is circulating around the subject. Who better than Zildjian, one of the worlds greatest cymbal manufacturers, to talk about the subject. So lets start with basics of care.
How do I care for my Zildjian cymbals?
Zildjian cymbals are precision crafted. Their life expectancy depends largely on usage. One played with care and good technique will last longer than one played rigorously with poor technique. Proper care helps maintain the musical integrity of the instrument. Abusive treatment, neglect, and incorrect playing habits all contribute to metal fatigue which can diminish tonal quality or even cause cymbal fractures.
Follow these 9 easy guidelines to ensure a long life for your Zildjian cymbals:
1. Play It Right
Avoid striking cymbals directly on their edge. Crash cymbals, especially, should be hit with a glancing blow, a little off center. Striking with a slight twist of the wrist also helps avoid breakage and allows crash cymbals to “open up.”
2. Choose the Right Cymbal
The sound quality of a Zildjian cymbal is determined by its alloy content, size, shape, hammering and lathing pattern. Trying to force a cymbal to produce volume beyond its range can cause breakage. There are Zildjian cymbals for every style of music. Match your cymbal to your specific needs. For a guide on choosing the right cymbal for you, visit the Zildjian Sound Pallete.
3. Protect Your Investment
– Always carry your cymbals in a padded cymbal bag or a protective cymbal case.
– Store your cymbals immediately whenever you break down your drumset.
– When cymbals are not in use for prolonged periods of time, wrap cymbals separately with a piece of cloth to protect their edges and surfaces; be especially careful of the bottom edge.
– Keep your cymbals away from extreme cold or heat.
4. Avoid Metal-to-Metal Contact
Place a sturdy nylon or rubber sleeve around the cymbal tilter rod when mounting your cymbals to prevent center hole deformation and cracking. Always use top and bottom felts.
HiHat Cymbal Stand Assembly
a: wing nut, b: felt washer, c: nylon or rubber sleeve, d: cymbal,
e: felt washer, f: metal washer,
g: tilter rod shaft (threaded), h: tilter
HiHat Clutch Assembly
a: exposed clutch shaft, b: thumbnut,
c: felt washer,
d: cymbal, e: felt washer,
f: non-slip cap, g: hihat rod
5. Keep It Loose
Do not over-tighten the wing nut. This can cause cracks around the center hole. Also, a clamped cymbal will not vibrate freely and often sounds choked. For HiHats, keep the clutch medium-tight so that the top cymbal moves freely.
The first thing before mounting a cymbal on a stand is to make sure all the knobs are tight. If one or more are loose, the stand could collapse or move in a certain way that could damage the cymbal. Once the knobs are checked and tightened, put the nylon or plastic cymbal sleeve on the mounting rod of the cymbal. The sleeve takes away any direct metal on metal contact, making the cymbal last longer and maintain its high quality. Next, place a felt on the sleeve followed by the cymbal. Additionally, you can place a second felt on top of the cymbal, followed by a wing nut to the mounting rod and tighten it only so that it is resting on the top felt.
To be sure that the cymbal is not too tight, move it around and strike it a few times with your hand or a drumstick. If it is rigid and doesn’t move a lot, loosen the wing nut. However, if the cymbal is moving freely, then the mounting process has been done correctly. Once the cymbal is mounted, adjust the height of the stand so that it feels comfortable for your playing style and at your drum set. Keep in mind that mounting the cymbal too high can result in damaging the cymbal when it is being played.
7. Playing Style
The way a cymbal is struck is crucial to the sound and lifespan of the cymbal. Having the cymbal mounted on a stand too tightly will not allow the cymbal to open up (rigidness combined with constant playing on the cymbal will only cause it to break much faster). The drumstick should be loose and relaxed in your hand when playing a cymbal, which will allow the cymbal to produce its best sound and prolong its lifespan. Also, when crashing a cymbal, the drumstick should still be very relaxed in your hand. This will make the contact with the cymbal more relaxed, which will make the sustain of the cymbal last longer. Make sure the cymbal is at the right angle when crashing, with a slight tilt towards you as you play.
Be sure you have the right sort of cymbals for the style of music that you play. The size, thickness and type of cymbals are all important for each style of music. A general guideline to go by is the heavier the music, the heavier the cymbal. Following this guideline will also prolong your cymbal’s lifespan.
When setting up cymbals make sure that you have the correct felts and sleeves. Do your best to keep them out of harm’s way while setting up. The best way to do this is to get a cymbal bag. Many manufacturers have multiple cymbal bags ranging from 20” – 24”, which do a great job of protecting cymbals. Leaning cymbals on a hard surface can damage the perimeter of the cymbal and give it dents. Try and find a rug or soft surface to lay them out on while setting up, or better yet leave them in your cymbal bag and set them up one at a time. Always take extra care of your cymbals when transporting them. When transporting and storing cymbals, make sure that there is NO metal on metal contact between cymbals and ALWAYS use cymbal bags for increased protection to avoid scratching cymbals or leaving undesirable visual blemishes on the cymbals due to metal on metal contact . In addition, when transporting cymbals our cymbal bags offer multiple pockets to ensure that there is not any direct metal on metal contact between cymbals. When storing cymbals, make sure they are wrapped carefully in a cloth as well.
Keeping your cymbals clean is important for their upkeep. Don’t play with dirty, sweaty hands, and when carrying cymbals, use two hands on the perimeter of the cymbal to avoid a lot of fingerprints. Dirt and spills should be removed immediately with warm water and soap. Zildjian Cymbal Cleaning Polish can also be used to clean and protect cymbals.
However, on Kerope cymbals, DO NOT USE CYMBAL POLISH OR ANY OTHER CLEANER. The finish on the cymbals will be damaged. Simply dust the cymbals with a dry cloth as needed. (Left side cleaned with cymbal cleaner, right side original)