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What Are the Different Types of Cymbal Sets?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated Feb 12, 2024
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Cymbal sets are collections of cymbals purchased in packages or compiled separately. Mainly, drummers use them with drum sets. Basic cymbal sets purchased at retail shops or online often include a hit-hat, crash, and ride cymbal. They can be purchased new or used. There are a plethora of variations to choose from depending on the musician’s budget and style of playing.

While some musicians purchase sets of cymbals in one go, others put their cymbal sets together piece by piece, buying one item at a time from single or multiple outlets. Drummers are very particular with their cymbal sounds, so they commonly spend long periods of time assembling their sets. While some are loyal to a particular brand, others assemble “Frankenstein” cymbal sets of various brands and price ranges.

Cymbal sets can range from two cymbals to the upwards of 20. Depending on the drummer’s style and budget, the number of cymbals fluctuates. More basic rock, punk, or jazz sets include small cymbal sets with usually three to four cymbals. Other more elaborate sets include two to four times as many. Some types of cymbals are crashes, rides, splashes, hi-hats, chinas, and bells.

Some drummers believe in the “less is more” philosophy, but more technical, gear-loving drummers may go wild. Neil Peart of the band Rush is famously known for his massive amount of cymbals, while Tre Cool from Green Day is known for his stripped-down, basic set. Both pertain to the players' given styles.

Cymbals are often the most expensive part of compiling a drum set. Drummers can save big money by purchasing used cymbals. They can also find vintage or rare gear not available in stores. Online trade sites and used music gear sites are great outlets for assembling a cymbal set. Stores carrying used gear may offer better rates for trade-in transactions. Purchasing cymbals in a set can also be beneficial at a used store as larger buys may garner greater discounts.

Basic cymbal sets are available for beginner and youth drummers too. Most major music retailers carry a few different sets new in the store. Cymbal sets can often be fit into one basic cymbal gig case. Hardshell cases for sets are also available, though they are less common. Major music retailers have cymbals on display and on trial.

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