Buyers' guide: budget cymbals

An essential guide for beginner drummers

Meinl MCS

Let's be honest, sweet-sounding hats, crashes and rides can't yet be made for peanuts, so if that's all you have to spend, you'd be wise to reel your expectations in a tad.

Even the most miserly sum will buy you round metals, but they'll fall short of sounding like the real thing. If you're even halfway serious, save up and buy the absolute best you can. If you're sure that you'll stick with drumming, don't skimp on your cymbals – you'll only outgrow them in five minutes and want to upgrade.


Most entry-level cymbals come in a pretty limited choice of models. There'll be no 6" razor-thin ice splash to get your hands on here – it'll be a case of medium-weight gear in the most popular sizes. But that's enough to get you started, so don't be too fussy.

"If you're sure that you'll stick with drumming, don't skimp on your cymbals – you'll only outgrow them in five minutes and want to upgrade"

While the lure of gear marketed with the aid of big-name endorsers is hard to resist, at the entry level it's important not to get blinded by logos. Sure, your favourite Mr Bigshot might be pictured with XYZ, but there might be a better option for you at this price point. With the choice of instruments less extensive in this sector,

keep an open mind and do your research before parting with your cash - here's our guide to set you ojn your way...

5 budget cymbals from £18

1. Stagg double hammered
From £18

The rise of Stagg as a favoured budget cymbal brand has been an interesting development in the last couple of years. Proving that value is as important as profile at this end of the sector, the Stagg Double Hammered offering is a must-see if your budget is limited.
Read a review of Stagg's Classic cymbal range here

2. Paiste PST 5
£267 (rock cymbal set)

These are rather fi ne starter instruments that demonstrate Paiste's ability at the lower end of the market. There's actually a nice choice of cymbals available to suit different players and – gasp! – there's even some real character lurking beneath the surface. For the discerning student, the PST 5s are hard to ignore.
Read a review of Paiste's PST 3 range here

3. Sabian Solar
£30 - £109

Super-cheap Sabian-badged 'range' that, in all honesty, has little to do with the 'proper' S-brand stuff. But if you absolutely have to buy into the appeal of a label with famous endorsers, these cymbals are as good as any. As with all brass cymbals, they'll soon be outgrown, but they'll get you started.

4. Meinl MCS
£258 (pack price)

Meinl is cooler than ever and the MCS is a decent route into the family. Made from B8 bronze and decently fi nished, the cymbals are available as a 14"/16"/20" hats/crash/ride starter pack to make things as easy as possible for the beginner. Better than old-style entry-level stuff, for sure.

5. Zildjian ZBT
£214 (pack price)

The ZBTs are another reasonably well-stocked range of cymbals, with different models to pick from depending on what you play. A tad limited in terms of projection, they'll appeal to fans of players using the higher-level series. These are the cheapest way to get the big Z on your kit.

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