Buyers' guide: effects cymbals

How to buy the crazier side of percussion

Once you've got your hats, ride and crashes sorted, you'll be irresistibly drawn towards the crazy, zany and mind-boggling world of effects cymbals.

These little (or indeed large) additions to your cymbal line-up can contribute a punchy note for accents or ear-shattering clangs for set finales, and today the choice is far wider than just the splashes and chinas of yore.

From hi-hats with different sized tops and bottoms to cross-shaped noisemakers, there's tonnes of choice so do your research well.

The results will open up a whole new world of sonic opportunity.

"Remember, Mike Portnoy's set-up looks great, but if you're in an indie band you may only ever use three cymbals"

Don't get carried away...

Effects cymbals are fun, but it's too easy to find yourself in a drum shop with a few quid burning a hole in your pocket, and walking out with a diddy splash that you don't really need.

Much money can be wasted on stuff that is used infrequently and, remember, Mike Portnoy's set-up looks great, but if you're in an indie band you may only ever use three cymbals. So don't get carried away.

Don't be too swayed by marketing spiel that has certain cymbals tagged as 'industrial' or 'dance' oriented. There's nothing to stop you using any of these instruments in any situation. The level of volume and tone that they put out should be your one and only consideration, not whether The Company alludes to their suitability to electro or drum'n'bass.

Trust your ears! Here's our top five effects cymbal picks to get you started…

5 effects cymbals from £31

5. Zildjian FX
£119 - £394

StarsZildjian fx

Some of the Big Z's FX line seems to have been around forever. And there's a distinctly traditional, conservative approach compared to some other brands of effects products. But the Azukas, Oriental Trashes and Zil-Bels are well-proven and continue to be used by pros.

4. Meinl Generation X
£31 - £313

Stars
Meinl generation x

Designed in conjunction with forward-thinking drumsters Johnny Rabb and Thomas Lang, the Gen-Xers are some of the most well-known effects cymbals around. Very dance-oriented, cymbals like the Signal Crash/Klub Ride and clever 'tension-tunable' Safaris actually work in a variety of settings.
Read the full review of Meinl's Generation X cymbals

3. Paiste Noiseworks
From £95

starsPaiste noiseworks

The Noiseworks series concentrates primarily on 'odd-hat' and cymbal stacks, with mismatched pairs of cymbals brought together for all manner of crunchy, clattery noise. The range also features a diverse selection of metals, from brass to nickel-silver to 2002 alloy.

Next page: Istanbul Traditional Effects and our top pick

2. Istanbul Traditional Effects
£52 - £210

starsIstanbul traditional

Only a couple of Istanbul's Traditional range creep into the 'effects' category, but they're good 'uns. The weird and wobbly Trash Hit is super cool and the Swish and China Pang offer interesting, usable twists on the classic china sound.

1. Factory Metal
From £31

starsFactory metal

While everybody uses cymbals from the big brands, sometimes it pays to look elsewhere for exotica. And cymbals don't come any more exotic than Factory Metal's StackBasherz, Gothic Radius and Celtic Bells. Funky-looking and ideal for industrial bludgeon, eerie soundtracks and crunching sampled beats, they're a breath of fresh air.
Read more

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Liked this? Then try:
Buyers' guide: high-end and specialist cymbals
How to sound like Led Zeppelin's John Bonham
100 greatest drum beats of all time

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