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Predictably, the backbone of your average metaller’s cymbal array is big and heavy. That’s not to say that smaller effects cymbals don’t have their place, but the staple crashes, rides and hi-hats of metal tend not to be dinky, delicate affairs.
The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly bigger, weightier cymbals are typically louder and brighter - qualities that most look for - and thicker cymbals also cope better with the punishment that metal players dish out. So crash cymbals will tend to be 17" or 18" in diameter and above, while rides are often 22" or bigger, with big, forceful-sounding bells for definition and volume.
Big cymbals soak up a lot of wrist energy, though, so hi-hats are sometimes lighter than you might expect. Less hefty hats also ‘speak’ quicker, so are more articulate and easier to coax tricky fast patterns out of.
Size is often a traditional 14", with only the super strong opting for the girth of a 15" set.
Effects cymbals are common in metal, with big trashy chinas popular for riding or accenting parts. But smaller splash cymbals feature in set-ups - particularly in those of players dishing out technical death metal and the like. Splashes of 8"-12" allow for quick, punchy percussive spice to be sprinkled over parts.