The best Zildjian cymbal

Adrian Wengenroth

Especially if you're recording a drum kit with other instruments, you might find that the cymbals' high frequencies ring out and drown out other instruments. To dampen cymbals so that they don't ring out as much, you can use a small piece of gaffer tape or medical tape for less residue.

Ziljdian is one of the most trusted brands in the drum world, and Zildjian cymbals are some of the oldest manufactured musical instruments today. In fact, they’ve been around for almost 400 years. In 1623, Armenian metalsmith and alchemist Avedis Zildjian founded the Zildjian company based on cymbal designs he created for the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. The first Zildjian cymbals were made of an alloy of tin, copper and silver.

With a history like this, it’s no wonder that Zildjian cymbals are renowned by many drummers for their versatile sound, diverse array of shapes and sizes and clear, reliable tone. Whether you’re a veteran drummer or just starting out, there are many Zildjian cymbals which will suit your playing style. If you’re just getting started, the Zildjian S Family Performer Cymbal Pack includes Zildjian cymbals of all popular sizes and is a welcome addition to any basic drum kit at a solid price point.

What to know before you buy a Zildjian cymbal

Cymbal type

Depending on genre and drumming style, there are many different cymbal types. The most common cymbal types are hi-hats, ride cymbals and crash cymbals. You can even buy them in a set.

The hi-hat consists of two cymbals facing each other, mounted on a stand that is controlled with a foot pedal. The bottom cymbal stays in place and the top cymbal is mounted to a rod that moves up and down with the pedal to open and close the hi-hat, producing a variety of unique tones. 

Ride cymbals are generally on the right-hand side of the drum kit, assuming the player is right-handed, and are meant to provide a steady rhythm rather than an accent.

Crash cymbals are typically on the left and are meant to provide an accent to the rhythm. Crash cymbals usually have a very thin edge to produce a dramatic crashing sound.

Other cymbal types are China cymbals, splash cymbals and crash rides. 

China cymbals are a type of crash cymbal also known as “trash cymbals,” which are shaped similarly to the Chinese Bo, a percussion instrument. China cymbals have a very bright, brash tone. 

Splash cymbals are smaller and are shaped to provide higher-pitched accents in music. They’re often used in Latin music or jazz.

Crash rides are multipurpose cymbals that can be used as either a crash or a ride depending on your playing style.


Zildjian cymbals range in diameter from 6 to 22 inches depending on type. The most common cymbal diameters for a basic drum kit range from 14 to 18 inches with 16 inches being a good starting point. Most hi-hats are usually 13 or 14 inches, although smaller hi-hats have become more common in recent years.

Tone and pitch

Tone is the quality and intensity of a sound. Cymbal tone is influenced by diameter, weight and material, as well as the height and shape of the cymbal’s bell. Cymbals that are flatter tend to have more mellow tones, whereas curved cymbals are fuller and more intense. The heavier and thicker the cymbal, the higher the tone. The larger the diameter, the lower the pitch and the fuller the tone. Cymbals also sound thinner and higher-pitched on their edges as opposed to the middle of the cymbal.


Some Zildjian cymbals are made from cast bronze, meaning the molten bronze is poured into a mold to create the cymbal’s shape. Others are made from cut bronze, meaning they are cut from a sheet of bronze. The bronze is then hammered by hand to create a certain tone. Nowadays, Zildjian recreates the hand-hammering process with computerized machinery, but the result is the same. Some Zildjian cymbals are made from brass alloy, a combination of brass, tin and silver. Some are finished with a sandblasted matte finish to help dampen the sound. 

Zildjian cymbal features 

Cymbals series

Many cymbals come in a set so that their tone will be consistent throughout the whole drum kit. Zildjian cymbals come in a few different series denoted by letters. The oldest series is the K Family series, which is still used today by classical musicians. K series cymbals have a light weight and low pitch. Other Zildjian series include the A Family, which is the “classic” Zildjian sound with a higher tone and a variety of weights, the S Family which is a newer series, the I Family which includes FX cymbals and Planet Z, the brass series to cover all your basics.


If you want to add extra sizzle to your crash cymbals, you can use rivets to put holes in them. Zildjian sells a rivet kit so you can easily do this yourself.

FX cymbals and stacks

Zildjian FX cymbals have holes and patterns pre-drilled into them for various effects. Some Zildjian cymbals are meant to be stacked together for additional impact. 

Hardware and accessories

Cymbals are usually mounted on a traditional drum stand, which is made of metal with adjustable arms that hold each cymbal at an angle. The legs fold out or up like a tripod, making them easy to put in a flight case or duffel bag. You can also get a drum rack, which offers more versatility for drum and cymbal placement, especially if you play standing up. If you usually bring your own cymbals to a gig, you’ll want to get a cymbal bag to protect them.

Zildjian cymbal cost 

Zildjian cymbals range in cost from about $40 to $2000 depending on the model and size.

Zildjian cymbal FAQ

How do I know if my Zildjian cymbal is vintage?

A. Vintage Zildjian cymbals can be identified by the stamp on the cymbal. This can be tricky because Zildjian didn’t have a formal numbering or dating system for their cymbals until 1994, at which point they started laser-engraving serial numbers on their cymbals.

Why are some Zildjian cymbals so expensive?

A. The more time-consuming it is to make the cymbal and the higher the cost of raw materials, the more expensive the cymbal will be. However, this generally means that the cymbal is built to last longer, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

If I polish my Zildjian cymbal, will that change its sound?

A. Polishing a cymbal will generally make it sound brighter and clearer. Depending on its finish, there are various ways to clean your Zildjian cymbals. For example, you can use a microfiber cloth. 

Which Zildjian cymbal should I get?

Best of the best Zildjian cymbal

Zildjian S Family Performer Cymbal Pack: available at Amazon

Our take: This versatile cymbal set includes a hi-hat, ride and two crash cymbals for all your playing needs.

What we like: They have a very bright tone. They’re good for players with a light touch.

What we dislike: They might be too responsive for players who hit hard. Some players feel the ride cymbal lacks definition.

Best bang for your buck Zildjian cymbal

Zildjian Planet Z Complete Cymbal Pack, 14" Pair, 16", 20": available at Amazon

Our take: This affordable cymbal pack comes in a variety of configurations to suit many different playing styles.

What we like: They’re made of hammered brass so they’re durable. The price makes them good for beginners.

What we dislike: Some players feel the crash cymbals are too quiet. Some players feel the cymbals are too heavy.

Honorable mention Zildjian cymbal

Zildjian L80 Low Volume Cymbal Pack - LV468: available at Amazon

Our take: This cymbal set is perfect for players without access to a soundproof drum booth or for jazz players.

What we like: It comes in two different size configurations. They can be used with a mesh head for additional volume control.

What we dislike: The crash does not have a lot of sustain. Some players find that the holes in the cymbals wear down their drumsticks.

Adrian Wengenroth is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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