So the ride cymbal might just be the most personal part of your drum kit. Some might think it’s the snare drum but if you don’t like the sound of your snare, it can be re-tuned or manipulated with moon gel/tape/different snare wires/a new head etc. All or none of these can be applied and the sound the drum will be changed.
A ride cymbal however can’t be modified to quite the same affect. Tape can be used underneath a cymbal to dry it out slightly if it’s to washy and rivets can be added to create a wash effect. In order for some serious sound difference to be made, there would need to be a drilling of a hole or a cutting of metal in some fashion however the results are permanent.
So what does that mean for you? Well it means usually that selecting a ride will be determined by what kind of music is being played? I’ll break down styles into a few different categories and provide some ideas of what might work if you’re on the hunt for some new metal.
The style is usually played loudly. Drums are competing with heavily amplified guitars (sometimes up to 3) and bass, maybe keys and some vocals (therefore a PA). This would require a medium – heavy cymbal, that offers projection and not too much wash, in order for the articulation to cut through the band. A bright bell is usually helpful, for the reasons just noted and perhaps some effect.
Sabian make some popular cymbals that would provide you with the required ‘criteria’. The HH 21″ Raw Bell Dry Ride is particularly suitable and popular for rock music. The stick definition is strong and the bell will most definitely cut through any band. Sabian describe it as “Mixes power and tone for explosive response and moderate sustain”.
Zildjian carry the A Custom 20″ Projection Ride that does exactly what you’d imagine it to do. It projects. Again with the appropriate articulation, being described as “Beautiful, loud, clear bell and clean articulate “ping” with just the right amount of shimmering undertones”.
Paiste offer a few in their 2002 series that are worth investigation. The 2002 Wild Ride is, like the other 2 mentioned, is appropriate as you’d expect. A medium heavy weight, loud with a strong clear bell. Paiste describe it as “Full, rich, aggressive. Wide range, complex mix. Even feel, very responsive. Pronounced, crispy ping over loud, massive, icy wash. A huge, dirty ride sound that’s very loud and aggressive when crashed. Well suited for forceful playing, especially in Rock and Metal.”
The standard 2002 ride is a classic Rock cymbal – John Bonham being a notable user.
Another worthwhile investment would be the Meinl MB10. Made from B10 alloy which provides a modern and sophisticated sound. A glassy ping and bright definition with a bright, penetrating bell sound makes it perfect for Rock.
In the main, jazz is traditionally an acoustic music. The drums are playing predominately alongside an acoustic bass (lightly amplified) a piano, and a horn (trumpet or saxophone or trombone). This an overgeneralisation and there are many exceptions to this however as a basis, it lets us look at appropriate cymbals.
The cymbals will most likely be thin, dark and washy. Smaller bells are usually featured and the cymbals are used as both crashes and rides so the need to be versatile.
Sabian have a variety in their catalogue. Notably the Manhattan series, the HH Jazz ride, Legacy Ride and my personal favourite from their catalogue, the Artisan Light Ride. All of these cymbals sit in the top end of Sabian’s ranges with the Artisan being the flagship cymbal.
Rather than me talk about it, hear it being demo’d by Alyn Cosker.
Zildjian’s main Jazz line is the Constantinople range. Zildjian have been the mainstay cymbal company in the world for many years now and most of the traditional Jazz recordings in history have been recorded with Zildjian cymbals being played. Check out Kaz Rodriguez playing some Constantinoples.
Turkey is considered to be the home of cymbal making and the Turkish brands make some amazing gear. I’ve always been a big fan of Istanbul Agop cymbals and actually own 2 – the 20.5″ 25th Anniversary Ride and a 19″ Agop Signature ride.
The Agop signature line are really beautiful Jazz cymbals. Dry, articulate and yet crashable. A woody stick definition and also a nice bell sound (although it’s not particularly bright). But they’re definitely worth considering if you are looking for a jazz cymbal. But perhaps the ‘jazziest’ of their range is the 30th Anniversary range. Originally based on old Zildjian Ks, every cymbal, like all hand made cymbals, is unique and won’t sound exactly as the last one. These cymbals are dark, with a beautiful stick definition and crashability.
This genre is now so open to interpretation that suggesting what could work.
The Sabian 21″ HH Crossover Ride is a beautiful cymbal for, as it suggest, lots of genres. It will ‘cross over’ from one style to the next no problem. It’s dark, but with lots of stick definition and controlled wash with a bright, articulate bell. The volume is controllable and can be crashed on if needed.
The Paiste 20″ Giant Beat is another extremely versatile cymbal. It is billed as a ‘multi purpose’ cymbal which suggests a crash ride. The cymbal opens really quickly when needed. Paiste describes it as “Mellow, yet cutting and powerful. Fairly wide range, slightly complex mix. A distinctive silvery breath over a big, soft layered wash. Very responsive and giving feel. A classic thin crash, perfectly suited for today’s new beat/pop/rock music.
One of the best features is that if/when you’ve crashed on the cymbal, you can ride on the top and it’s immediately very articulate. A really versatile cymbal.
Zildjian’s 21″ Avedis Sweet Ride is one of the most popular and versatile cymbals on the market. All purpose, with beautiful overtones. Can be used as a crash, a ride or both with a beautiful bell.
Mienl make the Byzance Brilliant 20″ Medium Ride and whilst the Byzance range is typically dark sounding, this cymbal would work really well in a pop setting. The bell is cutting and there is the right level of wash and stick underneath to lift a chorus or outro of a song. It also has great crash capabilities.
So there are obviously cymbals I’ve missed whilst compiling this brief list and the genres have been perhaps simplified down but I feel it’s a good start to helping you find something you may like. The music at hand will dictate what you may or may not require in order to get the right sound and it may also be that one cymbal can’t do everything you need it to. Rhythm Base carry a huge array of cymbals and have a purpose built demo room for you to try things out in order to get the correct sound.
Spend some time on picking a ride cymbal. Don’t settle and if possible try not to be brand biased. Picking different things from different companies will give you a much more rounded sounded but what you may want to think about is matching your Hi Hats and Ride. Given that we usually move from the hats to the ride, it makes sense to me that they aren’t too far away in terms of tonal quality (unless of course you’re tying to avoid that exact thing).
Have fun taking yourself for a Ride.