Best Cymbals for Metal – Buying Guide and Reviews

Believe it or not, cymbals are an integral part of the metal sound. You won’t believe what a difference adding just one or two of the best cymbals for metal can make to your drumming. There are many different types, but what are the best cymbals for metal?

We’ve rounded up our top five cymbals for metal to save you the pain of clicking through a thousand forums and interrogating your fellow musicians.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Cymbals For Metal On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when finding the best cymbals for metal

  • Bigger isn’t always better. Although you need the extra volume to cut through the wall of guitars, unless you’re extremely strong and have the stamina of a horse it’s actually better to stick with only going up an inch or two from what non-metal drummers would use.
  • The cymbals you choose should be able to take a beating, as you won’t be spending much time being dainty with them.
  • Make sure you get the right spread of cymbals. You could have the world’s best crash, but if your hi-hats are below average it’s still not gonna sound good. Make sure you pick the right kind of cymbals and invest in quality for all of them.
  • Unfortunately, you’re going to have to put budget as your last priority with cymbals. Good ones aren’t cheap, and that’s just a fact. If it means putting in a few extra hours in your day job, bite the bullet and do it.
  • A strong frame is going to be another piece of equipment you won’t be able to skimp on. You could use individual stands, but chances are that you’re going to be running out of room quickly if you do that.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Cymbals For Metal

1. Zildjian 18″ Oriental China Trash

Zildjian 18' Oriental China Trash

A copper / tin alloy that’s a pretty large beast compared to most of its kind.

  • The alloy is both strong and flexible
  • There is a good level of sustain, allowing you to play at faster tempos without losing the full sound
  • As an 18” cymbal it has a lot of power when given a decent whack, perfect for the most brütal metal subgenres
  • If you’re going to be using this a lot it can be quickly tiring on your wrist
  • Adding an extra bit of cymbal felt can reduce the decay further to give a tighter sound, as it can ring longer than needed at certain points
  • If not mounted inverted there’s a higher chance of damaging your sticks and cracking the cymbal itself

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Zildjian K Custom 14" Session Hi Hat Cymbals Pair

Zildjian K Custom 14' Session Hi Hat Cymbals Pair

Unlike other cymbals, hi-hats for metal are very much the same as other genres of music. These hi-hats from Zildjian are among the best cymbals for metal you can get due to their uniquely appealing sound.

  • Very tight foot control gives a wider range of playing technique
  • Unique design gives them a lot of responsiveness
  • Very tough and elastic alloy (Zildjian B20)
  • Not as bright as hi-hats often used in metal, so your technique will need to adjust for this
  • They are slightly thinner than others made with metal in mind, so aren’t able to take the same level of punishment
  • They are ever so slightly undersized, and this gives them a unique tone and level of brightness, but also comes at the cost of reducing the volume somewhat which can be a challenge to deal with in metal

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Sabian 22214XB 22” AAX Metal Ride

Sabian Cymbal Variety Package inch 22214XB

A heavy duty ride with a really penetrating bright tone, it’s one of the best ride cymbals for metal you can get.

  • Gives a nice fat ‘ping’ and has a nice long decay
  • Very responsive, giving a dynamic range of tones on both ride and bell
  • Thick B20 alloy makes it very durable
  • The extra thickness and large size can make it quite tiring to use on the edge
  • The volume can sometimes be hard to control
  • If the rest of your drum set up doesn’t have a bright tone it can make everything else seem very muddy in comparison, which will cause this cymbal to sound out of place

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Zildjian A Custom Cymbal Set (Editor's Choice)

Zildjian A Custom Cymbal Set

If you’re looking to get your first cymbals for metal, then getting a whole pack at once is a great way to go, and the Zildjian A Custom line is one of the most highly recommended and respected collections of cymbals in the metal genre. Includes a 20" medium ride, 16" and 18" crashes, and 14" hi-hats.

  • All of the cymbals sound good together, so you don’t need to compare it with your existing set up
  • The cymbal sizes are ideal for metal. They aren’t the absolute maximum, but the size and thickness give a good volume and brightness without being too heavy
  • Cheaper than purchasing each of the cymbals individually
  • The 16” crash has a weaker sustain that would be ideal
  • A little brittle, which is odd considering that the rest of their qualities are ideal for hard music styles like metal
  • Will likely need to be expanded upon with other cymbal types not included in the set

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Meinl Cymbals CC22DACR Classics Custom Dark 22" Crash Ride Cymbal (Budget Choice)

Meinl Cymbals 22' Crash/Ride Cymbal - Classics Custom Dark - Made in Germany, 2-YEAR WARRANTY CC22DACR

Although they have a darker tone than you would typically expect from a metal drummers repertoire, they present the opportunity to introduce a new character to your sound and shouldn’t be passed up because of their darkness on principle.

  • One of the most interesting looking cymbals adds a bit of visual flair to your drum kit
  • As a crash ride cymbal it has a clear pinging bell and can be used as a crash at the same time without interfering with the tone of either
  • Has a lot of clarity and is designed to cut through chugging guitars without needing extra force from the sticks to do it
  • If you need a brighter sounding cymbal then this isn’t going to deliver the right tone
  • They are quite thick and warm sounding, and struggle to fit into higher pitched types of metal, and are better suited to more ‘lumbering’ forms instead
  • As a hybrid it delivers well, but pure crash or ride cymbals are better at what they do at the cost of needing extra space for both

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best cymbals for metal?

If you’re just upgrading from stock cymbals for the first time, the easiest way to get started is with the Zildjian A Custom Cymbal set. They have a long and happy history with metal drummers, and you can’t go wrong with them.

On the other hand if you’re only looking to swap out a cymbal here and there with one more suited for your style of playing, then any of the individual pieces are worth trying out. The only exception is Meinl, as it’s applications will be quite unique for a metal band. It’s a great cymbal, but make sure it’s going to be right for your style of music. Doom metal and other slower, darker forms will benefit greatly from it, but not so much thrash or speed metal.

Featured image source: Joseph ThorntonCC BY-SA 2.0

Leave a comment