Crash cymbal

Crash cymbal
The drum kit
Drum Kit Snare drum Bass drum Floor tom Ride cymbal Toms Hi-hat
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1 Ride cymbal | 2 Floor tom | 3 Toms

4 Bass drum | 5 Snare drum | 6 Hi-hat

Other components

Crash cymbal | China cymbal | Splash cymbal | Sizzle cymbal
Swish cymbal | Cowbell | Wood block | Tambourine
Rototom | Octoban | Hardware

Tim Koehler of the Eau Claire Municipal Band
In rock and popular drumming styles the crash cymbal frequently follows a fill, replacing the first note of the next measure and accompanying the bass drum.[1] About this sound play

A crash cymbal is a type of cymbal that produces a loud, sharp "crash" and is used mainly for occasional accents, as opposed to in ostinato. The term "crash" may have been first used by Zildjian in 1928. They can be mounted on a stand and played with a drum stick, or by hand in pairs. One or two crash cymbals are a standard part of a drum kit. Suspended crash cymbals are also used in bands and orchestras, either played with a drumstick or rolled with a pair of mallets to produce a slower, swelling crash. Sometimes a drummer may hit two different crash cymbals in a kit at the same time to produce a very loud accent, usually in rock music.

Although crash cymbals range in thickness from paper-thin to very heavy, all crash cymbals have a fairly thin edge. They are typically 14 to 18 inches (36 to 46 cm) in diameter, but sizes down to 8 inches (20 cm) and up to 24 inches (61 cm) are manufactured. Custom crash cymbals up to 28 inches (71 cm) in diameter have been used by big bands. Different thicknesses are used for different kinds of music, and the alloy for each manufacturer's models varies. A thick cymbal is likely to be used by a metal or rock band, while thinner cymbals are generally used in lighter rock.

The sound of a crash is changed by its luster. A cleaner cymbal creates a more crisp sound, whereas a cymbal showing signs of oxidation [usually called a 'raw' cymbal, when used on purpose] will have duller sound.



Crash cymbals were traditionally placed on the left side of the drum set (for a right-handed drummer), since the normally larger ride cymbal is usually on the right, however some drummers set up their crash on the right. Often a drummer will have multiple crashes, and so may set them up with one or two on each side, or less commonly, with one mounted very closely above another, usually larger crash or ride.

Alt text
A 16" Zildjian A Custom Projection Crash.
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An 18" Sabian AAX X-plosion Crash.


Crashes are often the first cymbal in a setup to warp and ultimately crack due to repeated striking of the edge. Cymbal cracking is generally in the form of a fracture along the edge, or across the bow, often originating from the edge. Cracks in cymbals are caused by poor technique or excessive play, or more rarely, the result of a defect originating from manufacture, or damage to the cymbal not caused by playing, for example dropping. If a crack is left untreated, it will begin to follow the lathe grooves around the cymbal, and could potentially spread all the way around the cymbal and back to the point where the crack started, causing the outer portion to simply drop off.

Often, lower quality sheet cymbals are more likely to crack, due to stress caused in some areas by pressing sheet metal. Thicker cymbals are also more likely to crack due to their brittleness, and less freedom to vibrate.

Some suggest that wear on the cymbal can be reduced by playing with glancing blows, angled to the side and slightly away from the vertical, about a quarter of the way between the edge and the center and allowing the drum stick to bounce off naturally, rather than forcing the stick down at the cymbal head-on. This allows the cymbal to vibrate freely and for little stress to be caused on the edge or at the center hole, thus reducing the chance of a crack.

Cracked cymbals are often fixed either temporarily or permanently by drilling a hole at either end of the crack (often the crack will spread further than it appears to the naked eye, so this method is often not as effective), or removing the cracked portion completely, or cutting the cymbal's edge down, although this method can drastically alter a cymbal's sound. Both of these methods are often ineffective at stopping cracks, but usually slow the spread of a crack down.

Orchestral clash cymbals

A pair of identical crash cymbals held in either hand by leather thongs passing through holes in their bells are called clash cymbals, and are a standard part of an orchestral percussion section. Two tones are normally used by major orchestras, known as Germanic or Wagnerian (heavier) and Viennese (lighter); a third, rarer tone is known as French (lighter still). Clash cymbals are also used in stage, concert, marching and military bands.

Audio samples
Component Content Audio (Ogg Vorbis)
Crash Crash cymbal About this sound 52 KB
See the Drums page at Wikipedia Commons for more


  1. ^ Peckman, Jonathan (2007). Picture Yourself Drumming, p.65. ISBN 1598633309.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Crash-Cymbal —   [englisch, kræʃsɪmbl; wörtlich »Krachbecken«], Becken …   Universal-Lexikon

  • crash cymbal — noun : a single cymbal suspended by a cord and struck with a drumstick * * * crash cymbal, a cymbal with a shallow cup and turned up edge that produces a loud crash when struck with a drumstick …   Useful english dictionary

  • crash cymbal — /ˈkræʃ sɪmbəl/ (say krash simbuhl) noun an extremely resonant cymbal …   Australian English dictionary

  • Crash — may refer to: Contents 1 Sudden events 2 Film 3 Television 4 …   Wikipedia

  • Crash (The Human League album) — Crash Studio album by The Human League Released September 1986 …   Wikipedia

  • Cymbal — A suspended cymbal …   Wikipedia

  • Crash-Becken — Galgenbeckenständer mit Crash Cymbal Als Becken, engl. Cymbals, ital. Cinelli oder Piatti, franz. Cymbales, bezeichnet man leicht konvexe, meist aus Bronzelegierungen bestehende Scheiben, die entweder paarweise gegeneinander geschlagen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • cymbal — Synonyms and related words: apple fritter, battery, beignet, beignet aux pommes, bells, bismarck, bones, castanets, celesta, chime, chimes, clappers, crash cymbal, cruller, cymbals, doughnut, fastnacht, finger cymbals, friedcake, fritter, gamelan …   Moby Thesaurus

  • cymbal — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ clashing, crashing VERB + CYMBAL ▪ clash, hit CYMBAL + VERB ▪ crash ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

  • crash — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun 1 sudden loud noise ADJECTIVE ▪ almighty, deafening, great, huge, loud, resounding, thunderous ▪ sickening, terri …   Collocations dictionary