The 5 Best Crash Cymbals (2021)

What’s a drum kit without quality crash cymbals? Even the most minimal kits need at least one crash cymbal. However, there are so many great crashes available today that it often becomes a tedious job to search for your perfect match.

My main recommendation is Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash. It is an ideal crash cymbal for playing in different settings.

My second recommended product is Meinl Cymbals 14” HCS Traditional Crash. It’s a great choice for the beginner drummer.

The 5 Best Crash Cymbals (2021)

1. Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash
Editor's Choice - A quality, dark crash cymbal for all genres
2. Meinl Cymbals 14” HCS Traditional Crash
Affordable Option - Good quality sound on a budget
3. Zildjian 18” A Custom
Professional cymbal for all genres
4. Sabian HHX Stage 18”
A dark cymbal with a solid stage presence
5. Sabian 16” SBR Crash
Great cymbal to begin with

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash

Top Pick
A dark crash cymbal for all genres.
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The Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash is one of the best cymbals that money can buy. It is a great dark cymbal for just about any occasion. So, it does not matter whether you’re a metal or jazz drummer. It should be apt for you. 

Pros

  • Great for all music types
  • Quick response
  • Special over-hammering for fast decay

Cons

  • A bit pricey

It has a nice stick definition, which makes it quite responsive and produces a quick bright attack. You can hear the completeness of the cymbal with each hit. 

This is a light and thin cymbal made of B20 Cast Bronze. The cymbal is specially over-hammered to give its defining characteristics.

Hand HammeredYes
FinishTraditional
AlloyB20 Bronze

The Custom K 18” Crash is a thing of beauty. If you are a drummer who likes to jump from genre to genre, this cymbal is a no-brainer. 

2. Meinl Cymbals 14” HCS Traditional Crash

Budget Pick
Good quality sound on a budget.
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It seems that Meinl has nailed down the art of beginner cymbals with their HCS series. Its 14” crash is another nice cymbal that works really well for those on a budget. 

This is a good cymbal with a different 14” sound that drummers of even intermediate level can add to their collection. It produces a sharp, fast attack with short sustain. And you can hear its depth with each hit. 

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Quite durable
  • Short sustain, quick attack

Cons

  • Not as musical as a bronze cymbal

It is made of brass, which is a standard for beginner cymbals. It is finished traditionally so it also looks pretty nice. 

The cymbal is quite durable, which makes it ideal for teaching purposes since it’s going to be taking a lot of hits. 

Hand HammeredNo
FinishTraditional
AlloyBrass

The Meinl HCS 14” Crash is a great choice for drummers and instructors looking to add a little spice to their kits. For what it’s worth, it sounds decent and lasts a while.

3. Zildjian 18” A Custom

Professional cymbal for all genres.
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Zildjian A Custom cymbals are highly touted amongst drummers of all musical styles. And it’s not only because they’re super popular. They also sound incredible.

The 18” crash sounds just as sweet as it looks. It has a nice bright tone with warm undertones. With great stick definition, each hit encapsulates a big, enveloping sound that leaves a long ring.

Pros

  • Sweet, bright sound
  • Warm undertones
  • Very versatile

Cons

  • A bit pricey

Given its sound, it is a great fit for rock drumming. Although, it also works really well in other settings too.

It is made of the classic B20 Bronze alloy, sporting a brilliant finish. It has the trust of many great players, making it a reliable choice for professional drummers. 

Hand HammeredYes
FinishBrilliant
AlloyB20 Bronze

The Zildjian 18” A Custom is a bright cymbal that has a great tone to it. It is a versatile cymbal that makes it a good option for drummers of all levels. Despite the price tag, it is a sensible purchase.

4. Sabian HHX Stage 18”

A dark cymbal with a solid stage presence .
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The 18” HHX Stage Crash is a great cymbal from one of the best cymbal makers in the world, Sabian. It is a medium-weight crash with sonic qualities that can be felt through to the back of the crowd.

This is a dark, penetrating crash that is good for any kind of music that needs its service. Be it rock, jazz, funk, or even pop.

Pros

  • Transcends genres
  • Solid, dark sound

Cons

It is a stylish cymbal that has been hand-hammered inside the Sabian chambers. Made of B20 Bronze, it sure is a classic cymbal in both looks and sound.

Hand HammeredYes
FinishTraditional
AlloyB20 Bronze

The Sabian 18” HHX Stage Crash is a cymbal for the contemporary drummer that has a lot to offer. 

5. Sabian 16” SBR Crash

Great cymbal to begin with.
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When you think of Sabian, high-end, professional cymbals come to mind. However, the 16” SBR crash is a great brass cymbal that Sabian has targeted towards beginner drummers. It gives top-quality at a very, very reasonable price.

Ideally, for those who are yet to get their first set of cymbals, this crash produces great sounds. It gives you controlled dynamics and a fast, short attack. Ideal for accents. 

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Pro-level craftsmanship
  • Tight and bright attack

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the depth of sound of the higher range cymbals on this list

With bright, yet controlled dynamics, it is good for playing all kinds of music. It also sounds nice in smaller, softer gigs.

The cymbal is made with the same hand-guided hammering and hand lathing that Sabian employs on its high-end models. So, you’re bound to get a quality cymbal.

Hand HammeredNo
FinishNatural
AlloyBrass

The SBR 16” Crash is Sabian’s way of saying they care for the entry-level drummer. It is very modestly priced for all it has to offer. So, if you’re just getting into drumming or on a budget, you don’t have to think twice about this one.

How many crash cymbals do you need?

There’s no set limit to how many crash cymbals a drummer needs. It entirely depends on the player and the music they want to produce. 

That being said, you should have at least one crash cymbal in addition to a ride regardless of your primary genre. It adds nice dynamics to your kit. 

As far as the upper limit goes, some drummers are content with two crashes. And some drummers can’t get enough. 

What are crash cymbals used for?

While the hi-hat and ride are used for grooving, a crash is used for accents. Crash hits add an extra oomph or energy to the music. They also help release pent-up musical tension.

Where should you place your crash cymbals?

A set up is usually divided into two parts – left to the bass drum and right. Bigger crashes are placed on the left while the smaller ones are on the right. This is because the bigger crashes are usually played more, so you want to have an easier access to them.

But, all drummers are different, so it’s best you explore for yourself what feels the most ergonomical. 

What size crash cymbals should you get?

The most commonly played crash cymbals are 18” and 16”. These are the sizes that you’ll almost always find in cymbal packs. They fit very well in all types of musical settings.

If you want to add more, 14” and 20” are also great options.

How do you choose a crash cymbal?

Internet research is fine while choosing a crash cymbal. However, there’s no better way to choose a crash cymbal than to play and feel it yourself. 

You should know the size of the crash you want, i.e. 14”, 16”, 18”, etc. Then the material it’s made of such as brass, B20 bronze, or so on. Depending on your style, you’ll also want to look for whether the cymbal is dark, bright, or dry. 

These features are the ones that majorly define the quality of a crash.

What’s the difference between a ride and a crash cymbal?

They may look similar with their body and bell, but crashes and rides are very different in sounds and functions. 

A crash is a lighter cymbal and is used for accents. A ride, on the other hand, is heavier and is used to lock in grooves. The ride has more ping and sweetness to it while a crash is more powerful. The bell is also more pronounced on a ride cymbal.

Verdict

Crash cymbals make up for an important part of any drummer’s kit. It’s hard to imagine a kit without them.

There are many crash cymbals today that drummers of all levels can choose from. I have narrowed down my list to five great cymbals and added some helpful tips. Hope the article helped you in choosing the right one. 

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