The 7 Best Crash Cymbals (2022)

A crash cymbal is an integral part of a drum set. No kit is complete without one. The signature sound is noticeable even to non-musical people, therefore, having a bad crash cymbal can break your performance. Luckily, the market is filled with great options.

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 top recommended crash cymbal is the Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash. It is an ideal crash cymbal for playing in different settings.

My second recommended crash cymbal is the Meinl 14″ HCS Bronze Crash. It’s a great choice for beginner drummers.

The 7 Best Crash Cymbals (2022)

1. Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash
Top Pick - A quality, dark crash cymbal for all genres.
2. Meinl 14" HCS Bronze Crash
Budget Pick - Good quality crash cymbal with decent sound on a budget.
3. Zildjian 18” A Custom
Popular, professional cymbal for all genres.
4. Paiste 2002 Classic 18" Crash
An all-rounder cymbal that delivers warm and full tones.
5. Sabian 16” SBR Crash
Good, affordable cymbal for beginner drummers.
6. Meinl 18" Classics Custom Medium Crash
Heavy-sounding, aesthetically-pleasing crash with great value.
7. Sabian 17" HHX Complex Thin Crash
Great-sounding, deep, dark cymbal with excellent expression levels.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash

Top Pick
A quality, 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 for fast decay. It does sport a hefty price tag but the value for money is unprecedented.

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 14" HCS Bronze Crash

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

Pros

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

Cons

  • Falls short to higher-end cymbals

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.  The cymbal is made from B8 bronze alloy that produces bright overtones and an overall clear sound.

The cymbal is quite durable, which makes it ideal for teaching purposes since it’s going to be taking a lot of hits. With a full tone and great ring, this aesthetic beginner crash is suitable for most genres and is a great starting point.

Hand HammeredNo
FinishTraditional
AlloyB8 Bronze

The Meinl HCS 14” Bronze 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

Popular Choice
Popular, 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.

Pros

  • Sweet, bright sound
  • Warm undertones
  • Very versatile

Cons

  • A bit pricey

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.

Given its sound, it is a great fit for rock drumming. Although, it works 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. Paiste 2002 Classic 18" Crash

Well-rounded
An all-rounder cymbal that delivers warm and full tones.
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The Paiste 2002 Classic 18″ Crash is an ideal rock crash cymbal with a signature sound. Delivering warm and full tones, it is also suitable for many other genres and musical settings.

Pros

  • Transcends genres
  • Bright, warm, full sound
  • Good sustain and very responsive

Cons

  • A bit pricey

The cymbal is made from CuSn20 Bronze and is very durable. Paiste has been known to produce good quality cymbals with excellent longevity.

The response is great and the overall responsiveness is top-notch. With a decent sustain to it, this cymbal holds its own in numerous settings. Not only that, the bright tone shoots through the mix and delivers crisp sound.

Hand HammeredYes
FinishTraditional
AlloyCuSn20 Bronze

If you’re looking for an all-rounder that can take a beating, the Paiste 2002 Classic 18″ Crash hits the sweet spot between tone and delivery.

5. Sabian 16” SBR Crash

Budget-friendly
Good, affordable cymbal for beginner drummers.
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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 for beginner drummers. It gives top quality at a very, very reasonable price.

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

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.  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.

6. Meinl 18" Classics Custom Medium Crash

Value For Money
Heavy-sounding, aesthetically-pleasing crash with great value.
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Another Meinl product on this list, this time a more high-quality one – the Meinl 18″ Classics Custom Medium Crash. An ideal choice for a heavy sound at an excellent price range.

Pros

  • Bright sound with good volume
  • Aesthetically pleasing finish
  • Responsive with good fade

Cons

  • B10 bronze is a bit inferior to B20 (in terms of richness)

This Meinl cymbal produces great volume levels with great response and a natural fade. The only thing you can find fault with is the B10 bronze alloy which falls a bit short of B20 when it comes to the richness of the sound. However, it is still hardly noticeable.

With a bright tone and good-looking finish, you will get a warm, full, shimmering sound out of this classic cymbal. It spreads through the room and certainly makes its presence known.

Hand HammeredNo
FinishBrilliant
AlloyB10 Bronze

The range of the Meinl 18″ Classics Custom Medium Crash is superb. It’s usable in most genres for a warm, bright, and full sound at a great price.

7. Sabian 17" HHX Complex Thin Crash

Sound Quality
Great-sounding, deep, dark cymbal with excellent expression levels.
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The Sabian 17″ HHX Complex Thin Crash is a high-quality, expressive crash cymbal for professional drummers. This hand-hammered crash delivers quality sound and is one of the best cymbals Sabian has to offer.

Pros

  • Controlled, dark, expressive sound
  • Hand-hammered from B20 Bronze
  • Perfect amount of spread, attack, and response

Cons

  • Pricey

This cymbal is completely hand-hammered, including the small bell. The shimmering nature and the fast attack allow for a very expressive yet controlled, dark sound that cuts through the mix.

If you’re after a more “complex” yet powerful sound, this cymbal has it all. Granted the price tag is steep, however, for professional drummers looking for a signature sound, the price tag is well worth it.

Hand HammeredYes
FinishTraditional
AlloyB20 Bronze

In a nutshell, the Sabian 17″ HHX Complex Thin Crash is a superb cymbal that delivers a controlled, dark sound that spreads seamlessly.

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. You might even consider a crash/ride cymbal.

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 setup 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 easier access to them.

But, all drummers are different, so you should explore for yourself what feels the most ergonomic. 

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.

I suggest you look into the matter of cymbal sizes more thoroughly.

How do you choose a Crash cymbal?

Internet research is fine when 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 are a vital 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.

My top pick is the Zildjian K Custom 18” Dark Crash, an ideal crash cymbal suitable for a variety of genres.

My budget pick is the Meinl 14″ HCS Bronze Crash, a great beginner cymbal with decent sound.

Photo of author

Mike O'Connor

Drumming has been my passion for over 18 years. I play quite a few different genres and I really enjoy experimenting with hybrid kits that blend acoustic and electronic drums. I love all things drumming!

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