The 5 Best Cymbals for Metal (2021)

crash-cymbal

Cymbals are such an important part of rock music, particularly metal. They help create energy, break any built-up tension, and bring aggression into the genre. 

So, you need good cymbals that exhibit these attributes and elevate the metal sound you’re trying to create. But, since the market is overrun with cymbals, it can be difficult for you to find what you need.

That’s where I come in and help you figure out the right cymbals for metal playing.

My top recommended cymbals for metal are the Sabian AAX range. The one linked here is a four-cymbal pack of Sabian’s classic dark cymbals which work perfectly for metal.

My second recommended cymbal set is the Zildjian Custom A cymbal pack, which are one of Zildjian’s most prolific and best-selling cymbals today.

The 5 Best Cymbals for Metal (2021)

1. Sabian AAX Promotional Set Brilliant Finish
Editor's Choice - Very well suited to metal music
2. Zildjian A Custom
Zildjian A series modernized
3. Meinl Classic Custom Dark
Made for explosive sounds
4. Paiste 2002 Classic Crash 18”
All-purpose, classic crash
5. Paiste Rude Thin Crash 18”
Thin cymbals, heavy sound

Let’s see these in more detail.

1. Sabian AAX Promotional Set Brilliant Finish

Our Top Pick
Very well suited to metal music.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Sabian’s AAX line of cymbals have been a breakthrough for the company because of its sheer sonic ability. This particular AAX set has been redefined by Sabian to give off a newer sound. The cymbals are thinner with more raw bells, and produce a versatile sound. 

Pros

  • Bright highs and dark lows
  • Dynamic tonal setup
  • Comes with an extra 18” crash

Cons

  • A bit pricey

The pack comes with four brilliant finish cymbals – a pair of 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash, a 21” ride, and to top it all off, Sabian is also throwing in a free 18” crash. The hi-hats and the ride are of medium thickness, offering a bright tone, while the crashes are thin, offering a darker sound.

The whole setup is tonally matched to give a versatile sound, which is good for music even beyond metal. This is a plus if you want to expand your sound in the future.

SoundBright
AlloyB20

These new Sabian AAX cymbals are brilliantly finished and have a very modern look and sound. They might have an expensive price tag, but they’re definitely worth it. 

2. Zildjian A Custom

Top pick
Zildjian A series modernized.
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Zildjian A series is probably the company’s best-selling cymbal line. The Zildjian A Custom cymbals can be considered a contemporary take on them. The pack includes brilliantly finished, radical rotary hammered pair of 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes, and a 20” ride.

Pros

  • Modern sweet and crisp cymbals
  • Good for a variety of genres
  • Added 18” crash from Zildjian

Cons

  • A bit pricey also

The A Custom cymbals are quite lightweight, which gives them a nice sweetness, yet a hint of the darker sound, which is great for metal playing. They also offer warm undertones and good stick definition. 

SoundCrisp, sweet
AlloyB20

Zildjian has a reputation to maintain, and they certainly do so with the Custom A cymbals. The cymbal pack does carry a hefty price tag but if they fit your budget, then it’s a good idea to go for it. 

3. Meinl Classic Custom Dark

Made for explosive sounds.
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Meinl continues to make innovative cymbals and their Classic Custom Dark line is no different either. First off, the pack includes 14” hi-hats, a 20” ride, a 16” crash, and a free 18” crash. 

The cymbal maker has gone all-out on the look with a dark finish with specialized extra-hammering to give it a warm and dry feel. They carry a loud, powerful, and edgy attack, which makes them perfect for an explosive metal player. 

Pros

  • They carry a powerful, loud attack
  • Look incredible with solid built
  • Nice stick definition with warm undertones

Cons

  • Not as versatile when it comes to other genres

The additional lathing, exposing stripes of the bright-colored cymbal helps in producing a warm undertone. The ride and hi-hats have a really nice stick definition, making your grooves sound much better. 

The dark cymbals look magnificent in a metal setting. They are made of B10 Bronze alloy and are capable of taking quite a beating both on the road and on the stage. 

SoundAggressive
AlloyB10

If you see yourself as a powerful, ruthless metal drummer, then the Meinl Classic Custom Dark are moderately-priced cymbals that might fit your style. 

4. Paiste 2002 Classic Crash 18”

All-purpose, classic crash.
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Introduced in 1971, the Paiste 2002 Classic cymbals have seen many happy customers in its tenure, including professional and hobby drummers. They are everything that great rock cymbals need to be.

Pros

  • Brings a rich, bright sound with it
  • Performs great in a range of settings
  • Very responsive feel

Cons

The Paiste 2002 18” crash is a jack-of-all-trades cymbal that sounds lively in just about every setting. Bright, warm sounds with a washy stick definition have become the trademark of this wonderful cymbal. 

What makes it unique is the fact that it is made with the CuSn8 Bronze alloy, a signature of the Paiste 2002 series. 

SoundBright, warm
AlloyCuSn8 Bronze

Paise 2002 cymbals have been used by some of the greatest drummers to have ever lived. They’re almost as old as rock. That’s because they are just that good.

5. Paiste Rude Thin Crash 18”

Thin cymbals, heavy sound.
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Paiste’s Rude cymbals came out around the surge of punk rock. So, the company developed a nice cymbal to complement the rising genre. 

The Rude Thin 18” crash has stood the test of time and is frequently used in metal drumming. It is particularly great in recording settings.

This thin cymbal has a crisp stick definition and carries the long sustain needed in a metal environment. Despite its “rude” tag, their aggression is rather sophisticated. However, as good as the cymbal is, it is less than likely to please a jazz or a funk drummer. 

SoundDark
AlloyCuSn8 Bronze

Paiste Rude Crash has stood the test of time for good reason. It is a great buy for a metal drummer, looking to add some character to their drum kit.

Good cymbals are quite expensive and last you a long time, so before you go and invest a chunk of cash into one, it’s better to know a few things first. 

What type of cymbals are best for metal music?

Given how broad of a genre metal itself has become, it’s better to know what type of music you’re going to be playing. Apart from that, B20 cymbals are the gold standard of cymbal making. 

Ideally, you would want bright-sounding cymbals for metal as they shine amongst the heavy guitars. Also, the less sustain cymbals have, the better they are for metal. An alternate is going for dry cymbals. 

How does cymbal thickness affect the sound produced?

The thickness of a cymbal is measured on the bow part. Thicker cymbals have more sustain and produce a higher pitch than thinner ones. A lot of great metal cymbals have medium to low thickness since you don’t want them ringing for long.

Are heavier and larger cymbals louder?

Even though the sound of cymbals in a piece of music depends solely on the drummer, heavier and larger cymbals are generally louder than smaller, lighter cymbals. They leave overtones, producing a high pitch. 

Best Cymbal Brands for Metal Music

The prominence of metal since the late 70s has resulted in cymbal makers to up their game. Even though there are plenty of brands to choose from, a few simply stand out from the rest of the pack. These include Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl, and Paiste. 

Conclusion

There are so many incredible cymbals available in the market today. I’ve shortlisted my top five cymbals and included a buyer’s guide to ensure you know what to look for.

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