The 5 Best Cymbals for Metal (2022)

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Cymbals help create energy, break any built-up tension, and bring aggression into metal music. Here are some of the best cymbals for metal available.

My top recommended cymbals for metal are the Sabian AAX Promo Cymbal Set. 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 Meinl Classics Custom Dark Set, a great cymbal pack from a reputable company for explosive sounds.

The 5 Best Cymbals for Metal (2022)

1. Sabian AAX Promo Cymbal Set
Top Pick - Great cymbal pack that is well suited to metal music.
2. Meinl Classics Custom Dark Set
Budget Pick - Affordable cymbal pack made for explosive sounds.
3. Zildjian A-Custom Professional Set
Superb cymbal pack, Zildjian A series modernized for optimal sound.
4. Paiste 2002 Classic Crash 18”
An all-purpose, classic 18-inch crash with good sound and dynamics.
5. Paiste Rude Thin Crash 18”
Thin 18-inch crash cymbal with heavy sound and excellent sustain.

Let’s see these in more detail.

1. Sabian AAX Promo Cymbal Set

Top Pick
Great cymbal pack that is well suited to metal music.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Sabian’s AAX line of cymbals has 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
  • A little too loud for some

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, especially when you consider that you’re getting an entire cymbal pack.

2. Meinl Classics Custom Dark Set

Budget Pick
Affordable cymbal pack made for explosive sounds.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

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. Additionally, it sports a good price tag for a cymbal pack.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Not as versatile when it comes to other genres

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. 

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. 

SoundAggressive
AlloyB10

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. 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.

3. Zildjian A-Custom Professional Set

High-quality
Superb cymbal pack, Zildjian A series modernized for optimal sound.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

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 a 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

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

The A custom line is a very popular choice among drummers and has been around for quite some time now. The full, well-rounded sound is great not just for metal music but for a variety of genres out there.

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.

4. Paiste 2002 Classic Crash 18”

Well-rounded
An all-purpose, classic 18-inch crash with good sound and dynamics.
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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 highs can be a bit too much for some

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. Therefore, you get a bright, rich sound with great overtones but maybe a bit too many high frequencies (for some).

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”

Good Sustain
Thin 18-inch crash cymbal with heavy sound and excellent sustain.
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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.

Pros

  • Good sustain and sound
  • Durable, suitable for metal
  • Dark overtones

Cons

  • Not suitable for other genres

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.

The sustain you get from this crash is unparalleled, plus, with dark overtones and a durable design, it can take a pounding from even more aggressive metal drummers.

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.

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 upping 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

Cymbals for metal music need to have a bright sound (most of the time) for them to come out on top of distorted guitars and vocals. You can also go for dark tones for more aggressive sub-genres. Luckily, the market has some great options to consider.

My top recommended cymbals for metal are the Sabian AAX Promo Cymbal Set, Sabian’s four-cymbal pack of classic dark cymbals that are perfect for metal.

My second recommended cymbal set is the Meinl Classics Custom Dark Set, a great cymbal pack that provides explosive sounds suitable for metal music.

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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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