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Playing Cymbals: Basic Technique

Published: Wed April 16, 2008  News Feed

As simple as it may seem, playing cymbals can benefit from some good, basic techniques...find out more!


Playing a good crash is as simple as...FLAM!

  Firmly hold strap between pointer finger and thumb. Do not place hand through straps, grip outside for quick cymbal changes.
  Learn to turn wrist over ending with thumb on top, similar to turning a key in the car door.
  Always strike cymbals together so one edge strikes the other first. Thus, a "Flam" sound is achieved when the bottom (or top) edges meet before the opposite side. This will avoid an 'airlock'. When playing a cymbal crash, visualize two cicles moving in opposite directions.
  Make sure that you start with the cymbal edges closely together for soft crashes. For loud crashes, start farther apart. Remember, the louder the crash, the bigger the motion.

Standard Cymbal Knot

Zildjian offers top grade straps and pads cut from the highest quality, extra heavy leather.
(Length of thongs is exaggerated for clarification.)


Play It Right!

Avoid striking cymbals directly on their edge. Crash cymbals, especially, should be hit with a glancing blow, a little off center. Striking with a slight twist of the wrist also helps avoid breakage and allows crash cymbals to “open up.”

Crash Stroke On Edge:
A full sustain, played with the shoulder of the stick, producing a broad sound.
HiHat Closed:
Play rhythm with the tip of the stick, producing an articulate sound; used often in jazz styles.
HiHat Half-Open:
Press foot pedal slightly and place the edge of bottom cymbal against the top cymbal, producing a sizzle effect.
HiHat Shoulder:
Play sticking with shoulder of stick, producing a broad effect; used often in rock styles.

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