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best ride cymbals

Best ride cymbals: Find the perfect biggest cymbal in your lineup

Let’s face it – it’s not difficult to differentiate between well made cymbals and models that well…aren’t. Ride cymbals are an integral part of a drummer’s sound selection. Just like hi-hats, they’re one of the most frequently used parts of the kit. So what are some of the factors that determine the best ride cymbals?

You want it to have an open sound with good sustain and decay, a useful bell, and need it to be durable to stand up to years of use. The alloy that cymbals are made from is a critical aspect for how you want to sound, so that should be a consideration as well. And just like with all cymbals size is a factor in how it sounds too.

We’ve gone over some of our favorite choices when it comes to crash cymbals. So let’s take a look at a few of the best options when it comes to ride cymbals – and why they might be right for you.

Best ride cymbal overall: Zildjian K Custom Hybrid Ride

zildjian k custom hybrid ride
best ride cymbal overall
Zildjian K Custom Hybrid Ride
An expertly-crafted medium ride that comes in two sizes.
Pros
Flawless attention to detail
Great projection
Full, clear sound
Cons
Expensive

Zildjian is one of the best in the business – and for good reason. To craft it Zildjian teamed up with fusion drumming virtuoso Akira Jimbo. The hybrid ride from Zildian’s K Custom series responds well to drumming dynamics and has a rich bell sound.

It crashes well with a lathed outer section that provides a pleasant, soft sound. The alloys is cast bronze, giving it great projection with a full and clear sound. There are also lathed and unlathed portions of it for a greater range of sounds overall. It’s got a loud volume, longer sustain, with a middle pitch and medium dark sound.

20” and 21” medium weight versions are available. It looks every bit as good as it sounds, sporting a traditional finish on the outer portion and a brilliant finish on the inner portion.

If you’re a drummer with high standards for your cymbal selection, this one is pretty much the cream of the crop.

Best ride cymbal for rock: Paiste Signature Reflector Bell Ride 22”

Paiste Signature Reflector Bell Ride
best ride cymbal for rock
Paiste Signature Reflector Bell Ride 22”
An intense cymbal made in partnership with a legendary drummer that’s one of the best for rock.
Pros
Huge sound
Great crash
Good dynamic range
Cons
Expensive
Might be too abrasive for some players

How about a ride cymbal that was created in partnership with one of the greatest metal drummers of all time? This model from Paiste was created in partnership with Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden. And it’s pretty much a consensus serious contender for the best ride cymbal for rock. Due to its design it has a huge bell sound and a fantastic crash.

At this price point you can expect it sound amazing across the board. At any volume you get pronunciation with an intensity to its wash. The bell is perfect for nuanced accents, it has great dynamic range, and all the overtones you could ask for.

It looks as good as it sounds, too. The reflector finish gives it a beautiful sheen to Paiste’s signature bronze alloy. At over $500 it’s not cheap – and its tone is living proof that investing in a high-quality ride cymbal is a good investment for any drummer.

Best ride cymbal for jazz: Meinl 22” Classics Custom Crash/Ride

Meinl HCS Ride cymbal
best ride cymbal for jazz
Meinl 22” Classics Custom Crash/Ride
A darker ride cymbal with a cutting attack but mellow sustain.
Pros
Versatile
Responds to articulations well
Good attack and decay times
Cons
Sound might be too dark for some styles

Jazz drummers are a different breed for sure. And most of them are really selective when it comes to one of the most important cymbals for the style – the ride. The Meinl Classics Custom crash/ride is versatile for sure.

It’s got an ideal sound for jazz that combines an attack that cuts and a mellow sustain. The tonality is a little on the darker side, but it doesn’t lack anything in the upper frequencies.

It’s made from B10 bronze with a higher copper-to-tin ratio that gives a modern sound that’s really durable. You don’t have to bash it to make it cut through the band mix, with a fantastic attack and a decay that simply shimmers.

The dark aesthetic might not be ideal for everyone, and could look a little out of place if you’re pairing it with other brands and types. But the striations are beautiful, so there’s clearly care and quality control throughout the forging process.

And while it’s great for jazz, no matter what style you play it can find a home in your cymbal collection.

Best mid-priced ride cymbal: Zildjian A Series Medium Ride

Zildjian A Series Medium Ride
best mid-priced ride cymbal
Zildjian A Series Medium Ride
Zildjian quality at a price point that’s really affordable and comes in three sizes.
Pros
Multiple size options
Pleasing low to mid pitch
Cons
None

Price points are obviously subjective, and this medium weight model from Zildjian isn’t within everyone’s budget. But it comes in three sizes in varying price points to open up your wallet options. Any drummer is hard-pressed to find better cymbals than Zildjian. It’s made of cast bronze, 80% copper and 20% tin with a little silver thrown in.

The bronze in its DNA is individually poured and then cast. It’s got a classic machine hammered design and lathed with a wider groove. This lets it really sing with a tone that’s got a great frequency range that lets your drumming articulation shine.

This medium ride comes in three sizes, 20”, 22”, and 24”. So no matter how you like the size of your sound or what your budget is you’ll have options. It’s loud, with a pleasing low to mid pitch. And its blended balance rounds everything out to make for a very nice combination of tonal qualities.

Best budget ride cymbal: Meinl HCS Ride

Meinl HCS Ride
best budget ride cymbal
meinl hcs ride
One of the most affordable ride cymbals on the market that comes in multiple size options.
Pros
Three size options
Good combination of volume, brightness, and sustain.
Cons
Might be too low end for some drummers

Meinl cymbals seem to fly a little under the radar for some reason. They’re not as well-known as companies like Zildjian, Paiste, and Sabian. And that’s a shame. But for less than or around $100 (depending on the size you like) you can add a quality ride to your set with the Meinl HCS.

With a medium weight forged from MS63 brass you get a big, warmsound, great accent, and a solid bell. As for its sound specifics it provides a low to medium volume level, brightness, and sustain. This makes it balanced overall, which may or may not be what you’re looking for.

The 18”, 20”, and 22” size options make it a great choice for recording and live use. It’s definitely priced for beginners, but even seasoned kit veterans can find it useful. And it works really well for a variety of genres and drumming styles.

FAQ

What is the best size ride cymbal?

This is entirely up to the preference of the drummer. Smaller cymbals tend to sound better in the recording studio, while larger cymbals can be better for live as they have more projection and volume.

What is the most popular Zildjian ride cymbal?

For the most part you’ll see their A or K series in the setups of many drummers who prefer the brand. They’re well-made, and have great balance in attack, sustain, decay, and wash.

Is Meinl better than Zildjian

Anything by Zildjian is a sure thing. Meinl isn’t as well-known but their products provide all of the quality in sound and build that Zildjians do. The best way to find the best one for you is to try out multiple types.

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