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Cymbal Cleaning Basics!

Get the best sounds from your brass!

Now I don’t know that many drummer’s that clean their cymbals but if you ask me, its the only way to get the sound they were made for. Many people believe that cleaning a cymbal can take the metal away, well in a way this is true, but its only the oxidized metal (that’s the dark green stuff on a neglected cymbal) you are taking off which is exactly what you want to be doing. If you’re after a dark tone with no high’s, not cleaning your cymbals will get the desired effect, but if crisp shimmering brightness is what you demand from your cymbals, then keeping them shiny and new will see you right.


Simply read and follow the instructions on the cymbal cleaning product you are using. When applying the polish try and do small circular areas at a time, this stops the polish drying too hard on the cymbal and making it harder work to clean. Try not to use the same part of the rag all the time when cleaning your cymbals, this will only move the gunk and dirt around the cymbal. If the cymbal you are cleaning has turned a dirty green color you will need to repeat this process for the best results. Once you have applied and removed the polish over the entire cymbal, use another clean rag to buff the cymbal up in to a superior shine. No doubt you will now be able to hear the tonal qualities of your cymbal that are unleashed when shining like new!

Protection and General Care

Now your cymbals are clean, you want to protect them the best you can whether storing them, or whilst on the move when damage is more likely to happen. Leaving your cymbals on a hard floor can cause damage, and even a tiny nick on the edge of a cymbal can lead to it cracking. A cymbal case/bag is the only answer for protecting your cymbals in the correct manner, and even then there are more precautions you can take to protect your cymbals from the rigours of the road.

If you’re on the road with a band and all the equipment is going around the country in the back of a transit van, you may want to consider investing in a hard case for your cymbals if you haven’t already. This will protect your cymbals from falling bass amplifiers when the driver takes that bend too quickly!

For the rest of us that drive our own kits to a gig or practice, a good cymbal bag is all you really need, and they’re less bulky than hard cymbal cases – therefore saving space. When storing your cymbals away in a cymbal bag , as an extra precaution I recommend placing an old hand towel between the cymbals in the bag, for larger cymbals like a ride or china, use a towel to wrap around them. if you still have the bags the cymbals came in, use them. Using this method helps prevent cymbals scraping together which in a matter of time will cause groove wear and more than likely effect the tonal qualities of the cymbal – its also a good way of keeping off dust and grime which means less maintenance.

About zildjianmatt

An avid drummer, educator and author on all things drums!

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