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Author Topic: Cymbal Cracking  (Read 9419 times)

Offline lockslie1

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Cymbal Cracking
« on: November 04, 2007, 09:46:22 PM »
Here is a blog/article on why cymbals crack and what you can do to protect your cymbals, by the owner of Saluda Cymbals. I'm sure many of us on LGM have this knowledge, but hopefully it's helpful to those who like to take their frustrations of life out on their cymbals.

I've seen few youtube clips to where dudes are just beating the heck out of their cymbals!  ;D


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Offline fretai03

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Re: Cymbal Cracking
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2007, 10:10:58 PM »
Can someone copy & paste/quote the info as a post here???

Offline j_kay

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Re: Cymbal Cracking
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 07:04:18 AM »
it's helpful to those who like to take their frustrations of life out on their cymbals.

~ This thread is beyond hijacked - it's been kidnapped... ~

Offline Jedi3

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Re: Cymbal Cracking
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 08:58:25 AM »
Deeper Details Behind Cymbal Cracking
Current mood:  amused

Deeper Details Behind Cymbal Cracking, rev.2
By Jamie Lambert (owner of Saluda Cymbals)

This is to help understand why cymbals crack. This is meant for anyone who uses any cymbal(s) by any cymbal company(s).

Forward: Growing up in the 1980's, I started playing drums. I couldn't afford expensive cymbals so I used a lot of beginner/starter cymbals. I was always a moderate hitter so I didn't crack many cymbals. It wasn't until around 1994 that I could afford the expensive, high-end cymbals. I had a few favorites that I liked and I mainly used these. All of a sudden, I started cracking cymbals. I couldn't afford cracking cymbals so I had to change my hitting style and even my attitude towards cymbals.

I heard (rumors) about a certain cymbal company that was having cracking issues. Most of my kit was decked out in their cymbals so I too assumed it was the cymbal company's fault for making defective cymbals. I thought about this and something didn't make sense. How can a cymbal company who had been making cymbals for so long, all of a sudden make less durable cymbals. It didn't make sense!

So, why were cymbals cracking more so than before? Was it a lack of durability? Or was it something a little deeper to realize? I assumed there was no way a cymbal, whose origin dates to Biblical times, could all of a sudden get less durable. I looked to what I was doing and did anything change? One thing I noticed for me personally was my kit was growing with more drums and more cymbals. So? Why were my kit and almost all drummers' kits during this era growing? What happened to the simple 3, 4 & 5 piece kits that dominated the past 40 years? What happened to the minimalist approach of using 3 cymbals for everything?

It was the 80's to early 90's and everything was BIG! My kit had 3 kick drums, 6 toms, 3 floor toms and 2 snare drums. The cymbals? There were too many cymbals to even count. 20? 30? Yes, somewhere in between.

Just because the drum kits were getting big, it didn't mean cymbals were getting more or less durable. Was something else going on during this timeframe? Absolutely!

I thought a little deeper about what changed. One obvious factor was music. Music! How hard was music before the 80's? Hard rock entered and dominated through the 80's, through the 90's and is getting harder and harder. Harder Rock n' Roll demands heaviness, hard hitting, and drummers think they have to hit hard. How many have broke heads, bent rims, stuck their bass drum beaters through their bass drum heads, caused lugs to strip out and shattered cymbals?

This was it! Cymbals aren't getting any less durable. Drummers are hitting harder and harder as mainstream music gets heavier and heavier. So if the cymbal wasn't getting less durable, can it get more durable? We probably don't want to hear it, but NO. A cymbal must be played within its boundaries. Striking a cymbal too hard and striking a cymbal improperly can cause microcracks to shattering it on the first shot. So what are the finer details on why and how a cymbal cracks?

First a short summary about a cymbal's weight: The thinner the cymbal, the less sound potential. This means the cymbal will have a shorter volume range. Thinner cymbals are more responsive, have more mellowness, and have a darker tone. Thinner cymbals will flex more. Then, heavier cymbals have more sound potential. This means the cymbal will have a wider volume range. Heavier cymbals have a much higher volume that leads to more cutting power and more projection. Heavier cymbals are brighter, but they have less response and they flex less.

Doing countless hours of research, reviewing many cracked cymbals on Saluda Cymbals and other cymbal companies and testing cracking by intentionally trying to crack cymbals, has led to the following:

In general, cymbal cracks tend to follow these simple rules:

1. Edge Cracks: If a cymbal forms small cracks on its edge, the cymbal was probably too thin (not heavy enough) for its intended purpose. There are other factors that can cause edge cracks, as you will read later.

2. Structure Cracks and Shattering: Heavy cymbals tend to crack within the structure of the cymbal. Heavier cymbals have more stored energy and this energy can cause larger cracks. Cracks can develop on their edges that can lead to shattering (thinner cymbals are rare to shatter since they are normally not hit as hard). Heavier cymbals that crack normally crack from being played too hard. A cymbal only has so much sound potential.

3. Keyhole Cracks: Cymbals crack at the keyhole, because they are held way too tightly to the stand. Normally only your thinnest and smallest cymbals will develop keyhole cracks.

4. Base of Bell Cracks: Cymbals crack at the base of a bell because they were struck too hard and pushed too far down (this will be explained more later on and is a major factor in why cymbals crack). Base of bell cracks normally form on smaller cymbals but can form on larger cymbals after enough time. Smaller cymbals, like splashes have little flex distance so the base of the bell picks up a lot of tension and forms micro cracks. The stress continues until the microcracks will eventually pop into a full crack. Larger/thicker cymbals, if struck too hard long enough, can develop microcracks too around the bass of the bell but these microcracks may take months to years to develop into a full base of bell crack.

Let's discuss more about the 'Structure Cracks' since these have become the most common over the past 20 years. Again structure cracks develop when they are overplayed and struck too hard. But there is another factor that can speed the cracking process! This is pushing the cymbal directly down. If you strike a cymbal in a direct downward motion, you will push it directly downward until it jams into its lowest position that the cymbal stand will allow. Now, the cymbal is stuck for a brief moment. A lot of energy is stuck here until the energy has some place to go. Where does the energy go and what happens? There are a few different paths this energy can take:

1: the stick is released just in time before the cymbal starts to actually bend downward so the energy is released and most energy will go into the stick and cause a few light dings in the wood. For those that use nonwood sticks, it is not recommended to use on cymbals for this puts more energy into the cymbal edge that the cymbal absorbs instead of the drumstick.

2. the stick is not released and it pushes the cymbal down further until it bends the cymbal in an awkward position. Energy is now stuck into the cymbal, as the energy wants to snap the cymbal back into place. So, this energy now will have to release and go someplace:

a. the energy is absorbed into the stick and the stick gets heavy marks in it or it snaps. Most energy is then released.

b. the energy is absorbed back into your wrists which can cause tingling or permanent damage. This damage may take months to years to develop. Most energy is then released.

c. Too much energy and the cymbal will cause a sudden bend in the cymbal, which will send a shockwave through the cymbal causing it to crack or shatter. This shockwave starts at the stick's impact and travels directly up to the bell. The shockwave of energy then either travels up the bell or around the bell typically at 135 degrees from the stick's impact. The energy is then released but along its path it can cause microcracks, tension crack, more visible cracks, edge cracks (at stick's impact) or shattering. In one rare cause, we witnessed the shockwave to shatter the side of the bell).

d. The energy pushes the cymbal stand and most energy is released.

So, as you can see pushing a cymbal downward locks energy and can be very damaging to your drumsticks, to your cymbal and even to yourself!

Another factor in pushing a cymbal downward is the cymbal gets muted/muffled. Sound can't release properly since the cymbal can't vibrate. This is one of the biggest keys to understanding why cymbals crack! If you push the cymbal down, lock it in place, lose volume, what are you going to think in your head? You may think you now have to hit it harder because it isn't releasing as much volume. Then, when you hit it harder, you are multiplying the chances of a cymbal crack.

One method cymbal companies have been trying to preach for years is to strike your cymbal at an angle, which some call a glancing blow. This glancing blow is where you strike the cymbal with a motion that you hit the cymbal and the stick slides off to the side. Now the cymbal doesn't get jammed and the cymbal can now shimmer more and have more volume. The energy flows off the side of the cymbal. There is no energy build up and the longevity of everything is extended, including your wrists!

Unfortunately, there are more factors into why cymbals crack.

Raised Edge Cracks:

This is another factor that causes cymbal cracking. This one starts with crash riding. There is nothing wrong with striking your cymbal with the beat of music: half notes, quarter notes, eight notes, etc. However when you crash ride on any sized cymbal, the typical motion is striking it directly downward (pushing down). Crash riding is safe as long as the cymbal is not pushed down and NEVER struck when the cymbal has swayed upward so that the edges up ABOVE PARALLEL to the ground. This is the same idea why you don't strike the raised side of chinas. If you strike the cymbal when the cymbal has risen up past parallel, you put an enormous amount of force through the cymbal's edge. This also bends the cymbal in a very awkward position. The force shooting in at the edges can crack the cymbal anywhere within the structure (see 'Structure Cracking' above).

Drop Dings:

Drop dings is the 'hidden' cause behind so many crack cymbals that we see. Drop dings obviously occur when the cymbal is dropped on its edge. The damage is more devastating than the above 'raised edge crack' discussion. Dropping a cymbal in its edge shoots a shocking amount of energy through a small part of the edge that is enough to put dings and even small tension cracks at the impact site. However, the energy continues to shoot up to the bell that can very easily form microcracks along its path to the bell and then around the (roughly) 135 degree angle from the impact location. Again microcracks may take weeks/months/years to develop into larger cracks that will affect the cymbal's sound and performance. There is no telling how many or the size of these microcracks. You may one day be playing the cymbal softly and all of a sudden it cracks. You think to yourself, I don't even play hard how can I crack a cymbal? You didn't crack it, but dropping it did (weeks/months/years back).

All of the above tries to explain why cymbals develop cracks. Be careful with your cymbals and play them within their boundaries. A cymbal only has so much volume and it can only take so much before it has to crack. Abusing your cymbals will quickly lead to cracks that we will not replace. A cymbal very rarely cracks due to a cymbal manufacturing error. Cymbals have been developed for thousands of years and mainstreamed for hundreds of years. If cymbals can withstand pneumatic and hand hammering, it can withstand the normal usage from playing. We would like to see all cymbals last longer.

If you would like to discuss any part of this message, please contact.

Team Saluda Cymbals
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