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3 Best Zildjian Cymbals for Rock in 2022 Reviewed

Cymbals are an essential part of any rock drummer's kit, and no brand has been more of a mainstay in the rocker’s arsenal than Zildjian. They offer a wide range of sounds and uses, from providing percussive accents to providing the crash and backbone for drum solos. 

Knowing which cymbals will work best for your rock music can be challenging. After all, rock n’ roll covers a massive range of styles.

Read on to discover the best Zildjian cymbals for rock in 2022 suited for different rock styles, from punk to heavy metal, and what features you should look for when buying new ones!

3 Best Zildjian Cymbals for Rock

Zildjian is one of the biggest names in cymbals, with endorsements from legends in rock music—including members of Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Rush, and Metallica. From the classic Avedis series to the modern Master's line, there are many choices in Zildjian’s selection. Here are the top three series:

1. Zildjian A

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The Zildjian A series is perhaps the most versatile in their line-up. These classic cymbals have been around for decades, used by drummers including Travis Barker of Blink 182 and Steve Smith of Journey.

This series is excellent for fast playing and big crashes, so it’s perfect for rock music. However, the bells are clear but not too sharp, so you can use them to accent many genres beyond rock, such as pop rock and heavy metal. It can also be used as a crash when needed because it has such a bright sound with lots of attacks and sustains. 

These cymbals have bright, cutting sounds that are great for solos or fills. They also have a thinner profile, allowing you to get more volume out of each strike without compromising the tone. 

The Zildjian A series is ideal for drummers who want volume but don't want their sound to be too harsh or overpowering in the mix.

 

Specifications

  • Material: Secret Zildjian Alloy / B20 Bronze
  • Finish: Traditional
  • Sizes: 8’’, 10’’, 12’’, 13’’, 14’’, 15’’, 16’’, 17’’, 18”, 19”, 20’’,  21”, 22’’, 23’’
  • Cymbal Types: Hi-hats, splashes, rides, crashes, china, concert, box sets
 
 

PROS

  • Range of thick and thin cymbals for versatile, full-bodied sound
  • Designed for maximum tone and projection across any range
  • Thinner profile allows for fast attacks and great response 
  • Versatile for any genre including all types of rock

CONS

  • Sweet, bright tones might not suit heavier, darker genres
 

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2. Zildjian A Custom

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These cymbals are another one of Zildjian’s most popular models, no doubt in large part thanks to an endorsement from legendary drummer Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters. 

The Zildjian A Custom series stands out for its brighter, smoother sound that sounds great during live performances. It also produces a bright, glassier sound that is perfect for rock music.

The A Custom crash cymbals feature a brilliant finish that makes them stand out visually. They feature a hammering pattern or "antique finish," which produces a slightly rough texture on the cymbal's surface and unique tonal grooves. It provides an exceptional feel when played with sticks, but it also works well with brushes when playing other styles of music.

The Zildjian A Custom is an excellent option for rock drummers, thanks to the lower profile. It produces more overtones and a lower pitch for that heavier rock sound. The smoother sounds have made them the Zildjian series of choice for recording in the studio.

 

Specifications

  • Material: Secret Zildjian Alloy / B20 Bronze
  • Finish: Brilliant
  • Sizes: 8”, 13’’, 14”, 15”, 16”, 17”, 18”, 19”, 20”,  22’’ 
  • Cymbal Types: Hi-hats, splashes, crashes, rides, effects, box sets
 
 

PROS

  • Rotary hammering creates unique tonal grooves and complexity
  • Bright, glassy sounds perfect for studio recordings
  • Lower pitch and more overtones than A series thanks to lower profile
  • Sensitive yet dynamic nature of these cymbals make it great for studio recording

CONS

  • Professional-grade quality may not make them a good starter series for beginners
 

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3. Zildjian S

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Zildjian S is a family of cymbals known for intense, dynamic sounds. The S series ranges from bright and explosive to dark and gritty, meaning you can be sure your distinct sound will project in all settings. 

The Zildjian S range of cymbals features symmetrical hammering and traditional lathing. The result is a pure tone and a darker sound that make them an excellent choice for rock.

 

Specifications

  • Material: Secret Zildjian Alloy / B20 Bronze
  • Finish: Brilliant
  • Sizes: 8”, 10”, 13’’, 14’’, 15’’, 16’’, 18’’, 20’’’
  • Cymbal Types: Hi-hats, rides, splashes, china, crashes, box sets
 
 

PROS

  • Dynamic tones and range offers distinct sound
  • Fast, lively responses make it great for live performances
  • Great for rock music

CONS

  • Darker sounds may not suit drummers looking for bright, sweet tones
  • Mid-level cymbals might not be suitable for professional or studio performance
 

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How to Know Which Zildjian Rock Cymbal is Suitable For You?

For some drummers, the difference between cymbals can seem pretty obvious. However, even an experienced musician might not be able to pick out what cymbals are best for rock, especially if they haven’t had a chance to play them yet. 

Let's examine the factors determining which rock cymbal suits your sound and play style.

Material Composition

One of the most critical factors in picking out your cymbals is the material. Cymbals can consist of various materials, including brass, bronze, copper, and steel. 

Zildjian is famous for being secretive about its alloy. All the series featured here use the secret Zildjian alloy, which is most similar to the B20 bronze alloy.

Any alloy will consist of two or more metals. In the case of B20, the composition is 80 percent copper and 20 percent bell bronze (i.e., tin).

Bronze produces a richer tone, making it ideal for fuller volume and tonal range. Bronze also holds up better over time. You won’t have to replace your set as often as you would with brass ones!

Keep in mind that B20 is just the closest alloy to Zildjian’s proprietary formula. They could (and probably do) use a different ratio of tin and bronze, but we can’t know for sure. 

Finish

The finish also impacts the tone, with the most common finishes being traditional and brilliant. It’s not just about aesthetics here, although that’s part of it. The finish also affects the pitch.

Traditional finishes are what those in the industry call “natural.” It produces a raw sound and darker tones with a longer sustain. The hammering and grooves on the traditional finish also create more complexity.

The brilliant finish is what gives a cymbal a shiny, glassy quality. The lathing smoothes down the tonal grooves and hammering, creating a thinner cymbal with a brighter sound.

Size

A cymbal’s size refers to its diameter and depth. The diameter is the distance across the cymbal's center, while depth refers to how far your stick hits it from its edge. Larger cymbals have a deeper sound because they have more surface area. They can produce more volume than small cymbals.

However, the larger you go with your cymbal size, the less control you'll have at lower volumes and lighter touch levels. That's why many drummers choose medium-sized or medium-depth rock crashes. These sizes balance control and volume when playing softer music styles while still producing enough volume for louder genres such as rock.

Weight

The weight of cymbals is vital to consider. The weight of a cymbal affects the sound, as well as how easily you can play it. 

Heavy cymbals are more durable. These tend to go through less lathing and have a darker sound.

Light, thin cymbals are easier to play, and their sound is brighter and sweeter.

Cymbal Type

Knowing what you want to achieve is essential for any musician. The range of sound you want should determine the cymbals you get.  

Zildjian offers an extensive range of cymbals. You’ll see that range in the kits of legends like Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe and his passionate cymbal playing in “Without You,” which bassist Nikki Sixx wrote based on Lee’s relationship with Heather Locklear. Lee has also been a devoted Zildjian drummer, and you’ll see a wide range of their cymbals in his kit

If you want a range of cymbals as varied as legendary rock drummer Tommy Lee, the five main types you'll need to know are the splash, ride, hi-hat, crash, and china.

  • Splash: Sounds fast but has a short sustain commonly used in pop music. They're thin, so they have less volume than other cymbals.
  • Ride: This type can produce long sustained tones that last as long as two measures (four beats). It accentuates rhythm or marks time.
  • Hi-hat: This pair consists of one small cymbal placed above another larger one with handles attached to either side so that the player can open and close them quickly with their hands while playing other notes on his kit at the same time. When closed together like this, their sounds overlap, creating a unique layered effect that helps create rhythms not found elsewhere within your kit.
  • Crash: The crash sound is loud and bright, which makes it ideal for playing accents or an opening part in a song. It also can change the feel of a song all by itself.
  • China: This is the most common type of cymbal because it's versatile and affordable. They can come in a range of sizes and typically produce bright sounds. 

Searching for Zildjian Cymbals for Rock? Shop DCP!

The cymbal is an essential part of the rocker’s drum kit. It can add dynamism to your performance, emphasize specific lines, or provide a flourish to your music. 

Knowing what type of cymbal will work best for you and the style of music you play can be difficult, but with practice and patience, anyone can find their perfect set-up! If you’re on the market for Zildjian cymbals for rock, you’ll find no one does it better than the drummers and experts at DCP. Shop our selection today and get ready to rock.

19 days ago