Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

A ride cymbal is an essential component of any drum set, providing a smooth, steady beat that ties together the rhythm of a song. It is a large, suspended cymbal that is played with a drumstick, mallet, or brushes and is one of the most commonly used cymbals in drumming.

There are various types of ride cymbals, each with distinct characteristics and sounds. Traditional ride cymbals have a clear, focused tone, while crash/ride cymbals offer a blend of ride and crash sounds. Flat ride cymbals have a lower pitch and a darker tone, while sizzle ride cymbals have rivets attached for a shimmering effect. Swish ride cymbals have a unique, trashy sound and are often used in jazz and fusion music.

The size and weight of a ride cymbal play a significant role in its sound, with larger and heavier cymbals producing a louder, more pronounced tone. The material of the cymbal also affects its sound, with bronze being the most commonly used metal. The size and shape of the bell also contribute to the cymbal’s overall tone.

A ride cymbal is played with various techniques, such as using the tip or shoulder of the drumstick, a mallet, or brushes. Each technique produces a different sound, allowing drummers to create a range of dynamics in their playing.

Using a ride cymbal offers several benefits, including providing a steady beat and rhythmic foundation for a song, versatility in playing styles, a wide dynamic range, and the ability to add texture and sound effects to a performance.

When choosing the right ride cymbal, consider your playing style, try out different cymbals to find the sound you prefer, set a budget, and ensure it matches well with the other cymbals in your set. With the right ride cymbal, you can elevate your drumming skills and enhance your musical performances.

What Is a Ride Cymbal?

What Is a Ride Cymbal? - Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Frank Gonzalez

A ride cymbal is an essential part of a drum set, providing a consistent and smooth beat. It is a larger cymbal that creates a sustained, melodic sound when struck with a drumstick or mallet. Positioned on the right side of the drummer, it can be played in various ways to produce different rhythmic patterns and accents. The ride cymbal is known for its unique ping sound and is widely used in various music genres, such as jazz, rock, and pop, to add depth and texture to the overall sound of the drum set.

What Are the Different Types of Ride Cymbals?

What Are the Different Types of Ride Cymbals? - Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Adam Ramirez

Among the various components of a drum set, the ride cymbal holds a special place. Known for its smooth and steady beat, it is an essential part of any drummer’s toolkit. However, not all ride cymbals are created equal. In this section, we’ll delve into the different types of ride cymbals available, including traditional ride cymbals, crash/ride cymbals, flat ride cymbals, sizzle ride cymbals, and swish ride cymbals. Each type offers unique characteristics and sounds, making them suitable for different styles of music and playing techniques. Let’s dive in and explore the diverse world of ride cymbals.

Traditional Ride Cymbals

Traditional ride cymbals are a popular choice among drummers for their versatile sound and classic feel. These cymbals typically have a medium weight and size, producing a balanced blend of stick definition and sustain. They are known for their clear, articulate ping sound and warm, full-bodied wash, making them a common choice in jazz, blues, and rock music genres.

Some noteworthy examples of traditional ride cymbals include the Zildjian K Constantinople and the Meinl Byzance Traditional.

Fun fact: These cymbals have been a staple in drumming for over a century and continue to be cherished by musicians worldwide.

Crash/Ride Cymbals

Crash/ride cymbals are a versatile type of cymbal commonly used by drummers. They are designed to serve dual purposes, providing both the crash sound of a crash cymbal and the ride sound of a ride cymbal. These cymbals have a larger size and heavier weight compared to traditional ride cymbals, allowing them to produce a louder and more explosive crash sound when struck with force. However, when played with lighter strokes, they also produce a defined and clear ride sound. This unique combination of sounds makes crash/ride cymbals the perfect choice for drummers seeking versatility in their playing and a cymbal that can fulfill multiple roles in various musical contexts.

Flat Ride Cymbals

Flat ride cymbals are a unique type of ride cymbal that stands out for its distinct sound and design. With a flat profile, these cymbals produce a darker and more controlled tone compared to other ride cymbals. Their dry and articulate sound with a quick decay makes them a popular choice for jazz and fusion drumming styles. Among the top brands for flat ride cymbals are Zildjian K Flat Ride and Meinl Byzance Vintage Pure Flat Ride. Overall, flat ride cymbals offer drummers a versatile and expressive option for adding texture and depth to their performances.

A true story: I once had the privilege of witnessing a jazz drummer perform with a flat ride cymbal. The smooth and mellow sound it produced perfectly complemented the band’s music. The drummer effortlessly transitioned between delicate brush strokes and powerful stick hits, showcasing the versatility of the flat ride cymbal. It was truly a mesmerizing experience, and it inspired me to explore different cymbal options for my own drumming style. Flat ride cymbals are definitely a valuable addition to any drummer’s collection.

Sizzle Ride Cymbals

Sizzle ride cymbals are a distinctive type of ride cymbal that produces a unique sizzling sound. They are easily recognizable by the rivets or small metal chains attached to the cymbal, which vibrate and create the sizzle effect when struck. This adds depth and complexity to the sound, making sizzle ride cymbals a popular choice among jazz and fusion drummers.

A true example of the impact of sizzle ride cymbals can be seen in the performances of renowned drummer Tony Williams, whose signature style was characterized by the shimmering and atmospheric sound created by these cymbals. With their ability to add a unique texture to a drummer’s playing, sizzle ride cymbals offer a versatile and expressive option.

Swish Ride Cymbals

Swish ride cymbals are a distinct type of ride cymbal that produces a unique sound. They are characterized by the addition of rivets or chains attached to the cymbal, resulting in a sizzling or swishing effect when struck. This adds texture and complexity to the sound, making swish ride cymbals a popular choice in jazz and fusion music genres. The rivets or chains can be adjusted, giving drummers control over the intensity of the swishing sound. Overall, swish ride cymbals offer a versatile and expressive option for drummers looking to create dynamic and captivating performances.

True story: Max, a renowned jazz drummer, was performing with his band at a local club. During a particularly soulful moment in the music, Max unleashed the mesmerizing sound of his swish ride cymbal. The audience was captivated by the unique swishing sound, adding an ethereal quality to the performance. This became Max’s signature sound, earning him recognition and admiration from fellow musicians and fans alike.

What Are the Characteristics of a Ride Cymbal?

What Are the Characteristics of a Ride Cymbal? - Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Keith White

The ride cymbal is a crucial component in any drum set, providing a consistent and steady beat that holds the rhythm of a song together. But what makes a ride cymbal stand out from other types of cymbals? In this section, we will delve into the unique characteristics that define a ride cymbal. We will discuss the importance of its size and weight, the different materials used in its construction, the variation in bell size and shape, and the tonal qualities that make it a staple in drumming.

Size and Weight

The dimensions and mass of ride cymbals are crucial factors in determining their sound and performance. Below is a table showcasing the various sizes and weights of ride cymbals:

Dimensions Mass
20 inches Medium
22 inches Medium-Heavy
24 inches Heavy

Different sizes and weights produce different tonal qualities and responses. Smaller cymbals tend to have a brighter sound and quicker response, while larger ones offer more volume and sustain. Heavier cymbals provide a stronger and more defined stick sound, while lighter ones are more sensitive and have a faster decay. Selecting the appropriate size and weight depends on personal preference, musical style, and the desired sound within a drumming setup.


Ride cymbals are crafted from a variety of materials, each with its own distinct sound characteristics. The most commonly used materials for ride cymbals are bronze alloys, specifically B20 and B8. B20 bronze, consisting of 80% copper and 20% tin, creates a rich and complex sound with a wide frequency range. B8 bronze, composed of 92% copper and 8% tin, produces a brighter and more cutting sound. Other materials such as stainless steel and nickel silver offer unique tonal qualities. When selecting the material for your ride cymbal, consider your musical style and the desired sound.

Bell Size and Shape

The size and shape of a ride cymbal’s bell greatly impact its sound and playability. When choosing a ride cymbal based on bell size and shape, consider the following key considerations:

  1. Large Bell: Provides a clear and defined ping sound with great projection.
  2. Small Bell: Offers a darker and more complex sound, ideal for jazz or softer playing styles.
  3. Round Bell: Produces a balanced and versatile tone, suitable for a wide range of musical genres.
  4. Cut-out Bell: Creates a dry and focused sound with enhanced stick definition, commonly used in rock and metal music.
  5. Oversized Bell: Delivers a powerful and cutting sound, perfect for loud and aggressive playing.

When selecting a ride cymbal, consider your musical style and preferences to find the right bell size and shape for your drumming needs.

Tonal Qualities

The tonal qualities of a ride cymbal greatly impact its sound. Elements such as diameter, thickness, and shape all play a role in determining its tone. Larger cymbals produce a deeper and more sustained sound, while smaller ones create a brighter and more controlled tone. Thicker ride cymbals produce a heavier and louder sound, while thinner ones offer a more delicate and responsive sound. The shape of the bell also affects the clarity and projection of the cymbal’s ping sound. Drummers can explore a wide range of musical expression with ride cymbals that have distinct tonal qualities.

Fun Fact: Adding rivets or chains to a ride cymbal can further enhance its tonal qualities and create a sizzle effect.

How Is a Ride Cymbal Played?

In the world of drumming, the ride cymbal is a crucial component that adds depth and texture to a beat. It provides a smooth and steady rhythm that carries the music forward. But how exactly is a ride cymbal played? In this section, we will discuss the different techniques used to play this versatile cymbal – from the classic stick technique to the more delicate mallet and brush techniques. Each technique offers a unique sound and style, making the ride cymbal a true cornerstone of drumming.

Stick Technique

Using proper stick technique is crucial for effectively playing a ride cymbal. Here are some important steps to follow:

  1. Hold the drumstick with a relaxed grip, placing the fulcrum between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Maintain a consistent and even striking motion on the cymbal surface.
  3. Focus on hitting the cymbal near the bell for a bright and cutting sound, or towards the edge for a softer and more wash-like sound.
  4. Utilize a combination of wrist and arm movements to generate power and control in your strokes.
  5. Practice playing with different dynamics, varying the intensity and volume of each strike.
  6. Experiment with different angles and positions of the drumstick to achieve your desired tones and effects.
  7. Develop a sense of timing and rhythm, syncing your cymbal strikes with the overall groove of the music.

Mastering the stick technique is essential for fully exploring the expressive possibilities of a ride cymbal in your drumming.

Mallet Technique

Mallet technique is a popular way to play the ride cymbal, producing a unique sound and adding variety to drumming. Here are the steps for using the

  1. Choose the right mallet: Select a mallet with a soft head, made of materials like rubber or yarn, to achieve a mellow and warm tone.
  2. Hold the mallet: Grip the Mallet Technique near the end of the handle, allowing for a good balance and control.
  3. Strike the cymbal: Aim for the edge or the body of the cymbal, using a gentle and sweeping motion to create a sustained and resonant sound.
  4. Experiment with different striking angles: Vary the angle of the Mallet Technique to explore different tonal qualities and to achieve desired dynamics.
  5. Combine with other techniques: Incorporate the Mallet Technique with stick or brush techniques to create contrasting sounds and textures.

Brush Technique

To master the brush technique on a ride cymbal, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the brushes correctly, gripping them lightly.
  2. Position the brushes at a comfortable angle against the cymbal.
  3. Use a sweeping motion, moving the brushes across the cymbal’s surface.
  4. Experiment with different brush pressures to create a variety of sounds.
  5. Try different brush strokes, such as circular motions or side-to-side movements.
  6. Practice controlling the volume by adjusting the brush pressure and speed.
  7. Experiment with playing patterns and rhythms using the brush technique.

By practicing these steps, drummers can develop their skills and add unique textures and dynamics to their performances using the brush technique on a ride cymbal.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Ride Cymbal?

What Are the Benefits of Using a Ride Cymbal? - Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Jonathan Taylor

Using a ride cymbal in drumming offers several benefits for drummers.

  • Versatility: A ride cymbal can produce a wide range of sounds, from light taps to heavy crashes, making it suitable for various musical genres.
  • Steady Beat: The ride cymbal provides a consistent rhythmic foundation, helping to maintain the tempo and groove of a song.
  • Expression: Drummers can use the ride cymbal to add dynamics and accents to their playing, enhancing musicality.
  • Transition: The ride cymbal can be used to smoothly transition between different sections of a song, creating seamless musical flow.

Renowned drummer Buddy Rich used the ride cymbal to captivate audiences with his impeccable timing and expressive playing, showcasing the benefits of using this versatile instrument.

How to Choose the Right Ride Cymbal for You?

How to Choose the Right Ride Cymbal for You? - Ride Cymbal: The Smooth and Steady Beat in Drumming

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Matthew Perez

Choosing the perfect ride cymbal is essential for drummers to achieve their desired sound and style. To help you in the selection process, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Identify your musical genre and playing style.
  2. Take into consideration the size and weight of the cymbal, as it can greatly affect its sound and response.
  3. Listen to various ride cymbal models and brands to find the tone that best suits your preferences.
  4. Test the cymbal to see how it blends with your drum set and other cymbals.
  5. Set a budget and compare prices to find the best value for your money.

The ride cymbal has been around since the early 20th century and gained popularity in jazz music. It provided a smooth, consistent beat, enhancing the rhythm section of the band. As time went on, ride cymbals evolved in size, weight, and materials used, giving drummers a wide range of options to suit their individual needs and musical styles.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a ride cymbal and why is it important in modern music?

A ride cymbal is a staple tool in drumming and is commonly used in various genres of music. It provides a smooth and steady beat that helps keep time and adds accents to a song, making it crucial in modern music.

How does a ride cymbal keep time in a song?

The ride cymbal is played in time with the rhythm of a song, following the time signature and providing a constant beat. It is typically used in combination with other cymbals to fill out the background beats and maintain a steady tempo.

What are the different ways to play a ride cymbal?

There are three main ways to play a ride cymbal – on the body, on the bell, and on the edge. Each of these sweet spots produces a different tone and is used for different purposes in drumming. Drummers often experiment with these techniques to create unique sounds.

What is the history of the ride cymbal?

The ride cymbal was invented in 1815 by Swiss-born instrument maker Antoine Courtois and was initially known as a charleston cymbal. It was originally used in military bands but has now become a common cymbal in modern music.

How does a ride cymbal differ from other cymbals, such as crash cymbals?

The ride cymbal is typically larger and heavier than crash cymbals, with an average diameter of 20 inches and weight of 15 pounds. It also produces a low-toned, tinging sound compared to the loud, crashing sound of crash cymbals.

What are the best techniques for playing a ride cymbal?

The best technique for playing a ride cymbal depends on the genre of music being played. Jazz drummers often use the body of the cymbal for its mellow tone, while rock and metal drummers prefer the harsher sound of the bell. Soft genres like ballads may utilize the edge for delicate playing. It is important for drummers to experiment and find what works best for them.