Woodwind & Brasswind | Anatomy of a Cymbal

The Music Room > Drums & Percussion Articles > Getting to Know the Cymbal

Getting to Know the Cymbal

Author - Zildjian

It’s common knowledge that cymbals allow drummers to create ringing or clashing sounds heard throughout any venue, but have you ever thought about how it all happens? For such a thin, round plate, this common percussion instrument provides players with indefinite pitch while delivering a big sound. Let’s take a look at the parts of a cymbal that makes this all possible.

Anatomy of a Cymbal

  1. Profile

    The profile is the degree of curvature from the cup of the cymbal to the edge. This is what affects pitch and overtones. If your cymbal profile is higher, it creates a higher pitch and fewer overtones. For lower pitch and more overtones, you’ll want a flatter profile on your cymbal.

  2. Taper

    Notice how the cymbal changes in thickness from the cup to the edge? This is called the taper. How thin or thick the taper is contributes to the amount of crash-like or ride-like qualities in a cymbal.

  3. Bell

    The amount of overtones or ring projected by a cymbal depends on the bell. A smaller bell will produce a more defined stick sound for riding and reduced ring and sustain. For more overtones and a longer full-bodied sound, a larger bell is necessary.

  4. Ride Area

    The center part of the cymbal is called the ride area. Since it doesn't open up immediately when struck, the ride area is ideal for creating pronounced stick tones and patterns.

  5. Crash Area

    The crash area is where most players strike to create an instant crash response and this is located on the outer edge of a cymbal.


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