Hi-Hat Cymbal Buying Guide

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Hi-Hat Cymbal Buying Guide
Hi-hat cymbals are a type of cymbal typically used to emphasise certain drum beats. They actually consist of two cymbals mounted together and played with both a foot pedal and drumstick. Hi-hats are a standard part of acoustic drum kits .

About Hi-Hat Cymbals

Hi-hat cymbals consist of two cymbals which are mounted together on a specialised hi-hat stand. The bottom cymbal is mounted statically on the stand and does not move. The top cymbal is attached to a sprung rod that can be moved up and down with a foot pedal. The distance between the two cymbals can be adjusted to alter the sound, and a variety of different sounds can be created just by changing the foot pedal action. Hi-hats can also be played with drumsticks.

Hi-hat cymbals are generally 13 inches to 14 inches in diameter. Smaller and larger diameters are available but less widely.

Hi-hats are one of the core types of cymbals found in drum kits. This is because they are used to emphasise certain drum beats, keeping the time and rhythm of the whole piece.

Choosing Hi-Hat Cymbals

Choosing hi-hat cymbals involves considerations about their size, design and quality. The type of hi-hat stand chosen is also important, and needs to be chosen with regards to the cymbals themselves. Style of playing and sound required will affect choice of both cymbals and stand.


There isn’t so much choice as with some other cymbals when it comes to choosing hi-hat size, which can make the decision process much easier. 13 inches and 14 inches are the standard sizes, though other sizes can also be found.

Thirteen-inch hi-hats have a brighter, more cutting sound with better volume. The sound of 14-inch hi-hats is fuller and richer, but they do not have as great volume. Which is preferred depends on the style of music and particular track. Because hi-hats have an important timekeeping role, they need to have a quick response. Thirteen-inch hi-hats have a better response and may be required for some tracks. Professional drummers often have both to provide versatility.

Top and Bottom Cymbal Design

The bottom cymbal should be thicker than the top cymbal to create a crisp sound. Crispness of sound can be optimised in other ways. For example, some bottom cymbals are wavy which creates more pressure when they close against the top cymbal. Hi-hat cymbals may have other various innovations to improve playability and sound quality.

It is possible to buy top and bottom cymbals separately, but it is generally preferable to buy them as a set. This ensures they are designed for use together to provide optimum sound.


Generally speaking, cymbals receive a lot of use. Hi-hats, because of their integral role, receive especially frequent use. This means it is often worth spending a little more on hi-hats to obtain decent-quality cymbals.

Product reviews are often a good source of information about particular types and models of cymbal, and they generally provide comparisons with cymbals of similar and different quality. For most musicians, choosing mid-range quality cymbals is perfectly acceptable while high-quality cymbals are a bonus if the budget allows. Very cheap cymbals should usually be avoided, as factors during their manufacture mean their sound quality is typically poor and they are subject to stresses which make them less durable.

Hi-Hat Stands

Hi-hat stands are an important consideration when purchasing hi-hats. It is the mechanism on the stand which moves the cymbals and any stand needs to be robust and durable to withstand frequent playing. Hi-hats that feel uncomfortable will result in less confident playing, so it’s essential to choose one that fits the bill.

As with hi-hat cymbals themselves, the price can vary. Price is arguably less of an indication of quality when it comes to stands than cymbals, but it can still be worth comparing prices, features and reviews to see what is included in the price. Buying from a reputable brand tends to be a good idea, whatever the component.

The stand needs to be heavy enough to support the weight of the cymbals. This is an important consideration if thinking of purchasing a lightweight stand. While very attractive from a portability perspective, lightweight stands and springs may not have the strength to support heavier cymbals or to hold them apart. They may be fine for lighter cymbals. High-quality lightweight stands are preferable.

Another consideration is how versatile the stand is with regards to allowable adjustments. Stands may allow the distance between the cymbals to be altered, allowing for different sounds. They could also allow the foot pedal to be adjusted in different ways. Lightweight stands may not have as many options.

The mechanism holding the top cymbal is known as the clutch. These come in various types. Drop clutches are useful for drummers also playing double-bass drums with pedals, as they can be simply operated by hand or with a drumstick.

Cymbal Sets

Cymbal sets aimed at beginners will usually include hi-hats. These can be a good option as they provide the core cymbals required for drumming, often at a lower expense than purchasing them separately. Different sets may be aimed at different playing styles, so check that the particular hi-hats and other cymbals are appropriate.

Playing Hi-Hats

Hi-hats can be played either open or closed, with the foot pedal providing the mechanism to open and close them. The top cymbal can then be struck with a drumstick or brush. Played when closed, the hi-hats have a tighter, more focused sound. Played when open, they have a looser, more dispersed sound or a shimmering sound. The foot pedal can also be used to clash the cymbals together and provide a crisp sound known as a chick sound. Hi-hat cymbals can also generate shimmering sounds.

Find Hi-Hat Cymbals on eBay

To find listings for hi-hat cymbals on eBay, go to the eBay home page and scroll over the All Categories tab. Select Musical Instruments from the options. Then select Cymbals. Under Sub-Type select Hi-Hats. Under the Sub-Type heading are various other headings, giving various options to narrow the listings to make them more relevant. These headings include Brand, Size, Condition, and Price.

Another way to search for hi-hat cymbals is use the search facility, found at the top of any eBay page. Type relevant terms into the search bar and press Search. Relevant terms here might include “hi-hat cymbals”, “hi-hats” or “13-inch hi-hats”. Once the listings appear they can be narrowed using the same method as above.


Hi-hat cymbals are actually two cymbals mounted on a stand one on top of the other. They are typically used to keep time and emphasise certain drum beats. The top cymbal moves in response to foot pedal movement or, with drop clutches, when struck with a drumstick. Hi-hats can be played with a drumstick with the cymbals open or closed to create various different sounds and textures, from crisp sounds to shimmering effects. Hi-hat cymbals are typically 13 inches or 14 inches, with 13-inch hi-hats having a more cutting sound than slower, richer 14-inch hi-hats. 13-inch hi-hats may be required for tracks which demand a quick response. The thickness of hi-hats also affects their sound quality, and bottom cymbals should be thicker than the top cymbals for optimum sound. Buying top and bottom cymbals together is generally a good idea, as they will be designed to be played together. Choosing good-quality hi-hats is often worthwhile, as they receive a lot of use, and product reviews as well as manufacturer websites are a good source of information here. The hi-hat stand is also important, with factors such as portability, stability and functionality with regards to adjustments some of the criteria for consideration.

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