Ride Cymbal Buying Guide

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Ride Cymbal Buying Guide

Ride cymbals are single cymbals that, together with the hi-hats, are used in acoustic drum kits to keep time and rhythm.

About Ride Cymbals

Ride cymbals are large cymbals usually mounted on a stand to the right side of a drum kit. They are played in different areas and with different types of drumsticks to create different sounds. At around 20 inches, ride cymbals are usually the largest cymbal in the drum kit. Sizes range from 16 inches to 24 inches.
Ride cymbals are used to keep a steady rhythm, sometimes known as a ride pattern. This central role gives them a key place in any drum kit. The pattern is sometimes varied between the ride and hi-hat cymbals. Sometimes cymbals sometimes have a dual function, for example, ride/crash cymbals.

Choosing Ride Cymbals

Various factors influence the suitability of a particular ride cymbal. These include its design, size as well as its price.

Ride Cymbal Design, Size, and Sound

Ride cymbals produce sounds noted for their long sustain and shimmering qualities, in contrast to other cymbals such as crash cymbals which have shorter sounds with less sustain.

The Bell, Bow and Rim

Ride cymbals can be struck on the bell, bow or rim. The domed part of a cymbal is known as the bell, while the flat area surrounding it is the bow. The rim is the circumference, right at the edge. Ride cymbals typically have a quite large bell, which gives them the capability to provide interesting accents. The tone of the bell is bright while the bow’s sound is softer and more muted. Ride cymbals used in hard rock and metal may have an even larger bell than usual both to enable the drummer to hit it more easily and to produce a louder sound.

Cymbal Size

Size affects the sound quality of ride cymbals, as other cymbals. Thicker cymbals are higher pitched, while thinner cymbals produce lower, darker sounds. Larger diameter cymbals are capable of greater volume, while smaller diameter cymbals are more suited for lower volumes, producing soft, shimmering tones. The largest ride cymbals are around 22 inches to 24 inches while the smallest are typically around 16 inches to 18 inches. Ride cymbals vary in thickness but most are around medium to medium thin thickness.

Drumsticks and Brushes

Another factor affecting tone quality and volume is the instrument used to strike the cymbal with. Wooden or nylon-tipped drumsticks may be used. Wooden drumsticks are quieter than nylon-tipped drumsticks and produce a smoother, more natural tone rather than the sharper tone of nylon-tipped drumsticks. Brushes can also be used to play ride cymbals, creating sound either by striking the cymbals or by sweeping them across the bow’s surface.

Tone and Cymbal Quality

Tone is often more important than quality and price when it comes to ride cymbals, and the desired tone is largely dependent on musical style and individual preferences. However, the rich tone created by high-quality cast bronze cymbals is often preferred to the brighter tinny sound provided by cheaper sheet brass cymbals.

Other Types of Ride Cymbal

Some cymbals can be interchangeable depending on the style and volume of music. For example, ride cymbals may be used to provide crash cymbal functions at loud volumes due to their greater size. There are some other types of ride cymbal that sound slightly different to standard ride cymbals and may be used in different ways.

Crash/Ride Cymbals and Ride/Crash Cymbals

Crash/ride cymbals and ride/crash cymbals are cymbals used to provide both ride and crash functions, though crash/ride cymbals are mainly used for the crash function whereas ride/crash cymbals are mainly used for the ride function. They differ slightly in design to reflect these different functions. Crash/ride cymbals are more common. They are about 16 inches to 18 inches in diameter and, like crash cymbals, have a thinner edge. Crash/ride cymbals can provide a softer ride pattern at very low volumes.

Flat Ride Cymbals

As their name suggests, flat ride cymbals are flat, with no bell in the centre. The flat profile results in a quieter sound that is popular with jazz drummers.

Sets, Stands, and Accessories

As a standard element of the drum kit, ride cymbals are typically included in entry level cymbal sets. Other cymbals typically included in entry level sets include hi-hats and crash cymbals. In some sets ride cymbals are combined with crash cymbals as crash/ride cymbals.
Ride cymbals sold as part of a set may include a stand, but often the stand is not sold with the cymbal. Normal cymbal stands can be used with ride cymbals. Features to look out for include sturdy and lightweight construction, braced legs, good adjustable height range, adjustable arms, and cymbal tilter. Buying a stand together with the cymbal can often work out cheaper for the beginner, but not always, so check the price of individual components as well as sets.
As well as stands, other cymbal accessories include drumsticks, cymbal/stand screws, and wing nuts, felt washers, cymbal cleaner, cymbal polish, cymbal bags, cymbal sleeves, and noise dampers. Screws, wing nuts and felt washers are used to attach the cymbal to the stand. Be sure not to tighten them too much, which can restrict the cymbal’s movement and vibrations, leading to less than optimum sound and potentially damaging the cymbal. Plastic wing nuts are available as an alternative to metal wing nuts and felts. The bottom felt is the most important for protecting the cymbal. Cymbal cleaner and cymbal polish help keep cymbals in optimum condition, free from dirt and oils that could cause corrosion and damage the cymbal. Cymbal bags are used to store and transport cymbals safely and securely. The instruments are prone to damage if dropped or left on the floor, so taking care of them will prolong their life. Noise dampers dampen the sound of cymbals to different extents, some almost silencing them for quiet practice sessions.

Find Ride Cymbals on eBay

There are two simple ways to find ride cymbals on eBay. The first is to go to the eBay home page and navigate through the categories. These are listed to the left of the page. Scroll over All Categories and navigate to Musical Instruments. Select Cymbals followed by Ride. The brand, size and condition of ride cymbals can be specified.
The second way is to go to the eBay home page and use the search facility at the top of the page. Type terms such as 'ride cymbal', '20" ride cymbal' or 'bronze ride cymbal' into the search bar and press Search to bring up relevant listings.


Ride cymbals are large cymbals used by drummers to keep a steady rhythm. They typically produce longer and more sustained sounds than other cymbals such as crash cymbals. Ride cymbals can be struck on the bell, bow or rim, each area producing different sounds. Ride cymbals have larger bells than other cymbals. Other factors influencing the sound of a ride cymbal include thickness, size and manufacturing process. Thicker cymbals have higher pitched sounds than thinner cymbals, and larger diameter cymbals have more volume than those with smaller diameters. Ride cymbals are on average around 20 inches and of medium to medium thin thickness. Higher-quality cast bronze cymbals have a richer tone than cheaper sheet brass cymbals. Ride cymbals can be played with drumsticks and brushes, and the type of drumstick or brush used will affect sound quality. Aside from standard ride cymbals, there are also dual purpose ride/crash cymbals and flat ride cymbals which give a quieter sound. Ride cymbals may be bought as part of an entry level cymbal set. The various accessories available include stands, drumsticks, wingnuts and felts, cleaner and polish, and cymbal bags. Taking care of cymbals by regularly cleaning them and always transporting them carefully will prolong their life, giving optimum sound for longer.

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