Splash Cymbal Buying Guide

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Splash Cymbal Buying Guide

The Splash Cymbal was a result of a collaboration between infamous Jazz Drummer Gene Krupa and legendary Cymbal manufacturer Avedis Zildjian.Initially created in the 1920s, the Splash Cymbal now makes up a key part of the accent section of any drum kit after rising in popularity throughout the Jazz community.Though such an accent cymbal is not traditionally used within the rhythm of the beat, the clear distinctive tone emitted from this instrument is ideal to provide a dramatic effect within a piece of music.

Thanks to popular drummers such as Stewart Copeland, splash cymbals have now come into mainstream drumming and provide an added element to any percussion suite.

The Qualities of a Splash Cymbal

As the title infers, the Splash cymbal creates a splash sound when struck. Unlike many other drum cymbals, the splash does usually not taper towards the outer ring. This makes it look considerably thicker than most other types of cymbal even though it is still a relatively light option.

As a key accent cymbal, the splash provides a short, sharp sound which has little resonation as the sound decays relatively quickly. It also one of the smallest of accent cymbals and does need to be struck with some force to create the correct sound. But when played correctly, the splash will provide a high quality, high pitch effective and a quality of play that is unique to this style of instrument.

Types of Splash Cymbal

Though the traditional splash cymbal is the most popular, there are a range of specialist splash cymbals that all have their own unique qualities.

Rock Splash Cymbals

The rock splash cymbal is traditionally larger in diameter and creates a heavier, more aggressive sound suitable for a loud rock performance. Rock splash cymbals are usually available in sizes between 6 and 12 inches and will feature a slight taper to the rim, unlike the traditional splash style.

China-Splash Cymbals

Most china cymbals that are less than 14 inches are generally considered to be a china-splash cymbal. The china splash is usually thinner than the traditional china cymbal and the bell top is a slightly different shape enabling this instrument to create a truer splash sound. China-splash cymbals are highly effective as an individual sound or create amazing colour when combined with a larger china cymbal to create a dramatic dual effect.

Salsa Splash Cymbals

A salsa splash cymbal is traditionally used in place of a cow bell when performing with timbales for producing Latin American beats. It is one of the thinnest splash cymbals and produces a very bright sound. Usually oversized to create greater power within the sound, the salsa splash cymbal is most commonly marketed as an oversized splash at 13 inches.

Thin Splash Cymbals

Thin Splash Cymbals create the quietest of all splash cymbals due to their delicate nature. These instruments are incredibly fragile. Though they provide a dulcet, full sound when struck by hand, they can easily be split in half if hit full on with a stick, so care must be taken. For this reason, a thin splash is traditionally only found in a very experienced drum kit. Great care should also be taken when buying a thin splash cymbal to ensure there is no apparent damage or weakness before purchase.

Bell Splash Cymbals

Bell splash cymbals are one of the smallest yet thickest of cymbals. Usually available in 4 to 8 inches, the thickness of the cymbal requires a strong strike to create the very bell-like quality that this cymbal produces.

Choosing the Size of a Splash Cymbal

A cymbal traditionally has to have a diameter of less than 14 inches to be considered a true splash cymbal. Though splash cymbals have been made in sizes up to 22 inches, anything over 14 inches is usually categorised as a crash cymbal instead. The most common size of splash cymbal is the 10 inches with the 8 inches also increasing in popularity over recent years. Splash cymbals are available in sizes as small as 4 inches and can be selected depending on the required sound and decay as well as the overall fit with the drum kit.

Using Sizzlers with a Splash Cymbal

Adding Cymbal Sizzlers to a splash will increase the effect that the instrument is able to produce. Simply by adding a very cheap sizzler to the top of the cymbal it is possible to add extra effect to the tone, increase the resonance of the instrument and extend the decay of the sound.
It is possible to drill holes into a cymbal and add rivets to the instrument itself to create the same sizzle effect. However such a process means that the cymbal will always have a sizzle sound and can no longer be played with a traditional tone. The sound that is created by the sizzler will depend on where on the cymbal it is placed. Experiment with different positions to find the most desirable effect.

Mounting a Splash Cymbal

Thanks to its lightweight construction, the splash cymbal can be mounted on its own stand without the need for any counterweight or it can be used with an boom cymbal stand supported by another part of the drum kit. A splash cymbal can be mounted either right side up or in the inverted style which is becoming more popular today. As the cymbal is struck in a different position depending on the way it is mounted, the choosing the right mount for a splash cymbal depends on the desired effect.

Using a Splash within a Cymbal Stack

The traditional cymbal stack can use any combination of cymbals to create any permutation of sound required. Within this set up, the cymbals are placed directly above each other allowing full contact between the cymbals when struck. The combination used will then create a very distinctive sound which can be changed by using alternative cymbals within the stack and is unachievable with a single instrument.
By stacking three or more cymbals together it is possible to create a range of two cymbal sounds all from one stack. The increased number of cymbals used and the point at which the stack is then hit will then differentiate the tone created.

When stacking cymbals, a growing trend is to purchase specialist splash stack cymbals individually or in sets to create a full stack effect using only the splash effect. This creates a very desirable sound which is now becoming used more frequently. Alternatively, many more experienced drummers opt for the traditional stacking combination and will use a splash cymbal as the top of their cymbal stack with crash or other supporting cymbal underneath.

Piggybacking a Splash Cymbal

When a cymbal is piggybacked it is positioned in the inverse position above another cymbal on the same mount. Such a style not only looks highly effective but it can also reduce the amount of mounts required within a full drum kit. This reduces the time taken to set up the kit and to pack away at the end of the night. Furthermore, piggybacking provides the opportunity for much quicker transition between the two cymbals, ensuring consistent timing even with the fastest beat. Traditionally when splash cymbals are piggybacked, the splash will be the smaller cymbal and therefore take the top position. Both cymbals are usually positioned far enough apart so that they will not interfere with each other's sound. However, spacing felt can be used if the change in tone becomes an issue.

Find Splash Cymbals on eBay

To find Splash Cymbals on eBay, select the Musical Instruments category from the main page. From here, choose the Cymbals section which can be found under the Percussion sub-heading. Choose Splash as the sub-type to display all of the splash cymbals available on eBay. Alternatively choose a brand such as Zildjian or Paiste to further refine the search or opt for a certain size of instrument to fit the desired set.


The splash cymbal was originally produced from the desire of one musician and one incredible cymbal maker to create an accent tone that would generate effect and emphasis within a piece of music and, even to this day, it continues to achieves this goal. With a full range of splash cymbals available, there is an instrument that is going to add value to every drum set and provide a sound that is simply unachievable without such a valuable addition.

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