Cymbals: to clean or not to clean?
Tubthumper
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#1
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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Cymbals: to clean or not to clean?

Just wondering what the consensus is re: cleaning cymbals??? IE: does cleaning affect tone? If so, in what way? For better or for worse?

I’ve just dragged out an old set that haven’t seen daylight in probably 12 years.... when I opened the lid of the cymbal case I was immediately overcome by the smell of stale beer and cigarettes. Ah, memories.....

So should I clean these puppies or just let them be - in their present, mucky state??
#2
28th March 2006
Old 28th March 2006
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See how they sound. Some cymbals definitely sound better with a few years worth of crap on them, some not. I have a pair of Zildjian hats that have about 25 years worth of tarnish, I love how they sound & will never clean them.
#3
28th March 2006
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Cleaning makes them brighter. So if that's what you want...have at it. It also makes them prettier!

I have an old Zildjian ride that is really dirty and crappy looking...and I love it!
#4
28th March 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubthumper
does cleaning affect tone? If so, in what way? For better or for worse?

when I opened the lid of the cymbal case I was immediately overcome by the smell of stale beer and cigarettes. Ah, memories.....

So should I clean these puppies or just let them be - in their present, mucky state??
I wouldn't. Especially if you record them. I like burying cymbals in the back yard, personally. Cleaning them is just wrong. I mean, if there are objects on it (a cigarette butt, a McDonalds fry stuck with dried ketchup), you might want to remove such things. But as for tarnishing, that's what makes 'em sound good!
C/G
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19th September 2006
Old 19th September 2006
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I think my current cymbal selection sound better when they are clean. The lathing grooves fill up with dirt and they tend to darken the sound and resonate less when they get dirty. On the other hand, the dirt could tame a really brash cymbal and make it more pleasing. When I am doing tracks for my band, I clean all of my cymbals. I had some older Z customs that sounded better dirty, but I have vintage style cymbals now, which are inherently darker, so I prefer them clean. Different strokes, and it is a huge, dirty pain in the ass to clean them.
#6
19th September 2006
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I have never even dusted a cymbal off in my life. I think the patina is what ages a cymbal and gives it a great sound. OTOH....sometimes I do hear new/clean cymbals and think they sound great...but it's just not for me.

m
#7
20th November 2006
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Good dark sounding cymbals have a great souding trashiness right from the factory. I am talking old Ks and Istanbuls and stuff like that some old As. Those I would never clean. However, some stuff like Paiste cymbals from the van halen period I would clean. I would probably polish up the right set of zildjian new beats because those are top end cymbals that like to bite and sting.

You have to just play the cymbal and see.
#8
21st November 2006
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I like 'em dirty and sometimes buy them thinking "this will sound good an a few years once it gets some dirt and darkness."
Tubthumper
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22nd November 2006
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Thread Starter
Bugger me, old thread reincarnates.

OK, I took peeps advice and didn't clean the cymbals initially. I have to say that I have been very happy with the recorded sound of the hats (Paiste 2002 14" Heavy), ride (Zildjian 22" Earth Ride) and small crash (2002 13" crash). The larger crash (2002 18" Medium) came up a tad dark so I bit the bullet and used some of that fine-grade steel wool impregnated with...... whatever the fukk it is. The clean-up definately brightened that sucker up, although it was as mucky as hell to start with.

Thanks for the input guys! thumbsup
#10
23rd November 2006
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Some cymbals I do like clean. The Paiste signature series I'll clean. The zildjian K's stay dirty. I also noticed that after the first time you clean a cymbal it seems to get dirtier faster. So if you want that old dirty sound then clean the cymbal once and watch what happens. In about a month of good use it'll be dirtier than you can possibly imagine.
#11
25th November 2006
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I Never, ever clean my cymbals. I've actually come close to blows over the issue... seriously. I was doing a show on the road that was big on presentation and the stage manager insisted that I clean my cymbals. Of course I said no way. Coming back from dinner one night I saw him putting some chemicals on a rag and getting ready to clean my cymbals. I nearly lost it. I prefer my cymbals dirty. They age and get better over time. I've never cleaned my cymbals because I love the way they sound. Tarnishing may work well for low end bronze cymbals, but I never touch anything on my old (or new) K's.
#12
6th July 2007
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Post Clean cymbals

#13
6th July 2007
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Great how to....but don't do it.

m
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6th July 2007
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never
Jax
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6th July 2007
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I hate it when people "clean off" the labels. Buying used cymbals can suck when you can't easily tell what they are. If you clean your cymbals, just tape over the labels with blue painter's tape or masking tape.
#16
6th July 2007
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No.

But if you play with Britney Spears you better polish them good! Kids dig shiny cymbals!


#17
12th November 2007
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When recording, I do clean my cymbals. That way I get all the ring and overtones. I can process out the precise frequencies I don't like in the mix. I think it makes a better recording.
In a live situation, sometimes clean cymbals can be too brash, and overpowering, especially in a small room. In that case, some crud doesn't hurt. So for me, two sets. One for the studio, and one set for the clubs.
#18
28th November 2007
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lol noob.
#19
29th November 2007
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No cleanage going on on my cymbals!
#20
29th November 2007
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i wiped some dust off this morning ~
#21
30th November 2007
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i use zildjian k's and a's and i don't clean my cymbals. i suppose if you like a really bright sound then you may want to keep them clean but I always think cymbals sound better darker. i'm allergic to z's.
#22
2nd April 2008
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I just cleaned my cymbals for the first time in 20+ years.

Wow, do they shimmer nicely now. I didn't realize how much the sound changed over time with all the buildup.
Tubthumper
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4th April 2008
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Jimbo, has this made for better recordings in your opinion??
#24
5th April 2008
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I just had my drummer in for a few days and his cymbals sounded better than they ever have in the past, they could be too bright and brassy. The conclusion we came to was that he hadn't cleaned them for a long time and they had a nice buildup happening. thumbsup
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7th April 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubthumper View Post
Jimbo, has this made for better recordings in your opinion??
I know it may seem strange, but I rarely record drums, so I can't answer your question. However, I am a gigging drumming (and banjo player), and I think my cymbals sound a lot better live.
#26
9th April 2008
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my zildjian A & K series stuff.. i NEVER clean except my new beat hats (only when im going to be tracking)

my paiste stuff onthe other hand... it stays spotless.. and as was said earlier.. i tape over the lables and serial numbers that way if i ever wanted to sell i could have proof of what they were. but i like the paistes because of there sterile bright sound and thats why i own them.. i want a bright sound so i keep them clean.

i do have a set of Paiste traditional series hats that i liek to keep dirty.. i clean the top hat and leave the bottom one dirty. gives it just enough brightness for my liking
#27
23rd April 2008
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This goes for my room too, right? Never clean your room!
#28
24th April 2008
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I will never clean them for I realy like how they changed sound during the years, to somewhat softer, less agressive, darker. I play mostely Jazz though and could imagine that a rock drummer might like to clean them.
#29
5th May 2008
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Clean

...seems to be a very personal thing. I have gone for long stretches without cleaning my cymbals and I can't say that I noticed any difference. I did feel that they sounded "brighter" after cleaning them but I am sure that this is just a placebo affect more than anything. I would venture a guess that the actual physical cymbal (metal alloys) and how they age in their core would have more to do with the tone than some dust, dirt or "buildup"....but then again...it does impact guitar strings and how they sound after a while....so maybe there is something to it.

I think a comprehensive study needs to be done...thumbsup
#30
10th May 2008
Old 10th May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax View Post
I hate it when people "clean off" the labels. Buying used cymbals can suck when you can't easily tell what they are. If you clean your cymbals, just tape over the labels with blue painter's tape or masking tape.
I really think you should judge a cymbal by it's sound, not by the name that's stamped on it, though.... I mean, if you like the sound, does it matter if it's a medium crash, a light ride or whatever..?
OTOH, I also try to preserve the logo's, but that's more for cosmetic reasons, for example when I want to sell a cymbal in the future.

Regards, C.
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