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Cymbals: to tilt or not to tilt Studio Monitors
Old 7th November 2018
  #1
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Cymbals: to tilt or not to tilt

At some point, I don’t know when, I stopped tilting my cymbals inwards. Probably when I flattened out the rack tom angles.

But if you go back through the ages, cymbals used to be on a pretty steep angle, hence all the keyholing you find on well-worn, much-loved vintage cymbals.

Nowadays, I see everything pretty flat: toms, snare, and of course cymbals.

Obviously it’s a preference thing, but if you go back through the drum catalogs and live shows photos, it’s like night and day.

What say you? Tilt or not to tilt?
Old 7th November 2018
  #2
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drycappuccinoguy's Avatar
they should be tilted or not tilted so you can strike them properly with comfort. You should not be striking them on the edges, unless you want cracks. In general if they are higher you may need to tilt them more an flatter when lower. From a players perspective you want to optimize for efficiency by limiting motion. From a recording perspective you may want some distance from the rest of the kit to minimize bleed. Placing them too high can cause shoulder issues when you get older though. For me it can be painful if I have to raise my arm for extended periods of time. I basically try to arrange the kit to limit movement above the elbow to minimize shoulder irritation. I also have to do this with the computer mouse.
Old 8th November 2018
  #3
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
But if you go back through the ages, cymbals used to be on a pretty steep angle, hence all the keyholing you find on well-worn, much-loved vintage cymbals.
I tend to 'accept' keyholes. It sort of says to me: this is the place the cymbal wants to settle in.

I see it similar to how drycappuccinoguy explains it. The more level your cymbals are, the more likely you are to strike them on the edge. Keyholes are better than cracks by any yardstick. I like to have them at enough of a tilt that I can comfortably hit them on top with the tip of the stick and use a little wrist action if I want to hit the edge now and then.
Quote:
Obviously it’s a preference thing,
I think years of playing jazz have influenced my setup to encourage ease of movement from any drum or cymbal to any other. So I have everything tilted slightly 'in' in a sort of bowl. And positioned to require the least "arm" stuff. When other drummers bring their kits into the studio, I like to ask to check out their drums for a bit. It's funny to me how right off the bat the way the drums are positioned seems to "encourage" certain things and "discourage" others. I find myself playing "like" that drummer a little, because his setup pushes me in those directions.

Quote:
but if you go back through the drum catalogs and live shows photos, it’s like night and day.
I never really thought about it as period-specific or 'modern' vs 'old school', but now that it has been brought up, I will keep my eyes open for examples.
Old 8th November 2018
  #4
Keyholing is surely the result of cymbals sitting on metal rods, not protected by plastic sleeves.
I have cymbals I’ve played tilted for decades and no hint of keyholing.
My cymbals are higher and slightly tilted.
Without typing everything again I basically agree with the last two posts.
Old 8th November 2018
  #5
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tilt them if they are high up and/or adjust your technique how to hit cymbals!

most 'drummers' in pop/rock seem to be 'drum hitters' and not 'cymbal players': good for cymbal manufacturers, bad example for kids though...

(longtime artist relation manager for a cymbal manufacturer, drummer and engineer)
Old 8th November 2018
  #6
Lives for gear
Have a gander here. I mean, I used to see cymbals on a 45 like that all the time. Rack toms too.



And now:


Maybe it was just the cymbals were up so high before, you had to tilt them down to hit them. Or the kits are getting smaller, so you can easily sit up and play down on the kits?

I'm just shooting the breeze here, really, but it's just something that struck me as mildly interesting that the cymbal height/angles changed significantly over the years.
Old 8th November 2018
  #7
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Chrisso is right....with good collars over the mounting posts keyholing will be pretty rare, whatever the orientation of the cymbal.

I think in a great many cases the preferred orientation of components is far more a matter of visual fashion than functionality, whether for toms or cymbals. Back in the 80s -- at least in the rock world -- the "look" was big kits with angled toms, cymbals on big boom stands angled inward, sometimes inverted ride cymbals and such. Nowadays, the kits are smaller, toms absolutely level, cymbals mounted low and level on straight stands. Nothing looks more dated now than kits with angled components and boom stands reaching in from all angles.

In either case -- low and totally flat or up high and heavily angled -- you could argue that such a config is actually harder to play than to just put the drum and/or cymbal in whatever orientation makes it easiest to access.

I remember an old Slingerland catalog I had in the 80s which featured triple-braced boom stands with an extra 8" angled arm at the end of the boom. This allowed you to thread the post through the cymbal eye from the top down rather than bottom up. So you could have the boom even higher, and the cymbal would hang from it on that little arm. This, the catalog explained, allowed the cymbal to "vibrate more freely."
Old 8th November 2018
  #8
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
Have a gander here. I mean, I used to see cymbals on a 45 like that all the time. Rack toms too.

wow. That's a bit more 'angle' than I ever remember seeing. That kit does not look normal to me - from any time period. I wonder if you could even achieve that much of a tilt without the counterweighted booms. Who has counterweighted booms?

I think somewhere we have a thread with photos from drum sets set up weirdly. Most are from ads on Craig's list where obviously someone's mom set them up for the photo. That's the kind of vibe I get from this picture!
Old 8th November 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
I remember Roger Taylor having a pretty dramatic height/angle.
Old 8th November 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
Have a gander here. I mean, I used to see cymbals on a 45 like that all the time. Rack toms too.


I like the fact that the kit is called "Resonator," yet it has all those damping pads and felt strips on it. Perhaps it actually was a bit too resonant for 80s styles.
Old 8th November 2018
  #11
Al Foster had the steepest angled cymbals.
Old 9th November 2018
  #12
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Keyholing is surely the result of cymbals sitting on metal rods, not protected by plastic sleeves.
I have to admit, at any given time, I tend to have at least one cymbal minus its sleeve. I even use the kind where the sleeve is also the wingnut. I still lose them. I don't know what keeps happening to them.

Maybe they turn into guitar picks and reappear in my dryer.
Old 9th November 2018
  #13
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Drumsound's Avatar
I sit low and have a good amount of angle on my rack tom(s) and crashes. I don't like 2 toms over the bass drum so I can keep the ride low and easy to get at without raising my arm. I can reach most of the set with subtle movements, wrist flicks, etc.

I don't care if it looks trendy, or whatever. Its all about playing, efficiency of motion and comfort.
Old 9th November 2018
  #14
For me it's all about sound. I'll play any less ergonomic set up if it helps the sound, especially in the studio. Cymbals and hi-hats tend to be the enemy of a drum sound.
If you have your cymbals low and just above the toms it bleeds right into the tom mics. That kind of set up is great though if you play your cymbals with a light touch, like a lot of 60's and 70's drummers did.
In the modern era of smashing cymbals hard (not good really), I want my cymbals away from tom mics.
I do have my ride at a comfortable low height.....and I don't thwack my ride.
Crashes go as high as I can comfortably reach, and angled towards me.
If I'm recording a quieter, more intimate drum part (ala 70's), I can have my cymbals much lower.
Old 9th November 2018
  #15
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
I tend to keep my ride just high enough that it's not uncomfortable. I'm a light touch player and like some angle, I literally cannot play a low non angled ride at all!

Old 9th November 2018
  #16
Funny, I've seen a trend, mostly in clinicians, to angle cymbals away from the player. So you are faced with the rising edge of a cymbal; rather than the top surface.
Weird, I can't think of any positives in that approach.
Keith Carlock had his toms either flat or angled away, but that's because he sat over the kit and played traditional grip. It was ergonomic for him.
Old 9th November 2018
  #17
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
I tried the angled away snare when I was working on trad grip and it makes sense for that. I can't even imagine angled away cymbals, I'm pretty fussy about being comfortable and played around with the angle a bit while working on the Tony Williams style pattern. (He seemed to go for the 45 degrees, which does seem to make the bounce easier.)
Old 15th November 2018
  #18
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
But if you go back through the ages, cymbals used to be on a pretty steep angle
You just need to go back further: I think you'll find that before the steep angle rage of the 1970s, there were a lot of drummers playing with flat cymbals.



Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I think years of playing jazz have influenced my setup to encourage ease of movement from any drum or cymbal to any other.
A friend of mine who had studied with Tony Williams once asked Tony why he raised his cymbal stands up so high during his rock/fusion period (e.g., the New Lifetime with Allan Holdsworth). Tony said "To make it more challenging."
Old 16th November 2018
  #19
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Al Foster had the steepest angled cymbals.
I'll see your Al Foster and raise you Tommy Campbell:

Old 16th November 2018
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
For me it's all about sound. I'll play any less ergonomic set up if it helps the sound, especially in the studio. Cymbals and hi-hats tend to be the enemy of a drum sound..
I used to see Bernard Purdie on jingle sessions once in a while. He'd sit down and move the hi hat so far away his foot could barely reach it. I finally asked him if that was comfortable, and he said, "Not in the slightest."
Old 20th November 2018
  #21
I personally tilt everything slightly, but use to tilt a lot more. Some of the cymbals I play have been in constant use since the early 80s with no key holing; Zildjian As. I also play Paiste but those are a lot newer.
Old 7th December 2018
  #22
ktf
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ktf's Avatar
 

I tend to go for ease of motion...don't want to be crashing cymbals accidently. I do avoid keyholes with proper sleeving. Cymbals will find their spot keyholes or not.
This brings to mind a time years ago. I was driving down Sherman Way approaching Reseda blvd and an old theater marquee read 'drum lessons from Ginger Baker...20 bucks'. I pulled into the nearest parking spot and walked in and there he was with his kit. Nobody else was there. He asked me to sit down and play something. The angle of his mounted toms were something I could not get around. That was his thing though, check it out on his vids. They were 8 inches above his snare and totally horizontal. It required allot of what I considered unnecessary adjustments. But I'm not going to argue with Ginger. There are no rules. Just do what feels right and helps.
I do think cymbals sound choked when you tilt them allot.
Old 12th December 2018
  #23
Here for the gear
 

It all depends on the angle you like your arm wrist at when you hit it. I tilt them a little because I like that angle and I don't chew up my sticks.



Oh and yeah I use sleeves. Have had a 20" Zild ping ride since 1980 with no keyholing. That said ... I don't give a **** about keyholing. But I might want to sell it someday. Others care.
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