Cymbal Care & Cleaning

How do I care for my cymbals? Do I need to clean them? What products do I use to clean my cymbals? These are all excellent questions and we've compiled answers from our cymbal manufacturers. Most cymbal companies have specific recommendations for their cymbals due to variance in alloy composition and finishes. Please follow the recommendations for your cymbal brand and type. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

Zildjian Cymbal Care

How do I care for my Zildjian cymbals?

Zildjian cymbals are precision crafted. Their life expectancy depends largely on usage. One played with care and good technique will last longer than one played rigorously with poor technique. Proper care helps maintain the musical integrity of the instrument. Abusive treatment, neglect, and incorrect playing habits all contribute to metal fatigue which can diminish tonal quality or even cause cymbal fractures.

Follow these 9 easy guidelines to ensure a long life for your Zildjian cymbals:

1. Play It Right

Avoid striking cymbals directly on their edge. Zildjian crash cymbals, especially, should be hit with a glancing blow, a little off center. Striking with a slight twist of the wrist also helps avoid breakage and allows crash cymbals to "open up."

2. Choose the Right Cymbal

The sound quality of a Zildjian cymbal is determined by its alloy content, size, shape, hammering and lathing pattern. Trying to force a cymbal to produce volume beyond its range can cause breakage. There are Zildjian cymbals for every style of music. Match your cymbal to your specific needs.

3. Protect Your Investment

• Always carry your cymbals in a padded cymbal bag or a protective cymbal case. • Store your cymbals immediately whenever you break down your drum set. • When cymbals are not in use for prolonged periods of time, wrap cymbals separately with a piece of cloth to protect their edges and surfaces; be especially careful of the bottom edge. • Keep your cymbals away from extreme cold or heat.

4. Avoid Metal-to-Metal Contact

Place a sturdy nylon or rubber sleeve around the cymbal tilter rod when mounting your cymbals to prevent center hole deformation and cracking. Always use top and bottom felts.

5. Keep It Loose

Do not over-tighten the wing nut. This can cause cracks around the center hole. Also, a clamped cymbal will not vibrate freely and often sounds choked. For HiHats, keep the clutch medium-tight so that the top cymbal moves freely.

6. Mounting

The first thing before mounting a cymbal on a stand is to make sure all the knobs are tight. If one or more are loose, the stand could collapse or move in a certain way that could damage the cymbal. Once the knobs are checked and tightened, put the nylon or plastic cymbal sleeve on the mounting rod of the cymbal. The sleeve takes away any direct metal on metal contact, making the cymbal last longer and maintain its high quality. Next, place a felt on the sleeve followed by the cymbal. Additionally, you can place a second felt on top of the cymbal, followed by a wing nut to the mounting rod and tighten it only so that it is resting on the top felt.

To be sure that the cymbal is not too tight, move it around and strike it a few times with your hand or a drumstick. If it is rigid and doesn’t move a lot, loosen the wing nut. However, if the cymbal is moving freely, then the mounting process has been done correctly. Once the cymbal is mounted, adjust the height of the stand so that it feels comfortable for your playing style and at your drum set. Keep in mind that mounting the cymbal too high can result in damaging the cymbal when it is being played.

7. Playing Style

The way a cymbal is struck is crucial to the sound and lifespan of the cymbal. Having the cymbal mounted on a stand too tightly will not allow the cymbal to open up (rigidness combined with constant playing on the cymbal will only cause it to break much faster). The drumstick should be loose and relaxed in your hand when playing a cymbal, which will allow the cymbal to produce its best sound and prolong its lifespan. Also, when crashing a cymbal, the drumstick should still be very relaxed in your hand. This will make the contact with the cymbal more relaxed, which will make the sustain of the cymbal last longer. Make sure the cymbal is at the right angle when crashing, with a slight tilt towards you as you play.

Be sure you have the right sort of cymbals for the style of music that you play. The size, thickness and type of cymbals are all important for each style of music. A general guideline to go by is the heavier the music, the heavier the cymbal. Following this guideline will also prolong your cymbal’s lifespan.

8. Setup/Transport/Cleaning

When setting up cymbals make sure that you have the correct felts and sleeves. Do your best to keep them out of harm’s way while setting up. The best way to do this is to get a cymbal bag. Zildjian has multiple cymbal bags ranging from 20”-24”, which do a great job of protecting cymbals. Leaning cymbals on a hard surface can damage the perimeter of the cymbal and give it dents. Try and find a rug or soft surface to lay them out on while setting up, or better yet leave them in your cymbal bag and set them up one at a time. Always take extra care of your cymbals when transporting them. When transporting and storing cymbals, make sure that there is no metal on metal contact between cymbals and always use the Zildjian bags for increased protection to avoid scratching cymbals or leaving undesirable visual blemishes on the cymbals due to metal on metal contact . In addition, when transporting cymbals our cymbal bags offer multiple pockets to ensure that there is not any direct metal on metal contact between cymbals. When storing cymbals, make sure they are wrapped carefully in a cloth as well.

9. Cleaning

Keeping your cymbals clean is important for their upkeep. Do not play with dirty hands, and when carrying cymbals, use two hands on the perimeter of the cymbal to avoid fingerprints. Dirt and spills should be removed immediately with warm water and soap. Zildjian Cymbal Cleaning Polish can also be used to clean and protect brilliant finish cymbals ONLY. Non-brilliant cymbals should not be cleaned with cymbal polish cleaners as this will leaves marks or even dis-color the finish and should only be cleaned with a soft dry cloth as with specialty (Kerope, buffed bronze, and L80 Low Volume Cymbals) and natural finish cymbals. On Kerope cymbals, do not use cymbal polish or any other cleaner.

Paiste Cymbal Care


Avoid direct metal contact with the stands by ensuring that mounting rods are covered by plastic or rubber sleeves to avoid the key-hole effect caused by repeated metal contact Felts should be inserted underneath and on top of the cymbal. They should have the proper size so that they protect the cymbal from metal washers, which can cause circular cuts underneath the bell.

It is a good idea to use a top mounting screw to prevent the cymbal from falling off the stand during heavy playing.

Do not over-tighten mounting screws and make sure that the cymbal can move freely as it will sound better and absorb the striking force well. This is especially true in crash and hi-hat top cymbals.

Consider avoiding extreme angles and height when mounting cymbals. Horizontal and high placement will cause you to hit crash cymbal at improper angles, and will weaken the edge of the cymbal and chew up your drumstick. Near vertical mounting in ride cymbals will not develop the ride cymbals full sound and is awkward to play Angle the bottom cymbal of the hi-hat slightly to avoid air lock. There is usually a screw for this purpose underneath the bottom cymbal washer.

Playing Style

When striking the edge of the cymbal use glancing blows or pull back the stick. Do not hit directly at and "through" the cymbal. You will have less problems with breakage and achieve a more musical sound.

You should be especially careful when hitting the upturned edge of a china or swish cymbal.

Don’t play hard, play smart. If you find yourself playing hard, that is probably because your cymbals and drums are too small or inappropriate tuned.

Loosen up and relax. If you are stiff and rigid, you will transmit this inflexible force into your cymbals when playing. Remember, a cymbal can only sound as good as it is being played.

Setup & Transport

Handle cymbals by holding them between both hands at the edge.

Always check for proper felts and nylon sleeves before setting up cymbals.

If at all possible, rest your cymbals flat and out of harm’s way. Avoid standing them on their edge on hard surfaces such as concrete floors.

If cymbals will be stacked, try to avoid direct contact between them with plastic, cloth, a towel, or similar materials. The same is true for transportation in bags and cases.

Avoid extreme cold and extreme heat and allow cymbals to assume the surrounding temperature before playing them.

When transporting cymbals, always use a bag or case. Make sure cymbals cannot move around too much and are separated from each other with some soft material or plastic.

Always protect the edge of the cymbals. Nicks and dents invariably lead to breakage and void the warranty.

If you have a flight case with a center rod, make sure it is covered by plastic or rubber to avoid direct metal contact.


Every Paiste Cymbal is treated with a special protective coating, designed to resist fingerprints and light stick marks. It also prevents oxidizing-that all too familiar green color we've all seen on old cymbals. This coating makes it very easy for maintenance. The coating allows fingerprints and light marks to come clean quite easily by wiping in the direction of the grooves with a soft cloth.

Cleaning Advice

Play with clean hands. Dirty, sweaty hands are not good for your cymbals.

Wipe your cymbals frequently with a soft, dry cloth, and after each practice session or performance. Remove dirt and spills immediately.

Clean your cymbals more often with just warm water and soap.

If you have to use a cleaner, use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. Obviously, we recommend Paiste Cymbal Cleaner & Protector.

Do not use mechanical buffing tools. They generate heat and may be too strong, so that you may remove not only dirt but metal as well.

Cleaning with the Paiste Cymbal Cleaner & Protector

First lay the cymbal on a table covered with a smooth carpet or cloth surface.

Next wet the cymbal with water and also wet a cotton cloth with water.

Squirt a few drops of Paiste Cymbal Cleaner onto the cloth (not onto the cymbal directly) and make sure the cleaner is well watered-down.

With the cloth, gently wipe the cymbal in the direction of the lathing grooves until you see dirt being removed from the surface. Do not rub at all! As soon as you see dirt or grime on the rag, stop the cleaning process.

Rinse off the cymbal with a different wet cloth until the cleaner is completely removed. You can also rinse the cymbal directly under running luke warm water instead. When the cleaner is completely removed, use a new dry cloth and gently wipe around the cymbal until it's completely dry. Again, never rub!

After completing the cleaning instructions, pour a small portion of Paiste Cymbal Protector on a clean dry cloth and gently wipe around the grooves of the cymbal. The protector serves as a temporary coating and prevents the bronze surface from oxidizing. Your newly cleaned and protected cymbals will be worth the effort!

Cleaning Color Coated Cymbals

For cymbals that feature that Paiste Colorsound Coating (black, white, etc., e.g. Visions) the standard cleaning procedures are not applicable. Use only a dry or damp cloth, gently rubbing in the direction of the grooves. For hard to remove dirt or stick marks, warm water and mild soap can be used but again, no harsh cleaners. This coating is designed not to come off, unless metal to metal contact is made. Paiste Colorsound Coated cymbals should always be stored in their plastic sleeves or separated by cloth, towels, or other soft materials. Never allow them to rest against each other, or against other cymbals without some protection between them. These points will keep your color coated cymbals looking like new for years to come.

Sabian Cymbal Care

How Can I Avoid Cracking A Cymbal?

Cracking/breaking can result from a number of factors, most of which are avoidable. There are different types of cracking ranging from a break on the edge to cracks in the groove lines on the bow of the cymbal or around the base of its bell. Don't be too quick to blame the cymbal; cracks like these are almost always the result of something else.

Here are some tips to avoid problems:

Play cymbals that are suitable for your playing style, sound and volume Don't play small, thin cymbals if you're playing hard in a high-volume rock band. Choose thicker, heavier models.

Use the right sticks. Heavy sticks and light cymbals do not make a good mix.

Use a cymbal sleeve and small felts (top and bottom) to protect your cymbal from damaging metal-on-metal contact with the stand.

Do not over-tighten the wing nut on the stand; let the cymbal move. Too tight and the cymbal will 'choke' and vibrations - unable to release anywhere - may crack the metal.

Do not over-angle cymbals. Let them sit flat or angled slightly toward you. Too much of an angle restricts movement and can lead to cracking around the base of the bell.

"Slice" across the edge of your crashes. Playing directly down and into the cymbal (straight-arming) can crack your cymbals. If your cymbals are chewing up your sticks, chances are you're playing them incorrectly. Remember: Slice! It may be awkward at first but you'll get a better sound and extend the life of your cymbals.

Protect your cymbals when they're off the stands. Never leave them leaning against gear or flat on the floor; they'll get knocked over, their edges will get nicked (which often leads to cracking), or they'll get stepped on. Bag them individually (or separate them with a cloth or towel) then store in a cymbal bag or hard-shell case. Ideally the bag will have divider pockets and the case will have a center bolt to minimize damage from movement.

Can a cracked cymbal be repaired?

Warning: Your Sabian warranty will be void if you take the following actions. Only attempt repairs if your warranty has expired.

Problem: Crack running along tonal grooves
Solution: Drill small holes at either end of the crack

Problem: Crack on cymbal edge and running toward bell
Solutions: Thin Cymbals - Using a pair of metal cutters, make a V-shaped cut to remove the entire crack. Sandpaper the edges so they are not sharp Heavy Cymbals - Using an electric drill, cut a small hole at the end of the crack. Sandpaper the edges so they are not sharp

Problem: Crack (running along tonal grooves or running toward bell) near edge of cymbal
Solution: Have a professional machine shop cut down the size of the cymbal, removing the cracked portion in the process. Use sandpaper to smooth the new edge around the cymbal (This solution can change the sound of the cymbal but will remove concern about the crack). Use sandpaper to smooth all rough edges. Do not use an electric sander as friction from these generate heat that may further damage your cymbal.

Solutions must be implemented as soon as the crack is noticed.

A cracked cymbal is often the sign of something wrong with how it is mounted/angled on a stand and how it is played. It is always worth reviewing your cymbal stand to ensure it has appropriate felts, a rubber/plastic tube over the center rod; that the angle of the cymbal isn't too extreme, that it is not bolted down too tightly (it should have freedom of movement when played), and that it is not being played excessively hard (especially for thin models).

What should I clean my Sabian cymbals with?

Sabian Cymbal Cleaner is specially formulated for use with all Sabian cymbals... all series, all finishes. And though Sabian Cymbal Cleaner is logo-friendly, we recommend that you avoid cleaning the logos, instead cleaning around them. Wiping the logos with any cleaner will eventually remove the ink. Should your Sabian logo require refreshing, we recommend the Sabian Logo Renewal Kit.

My cymbals are starting to rust why?

What you are describing is oxidation. This occurs when moisture (water or other liquid) is left on a cymbal. This moisture, the copper and the air combine to discolor the metal, resulting in dark brown or green marks. Keeping your cymbals dry and regular cleaning (no need to polish) will help prevent this. Once oxidation starts, it is difficult to stop it. Regular cleaning minimizes the visual effect but will not remove it totally. The only way to remove the marking and halt the situation is to remove it all together. This requires removing a layer of metal from the cymbal either by lathing or by buffing. In most cases this is not a practical solution. Though you may not like oxidation marks, they will not harm the sound of your cymbals.

Istanbul Agop Cymbal Care

Always transport and store your cymbals in a high-quality padded cymbal bag or protective cymbal case. If possible, use a bag or case with cloth dividers to prevent scratching.

Always choose your cymbal models and sizes according to the music you play and your own playing style and dynamic. As a general rule, larger and thinner cymbals are darker and have a lower perceived pitch. Smaller or heavier cymbals tend to have a higher perceived pitch and are more able to cut.

Avoid playing directly into the edge of your cymbals. Even a slight tilt of your cymbal stand will make a substantial difference.

Avoid overtightening your cymbals. Allowing them to move more freely enhances tone, projection and durability.

Avoid metal to metal contact. Always use sleeves and felts on your cymbal stands.

Use a soft cloth to remove remaining fingerprints, moisture and dust after playing. Doing this will simplify the cleaning process later.

Bosphorus Cymbal Care

Cleaning Your Cymbals

The number one source of dirt on your cymbals is finger prints. Although your fingers may look clean, they are covered with oils that will eventually harm your cymbals. Every time you choke you cymbals, or transport them, you are covering them with finger prints. Fortunately, this can easily be cleaned. There are many products out there for cymbal cleaning. Some people say some products will remove the metal and destroy your cymbals. This is not true, the metal it removes is minuscule, and will not damage your cymbal. Be sure to be careful with the polish you use - most are corrosive and can irritate your skin and/or damage your clothes.

The Correct Cymbal Angle

Another tip to keep in mind is the angle of your cymbals. Make sure you are not striking your cymbals at the wrong angle; this will cause excess stress that will eventually damage your cymbal. For your crash cymbals, start with them at a 90 degree angle –from there adjust it downwards 20 or so degrees. You do not want to have it too tilted or you won’t get a powerful enough hit. Not enough angles will hurt your cymbal, as well as damage your sticks. Ride cymbals are usually thicker and can take more abuse. Besides, most rides are played with the tip of the stick, so stress is not usually a factor.

Wing Nut Tension On Your Cymbal Stand

Wing nut tension is usually overlooked by drummers. This is the screw that you tighten overtop of the felt on your cymbal stand. Before I go any further; make sure you have 2 felts on each stand. One underneath and one on top of the cymbal. This is very crucial, as it will act as a cushion and absorb a lot of energy that usually harms the cymbal. With this in mind, you do not want to tighten your wing nuts to much. Cymbals emit their sound by vibrations, and if you have it on too tight, you will restrict its’ movement. A tight wing nut allows the outer edge to vibrate, while permitting the inner bell to move at all. This causes unneeded stress to the center, which may crack your cymbal! On the flip side, too loose a wing nut will allow too much movement; which will shorten the life of a cymbal drastically. So be sure to keep them nice a snug.

Transporting and Storing Your Cymbals

Whether you’re traveling to a gig or storing your cymbals, remember these basic rules. Never leave them standing upright. Cymbals that are left leaning upright will put a lot of gravitational force on the bottom, and will eventually cause warpage. Always store them laying down on a padded surface. If you are storing more than one, do not place them on top of each other unless you have a cloth like material between them. When transporting, never leave them on their stands. Cymbal bags are a must for any traveling drummer. The investment is well worth the safety for your cymbals.

Taking Care Of Your Cymbals

Following these simple steps will maximize the life of your cymbals. Always remember to keep the wing nuts at the right tension, as well as the cymbals at the right angle. Also, keep in mind not all people like to clean their cymbals, some like the sound of nice clean cymbal, others swear by the sound a dirty cymbal gives. It’s up to you, and your style.