Clean Cymbals Or Dirty Cymbals?

by kindbeats on April 13, 2015

Do any of you prefer dirty cymbals over clean ones? I NEVER clean my cymbals. I’ll dust them off occasionally but that’s as far as it goes. I prefer some patina on my bronze, because with it often comes a darker and warmer sound. Personally, I feel that the sound of a cymbal gets better over time, kind of like a fine wine.

For the record, I don’t know a goddamn thing about wine. 😉

Yesitsmear Naldobuzack: Yes.

Eric Smith: I like your comment about wine.

Austin McGrath: It really depends on the cymbal, like my meinl byzance ride i love clean, my dream bliss ride? I would never clean that.

Bill Ray: I whine about dirty cymbals.

Gootch Ibarra: My Zildjian cymbals stay grimey seems to wear well with those … my Paiste cymbals naturally have a brilliant shine so I keep them clean but just by wiping … no cleaner

Paul Lerwill: I clean mine every couple of years whether they need it or not!

Matt McKasty: To me cymbals are like guitar strings. They take a little bit to open up when they’re brand new but once they’re a little broken in they sound great. Once dirt and grime starts to accumulate the sound dulls and your cymbals don’t have the same life to them. Just like guitar strings get dirty and full of grease and don’t sound good anymore, same thing happens to cymbals. Strings are cheap and under constant tension, so you change them. Cymbals you clean. I find that half of people disagree with cleaning cymbals because they don’t like it’s effect on the sound and half say not to because they heard someone else say it.

Michael Feldman: i generally prefer darker cymbal sounds, most new cymbals are far too bright for my taste….i have been happy buying used, unpolished cymbals for some time. your results may vary.

Colleen Wetherell Paydos: I bought some stuff to clean them but never got around to it. That was 5 years ago….

Will Fegan: I love dirty dark cymbals. the only time I clean a cymbal is before I sell it.

Jason Garner: Dirty

Chris Di Bernardo: the added blood, sweat, tears, smoke, beer, and everything else cymbals have absorbed DEFINITELY adds to the sonic quality. Never wash ’em

Blair Holben: You forgot puke,Chris….

Chris Di Bernardo: You’re right! How did I miss the most obvious one?

Yesitsmear Naldobuzack: As a matter of fact, whenever I buy a new cymbal I bleed, sweat, cry, smoke, drink and puke all over it myself just to get rid of that stupid new cymbal glare. Oh, and the stupid manufacturer logo too.

Scott Wilson: Oh you anti-capitalist you.

Andrew McAuley: I think you guys may still be leaving out a bodily fluid. 😉

Paul Petsu: I like to clean them when they get really dirty. Dawn and a rag. Nothing crazy.

Gootch Ibarra: There was/is an urban myth that Gadd fired a tech for taking initiative to clean his cymbals. Not sure I believe it but I would take Gadd for a dirty cymbal kinda guy

Phil Salvatti: I play PAISTE 2002’s. Big size cymbals. They are bright sounding and if dirty they are not bright. I need them bright to cut through a lot of volume and to maximize that classic 2002 sound. I clean them pretty much before every gig, or if they start to slightly discolor. I make em bright and shiny, purdy as picture.

Andrew McAuley: Believe it or not, some older jazz cats used to take their brand new cymbals and bury them in the ground for days or even weeks at a time.

Yesitsmear Naldobuzack: When I hear cats talk about “that classic 2002 sound” I realize how old I am

Jon Berger: ^^They still make 2002s

Yesitsmear Naldobuzack: I know, but remember when they didn’t?

Dave Peterson: I never clean mine.

Matt McKasty: Note to self: do not go into the cymbal polish business]

Allen Herman: Well, Andrew, I do know a lot about wine. And I never cleaned a cymbal in my life. I still have an old 22″ Heavy A I used on tour that was smoked in a fire in the tour truck. Sounds great.

Trent Renshaw: I’ve never cleaned any of my current cymbals and the K Cons I have are old enough to drive. They have such a different character than they did when purchased 17 years ago. I like shiny drums and hardware, but I love my dirty cymbals!

Jon Berger: Allen Herman doesn’t bury his cymbals in dirt he uses a smoker . I play paiste whos patina on almost all their lines last a long time. My 1st set of hi hats , 14″ signature dark crisps from 1994 took a while to get dirty and soften up. When new it was a challenge to play a really soft chick by foot . On a similar note there is a busy drummer percussionist friend on broadway , virtuoso and incredibly creative cat named Damien Bassman. His kit is a mutt of 60s , 80s Gretsch, yamaha , Noble and cooly . He does not change his heads for years. I am talking about beat out single ply heads. The drums always sound incredible . He could easily get deals with drum companies. But he told me , they sound and feel great , why change that. His cymbals all look funky and used but sound great. I just saw Gadd on TV with Clapton playing brand new shiny cymbals .

Yesitsmear Naldobuzack: Yep, I don’t change heads either, only when they’re really really gone. The older they get, the funkier the drums sound.

Andrew McAuley: I also very rarely change my batter heads.

Jeremy Sibson: I don’t clean my cymbals either. Never have, never will.

Roger Anderson: Depends on what group of cymbals I’m playing I will clean for video or photo shoot. I saw the guy at namm with his set up whoaaaa what a cleaning set up.

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