Cymbal Modifications: 8 Techniques To Change A Cymbal

By JohnPascuzzi

With YouTube’s popularity growing, cymbal modification is becoming increasingly popular. DIY enthusiasts today have more information and knowledge than ever.

This page is about cymbal modification, as the title indicates, whether you want to repair an old, broken cymbal or want to make a DIY O-Zone crash using a drill press.

Types Of Cymbal Modifications

Types Of Cymbal Modifications
Types Of Cymbal Modifications

Let’s start by discussing what can be done to change a cymbal. Among the first are these:

– Fixing cracks

– Cutting down a cymbal

– Adding rivets

– Adding holes (Look at Sabian’s O-Zone cymbals)

– Lathing

– Sanding

– Hammering

– Adding Patina 

*** Read more: How To Play Cymbals Properly: A Simple Guide for Beginners

Fixing Cracks

Arguably the most common cymbal change is patching cracks. There are a few schools of thought, but in the end, there is not much that can be done if a cymbal cracks.

Fixing Cracks
Fixing Cracks

#1. Drilling A Hole

It is generally accepted that a small hole should be drilled at the end of the crack to prevent the break from spreading.

While temporarily effective, the crack frequently reappears in the exact location right after the music has stopped.

#2. Drilling Out The Entire Crack

Another drilling method, possibly more effective, entails drilling out the entire fracture and smoothing the cymbal afterward. A cymbal might still be able to play for a few more years if it is properly maintained.

Cutting Down A Cymbal

Cutting down a cymbal can increase its lifespan but requires far more sophisticated equipment and abilities.

Cymbals will have a jagged edge and sound horrible if done incorrectly. What you will need is as follows:

– Jigsaw

– Sharp metal blades

– Drill press or custom-made cymbal lathe

– Metal file

– Sandpaper

The cut cymbal must first be set on the drill press or lathe. You are given two choices. The cymbal should be either marked with a Sharpie or scored with your lathe bit. Take away the cymbal.

From the recently produced circle mark, draw lines at acute angles. With the jigsaw, you ought to have something simple to cut into.

Cut out each tiny triangle with the jigsaw until you have a brand-new, crack-free cymbal.

The cymbal will not be utterly round because of how saws work. We must take our metal file and place the freshly-cut cymbal back on the lathe or press.

Apply the file to the cymbal’s edges and flaws while the lathe or press turns it. While this method will take some time, the results ought to be respectable.

The final phase is applying the finishing touches to the cymbal that has been reduced in size. 

*** Read more: How To Play Polyrhythms: What You Need To Know [2022]

Adding Rivets

Adding Rivets
Adding Rivets

Why not? Jazz musicians adore cymbals with rivets. They have great audio. Many jazz compositions have had a natural tendency toward sizzle over the past fifty years.

It can be challenging to add rivets because drilling and a rivet tool are needed.

Adding Holes

O-Zone crash cymbals have a sound that is a cross between a China, a stacker, and a crash.

You can make one if you can access a drill press and some quality metal bits.

Before drilling starts, sketch out a design you want to try. Mark the locations where you will drill on the cymbal with rulers and Sharpies.

Drilling larger cymbals close to the bell is more complicated. How far you can or cannot cut depends on your drill press. Some cymbals could require hand drilling using a hand drill.

Once the holes have been made, spend some time using a file and sandpaper to give the piece a lovely, polished appearance. Make sure to hold on because the holes that have just been drilled will be sharp.

Cymbal Lathing

Cymbal lathing involves eliminating extra material from a particular cymbal. This procedure can be done manually or by machine with a sharp metal bit that cuts as the cymbal spins.

*** Read more: The 10 Best Common Drum Beats And How To Practice Them


When a cymbal is hammered, it acquires defects that give it a black tone.

Cymbals that have not been hammered (or have been hammered by a machine) typically sound brilliant and pingy, while hand-hammered cymbals typically sound dark and explosive.


Self-hammering cymbals can be complex. You will require the following items:

– Appropriately-sized piece of lumber

– Metal anvil

– Ball-peen hammers (3 of differing sizes)

– Your “test” cymbal

Starting with the anvil, The anvil is perched atop a piece of wood (in my case, a section of a tree). High carbon steaks off a steel round are ideal for an anvil, but they can be challenging to locate.

Only strike the cymbal with a ball-peen hammer when the anvil and cymbal are in excellent contact. Avoid repeatedly hammering the same area.

Allow the cymbal to rest for a few days after each hammering. If you take things too far, you can break the bronze.

Try not to hammer your favorite cymbal under any circumstances. You will mess it up. Choose an outdated or useless object to practice hammering.

Adding Patina To A Cymbal

A patina is a green or brown layer that forms over the surface of bronze or other comparable metals due to prolonged oxidation.

A cymbal’s appearance is the only thing changed by adding patina, despite some claims to the contrary.

*** Read more: What You Need To Know About Session Drummers

Cheap Cymbal Sounds

Cheap Cymbal Sounds
Cheap Cymbal Sounds

According to an old saying, “you cannot draw blood from a stone.” This also applies to attempts to improve the sound of inexpensive cymbals through modification.

Cast cymbals are manufactured using a higher-quality casting method, where the grooves are machined and lathed, premium metals are used, and the cymbals can even be hand-hammered for a superb sound. View the entire casting procedure for them with Zildjian.

Sheet metal is used to create lower-quality cymbals, sometimes known as—you guessed it—sheet cymbals. This creates a highly tinny and clanging sound, which may be what you are after but is typically standard with starter kits.

Let’s look at how sheet cymbals are made by one of the biggest cymbal producers.

Some nations have a long tradition of producing top-notch cymbals, much as the UK is known for its tea or India for its spices.

Turkey has long been a leader in brand recognition and cymbal reputation. They are reputed to only get better with age and are produced using B20 alloy metal, which is made up of 80% copper and 20% tin.

Aside from China, other nations with outstanding cymbal exports include Switzerland and Italy. Italian cymbals are created using a roto casting process, which guarantees no change in sound regardless of use or age. Swiss cymbals are made from a B8 alloy, often known as malleable bronze, and have a dark, mellow sound.

Cymbal Playing Technique

You may master your craft by developing good habits. Remember that several factors, such as your overall stance, kit setup, and even the angle at which you strike your cymbals, may affect their sound.

Ergonomics is essential for maintaining good form as well as your overall health. A light grip will produce a far more deliberate and high-quality tone while lessening the strain on your wrist.

Let’s learn from Mike Tyson’s example regarding muscles, stretching, and injuries. What could a world champion boxer who enjoys training pigeons on the side possibly know about drumming? Just give a little of your time. He frequently discussed how, during practice, he would aim behind the body bag to throw a blow that would be more powerful and effective. Imitate Mike. If you want to increase the resonance and lengthen the tone of your cymbal, try hitting through it rather than down on it.

The location of the cymbal, such as the bow or bell, and whether you strike the cymbal with the tip or shank of your stick will affect how loud the sound is.

Always be aware of your attack’s angle. Never strike the cymbal directly or downward; approach it at a 45-degree angle. Another aspect is the location of the cymbal strike. For instance, striking the cymbal’s bell will result in a more rounded-out ringing sound, while striking the bow will result in a more ping-like ending.

Let’s not forget about the pedal’s power in addition to stick strikes. Avoid pressing down on the hit-hat pedal too hard; doing so will result in a muffled and compressed sound instead of a loose tone and pitch produced by letting the two cymbals open up and interact with one another.

In the world of drumming, wear and tear are inevitable, but good technique and striking will extend the life of your cymbals by many years.

*** Read more: How Much Does A Drum Set Cost? – Hapitones

Cymbal Condition

Cymbal Condition
Cymbal Condition

When it comes to a clean or dirty cymbal, each to their own. Contrary to most maintenance manuals, not cleaning your instrument is not always a bad thing when it comes to preserving cymbals.

Cymbals’ manufacturing process makes them complicated. A porous surface is produced by lathing grooves and hand hammering dimples, which can hold dirt and oil in addition to sweat and oil from your hands.

The brownish-green oxidized discoloration that emerges on cymbals can be caused by patina, which can develop when dirt and oil get trapped in the pores of the instrument. Instead of a clean and sparkling cymbal to keep that fresh out of the bag brilliant and sparkly sound, some drummers go for a deeper and more mellow tone.

A cymbal’s sound becomes more broken and mellows the more it is struck. For maturing a cymbal like a good wine, specific cymbals constructed of softer metal alloys, such as B8, work well.

We drummers can all agree that a crack forming in your cymbal is not a pleasant look or sound, despite some disagreement over whether to maintain your cymbals clean or dirty. Two different sorts of cracks can develop. A cymbal crack begins at the edge and moves inward, or a circular crack typically develops from a weekend spot that runs down a groove.

Cymbal Stands and Settings

The importance of having good sleeves and felts cannot be overstated. The rubber tubes known as sleeves serve as a washer-like buffer between the stand and the cymbal. While felts offer a comfortable surface for the cymbal to rest on over the sleeve. Fortunately, you can buy large quantities of these goods, which are cheap. If only Costco had a department for drum accessories. One can fantasize.

Your stands and clamps would be the hull and engine room of the boat if your drums and cymbals were the sails. You must keep them in good condition. Unmaintained stands may squeak or be unstable, making it difficult for you to play. Let’s pay attention to the more minor elements of our settings.

How to Make Your Cymbals Sound Better in Your Space?

How to Make Your Cymbals Sound Better in Your Space
How to Make Your Cymbals Sound Better in Your Space

We hear by transferring vibrations from actual drums to our eardrums through our ear canal, a short chain of bones, fluid-covered membranes, and finally into our brains for processing via an auditory nerve.

Cymbals can alter their sound dramatically by bouncing their sound off the nearby walls, floors, ceilings, and other surfaces in the same way we can hear sounds.

Make sure your space is adequately insulated by installing carpet, mounting sound panels on the wall, or hanging insulated drapes if you want to produce your cymbals in the style of a recording studio. A cymbal sounds very differently in a well-soundproofed room compared to a performance venue or church.

*** Read more: 4 Steps Learn How To Play Drums Without A Drum Set!


In conclusion, you need decent hardware and sound playing technique. Keep your cymbals clean and perform in an audio-friendly atmosphere to ensure you get the best sound out of them.

Arguably, having an excellent cymbal sound will improve your playing, especially if you are a novice or intermediate player.

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