EP 93 - Debunking Cymbal Myths with NickyMoon
Nick and I discuss 11 different popular cymbal myths in this episode, many of which were submitted by listeners of the podcast! We cover things such as "old cymbals are always better", "hand hammering is automatically good", "covering my cymbal in ketchup makes it sound better", and many more. This is a really fun episode where I learned a ton from my pal Nick Margarite aka NickyMoon.
Nick is a great independent cymbal maker based out of New Jersey and the man behind NickyMoon cymbals. Check out his awesome work at https://www.nickymoon.com/
Here is a quick link to Nicks previous Drum History episode about The History of Cymbal Making - https://www.drumhistorypodcast.com/post/ep-65-the-history-of-cymbal-making-with-nick-margarite-nickymoon
• There is never a universal yes/no/right/wrong with cymbals because all cymbals are
• MYTH #1 - “If it’s B20 it’s automatically good”
• Bronze - All bronze is not created equal
• Compare Turkish, North American, Chinese, Italian and German Bronze
• SUB MYTH - B20 Good, B8 Bad
• Cast vs Sheet - Just make reference to previous podcast where we went in depth on this
MYTH #2 - “If it’s hand hammered it’s automatically good"
• Break down factory style hand hammering vs independent craftsman style hammering
• SUB MYTH - Hand hammered is automatically dark, machine hammered is automatically
• Hand Hammering vs “Machine Hammering” vs CNC hammering and combinations
• Break down different styles of machine hammering - Zildjian, Sabian, Turkish, Paiste -
explain how a Paiste 2002 is a machine hammer-shaped B8 cymbal vs most other types
of B8 cymbals
• Break down hand hammering - pre-shaped hammering for tone vs full hand shaping
• Explain why human intuition is the primary factor and why a computer can never
• MYTH #3 - “Lathing is all about removing weight or making bright tonality”
• Lathing has multiple effects on the cymbal and it needs to be done in consideration of other
• Lathing affects the tension, shape and taper of the cymbal just as much as is affects the
thickness, so lathing only with thickness in mind will not achieve a good result
• Lathing effects as explained in marketing material aren’t necessarily untrue but that whole
cymbal was planned from the beginning to end up that way. Other steps had to have been
changed in order to end up with a particular finish style, for example a lathed top and raw
• SUB MYTH - Copying the lathing techniques of a particular cymbal on a modified cymbal
will automatically achieve the same sonic results as the copied cymbal - it can, potentially
but other factors will need tone mitigated as well
MYTH #4 - “There is an ideal way to clean cymbals”
• This argument will never end and there is no perfect or ideal way to clean a cymbal - it’s
actually impossible. If there was, one of the big brands would have figured it out by now.
• A Cymbal is an organic piece of material, a metal which is affected by humidity, moisture, PH,
temperature and other biological factors. In some way, it is “alive”
• Too many factors involved - for example, all brands use different types of clear coats (some
don’t use any) & different types of logo inks, therefore their recommendations will all differ.
• There is no way to clean a cymbal without removing the logo, and brands don’t want you to
remove their logos.
• Consider the life of a cymbal - born in fire at lava-like temperatures, hammered and/or
pressed under enormous amounts of pressure, cut with sharp tools on a lathe, etc - a little
bit of polish or detergent is not going to change to molecular composition, shape, density
or tension of a cymbal. It is a piece of metal and it is very strong.
• The being said, the surface finish of a cymbal can have a pretty dramatic impact on the
sound. However, even if a 30 year old patina was removed, yes the cymbal would sound
a bit different but it is not “ruined” - that aged patina can be recreated for the same effect.
• There is no 1 product that is suitable for all cymbals and all desired cleaning outcomes.
MYTH #5 - “I need/deserve an endorsement”
MYTH #6 - “Vintage cymbals are better”
• Vintage cymbals do have a vibe, but it is mainly because they are generally thinner, (mid
1940’s-1970’s cymbals are generally thinner but really old cymbals are actually heavier due to
their marching applications), they are hand hammered and because they have a natural
patina which gives a warmth to their sound.
• B20 bronze hardens with age - this does affect sound in the case of very old cymbals but it
also means that they become more brittle - so spending $3,000 on a vintage K from the
1930’s is not necessarily a “safe” investment if you’re looking for durability or reliability
• *Interesting point about B20 age hardening - in my metallurgical research I read an article
written by a scientist who explained that this process is actually the copper and tin trying to
eventually separate from each other and return back to their previous form - no one has
actually witnessed this with B20 because theoretically it would take thousands (or even
hundreds of thousands) of years
MYTH #7 - “Patina is good / Patina is Bad”
• This is a personal preference - case closed
MYTH #8 - “Drilling holes at the end of cracks will stop them”
• This will temporarily arrest the crack but only in the short term. If not properly repaired by a
professional, experienced cymbal smith, it will continue to crack
MYTH #9 - “Heavier cymbals are always more durable”
• Theoretically medium cymbals are the most durable, because they have an ideal balance
between thickness and flexibility
• Hardness vs toughness - hardness is the ability to withstand friction / Toughness is the ability
to resist fracturing when force is applied - give example of anvil
• Very thick cymbal with lots of tension (lack of flexibility) is more hard than tough and will be
succeptible to cracking under certain loads - give example of series on the market from the
• Thinner cymbals are more succeptible to warping/bending
• The way you play a cymbal is the most important factor in its durability (assuming it is of
MYTH #10 - “Burying cymbals in the ground does / doesn’t do anything”
• It depends on the following -
• Does it have a protective coating? If so, nothing will likely happen other than it will get dirty
and you will waste time, unless it has been buried for years and years and even then it is not
• If the coating is removed, you may get a reaction depending on where you bury it - what is
the climate like? What is the PH of the soil? How high is the water table in your area?
• How long was it buried?
MYTH #11 - “If I had Tony Williams’ ride cymbal, I would sound like Tony Williams”
• Tone is in technique and an individual’s sound is not reproducible by anyone else. That is.
why human beings are special.
• That being said, I do make a hell of a Tony Williams style ride.... :)
• Also consider - acoustics of the room where it was recorded, microphones, outboard gear
involved, medium that the source material was captured on, medium that it’s listened to on,
etc - too many factors to ever duplicate
Thanks for listening!