All drummers use crash cymbals at one time or another. We use different thicknesses, sizes and sometimes even shapes depending on the music we play.
In this article I’m going to share with you, the one crash cymbal I think every drummer needs to have in their cymbal collection. This crash cymbal is so versatile, it can be used in any kind of music. First though, let’s learn a few things about cymbals.
What is a crash cymbal?
Drum cymbals, are those metallic discs we hit with our sticks. So what the heck is a crash cymbal? It’s generally a cymbal that makes a fast, high-pitched sound. It’s used to accent parts of a song and add energy to the music.
Different types of cymbals in a drum set
You’ve probably heard names for different types of cymbals in a drum set. The two most common are “crash cymbal” and “ride cymbal.” We also have “China,” “splash,” “hi-hat,” and “effect” cymbals. For this article I’m gong to focus on the crash cymbal.
Sounds of cymbals
In general, crash cymbals make a crashing sound. This is where they get the name “crash” cymbals. Crash cymbal tone can be brash, clean, muted or very open. Again, it’s all about what sounds best with the music.
Cymbals have incredible power to shape and color the music. Cymbals also have frequency ranges. If match our cymbals’ frequencies to different parts a song, they can really add pleasing overtones to the music mix.
How many cymbals do I need?
Some drummers are “cymbal” drummers meaning they use more cymbals than drums in their setup. Other drummers are “drum’ drummers meaning they prefer to have more drums than cymbals in their setup.
The number of cymbals you need is up to your personal preference. It usually comes down to two factors though, your taste and the type of music you want to play. If the music you want to play sounds great with many cymbal color choices, then go for it.
For me I usually have just two or three cymbals for the majority of my gigs. I play mostly Jazz music so that works well for me. My cymbals are all versatile and there is one crash cymbal in particular that I use for many of my gigs.
The most versatile crash cymbal out there
The Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash is the most versatile crash cymbal I have ever played. In Jazz or Funk drumming, this cymbal is a chameleon of sound.
I have an 18″ Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash that I bought about 20 years ago. It has proven time and time again to deliver clean, consistent sound in the studio and on stage.
A crash cymbal for Jazz drumming?
I play mostly dark Jazz-sounding ride cymbals but there are times when I need a brighter color in my drumming. The Zildjian A Custom sound gives me that balance.
In fact, I often use my A Custom Crash when I perform with my Pearl Midtown compact drumset because it’s lightweight and mellow enough to blend with any music I play. This also includes Jazz.
Here’s a video of me performing with my cymbal. On this gig, the singer mixed Funk, Soul and Jazz music. This musically diverse kind of gig is ideal for my A Custom Crash. You can hear the cymbal in the right side of the mix.
At 01:32 in the video I swing on my Fast Crash like a Jazz ride cymbal. It has a clear defined sound despite being a crash cymbal. Because it is on the thinner side it’s also dynamic and doesn’t muddy the sound on stage.
This cymbal is undeniably versatile. So much musical tone and so useful. If there’s one crash cymbal to get, I believe the Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash is it!
Do cymbal sizes matter?
Well, yes! The larger the cymbal the deeper the tone it can have. I’ve found that 18″ is a great diameter for a crash-ride cymbal. It gives a perfect blend of high frequencies from the bell to the middle of the cymbal and lower frequencies from the middle to edge.
Cymbal thickness is also important. A weight of 1200-1250gm/2.65-2.75lbs will give a solid ride sound and responsive crash sound. See the pic below for the thickness of my cymbal.
What size crash cymbal should I get?
The size of the crash cymbal you use relates directly to the kind of music you want to play. As I said before, the larger the cymbal, the deeper the tone color it will have.
Larger crash cymbals typically have longer decay so they will ring for a longer time than smaller-diameter cymbals. If you want something to crash and then get out of the way, go with a thinner thickness and 18 inches in diameter or smaller.
How to buy a Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash
Usually, I recommend drummers test the sound of cymbals before they buy them. This involves going to your local drum shop to hand pick your cymbals.
I have to say, though, the Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash sound is incredibly consistent. I was even surprised when one of my drum students ordered 2 of them from Amazon and they sounded beautiful.
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The tone of Zildjian A Custom cymbals is warm and clean. They have a full sound with a pleasant frequency range. I find that A Custom cymbals are generally easy on the ears.
The Fast Crash decays rather quickly. Its beautiful frequency range and quick decay help it blend well with other instruments and in any music mix.
As of this blog post, I can only speak for the benefits of the 18″ Fast Crash. If you’re looking for that legendary A Custom sound across your whole drum set, I might also recommend checking out the A Custom cymbal pack. It’s a super deal for a full set of versatile pro cymbals .
Great for compact drum sets
My A Custom Fast Crash is perfect for travel. As you could see in the videos above, I often use it with my Pearl Midtown compact drumset. If you’re looking for a great compact drumset, I recommend it highly. Here’s my blog post about this extraordinary drumset.
When I combine this crash cymbal with my 20″ Zildjian Kerope Ride Cymbal, I have all the dynamic and color range I need from just two cymbals. Now that’s compact!
A note about cymbal cleaning
One unexpected benefit of playing an A Custom cymbal is it stays clean for a long time. I have never cleaned my cymbal and it still has a great shine. In fact, I don’t recommend that you clean your A Custom or any cymbals.
Try caring for your cymbals by keeping them in a cymbal bag when not in use. When you do this, they won’t collect too much dust or soot from the air. They’ll then stay clean for much longer periods of time.
The reason I don’t clean my cymbals is that the cleaning agent is usually very toxic. A few years ago, I made the mistake of cleaning my cymbals with professional cymbal cleaner. It was so toxic, I could feel burning in my lungs while using it.
At the time, I was wearing a mask, eye protection, rubber gloves and cleaning my cymbals outside. Still, the fumes were noxious. If you do choose to clean your cymbals, please be very careful.
The most important reason I recommend the 18″ A Custom Fast Crash is that it’s super fun to play! You get the great crash tone and that sweet ride sound all rolled into one.
Funk it up or swing it, any way you play it, the 18″ Zildjian A Custom Fast Crash is going to expand your drumming sound and creativity.
It records great and mixes well into any PA system. It projects without muddying the sound. A cymbal that’s lightweight and great for compact kits, you’ll find many ways to work it into your drum set up.
Thanks for reading about this great cymbal and keep swinging!
What is your favorite crash cymbal?
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