Cleaning / Cymbal Care:
you ever noticed that some drummers' cymbals shine so much
that it always looks like they're brand new? Then there's
the rest of us. We'd rather take a bullet in the head then
to have to clean those darn things.
like the way cymbals look when they're shiny and bright.
The stage lights reflect off of them and really set off
our drumset. But...are we often too lazy to clean them?
I must admit, I rarely ever cleaned my cymbals. When I did,
I dreaded it as it would make a complete mess out of the
kitchen. I'd have cleaners spread from one end of the room
to the other. I'd have numerous rags, and usually papers
or towels on the floor because the things were always so
awkwardly big that you couldn't fit them into the kitchen
sink. I was relieved to finally play with a few big artists
where the stage crew (and hired union workers) would clean
them for me.
I've written this article to help with the laborious
task of cleaning your cymbals. Hopefully you'll learn
a thing or two and you won't ruin a few of your cymbals
the way I did. Remember there are numerous opinions
on the subject and this will vary depending on personal
experiences. Here are a few pointers based off of my
own experience and research:
Do it in the yard, not in your bathtub or kitchen sink.
Take a bucket of warm water out there just like you're going
to wash your car. Leave your bath or kitchen be. It does
nothing but make a huge mess and pisses off your girlfriend
or spouse. Ha!
Experiment with all the cymbal cleaners. I've listed them
below. Be careful with scouring mixes like Comet. They can
scratch the surface of your cymbals if you're not careful.
Determine whether your cymbal needs a polishing, a quick
once-over, or a deep-cleaning (dirt and grime has built
up on the cymbal over a period of time as opposed to just
stick markings). If they only need a quick polish, buy a
spray-on type of cleaner. It's usually quick and effective.
When you clean your cymbal, wipe in the direction of the
grooves of your cymbal. You can use an abrasive sponge or
scrub brush but make sure that the wires of the brush are
not metal or that they're not something that will scratch
Some drummers will use household cleaners such as Fantastic
or Formula 409 to help remove the initial deepened grime.
It won't get it all out but it might help loosen it up.
You can also soak your cymbals in hot water before cleaning
them. This will help loosen the dirt.
Remember that some commercial cymbal cleaners are more for
polishing or touching up rather than deep-cleaning (and
visa versa) so be sure to read the label before proceeding.
Clean small sections at a time, especially with really dirty
cymbals. Again, think of it like your washing your car.
You don't wash the entire car at one time right? Take it
one small section at a time.
Some drum shops have professional cymbal cleaning machines
and they offer this as a service to their customers. It
will cost you a bit but will save you a lot of time if you're
one that simply detests the chore.
Some cleaning agents can be harmful to your health. Be sure
to use rubber gloves or a breathing mask if necessary. Make
sure there is proper ventilation.
What are cymbals made out of?
An alloy (or combination of metals) consisting of copper,
tin, nickel silver, brass, or bronze.
makes cymbals get dirty?
Dust, cigarette smoke, and especially oil from your fingers.
do cymbals turn green sometimes?
This is a result of tarnishing. The cymbal becomes discolored
due to slow oxidation. When there is brass or copper in
the cymbal alloy, it will turn green over time if not polished.
What drummers often use to clean cymbals:
Zildjian Cymbal Cleaning Polish
Paiste Cymbal Cleaner
Sabian Cymbal Cleaner
Buckaroo Cymbal Cleaner
Blitz Cymbal Cleaner
Fantastic or Formula 409
- Usually cymbal ink labels will rub off during cleaning.
It is difficult and sometimes impossible to clean around
it's debatable just how much, metal is lost in the process
of harder scrubbing and if care is not taken to follow the
grooves, it could affect the overall tonal quality of your
using a high speed drill with attachments. This could prevent
undesirable results and/or you could ruin your cymbal.
cymbals: Altering their age properties or original design
structure could de-value the cymbals in the resale market.
Use extreme caution.
Other Tips and Advice:
- Keep your cymbals covered. Store them in a cymbal bag
(individual cymbal sleeves are recommended) or in a cymbal
case. Keeping them properly stored keeps them cleaner longer.
If you have to have your cymbals on stage for long periods
of time, invest in cymbal sleeves or take them down each
up your cymbals by the edges and try not to touch the surface
area. If you have to handle your cymbals frequently, keep
a pair of gloves in your accessory bag and put them on before
handling the cymbals.