Aren’t crappy cymbals one of the most discouraging things about being a drum beginner or drummer on a budget? You can tune your drum heads very easily and make even the cheapest kit sound fairly good. But the cymbals are just there. You either hit them and they sound great – or they don’t.
And each new drum set (except for electronic ones) comes either with low-quality cymbals or with no cymbals at all. So there’s no way around buying some.
But what is the best budget cymbal pack? And how can you determine that if taste is so subjective?
Well, cymbals are made through different processes and they are made from different kinds of material. Both those things are quite complex. Fortunately for you, I dove deep into the world of alloy and hammering – and I’ve made it back to the surface.
And here I’ll show you the best budget cymbal packs 2016 in plain English.
Zildjian cymbal pack (ZBT Pro) – cheap good sounding cymbals
Zildjian is one of the best known cymbal manufacturer in the drumming world and their ZBT Pro cymbal pack uses “Zildjian Bronze Technology”. That means these cymbals are made of B8 bronze, a mixture of 92% copper and 8% percent tin (hence the name).
That’s a good thing, because bronze has better sound characteristics than brass, which is used in the stock cymbals that come with most beginner drum sets.
At the same time, B8 bronze is generally cheaper than B20 (80% copper and 20% tin). This is why this Zildjian cymbal pack is fairly cheap, and it doesn’t even mean that the ZBTs sound bad. They simply sound different: brighter and more focused, because they have higher frequencies than B20 cymbals.
So I think the Zildjian ZBT Pros are cheap but good sounding cymbals! What about you?
Note that with the ZBT Pro cymbal pack you’ll get a 14” Hi-Hat, a 16” Crash and a 20” Ride (same as a in the video) and an additional 14” Crash for free (18” Crash in the video).
14”, 16” and 20” are the cymbals and sizes you’ll find on a regular drum set and from there it’s up to you to go bigger (18” Crash) or smaller (14”) or both.
And the regular setup also explains why I don’t recommend another Zildjian cymbal pack: the ZBT Starter. Yes, this one costs less, but it comes with a 13” Hi-Hat, a 14” Crash and a 18” Crash-Ride.
A Crash-Ride is a cymbal you can use for both purposes and as you might guess: it only does both jobs half well. But the main problem for me is the Hi-Hat, which you will hit 80% of the time, and which will sound more high-pitched and less groovy because of the smaller size.
Wuhan Western Style – my best budget cymbal pack
Wuhan cymbals, as the name implies, are made in Wuhan, China. And if you now think about scrolling away, please bear with me for one more minute.
Because manufacturing in China allows Wuhan to sell a hand-hammered cymbal pack in B20 bronze for the cheapest price in this review. And with B20 bronze, these cymbals will sound fuller and warmer (some people would also say “darker”) than the Zildjian ZBT Pros above.
And hand-hammering is a manufacturing process that usually only high-end cymbals undergo. Budget cymbal packs are normally made by machines punching cymbals out of bronze sheets. With Wuhan you get the high-end process on a budget.
Yet, this also means that no 2 Wuhan cymbals will sound exactly the same. And that could work in your favor or against you. So you should be ready to return a Wuhan cymbal pack and get a new one if the pack you got doesn’t suit your taste.
Still, here’s an example of how great the Wuhan Western Style cymbal pack can sound. And mine are actually very similar to those (jump to 1:15 to hear the Wuhans in action):
Wuhan also gives you a free cymbal bag which can save you a great deal of carrying and your cymbals their life at the next gig.
My verdict: the best budget cymbal pack on the market!
Current Wuhan Deal
(10th February, 2017) Snatch the Wuhan Western Style cymbal pack as an Amazon warehouse deal (the cymbals are mint new, only repackaged) for an amazing 31% off. Simply click the link above and then on “Used & new…” below the product picture.
Dream Igniton – my best advanced cymbal set
Dream manufacture high-quality cymbals and don’t break this promise with respect to their beginner cymbal pack.
Better than the Zildjian ZBTs, they are hand-hammered out of B20 bronze – which is arguably the best material for cymbals.
Comared with the Wuhans, that’s the same material and manufacturing process. And actually, the Dream Ignitions are also made in the same factory!
Now, this isn’t fraud or anything. Wuhan and Dream are two separate companies and the particular Chinese factory must have been the one with the know-how and a good price.
So what actually is the difference between Wuhan and Dream cymbals? Well, the Dream Ignitions cost more money and that goes into their quality control. So you don’t have to worry about one pair of cymbals sounding like thunder and the next one like rain.
A nice final add-on: the Dream Ignition cymbal pack comes with a free bag for you to carry those beauties.
My verdict: The best cymbal set in this review if you’re willing to spend the money.
Why Sabian and Meinl are not among the best budget cymbal packs
I know I’ve left out two (Meinl and Sabian) of the big three brands (+ Zildjian) in this best budget cymbal pack review. But I did so for a reason. Even despite the fact that both have incredibly cheap starter cymbal packs (the Sabian SBR and the Meinl HCS).
Because although cheap might be appealing, you’ll end up paying more with these packs in the long run.
You’ll have to buy again soon with the Sabian SBR, because these cymbals don’t sound good (You can test this here. If you disagree, give it a listen in2 days again, and if they still sound good to you, that’s fine. Taste is subjective after all.)
With the Meinl you’ll pay double, because you’ll get a 18” Crash / Ride and that’s slightly too small for a Ride in my opinion. Also, as Crash / Rides are thin enough to be a Crash but also thick enough to be a Ride, it’s fairly logical that they do both jobs only half well.
Of course, Sabian and Meinl do have high-quality cymbal packs in all the right sizes too. But they start way above the Dream Ignitions, so you’re better off with my best budget cymbal packs above.
What cymbals can you recommend? Or do you have a question left? Let me know in the comments. I respond 100% of the time
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