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Cymbalic confusion

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Bard2dbone, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I noticed something a while back from comparing the setups of several drummers I'd worked with. Then I started looking. And it's not universal. But it's darned common.

    Has anyone noticed that drummers tend to all arrange their cymbals pretty similarly up to a point?

    A starter set might be Hihats, Crash, and Ride. But they tend to be in the same places regardless. Next ones added would usually be a Splash and a China. After that it might get complicated. But up to this point, nearly every drummer I know puts them all in the same spots.

    Clockwise from their left you have : Hihats, Crash, Splash, Ride, China. And the next one to add will be between the Crash and Ride sonically, but below the China physically.

    Is this somehow SUPPOSED to go like this? Or is every drummer I've noticed somehow brainwashed to do it that way?
  2. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Dang. I can't edit the title. it occurred to me that I could have called it 'cymbalic confusion'. But I didn't think of the pun until after I'd posted it.
  3. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    Unless the drummer is a lefty.

    But... is that strange?

    I mean, most bassists I see have their strings arranged the same way.
  4. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I don't know if there IS a 'usual' way to lay out cymbals. But it sure seems familiar from one to the next. And my current drummer DOES play lefty. But his is set up just this way in reverse. So it still holds.
    Old Blastard likes this.
  5. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Yes, it's a combination of familiarity and ease of use. Just like commonality in bass setups, a general consensus establishes some basics over the course of the years, and people tend to gravitate toward it both because they are accustomed to it and because the arrangement does provide some benefits.

    It's actually pretty simple. The hi-hat is very specifically placed on the left, near the snare, because the basic technique of playing the hi-hat and snare and bass tend to be the foundation of the drum setup and the typical Western drum patterns: the left hand plays the snare, the right foot plays the bass, the right hand crosses over the left to play the hi-hat, and the left foot manipulates the hi-hat choke pedal. Generally speaking, if you sit the average drummer on a hit, that's where their hands and feet go automatically. The main ride symbol then tends to be on the opposite side from the hi-hat (i.e. the far right), which keeps access to the rest of the kit open, and a crash or two are then typically added in the remaining space (i.e. in the middle but out of the way by being higher than the toms and other parts of the hit).
  6. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue

    Oct 9, 2016
    Folks teach what they learn and learn what they're taught.

  7. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Well, the arrangement of HiHat and Ride is somewhat fixed. The HiHat because it has to be at your foot and the ride because there is only one spot left for a cymbal that big where you need to be able to hit the top rather than the rim.
    The next logical positions are right next to the HiHat and ride - for ease of use. Since you play your lead either on the Hat or Ride, you want your lead hand close by when you hit a cymbal.
    So the setup is common and logical.

    My setup is HiHat, splash, crash, ride.
    If i was to add another, i'd take a brighter kind of crash and have hanging it a bit higher than the splash right next to it.
    DrummerwStrings and hrodbert696 like this.
  8. Drummers probably say the same thing about bass players in reference to their position relative to their amplifier :smug:
    Roberto Nunez likes this.
  9. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yeah it is true that it is common but I see a lot of creative placement that make a lot of sense to me.

    Like with a double base drum or double pedal, to have also 2 hihat ( one closed and one open ) on each side, then the ride on the left instead of the crash.
  10. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Actually, the whole impetus behind the "open stance" originally championed by Billy Cobham, and subsequently adapted by Lenny White, Simon Phillips, and a good number of other drummers, was that the traditional orientation closed off the kit rather than opened it up. By moving the ride cymbal over to the same side of the kit as the hihat and then using his left hand to play time on those cymbals, the entire drumkit became available (to his right hand) without having to cross arms and/or interrupt the time-keeping role of that left hand.

    So, to the OP: There are some drummers who don't follow the paradigm you've described. But far more do, and that's most likely due to tradition.
    DrummerwStrings and AlexanderB like this.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Oh come on. So many things are done by so many people due to one thing common to most humans:

    An astounding lack of creativity or originality.
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I'm going to restring one of my basses DGAE (not low to high, but just swapping the same strings already on my bass around) just so I don't do the common thing. Thanks for the inspiration.
  13. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    Just buy a lefty and play it upside down, always good to have an excuse for another bass ;)
    Old Blastard and Jeff Scott like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I used to have a drummer who's setup would change every gig. He'd adjust the cymbals depending on where the nice looking chicks positioned at the bar so he can see them.
  15. ultra60

    ultra60 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    Herndon/Chantilly Va.
    China type cymbals should be banned. Any drummer still using one needs to realize it's 2017, not 1987.
  16. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I think you're about a decade late in your assessment of the pinnacle of china cymbal usage... :)

    I gotta admit, I love china cymbals and all of their variants (swish, pang, trashcan lid, etc.) though that may have a lot to do with the drummers I was listening to during my formative years: Billy Cobham, Kenwood Dennard*, Tommy Campbell, Roberto Petaccia, Alphonse Mouzon et al could've coaxed fascinating musical sounds out of a plastic bag stuffed with buckshot, so in their hands a dry/dark china cymbal became a wonderful expansion of the normally wet/bright palette of cymbals. (*for a primer on Awesome Use Of China Cymbals In Music, check out Kenwood Dennard's drumming on Pat Martino's 1976 album Joyous Lake.)

    But I hate when they get overused. Come to think of it, I hate when almost anything gets overused, so...
  17. ultra60

    ultra60 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    Herndon/Chantilly Va.

    I agree with your assessment of the China type in the hands of a professional drummer. So maybe training, or a license, should be required to own and operate a China type cymbal. I think most drummers use them in a non-musical sense.... just to add some noise, or shock value, here and there.
  18. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    Smartest Drummer ever!
    Roberto Nunez likes this.
  19. danosix


    May 30, 2012
    You know what else? Nearly every bass player I know arranges his strings in the same order... weird! ;)
    Sorry, that was supposed to be a funny (not sarcarstic) way of making the analogy - in the case of cymbals they are arranged in order of "regularity" of use. That's why the hihat is arranged with the snare - the drum most accessed.
  20. danosix


    May 30, 2012
    Darn, I should have read... I just made that joke!