Everyone deserves a perfect cymbal.
There’s something beautiful about the way a cymbal crashes when it’s struck with precision. Whether the percussionist uses a drumstick or a mallet doesn’t matter when you hit the sweet spot.
Although any cymbal can make a sound, the Zildjian Company delivers a better sustain, an aggressive attack, or a gentle ping that contributes depth and harmony to any composition.
Anyone who wants to build a drum set for their band, a garage jam session, or a recording session can benefit from the Zildjian ZBT and ZHT lines.
Zildjian ZBT and ZHT Cymbals Reviewed
Zildjian’s ZBT and ZHT lineup are two series that provide students and beginners a budget-friendly cymbal that still sounds great. They’re stamped and mass-produced, but the commitment to a world-class product still remains. Each product in these lines delivers a beautiful ping.
In some circles, there’s this attitude that a cymbal must be of professional quality to be useful. You’ll see people shelling out thousands of dollars for a single hammer-forged, hand-cut product that sounds just as good as the Zildjian ZBT and ZHT lines.
When volume is an issue, the L80 Low Volume Ride from Zildjian is a fantastic choice!
Zildjian provides the following options to consider for drummers and other musicians who want something simple and straightforward.
Zildjian 10-inch China Splash
If you like the sound of a China splash but don’t like the upraised edge, the Zildjian 10-inch China Splash is a great product that bridges the gap between the crash-ride and something with more trash. It delivers an authentic sound with quick tones and plenty of color, even if you don’t get a perfect hit each time.
The best way to use this Zildjian cymbal is with a mini stacker. It comes with a square-shaped bell in the middle with a steep bow, which means you can mount it the regular way without worry.
It’s such a paper-thin cymbal that you might think you’ll need to hold yourself back from hitting it correctly. You don’t need to worry about that at all. It’ll stand up to almost any practice session you put it through and be ready for more.
ZBT 20-Inch Crash-Ride Cymbal
The Zildjian ZBT 20-inch Crash Ride Cymbal is an excellent beginner’s cymbal. It has the durability to stand up to mishits and long practice sessions without compromising the pleasing sounds it creates. You’ll find it well-suited for virtually any style, including jazz, rock, pop, and jazz.
The cymbal itself is bright, delivering a high-pitched ride that cuts through the rest of the instruments. Zildjian makes it with a B8 alloy, which makes it 92% copper and 8% tin. You’ll get an excellent response with predictable overtones, which makes it one of the best entry-level cymbals on the market today.
With this model, you won’t get tons of sustain, but it does deliver an above-average spank that makes the listener pay attention. The only place where there’s a general weakness is if you’re trying to brush out a beat. It’s almost too quiet for that.
Zildjian 12-Inch Splash
If you want a great splash cymbal, you don’t want to go beyond twelve inches. It just ends up being too much for the background beat.
With the Zildjian Splash cymbal design, you receive a straightforward bright tone that it’s the pure sounds needed in the background of anything. Minimal overtones add to the harmony without feeling like you’ve got an overwhelming addition to the kit.
Anyone who was in a high school band as a percussionist will recognize the sound from these cymbals instantly. That nice tap is almost reminiscent of hi-hats without the added complication of having another pedal to manage.
This cymbal produces the traditional sound that makes you feel like you’re playing in your room again.
ZBT 16-Inch China Cymbal
China cymbals get their name from the passing similarity to the Chinese Bo. Most drummers mount products like the ZBT 16-inch China Cymbal upside-down on the stand, making them a little easier to strike accurately. Zildjian delivers an authentic sound that hits well for accents and big sounds while keeping the sustain short.
If you hang it with the brand facing upward, you’ll need to be careful when striking the edge. You can chop through a few drumsticks with a mishit.
When you play rock or metal, the cymbal delivers enough roughness to create a lovely bit of extra color. If you want something explosive and sharp, this design gets the job done. Set it a bit further than you think to avoid an uncomfortable listening experience.
Zildjian 14-Inch New Beat Hi-hats
You won’t find a better set of hi-hat cymbals anywhere than the Zildjian 14-inch New Beat set. They’re symmetrically hammered to provide percussionists with an all-purpose sound that hits the right tone each time. It’s vintage, bright, and classic – expressive in only the way that this brand can provide.
Louie Bellson originally designed these hi-hats for Zildjian, and his influence is still felt with the custom approach the brand takes to this design. They’re lighter on the top, heavier on the bottom, and cast from an 80/20 alloy of copper and tin – with a trace of silver.
The hi-hats come lathed with the traditional wide groove for an improved sustain. You get a crisp sound to hit those tight phrases with perfection each time. It’s a fantastic open that lets you put together a beat that everyone will love.
History of Zildjian Cymbals
The Zildjian Company has been involved with the creation, development, and manufacturing of musical instruments since 1623. Today, this brand is the world’s largest maker of percussion mallets, drumsticks, and cymbals.
Zildjian products are sold worldwide under the company’s own branding, along with Balter and Vic Firth. For many percussionists, the standard set by the ZBT and ZHT cymbals is what every other business strives to achieve. Whether you’re a beginner with a new drum set of one of the best rock stars out there, amateurs and pros trust the vision of this company to share and enjoy music.
You can find the company’s headquarters in Norwell, MA. There are additional offices in Singapore, London, Los Angeles, and Newport, ME.
Zildjian cymbals and equipment are sold through a network of global dealers and distributors. All ZBT and ZHT cymbals are made in the United States in Norwell.
If you purchase drumsticks or mallets from Zildjian, they’re made in the company’s factory in Newport.
How has Zildjian survived for four centuries in a business where most brands come and go within five years? It starts with the company’s values.
“Everyone is accountable and responsible not only for their work, but for the instruments and services we provide to the musical community, our partners, and each other.”
In 1976, three generations of the Zildjian family began working together in their family business for the first time. Craigie Zildjian would become the first female CEO for the organization in 1999, which was a position she held for 20 years.
The business is currently on its 15th generation of family shareholders. There is no plan to change to a different business structure any time soon.
How to Embrace the Art of Cymbal Striking
It doesn’t matter how big your drum set is at home (or wherever you are). One of the sounds you hit the most when producing a rhythm is the ride cymbal.
Phil Rudd might argue that point, but he’s a bit further along in his career than the average musician looking at ZBT and ZHT cymbals from Zildjian.
Whether you put in where you can add a bit of icing to your groove or need it in the forefront for a jazz lick, you’ll find that the quality of the cymbal doesn’t matter when you don’t strike it correctly.
Every cymbal has a unique sound to explore, but you need to think about how your mallet or stick impacts it first to experiment with your music.
Here are the various concepts to consider when setting up your kit to create a pure tone with each strike.
|Cymbal Strike Concept||How to Apply the Cymbal-Striking Concept|
|Angle of Attack||Each cymbal has a different attack angle to consider. An upright China splash has a ridge to navigate, while a large crash might need an extended arm to get it right. The best setup to use should have the stick or mallet parallel to the playing surface to maximize the response.|
|Strike Zone||When playing a ride pattern, the goal should be to hear the sound of the tip hitting the cymbal in a clear and articulate manner. For most Zildjian cymbals, the best zone is about halfway from the edge to the bell’s center. That’s where you’ll hear the true character of the design. Move closer to the edge for something trashy or get to the middle for a brighter pattern.|
|Edge Play||Most cymbals produce a nice pattern right in the middle, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for each sound. When you need more of a crash sound, use the stick shoulder to smash through the edge. Zildjian designs let you get back into the ride smoothly since the sound wash dies down quickly.|
|Bell Striking||The bell’s size can have a direct impact on the sounds a cymbal produces. It can also do nothing at all. When you strike the center, the sounds generated tend to be dry and articulate with more brightness than you’ll get with the rest of the surface. You can play it with either shoulder or the tip. Most patterns with this technique are typically syncopated.|
|Groove Rotation||This methodology isn’t that common because it’s hard to do while sitting behind a drum set. You must place the drumstick tip from a vertical position into one of the cymbal’s grooves. From there, you’ll rotate it with one hand while the other uses gentle downward pressure with the stick. When it’s done right, you’ll get a huge squeal from the surface.|
|Glissando Strike||Many drummers use brushes or specialty mallets to create sounds outside of a tip or shoulder strike with cymbals. When you use this technique, you can add a lot of flavor to a composition by placing the stick’s tip pointing downward on the surface by the bell. Quickly side it to the edge without having it move from the surface.|
|Reverse Strike||You can hold the drumsticks by the tip to use the back portion as the striking mechanism. Although the grip isn’t great, you’ll hear some beautiful harmonics resound, especially when using this technique.|
When you play a crash cymbal, you’ll find that the edge play tends to be the technique you’ll use the most. The response offered from the middle, or the bell won’t create the washy overtones you want.
If you have hi-hats, you might use a couple of techniques simultaneously. While your foot pedals the upper and lower together, the angle of attack can add another element to the beat.
Although some drummers like to set up their crash cymbals flat, you’ll go through sticks like water with that methodology. Give yourself at least a slight angle so that you can power the shoulder through the surface instead of merely impacting it.
You might play all shoulder on some songs. Others might have you using the tip all day long. If you want some extra phrasing, a great way to achieve that is to alternate strikes between the tip and shoulder.
Final Steps to Consider When Playing Zildjian Cymbals
Cymbals are often sold separately from their stands. That means you’ll want to budget the cost of both when setting up your kit. If you’re a student learner, a crash-ride cymbal with a second option based on your playing preferences is enough to help you practice your technique accurately.
I use the Starfavor Straight Cymbal Stand for my playing needs. It’s tall, strong, and gives me more than two feet of adjustable height to use.
Back in the fifth grade, our music teacher had us take a musical aptitude test. She told us that how we performed would be the basis of how instruments were chosen. I’d always wanted to be a percussionist, so for my three choices, I wrote “drums, drums, and drums.”
I thought for sure that I’d be a lock.
Turned out that I didn’t have a musical bone in my body when I was a kid. Out of 200 possible points on the aptitude test, I scored 27. My music teacher was quick to point out that I had the lowest score she’d ever seen.
One of my classmates scored a 198. He took a percussionist spot. That’s when they told me and a couple of other kids who scored in the 40s that it’d be a while, so go have some extra recess.
The music teacher finally got back to me the next week. “I thought about excusing you from band,” she told me. “I don’t want this to be a struggle for you.”
I shrugged. “If that’s what you think is best,” I said, hoping that one last percussionist spot was left.
“So, here’s the thing,” she said. “With a score like yours, we’re going to put you in a spot where you can harmonize. That means you can play the trumpet, the clarinet, or the flute.”
I chose the trumpet. She sat me in the last chair, making sure everyone knew that I was the worst musician in the band.
By the end of the first month, I’d moved from the third part to the second. By month two, I was on the first part.
When we finally got to our first concert, I was the first chair. I stayed there until graduating from high school.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t play music. You might not have the same natural talent as others, but I’m living proof that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to it. If you want to be a percussionist, grab some cymbals, get a drum kit, and start hammering away!