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Incorporating splash cymbals within your drum kit is a fantastic way to diversify your sonic palette and make your playing more creative.
Splash cymbals are a popular addition to many drummers’ setups, and their distinctive sharp and explosive sounds make them perfect for accents and drum fills.
Because of their small size, splashes are also easy to integrate into a setup and are extremely fun to play.
In this guide, I’ll share some of the best splash cymbals on the market that produce excellent sounds for their price point. I’ve compared sound, versatility, durability, and cost to help you find the best splash for your playing style.
- In a Rush Roundup
- How I Tested and Selected Splash Cymbals
- Splash Cymbal Reviews
- Splash Cymbal Buyer's Guide
- Features to Consider When Buying Splash Cymbals
- Benefits of Splash Cymbals
- Splash Cymbal FAQs
In a Rush Roundup
How I Tested and Selected Splash Cymbals
These cymbals have been handpicked with a focus on their ability to produce crisp, shimmering accents, while having a musical tone.
My evaluation was based on factors like brightness, pitch, decay, and durability, to ensure these cymbals are suitable for professional stages and studio use.
I tested these cymbals while performing different musical styles, to evaluate their playing response, precision, and their ability to cut through the mix.
Below you’ll find the best splash cymbals that provide sharp, quick bursts of sound, and can add colorful accents to your drumming.
Splash Cymbal Reviews
The Sabian AAX 10” Air Splash is a bright and loud splash, and it’s my personal favorite splash cymbal model on the market.
It features six response-enhancing holes that add a distinctive character to this cymbal.
Sonically, it offers plenty of bite and it cuts through any mix, without sounding too harsh.
For a splash cymbal, this is one of the most bright and explosive models around. It has a lot of substance and depth, and it works fantastic for different types of music genres.
It sounds ideal for pop, rock, blues, metal, R&B, jazz, and plenty of other styles.
I find the Sabian Air Splash has a very clean but also uniquely trashy sound with a short sustain, which is exactly what the best splash cymbal should offer.
This particular cymbal model won Sabian’s ‘Cymbal Vote 2013’ competition, and the hype around this cymbal is what led me to buy this cymbal back then.
If you are looking for a splash cymbal that really opens up and cuts through with a unique musical voice, then this is one of the best splash cymbals to consider.
- Plenty of bite that cuts right through any mix
- Bright and clean sound but with a distinctive trashy tone
- Raw bell and perforated holes provide a fantastic punchy sound with a short sustain
- Might be too trashy for some tastes
- Perforated holes reduce the durability of the cymbal
The Meinl Classics Custom Dark 10” Splash Cymbal is a small but mighty splash cymbal that delivers a punchy, clean sound with a lot of clarity and cut.
Meinl’s Classics Custom Dark cymbal range is famous for its dark finish and extra hammering that provides these cymbals with earthy, complex tones.
This cymbal is one of my favorites in the range. It has a fast sustain and a dark, raw flavor that makes this the perfect effects cymbal.
This cymbal is made from B10 bronze alloy, and it opens up with a loud projection that gives it a unique sonic identity. If you like a slightly trashier and darker-sounding cymbal, then this is the best splash cymbal for you.
This splash cymbal is a great all-round performer that has a fantastic tonal complexity and delivers powerful, punchy accents.
If you want a professional-quality cymbal at an amazing price, this is the best splash cymbal on the market.
- Punchy with a dark and earthy sound
- Fantastic for use with modern styles of music
- Excellent sounding cymbal for its price
- B10 bronze alloy lacks some of the richness that you find in B20 bronze
- Might be too dark sounding for some styles of music
The Meinl Byzance Extra Dry 10” Dual Splash Cymbal is a highly versatile and dynamic cymbal with a bright and full-bodied sound that is full of character!
I love Meinl Byzance’s dual range of cymbals, and particularly how the contrast of dry and brilliant finishes forms a complex range of tones.
The cymbal comes to life when it is struck with a unique trashy character, yet it still maintains a rich, buttery smooth sonic quality.
I find this cymbal sounds tremendous and feels amazing to play too.
This splash cymbal has an excellent balance of power, cut, bite, and openness. It’s a distinctive sound that will work well for most popular music styles, accents, and effects within songs.
Meinl Byzance represents the go-to choice for many top recording and touring drummers around the world.
Overall this is one of the best splash cymbal options at a premium price point. It is an expensive cymbal, but it is one of the best-sounding splash cymbals and is the choice of many top players!
- Versatile and dynamic splash cymbal
- Smooth, dry sounds with short sustain
- Combination of dry and brilliant finishes provides an impressive character and complex tones
- Expensive price tag
- The sound may not lend itself to fitting in with some styles of music
The Zildjian A Series 10” Splash Cymbal is a classic, timeless splash cymbal model that fits right at home with an extremely wide range of musical styles.
It has a paper-thin weight and a traditional finish on the surface that provides this cymbal with a mellow yet fast and colorful sound.
This truly is the best splash cymbal if you are looking for a ‘chameleon’ splash cymbal that can adapt to various musical styles.
I find this splash cymbal has a balanced and well-rounded sound with just the right amount of cut and tonal flavor.
The Zildjian A series embodies Zildjian’s classic sound that has been immortalized in countless hit recordings. The A-series is quite possibly the most versatile cymbal line ever made.
Forged from B20 bronze alloy, the Zildjian A Series splash cymbal has plenty of tonal character and a wonderfully colorful sound that makes this one of my favorite splashes to play.
- Fast and colorful sound
- Highly versatile for a wide range of musical styles
- Legendary, professional-level line of cymbals
- Doesn't cut through as much as other models
- Possesses more overtones than some other splash cymbals reviewed
The Zildjian A Custom 10” EFX Splash Cymbal is a quick, cutting, and sharp-sounding cymbal that is one of the best splash cymbals for contemporary styles of music such as pop, dance music, and rock.
I really like the EFX splash, particularly its paper-thin weight and high pitch that makes it excellent for accents within modern music.
It features laser-generated holes that help it produce punchy, trashy white noise effects that are perfect for musical accents.
This cymbal is similar to the Sabian Air Splash, but I think this model is trashier and sharper. It is forged of B20 bronze and has a brilliant finish for bright, cutting sonic textures.
This splash is the particular choice of drumming sensation Josh Dun of 21 Pilots.
Overall this splash cymbal is a great model with a balanced sound and has the legendary quality you can expect from Zildjian.
The A custom line of cymbals is ideal for modern music that requires a bold, clean, and bright sound to cut through any mix.
One thing to note – you’ll want to keep the brilliant finish looking brand new with a quality cymbal polish.
- Bright and cutting sounds
- Very short decay makes it perfect for accents
- Ideal for modern rock, pop, and dance music
- Lots of holes might lead to cracks
- Arguably too bright for some, and sounds fairly generic
This brilliant finish Wuhan 10” Splash Cymbal is an affordable cast-forged B20 bronze cymbal that offers pro-quality sounds at a budget price point.
Wuhan’s splash produces a sharp, crisp note and it’s remarkably affordable, making a great option for beginner drummers and those on a budget.
The sound is less refined than more expensive cymbals, but this is without a doubt the best splash cymbal to go for if you are on a budget.
Despite its affordable price, this splash does deliver on most fronts. Particularly with the fact it has a bright, cutting tone and a trashy edge.
However, it doesn’t have as fast decay as some other splash cymbals in this list.
This is the best option for the price due to its incredible affordability, and although it doesn’t have the most refined sound, it truly trumps anything else you can get for this price point.
It is constructed with B20 bronze, which is typically unheard of for cymbals in this price range.
It sounds distinctly better than its brass or B8 bronze competitors’ cheaper cymbals which are cut out from sheet metal rather than alloy forged.
This splash is the go-to choice for beginners or experienced drummers looking for an excellent-sounding cymbal on a budget.
- Best splash cymbal on a budget
- B20 bronze alloy at an affordable price
- Explosive and punchy sounds
- Fairly long decay
- Less refined sounds compared to other B20 bronze splash cymbals
Splash Cymbal Buyer's Guide
Splash cymbals are the smallest types of cymbals available, ranging from approximately 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter.
Because of their size, they have a short sustain and a bright explosive ‘splash’ sound when struck- hence their name.
They are also easy to incorporate within a cymbal setup because of their small size, and you can position them in lots of unique places, such as next to hi-hats and underneath crash cymbals.
You will want a model that fits the musical styles you intend to play and compliments the sounds of your existing cymbal setup.
But with so many different brands and models to choose from, how do you know which splash cymbal is right for you? This buyer’s guide will cover everything you need to know.
Features to Consider When Buying Splash Cymbals
Whether you are looking to buy your first splash cymbal or you are looking for a new model to provide you with fresh creativity and inspiration, there are several things to consider when incorporating a new splash into your setup.
A splash cymbal typically range between 6 inches and 12 inches in diameter.
It’s important to know that larger splashes are a little louder and have a longer sustain.
They begin to sound more like crash cymbals as they get larger, for example, a 12-inch splash cymbal and a 14-inch crash cymbal may not sound quite so different.
A smaller splash cymbal not only has a faster-to-react sound and quicker sustain, but it is also easier to set up within your drum set.
This is because it is more tactile and can be placed without hitting other drum set components.
Some splash cymbals are extremely thin (often marketed as paper-thin), and other models are standard weight. The thickness of a cymbal contributes massively to the weight and, therefore, its overall pitch.
The heavier a cymbal is, the lower pitch it has. Vica versa, a lighter cymbal has a higher pitch.
The type of lathing, hammering, and overall finish a cymbal has will massively affect its sound- particularly when it comes to the tonal qualities of bright or dark sounds.
Are you looking for a more mellow, vintage vibe? Or do you want a bright and aggressive sound that can cut through a wall of guitars?
Unlathed, traditional finish cymbals do not produce the same bright sound as brilliant finish cymbals.
Traditional finish cymbals are more mellow and darker sounding and are, therefore, typically better for jazz, soul, blues, R&B, hip hop, fusion, gospel, and pop.
Brilliant finish cymbals are also excellent for pop music as they can cut through music better and have a modern, bright sound. But other styles can benefit from this, such as rock, metal, dance music, electronica, and techno.
Benefits of Splash Cymbals
- Bright and loud splashes are a great way to add accents and special effects to your playing.
- They are also very lightweight and small in size, making them perfect for use in tight spaces and setups.
- They produce distinctive and bright sounds that are perfect for adding energy to your music.
- These cymbals are ultra versatile and can fit right in with a wide range of musical styles.
- Splashes are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can find the perfect one for your needs.
Splash Cymbal FAQs
How Many Splash Cymbals Should a Drummer Own?
Some drummers own many splashes, while others own none! It’s down to personal preference and also depends on what style of music you like to play.
I only own two splash cymbals, but I know drummers with close to ten in their personal collection.
These drummers don’t have them all set up in their playing configuration simultaneously but instead, choose to switch them up occasionally.
Why Do Some Splash Cymbals Have Holes In Them?
Some splash cymbal models feature perforated holes to reduce the sustain and provide a unique, trashier sound.
Cymbal manufacturers put a lot of emphasis on trying to be more innovative and creative with their production methods and designs to try and find new sounds.
By cutting out holes from cymbals, it reduces the weight of the cymbal as well as transforms the vibrational pattern of the cymbal; resulting in new and exciting sounds.
Can I Stack Splashes Together?
Yes, you certainly can! Cymbal stacks are becoming increasingly popular in today’s drumming world.
Drummers like Luke Holland, Matt Garstka, and Tony Royster Jr. use splash cymbal stacks to create new and innovative sounds.
If you want to create a cymbal stack, try putting a smaller splash on top of a larger diameter model, and it’ll create short, sharp sounds when struck.
Stacks are great for playing regular grooves, as well as for punchy accents and effects.
What Brand Makes the Best Splash Cymbals?
You will most likely find drummers playing either Zildjian, Meinl, or Sabian splash cymbals.
These are also the brands of the splash cymbal models that I have featured as top picks in this article.
However, several other notable cymbal brands are worth mentioning, including Paiste, Istanbul, Dream, Soultone, and Wuhan.
Are Splash Cymbals More Prone to Breaking Than Other Cymbals?
Yes, to some extent, splash cymbals are more likely to break than other cymbals because they are the smallest and lightest cymbal type.
Although they can flex, they cannot always withstand the same amount of pressure or force from playing as a large crash cymbal, for instance.
It is not normal to break a cymbal unless you play extremely aggressively or with poor technique. Alternatively, if you overtighten the cymbal toppers or allow metal-to-metal contact- which causes cymbal keyholing.