Sizzle cymbals are one of the more unique kinds of cymbals that many drummers love using. They’re not as common as standard crash and ride cymbals, but they’re frequently used in genres like jazz and fusion.
They add extra depth to a cymbal setup by having increased resonance that makes the cymbals sound a bit more musical.
In this guide, we’ll look at what makes a cymbal sizzle, and I’ll suggest a few of the best sizzle cymbals to get. I’ll also show how you can make sizzle cymbals from standard cymbals that you already have.
What are Sizzle Cymbals?
Most sizzle cymbals are cymbals with rivets in them. These rivets vibrate when you hit the cymbal to create an extended sound of metal rubbing against the metal of the cymbal.
Sizzle cymbals have the most resonance out of any cymbal that you can get, meaning they ring for the longest when you play them.
Their extended resonance makes them sound more musical,and perfect for jazz music, especially if the cymbal is made from a high-quality alloy, such as B20.
If a sizzle cymbal is made from lower-quality alloys, the sizzling tone will be a bit harsher and more aggressive.
Not all sizzle cymbals need to have built-in cymbal sizzlers. You can also place things on them to get a similar sizzling effect.
When To Use Sizzle Cymbals
Sizzle cymbals are mostly used by jazz drummers. This is because their resonant tone sounds amazing when you play jazz ride patterns. However, you can use them for any musical style.
They provide a unique sound compared to standard cymbals, so it’s cool to have the option to use that in your cymbal setup. Ringo Starr often used a sizzle ride with The Beatles, and many rock and pocket drummers have used them since then.
If you’re going to use sizzle cymbals, you should make sure that you mix them with standard cymbals. If you only have highly resonant sizzle cymbals to use, your cymbal sound may be a bit too intense. You’ll need to shorter sounds of standard crash and ride cymbals for most settings.
Best Sizzle Cymbals to Buy
Meinl 22-inch Byzance Vintage Sand Crash-Ride
The Meinl 22-inch Byzance Vintage Sand Crash-Ride is an incredibly powerful yet versatile cymbal. It has three rivets near its edge that make it ring for a very long time. The large cymbal size mixed with the rivets is a great combination to create a lot of resonance.
This cymbal is very thin, making it sound incredible when you crash on it. Mix that with the distinct bow sound, and you have a cymbal ready to take on most genres.
It has a dry and earthy tone that is aided by the raw unlathed bell in the center. The bell sound is quite strong, and it also has an extended ringing tone from the rivets on the edge.
This cymbal is a part of Benny Greb’s signature Meinl line, and it’s one of the standout cymbals amongst the options in it.
Zildjian 20-inch K Custom Left Side Ride
The Zildjian 20-inch K Custom Left Side Ride is an amazing ride cymbal to use for playing jazz. It was made by Zildjian with the help of Peter Erskine, who is a jazz drumming legend.
This cymbal has a dark and dry tone, meaning it has a lot less resonance than bright and warm ride cymbals. However, the three rivets add a bit more character to it, allowing it to resonate more than other dry rides.
You get a lot of stick definition when playing the surface, which is why it’s such a good option for playing jazz ride patterns.
You can easily crash on it as well, and you’ll get a sound that is effective but not too harsh.
Sabian 20-inch Paragon Diamondback China Cymbal
The Sabian 20-inch Paragon Diamondback China Cymbal is one of the most unique china cymbals on the market. It has giant sizzlers attached to it that make it speak very clearly at low volumes. You could play it like a ride cymbal if you want to.
However, it produces the most trashy and resonant sounds when you hit it hard. All chinas are trashy and aggressive, but this one is even more aggressive when those sizzlers are vibrating quickly against the cymbal.
It’s one of the more musical china cymbals available, thanks to the fact that you can play nuanced notes on it at lower volumes.
How to Make Your Own Sizzle Cymbals
Cymbal Sizzle Chains
Cymbal sizzle chains are chains that you can attach to the top of the cymbal stand. You place them underneath the wingnut, and then they lay across the bell and surface of the cymbal.
As you hit the cymbal, the chain wobbles around, and the sizzlers make contact with the cymbal and cause the sizzling sound.
These chains are arguably the most popular thing that drummers use to make sizzle cymbals if they don’t already have built-in rivets.
You can make a homemade sizzle chain by using a chain that connects to sink plugs if you don’t want to spend any money.
However, I find that it’s easier to buy something like the Meinl Bacon Cymbal Sizzler. It’s perfectly designed to fit on a cymbal stand, making it very reliable.
The Meinl Ching Ring is a highly popular tool that allows you to get a sizzling effect on your cymbals. You can rest it on any cymbal, and the height of the bell and wingnut will keep it secured to the cymbal when you hit it.
Meinl offers an array of ching rings in different sizes. Some of them have more resonant sizzling effects than others.
The great thing about the ching ring is that you can easily place it on hi-hats as well. That gives it an edge over sizzle chains. When it’s on the hi-hats, you’ll get a sizzle sound when you open them.
You can also place the ching ring on drums, making it a versatile tool to have in your arsenal.
Using a coin to create a sizzling effect is a free way of making a sizzle cymbal.
All you need to do is strap a coin to a cymbal with the use of a bit of tape, and the coin will create a sizzling sound every time you play the cymbal.
The more coins you add, the more sizzling will occur. However, note that the tape you use may leave residue on the cymbal. So, I’d suggest taping the coin to the bottom so that it isn’t as visible.
The downside of this method is that it tends to dry your cymbals out significantly. The tape mixed with the pressure of the coin is what causes that. If you’re not a fan of the dry sound, then you’d need to purchase a specially made cymbal sizzler from a drum brand.
If you’re handy with DIY projects, you could install rivets on a cymbal by yourself. This will give you the most control over how your cymbal sounds, as you get to choose what and how many rivets you want on it.
You’d need to drill holes near the edge of a cymbal and then fasten the rivets to it. I’d highly suggest following in-depth tutorials on how to do this, as you could negatively affect the tone of the cymbal.
It’ll be wise to do it with a throw-away cymbal the first time to ensure that you know what you’re doing. Once you get that down, then you should do it with the higher-quality cymbal that you want to put rivets in.
Sizzle Cymbals FAQs
What Do Rivets Do in a Cymbal?
Rivets give a cymbal a sizzling sound effect. This sound effect gives the cymbal more resonance than it would have without the rivets.
As you hit the cymbal, the rivets vibrate, and you get metal-on-metal contact that sizzles until the rivets stop vibrating.
The more rivets there are in a cymbal, the longer the sizzling effect will last.
Where Do You Put the Rivets in a Cymbal?
It’s best to place rivets near the edge of a cymbal. That’s the part of a cymbal that vibrates the most, so you get more of a sizzling effect when they’re placed there.
However, they shouldn’t be placed too close to the edge, as that will damage the structural integrity of the cymbal, causing it to crack a lot faster. You’ll always find rivets being placed a few fingers away from the edge of cymbals.
While sizzle cymbals aren’t necessary for every drummer to have, they can be incredibly fun to play in almost all musical settings. If you’re looking for a unique cymbal to add to your lineup, consider getting one with rivets.
If you don’t want to get a cymbal with built-in rivets, you can buy a sizzling tool to make your cymbal more versatile. Sizzle rings and sizzle chains are excellent options that you can either buy or make yourself.