Although the early 2000s are long past, punk music is still going strong. Bands like Green Day, Blink 182 and Taking Back Sunday are still together and keeping the style of music fresh.
Punk is a lot of fun to play on the drums. It requires high energy, a fair bit of stamina, and some hard hitting. As a punk drummer, you’re going to need some loud and durable cymbals. So, here’s my list of some of the best cymbals for punk music.
5 Best Cymbals for Punk
This set of Zildjian A Customs includes a pair of 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes and a 20” ride. They have a bright and beautiful finish that matches the tone that they produce.
The crashes have a relatively short sustain and get out of the way fast, meaning they’re perfect for the fast crash jabs that are played in punk settings.
The bell of the ride has a nice ping to it, making it great for playing in loud choruses. The hi-hats produce a solid chick and hold down grooves very tightly.
All these cymbals complement each other and produce a bright sound that fits very well in a punk setting.
The Meinl Classics Custom Dark box comes with 16” and 18” crashes, 14” hi-hats, and a 20” ride. The build quality of the cymbals is surprisingly good despite the affordable pricing. Basically, you will be getting 4 cymbals for the price of 1 top tier cymbal. That’s crazy.
These cymbals are loud, dark, and cutting. The hi-hats and ride are clear and musical while the crashes are responsive and open up very well with force and volume.
The cymbals together have a wide spectrum of sound and tone. The bell of the ride cymbal will cut through just about any mix you throw at it.
These cymbals will work fantastically in a punk setting. They also look really cool on stage!
This cymbal pack includes a pair of 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes and a 21” ride. These cymbals have a big sound that is bright and booming.
Their bright sound will cut through any mix while playing sharp crashes or smooth dynamic swells.
The best part of this pack is the ride cymbal. It’s 21” and can be crashed on, meaning you can play it to get a really heavy sound in loud punk choruses. The crash cymbals are quite responsive, allowing you to get a full tone, no matter how hard you hit them.
The one downside to these cymbals is that they have Sabian’s new logo. Sabian changed their logo and most people aren’t a fan of it.
The Paiste 2002s are one of the most loved series of cymbals from Paiste. They’ve been around for ages and are great cymbals for rock, metal and you guessed it - punk music. This pack comes with a pair of 14” hi-hats, 18” and 20” crashes, and a 22” ride.
These cymbals were specifically made for heavy styles of music and have a heavy sound that is super clean and crisp. They’re bright and project very well, making them fit in perfectly with that signature punk sound.
The crashes have a lot of wash to them and the 22” ride is extremely loud.
These cymbals are a bit pricier than the other cymbals on this list, but they’re well worth it. The larger sizes may take some getting used to.
This cymbal is a bit of a wildcard on this list. It’s kind of an internet secret, not having much information out there on it. However, it’s a seriously good option for punk music, which is why I’ve put it on this list.
16.5” is an uncommon size for a cymbal, but it’s what makes this cymbal quite unique. It’s a very thin cymbal that is punchy, warm, and has crazy projection. The bell is dry an pingy, so it will sound quite good when it’s played.
You’d think this cymbal wouldn’t be able to take a beating due to how thin it is. However, once it’s set up and played in context, you won’t even notice the thinness. It’s really durable and will work very well in a punk setup.
It may not be the best option for a main crash, but it will work well as a secondary crash that will give a unique sound when called for.
Choosing Cymbals to Match the Punk Edginess
Deciding on which cymbals to get will always depend on what style you’re playing. Most cymbals aren’t versatile enough to cover everything, so cymbal companies produce cymbals that thrive in certain aspects. There are a few things you’ll need to look for when getting cymbals for punk music.
Punk drumming requires a serious amount of energy. You’re going to be playing hard and fast, meaning you’re going to need some cymbals that can handle that. This means you’ll need cymbals that tend to last longer than others when they’re hit hard.
The thinner a cymbal is, the less it’s going to like it when it gets hit very hard. So, punk drummers typically play with heavy cymbals that are fairly thick.
While thicker cymbals will help with durability, you’ll also need to make sure that your cymbal playing technique is refined. If you hit a cymbal straight at the shoulder, it’s going to crack quickly. It’s better to hit the stick diagonally through the cymbal.
I purposefully put durability before tonal qualities because that order accurately represents punk drumming. However, you’re still going to need some suitable sounding cymbals for the genre. The cymbals need to be able to cut through loud mixes of instruments.
The best options for this are bright cymbals. The brighter a cymbal is, the easier it will cut through a mix. Thankfully, thicker cymbals are usually brighter. These two qualities go hand-in-hand, making it easier to buy cymbals for the purpose of punk drumming.
Another great tonal quality for punk drumming is trashiness. Trashy cymbals work wonderfully within a punk band and do a great job in enhancing the edginess. Crash cymbals that sound trashy will usually have holes in them. Chinas are also great for getting that trashy tone that we’re looking for.
When looking for cymbals for punk, just make sure you’re not getting ones that are dark or dry. Cymbals with those qualities will blend too much and lose the effectiveness needed from the drummer.
The final quality that’s needed is volume. This may seem obvious, but your cymbals need to be loud when playing punk music. Many cymbals on the market just aren’t loud enough. So, make sure the cymbals you’re getting are loud and fairly aggressive in their sound.
Cymbals that are heavy and bright are usually quite loud. However, there are a few bright cymbals out there that are surprisingly soft compared to most bright cymbals.
Every cymbal brand has a set of cymbals that is highly suitable for punk drumming. However, some cymbal brands are more popular in the punk scene. For example, you don’t see a lot of punk drummers playing with Meinl cymbals. Aside from the Classics Custom Dark line, Meinl put heavy focus on artsy cymbals that have fairly unique sounds.
You can never go wrong with Zildjian or Sabian cymbals. These two brands were at the height of their popularity when punk music was popular in the early 2000s.
Paiste also has a great offering with their 2002 Series. Those cymbals have made their way onto many punk and rock albums over the decades. They’re loud, bright, and highly durable.
You’re going to be playing the cymbals a lot in punk. You’re also going to be hitting them quite hard. So, make sure you have some cymbals that can take a beating and match the energy of your band.
Punk music isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, but it is seriously beneficial for a drummer to be able to play the style. It will help develop your stamina behind the kit. So, go out and get some cymbals that will fit right in with your punk band.