Let’s be honest, most drum kits sound pretty similar. Cymbals are what is going to make your kit unique and give it flavor. There are several types of cymbals, each with their own defining qualities. One of these types is the splash cymbal, a small effects cymbal that adds a bunch of depth to your drum sound.
Splash cymbals come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique qualities on offer. You can get some highly priced splashes, but also some affordable ones that will produce a pretty good sound.
A splash cymbal can really add that extra spice to the style of music that you are playing. So, I have put together a list of the best splash cymbals for different styles of music.
The Zildjian 10” K Custom Dark splash has a fast decay and extreme clarity. It has a dark tone, meaning the pitch of the cymbal is relatively low. The low pitch makes the cymbal blend well into the mix with other cymbals, while not being overbearing.
It’s made of cast bronze, meaning it’s really durable and sounds better with age.
The dark tone makes this splash good for jazz. In a jazz setup, the cymbals should blend well into each other, and darker cymbals fit that vibe. Thin cymbals also work well in jazz, and the Zildjian 10” K Custom Dark is one of the thinnest splash cymbals out there.
Zildjian K Customs are premium cymbals, so this splash is on the pricier side.
The Sabian AAX Air splash is is a bright cymbal that is quick with little sustain. The brightness makes it high pitched and it will cut through a mix for an emphasizing effect.
It is made from B20 bronze metal, which is what gives it the bright sound. It has symmetrical holes around it, making the sound slightly trashy. Don’t think trashy is a negative term. When it comes to cymbals, trashy is great for effects!
The brightness and trashiness of the AAX Air splash makes it fit well in high intensity styles of music like rock and gospel. Ray Luzier from Korn uses two of these things, and Korn is a pretty famous rock band.
The only downside is that the Sabian AAX cymbals tend to be a bit expensive.
The Zildjian Planet Zs are Zildjian’s most affordable cymbals. You’ll see them come with a lot of entry-level drum kits. They take a lot of Zildjian’s high design qualities and present it in a cymbal that any beginner can use.
The 10” Planet Z delivers a bright, cutting attack for a big presence on stage and a focused response. It is good for accenting and ornamenting around the kit.
It has a very bright tone and quick decay, making it good for rock music. The splash is quite thick, so it can take a beating. However, you definitely get what you pay for, and the 10” Planet Z doesn’t sound as good as higher priced splashes.
Planet Zs are pretty cheap, so they’re a good option to experiment with stacks. You’ll get a solid thick splash to add bulk to a stack, without spending too much money.
Meinl’s Classics Custom Dark series of cymbals undergo a special finishing process, making them look dark and sound bright and quick. They have deep traces of hammering, which adds explosive reaction to the sound.
They are designed with heavy-hitters in mind. The 8” splash is loud and works perfectly for high dynamics. It cuts through a mix of distorted guitars and powerful vocals.
I have mainly seen metal drummers use this splash, obviously due to how loud it is and its bright qualities. It's made from B10 bronze, meaning it is highly durable. So, this cymbal is ready to be involved in some blast beats.
It doesn’t respond too well to subtle playing, meaning it won’t fit too well in a softer setup.
5. Wuhan 10”
Wuhan is a cymbal company in China that is known for making affordable cymbals that compete with the low-tier cymbals of the main cymbal companies. The 10” Wuhan splash is a direct competitor to the cheaper splashes that I have mentioned on this list.
Compared to other splashes in its price range, the Wuhan 10” is undoubtedly the best sounding one. Its crisp, quick accents make for a great effect in your cymbal setup. It has a bit of sustain, which is unique for a splash cymbal.
The Wuhan 10” splash is versatile and will work well in most styles of music. It responds well to subtle playing and will project loudly when hit hard.
You won’t get a better cymbal for the price. However, the Wuhan 10” does tend to crack sooner than most cymbals. Wuhan cymbals also tend to be unreliable in their sound. You could get two 10” Wuhan splashes, and they would both sound different to each other.
Zildjian A Customs are classic and reliable cymbals that have been around for a while. They were designed with the help of Vinnie Colaiuta, who is arguably one of the most famous drummers out there.
The 10” A Custom splash delivers a colorful, short crash sound that adds a musical tone the your cymbal setup.
It was designed to sit somewhere in between bright and dark, making it blend well into most situations. The modern sound makes this splash a first choice for many top drummers in all styles of music.
The 10” A custom is paper thing, making it easy to create stacks with. The modern tone will blend really well into most stack configurations.
Cymbals will be made in certain ways that will dramatically affect how they sound. If a cymbal is thick, it will generally have a brighter sound. Bright cymbals have a high pitch. If a cymbal is thin, it will generally have a darker sound. Dark cymbals have a low pitch.
Some cymbals will have holes in them. The holes make the cymbal sound trashy, which basically means it sustains for longer and has a loose, uncontrolled sound.
Dry cymbals will have a lot of overtones, giving them a washy sound.
Splash Cymbal Size
Splash cymbals range from 6” to 14”. The smaller the splash, the higher the pitch, and the bigger the splash, the lower the pitch. The sustain will also get longer as the size gets bigger.
Cymbals for Certain Styles
Certain properties of cymbals fit well in different styles of music. Cymbals that are dark and thin will work well for jazz, since they blend into a mix.
Cymbals that are bright and thick will work well for rock and metal, since they are loud and will cut through a mix.
Stacking is when you take cymbals and stack them on top of each other to make an effects cymbal. It’s become a big trend in modern drumming. Having a stack in your setup just gives you that extra sound option that’s a bit rougher than the hi-hat, but also doesn’t have much sustain. Most stacks use splash cymbals, since it’s easy to fit them together with larger crash cymbals.
Piggybacking is when you mount a splash on top of a crash cymbal, with the splash turned upside down. This allows you to use one cymbal stand for two cymbals. This is a useful trick in some situations, but it does prevent you from being able to play the bell of the crash cymbal.
Some thinner splashes might also be more inclined to break, since they weren’t designed to be played like that. So, I’d suggest just getting an extra cymbal arm that mounts to the stand if space isn’t an issue.
Stacking and piggybacking mean that you don’t need to get separate cymbal stands for splash cymbals. They won’t take up more space, and they will add a new range of sounds to your setup.
Splash cymbals are small, have several uses and are great fun to play. If you don’t have one, it would be a good investment to get one, or two, or three.