My cymbals are too loud.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
It's an instrument capable of a full range of dynamics, I'm not suggesting he hurt himself or do anything stupid. A lot of people are scared of making any sound on it at all, and need to adjust their sense of what loud is. What will be extremely loud to him is probably mf to a professional.

It's probably the wrong instrument for people who are terrified of playing performance volume on it.
I totally agree with Todd.

Yes, we must protect our ears and also avoid injury
but sometimes I feel like my mom is on the forum.

Last week I mentioned that some new weighted sticks have a place in a proper routine and I was surprised at how many people immediately screamed “injury”. I don’t know, I’m 54, weigh only 165 and have never hurt myself. Mainly because I use them sensibly. I can also play 16th singles above 240 bpm, partly due to using them.

The OP is 63, if he still has his hearing at this age, does anyone honestly think that he is going to permanently damage his hearing from hitting his cymbals hard for a moment? Real hearing loss and tinnitus issues for musicians are repetitive type injuries. The type of single events that cause hearing loss are incredibly loud.
I don't know - it's just that I know a lot of professional or dedicated musicians that complain about (occasional or permanent) tinnitus. I had to deal with it, too when I practiced every day without any hearing protection and I don't miss it. And I once hurt my left ear at a loud rehearsal with a single loud stroke on an open hi hat - it was my mistake because the stick kind of slipped out of my hand and I sat at a funny angle, but mistakes happen. It felt like a slap on the ear and it actually hurt for a couple of days. Since then I usually wear those small ear plugs - I don't feel like I'm losing a lot by using them. Except for the actual ear plugs that is - I do keep losing those. :)

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
I agree with everyone who's said that being able to "self-mix" by adjusting how loud we play each part of the kit is an essential skill. So, the advice to play the cymbals more quietly is spot-on.

I'll repeat the advice I've made to most people who'll listen: Get a small mixer, one or two overheads, and a set of closed-ear headphones. Place the overhead(s) in one of the standard positions for recording, then play that way, listening through the headphones. Record it from time to time. If something is too loud, play it more quietly.


"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
You can put a piece of tape on cymbal bottom to tone it down a bit.
FWIW I've been experimenting with tape on a really wild Agop Mantra that sports runaway wash. I really need to extract more ping from it.

I get the best tone (to my ear) by putting as much or as little tape as I need right underneath where the bell starts and even inside the bell itself. Nowhere else.

I think the cymbal sounds the most natural that way. When I put tape underneath the middle of the main riding surface, or near the edge....I can tell that the tape is hindering too much vibration and sounds less than natural to me.

The decay sounds much more natural to me with the tape at, or in, the bell and none anywhere else.


Platinum Member
Have you ever put a mic up real close to the various spots on a cymbal? It’s crazy the tones that develop, especially around the bell. Putting the tape there makes total sense, especially if that’s your runaway tone.


Silver Member
Unfortunately the cymbals you chose are pretty bright, and bright cymbals tend to sound a lot louder than darker cymbals. Not sure what to do about it except to sell yours and buy something darker like Zildjian Ks, Sabian HH, Meinl Byzance, or even the non-brilliant versions of the Xist cymbals (the brilliant finish adds a lot of shimmery high frequencies, which is why they sound so loud).

Even if you want brighter cymbals, I've found A Customs (bright) to be the same volume level as the darker K Customs.
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Silver Member
Tinnitus and hearing loss can occur from a single event i(f you are unlucky).


Platinum Member
It's about 80% how the cymbal is made vs 20% as to how it played.
Some cymbals don't open up until struck forcibly.
I use Sabian FRX and they can be played softly and give full range of sound.
The size of bell on ride cymbals can dictate the loudness factor too.
Try playing a flat ride and regular ride of the same size and the flat will pretty much always sound quieter.
You can tape things ,but you're going to effect the character of the cymbal.
If you paid big bucks for a specific brand high end ,I don't see the point.


Senior Member
I’ve had success attenuating my cymbals by putting memory phone pads under the bells like a big cymbal felts. It’s cheap and you have lots of control.

This isn’t just about technique as some have said. Of course one can play softer, but there is a relationship between velocity and sound, and playing quietly isn’t always going to sound right. I want to be able to practice through every volume range and not limit myself to 70% max. So I have cymbals that allow me to do that. My main home crash is the Stanton Moore 20” Smash Trash which I can take from a whisper to a roar and is still much easier on my ears than my 18” K Medium thin crash played at 70%.

But also - in terms of managing the acoustic mix - how are the drums tuned? If you are playing two-ply heads tuned low with moon gels the lack of projection may be harder to work with than single ply heads tuned medium-high. I’ve certainly sat in on kits that felt underpowered next to the cymbals rather than the cymbals feeling ‘too loud’.
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Chris Whitten

Well-known Member
It's about 80% how the cymbal is made vs 20% as to how it played.
Some cymbals don't open up until struck forcibly.
It's kind of the other way. Drummers are responsible for the balance of their kit.
I haven't used louder, brighter cymbals since the mid-1980's, despite playing large outside venues.
If your cymbals are too loud EVEN when you do moderate your have the wrong cymbals.
The equation I have stated is accurate for most music (except jazz, maybe latin). Play your bass drum the loudest, snare drum second loudest, and cymbals should be struck much less hard than both kick and snare.

Chris Whitten

Well-known Member
Of course one can play softer, but there is a relationship between velocity and sound, and playing quietly isn’t always going to sound right.
You don't play the drums quietly, just the hi-hats and cymbals.
If you listen to how modern rock and pop is mixed, the bass drum is almost the loudest element other than lead vocal. Hi-hats and cymbals are barely audible usually. That's how drummers should play if they are working in those genres. Live sound engineers HATE overplayed cymbals and hi-hats.


I love when people say it's not the cymbals it's you, yeah obviously you need to be able to play quiet but also you can't deny a heavy a zildjian ride will be louder than a thin constantinople. Your gear can be suitable or not for the job. I dare all of you "it's not the gear" people to go play a jazz trio gig with a Bonham kit.

Buy dry cymbals, light cymbals and change your sticks. Abviously if you havent' practice playing quietly, this should be the first step before you spend money on cymbals.

I love Impression cymbals, they are very good for the money, Dream cymbals are ok but you can get better stuff for the money, keep an eye on ebay as there are often good deals on it, it depends where you are based.

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
It's (mostly) not the cymbals-- it's (mostly) you. I'd fully agree with what Chris is saying. You should be able to mix the levels of the parts of your drum kit through your technique. Some of it's the cymbals themselves, but not much.