Do Thin Cymbals Break Easier? How To Make Any Cymbal Last Longer!

By Evan C

Cymbals And Thickness

Do thin cymbals break easier? Hey, it’s a question that makes sense. These are just one of the many questions any drummer will ask at some point in time.

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Thin Cymbals And Their Life

When it comes to cymbals, the debate between thin and thick options has long been a topic of discussion among drummers.

A lot of drummers wonder whether thinner cymbals are more prone to breaking compared to their thicker counterparts.

Thinner cymbals are known for their responsiveness and delicate sound. They offer a more nuanced tone with faster decay, making them a popular choice for jazz and lighter music genres. Although, there are tons of drummers of heavier genres who use thin cymbals and can make them last.

However, some drummers worry that these thinner cymbals may break easier due to their wobbliness.

Ultimately, with excessive repeated force, along with other factors, it may break faster than a thicker cymbal.

On the other hand, thicker cymbals are built for durability and can withstand heavy hitting without sustaining the same significant damage thin cymbals may.

Thicker cymbals produce a louder volume and have longer sustain, making them suitable for rock or metal drumming styles where heavy and powerful playing is common.

Do thin cymbals break easier? Well, I've been able to make my thin crash last by taking care of it as best I can, which includes not smashing the crap out of it!
My Sabian HHX Legacy Thin Crash – Less sustain and washiness, but it sits perfectly in my drum mixes

Everything Has Variables, Even Cymbals

So, do thin cymbals break easier? While a heavy hitter may be able to break a thin crash faster than any thicker cymbal, there are other things to look at.

Let’s look at some main reasons to consider with new cymbals (and even used), that way you’ll know the best way to proceed here! You can make thin cymbals last longer, so don’t decide just yet!😎

Do Thin Cymbals Break Easier?

For drummers, the choice of cymbals is crucial in crafting their unique sound. One factor that has sparked much debate in the drumming community is whether thin cymbals break easier than their thicker counterparts.

As with any musical equipment, understanding the nuances is vital for making informed decisions. Let’s explore the relationship between cymbal thickness and durability, debunking myths and shedding light on the truth.

Just because a cymbal is thicker, doesn't automatically make it the best choice for a heavy hitter.
My Saluda Mist X Heavy Crash Ride – A very thick cymbal with tons bright tones and sustain

The Appeal of Thin Cymbals: Expressive

Before delving into the subject of durability, let’s acknowledge the allure of thin cymbals. Renowned for their responsiveness and shimmering sound, thin cymbals provide a fast decay, making them a popular choice for drummers seeking a washier tone.

The dark sound and sensitivity they offer are ideal for delicate and intricate playing styles, earning them an enthusiastic following among drummers across various genres.

I mention delicate playing styles, but even harder hitters love the sound and response from thin cymbals, so styles of music is really everywhere!

However, because they are thinner, they have less material and structural strength, making them more vulnerable to damage. They are honestly the best cymbals in my opinion though. LOL. 

Thicker Cymbals: Sturdiness and Definition

On the other end of the spectrum, thicker cymbals present a different set of advantages. They boast increased mass and a more robust construction because of more bronze, resulting in a louder and more defined sound.

Drummers who lean toward a heavier playing style often prefer thicker cymbals for their ability to withstand the greater force exerted from smashing the crap out of their cymbals. Calm down fellas! They’ll still make the noise. Just let ’em breath some!

However, jazz drummers may opt for heavier cymbals sometimes, especially with ride cymbals. I will always say, it’s never one-sized fits all. I think Google checks you on that stuff. 😅 Or maybe not..😂

Several Factors Can Contribute To Cymbal Breakage:

Playing Technique

So, do thin cymbals break easier? First and foremost, playing technique plays a significant role in determining a cymbal’s lifespan.

Regardless of thickness, cymbals are vulnerable to breaking when subjected to excessive force and improper playing techniques (yes, even your hi hats though not as often).

Drummers who strike cymbals with excessive power, whether they are thin or thick, risk causing damage over time.

If you strike a cymbal at the right angle and with only the limited amount of power necessary to bring the fullness out, you will save much money on cymbals over time.

Your cymbals will last longer! A sweeping motion is what a lot of drummers like to call it and it will still bring out your cymbal’s sound. 

I’ve gone through SO many cymbals, due to cracks, from improper striking and just beating the crap out of my cymbals! It’s not needed.

Material Quality

The quality of the cymbal’s material and manufacturing process also influences its durability.

While thinner cymbals have less material, well-crafted thin cymbals made from high-quality alloys can still be durable and long-lasting. Conversely, a poorly made thick cymbal may not necessarily guarantee longevity.

This is mainly just brass vs. bronze cymbals and avoiding brass at all costs. Although, if you are a complete beginner, there’s no point in spending money on high-end cymbals and an expensive drum set just yet.

You can find these brass cymbals through tons of different cymbal brands, probably at your local music store too. 

While we are talking about less material, it’s also important to note that larger cymbals may last longer than smaller cymbals. 

I’m talking about splashes versus average sized crash cymbals. Cymbal cracks could happen potentially way faster on splash cymbals because there is not a lot of material there and especially with lots heavy hitting.

It wouldn’t matter much with a 18″ china vs a 16″ china, although a china cymbal can be most prone to cracking because of less material (most of the time).

Any effects cymbal may crack faster, so if you hit with no mercy, you have been warned! You may see any of these crack at the edge of the cymbal or on the bow of the cymbal somewhere. 

Care and Maintenance

Proper handling, storage, and regular cleaning can extend the life of a cymbal. I will be honest though, I have easier access to my cymbals as they are always out on my cymbal stands.

I also haven’t cleaned my cymbals too much over the 20 years I’ve played. I prefer my cymbals to age aesthetically too, rather than a new look after each clean. 

Groove Juice Cymbal Cleaner

Proper handling is something that should be mentioned though! The area I have my cymbals in I manage with a dehumidifier.

I also try not to avoid getting greasy fingerprints on them if I can manage. This makes me worry less about moisture causing patina (green oxidation on cymbals).

Manufacturing Defects

Some cymbals may have hidden defects that make them more prone to breaking. It’s a good idea to inspect any cymbals you may buy, whether new or used.

You’ll want to shine a light on it and feel around. You’re basically just looking for any cracks that are present, which is a rare occurrence with new cymbals.

You’d probably be more likely to find dings over cracks, but inspecting your cymbals is a good habit, even regularly after you’ve been playing them.

ding on the edge of one of my cymbals

So, do thin cymbals break easier? The idea that thin cymbals inherently break easier is a generalization that needs a little more explaining.

While it is true that thin cymbals have less material and can be more vulnerable to damage under certain circumstances, durability is influenced by all the various factors we discussed. You absolutely can prolong them!

It’s essential to find the balance between the desired sound and the cymbal’s durability when choosing the right cymbals for your drum kit.

Cymbal companies like Sabian and Zildjian are notorious for having phenomenal cymbals that can last decades. You can never go wrong with Paiste cymbals either. You really have a ton of choices. 

Another idea is lighter sticks. They may be your best option in making your cymbals last a long time. By doing so, you can minimize the risk of breakage and prolong the life of your cymbals.

Drummers may often use a combination of thick cymbals and thinner cymbals to achieve the desired sound they want, while maintaining some level of durability.

Whether that’s heavier rides and lighter crashes, that’s up to you and your ear. I prefer a light cymbal now vs. a heavy one. I actually prefer all thin cymbals now, which is 180 degrees from how I used to be.

I played with mostly thick heavy cymbals in 2018, but the one with stripes is the thin one – a 17″ Saluda Decadence crash

Tons Of Things Go Into Cymbal Longevity

Do thin cymbals break easier though? Well, a drummer’s playing technique, the quality of the cymbal’s materials, and proper care all contribute to its longevity.

Thin cymbals can provide a washy and responsive sound, but they require careful handling and appropriate playing techniques to ensure their longevity.

Thicker cymbals offer sturdiness and solid definition, but their durability can also be compromised if not treated with care.

As with any musical instrument, investing in high-quality cymbals, regardless of thickness, and using them with care will result in a rewarding and long-lasting journey for any drummer.

What Are Your Thoughts On Thin Cymbals?

What do you think of cymbals? Do thin cymbals break easier in your own opinion? What are your experiences? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Until next time, stay attuned!

-Evan C.

About the author

Hi there, I'm Evan and I love drums.. Also, I love music! I've been playing drums for most of my life and nothing beats the thrill I get from it. I hope to be able to provide you with insightful tips and reviews on things within the drum and music world!

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