How Long Do Cymbals Last? 5+ Top Easy Things To Look At

By Evan C

Cymbals Come And Go

How long do cymbals last? A question that many drummers (including myself) have probably asked themselves at some point in time..

Whether you’re a professional musician or just someone who enjoys playing drums as a hobby, it’s important to know how long your cymbals will last before needing replacement.

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The Lifespan Of A Cymbal

Cymbals are an essential part of the drum set, and they can be quite expensive. So, understanding their lifespan is crucial for budgeting and maintaining the quality of your sound.

The average lifespan of a cymbal depends on various factors such as frequency of use, playing technique, and maintenance.

Generally speaking, high-quality cymbals from reputable brands can last anywhere from several years to even decades if well taken care of. 30+ years is not out of the question for a cymbal’s life.

How long do cymbals last? No amount of time can really tell.
How long do cymbals last?

Take It With A Grain Of Salt

Of course, it really depends on several things when looking at a cymbal’s life. These are gonna help you understand a little more. These are things to look at and simply a guiding compass, but can vary from person to person.

How Long Do Cymbals Last – Things To Look Out For

The lifespan of cymbals can vary widely depending on several factors, including the material they are made from, the frequency and intensity of use, how they are played, and how well they are maintained. Here are some general guidelines for different types of cymbals:

1. Cast Bronze Cymbals Vs Sheet Bronze

Cast bronze cymbals may last longer as they are more durable than sheet bronze cymbals, so that is something to look at. If you are beginner or intermediate drummer, sheet cymbals are cheaper and may be your best best.

You’ll want to choose the right cymbals for your needs, whether that’s sheet or cast cymbals. I will never turn down a used cymbal in great condition. Anything second hand can sound just the same as a new cymbal for a fraction of the cost. 

2. Thin Vs Thick Cymbals

How long do cymbals last in terms of thickness? Thin cymbals may be more prone to breaking faster than thicker cymbals. This is because thinner cymbals have less material than thicker, heavier cymbals.

The type of cymbal can also come into play here. Ride cymbals will probably last longer than crash cymbals, if you’re not crashing frantically on your rides.

A china cymbal will (for the most part) be thin and crack faster. This is because they are fun to smash really hard and get a dirty breakdown in. 😡😬

This especially rings true for any style of music where the drummer is wailing on their cymbals. You’ll just want to take this into account when you’re trying to answer, ‘how long do cymbals last?’

A thinner cymbal may not last as long as a thicker cymbal, but the following other things really matter when talking longevity.

3. Playing Style

Aggressive playing techniques involving heavy hitting and also improper handling can significantly reduce the lifespan of cymbals by several years and even decades.

A glancing blow

Using good technique when playing and avoiding excessive force can help prolong their life. Regardless if the cymbal is thick or thin, it is a good idea to hit the edge of the cymbal with a  glancing blow, rather than striking cymbals with full force.

Although, digging that stick shaft in cymbals and exerting that energy is what a lot of drummers do. If you have the money for more cymbals than smash the crap out of them, but I’m trying to help you avoid cracked cymbals and a destroying your cymbal’s sound.

brass and bronze cymbals
Brass (left) are typical for beginner drummers, while bronze (right) are sought after more for anyone who wants a more professional sound

Cymbal Alloys: Cymbals made from bronze will last longer than brass cymbals. B20 bronze (a mixture of 80% copper and 20% tin) are the highest quality and with proper care and usage, these cymbals can last for several years to even decades. Even B12, B10, and B8 bronze cymbals can last a long time if cared for properly.

I have written about brass cymbals a few times and would only recommend for complete beginners. Regular cleaning, avoiding excessive force, and proper playing technique contribute to their longevity.

4. Maintenance

Regular cleaning and proper storage of cymbals can help extend their lifespan. Using cymbal sleeves, not over-tightening wing nuts, and avoiding contact with corrosive substances can also contribute to their longevity.

the metal of the stand needs to have a sleeve to protect your cymbal from that force of metal-on-metal contact.

I’ve seen keyholing on some old Zildjian cymbals (back in school band) and some that even formed a tiny crack. This is especially true with no cymbal sleeves on a cymbal stand and a wing nut tightened to hell.  

Cracks and Damage: Cracks and damage are common reasons for cymbals to start sounding awful and ultimately become unusable.

Even small cracks can affect the sound and stability of a cymbal. Once a crack appears, many drummers may stop using the cymbal to prevent further damage.

However, you can always guy the crack out and even though the cymbal will have a gouge, the crack is gone. Eventually, the cymbal will keep forming cracks, especially as the structure becomes more

Although thin crashes and smaller cymbals can start to crack easier, cymbal cracks can be avoided if you take precaution.

Something similar to corrosive substances (and probably way more common) is touching cymbals a lot and leaving oil residue from your fingertips. This can eventually lead to patina (green oxidation of cymbals) over time, so I always try to not rub my fingers all over the cymbals.

5. Usage Frequency

So, how long do cymbals last? The more frequently cymbals are used, the more quickly they are likely to wear out. Professional drummers who play regularly might need to replace their cymbals more often than occasional players. 

You could use cymbal pads during your practices to help prolong the life of your cymbal. It’s also the best way to quiet your cymbals if you’ve got people complaining.

Cymbal mutes
Cymbal mutes can be a REAL pocket book saver!

Obviously most cymbal companies want you to go through your cymbals so that you can buy more, but it’s possible to keep your cymbals for a very long time by taking any of these precautions.

6. Environmental Factors

Environmental conditions, such as humidity and temperature fluctuations, can also impact cymbal lifespan. Extreme conditions can contribute to corrosion and degradation.

Ultimately, there is no exact timeframe for how long cymbals will last, as it varies based on the factors mentioned above.

Cymbal oxidation or patina
Patina will be this greenish color normally (ignore the shape, I couldn’t make it look more realistic)

With proper care and maintenance, high-quality cymbals can last for many years, while lower-quality cymbals might need to be replaced sooner.

Regular inspection, cleaning, and responsible playing practices are key to maximizing the lifespan of your cymbals.

Cymbals can have a long life if you use proper cymbal care. As I mentioned, used or even old cymbals can still carry the best sound. 

Proper Care Can Extend Your Cymbal’s Journey

So, how long do cymbals last? With the proper care, they could last decades! If none of these things are considered, you may have a much shorter timeframe for your cymbals.

It’s important to note that sometimes you can also follow everything right and your cymbals may still crack and/or not last as long. Just try your best with prolonging your cymbals life!

Cymbal Lives And Such

What are your thoughts on the life of cymbals? Do you have different stories of your cymbals only lasting a few months (because I do)?

It’s understandable and as I mentioned every case is different! Let me know 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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