What Size Ride Cymbal Should I Get?! Minute Quick Tips On Cymbals

By Evan C

Ride Cymbals And You

Choosing the right size ride cymbal for your drum kit is a crucial decision for drummers seeking their desired sound and style.

It’s no wonder you are asking, ‘what size ride cymbal should I get?’ With so many different types of cymbals, it’s daunting! The size of a ride cymbal can greatly impact its overall tone, volume, and versatility. 

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What Size Ride Cymbal Should I Get?

 When deciding on a size, it’s essential to consider various factors, such as musical style, volume requirements, and playing technique.

Larger ride cymbals, ranging from 22 to 24 inches, offer warm tones, great stick articulation, and projection, making them ideal for jazz or orchestral settings.

In contrast, smaller ride cymbals, around 18 to 20 inches, provide brighter tones, better stick definition, and are well-suited for rock, pop, or fusion genres.

Additionally, your playing style and technique also play a role in determining the ideal size, as heavier hitters might benefit from the durability and volume of a larger ride cymbal, while those who prefer finesse and intricate patterns might find a smaller ride more responsive.

If budget is on your mind, be sure to check out my recommended list of rides by clicking here.

Ultimately, exploring different sizes and experimenting with different cymbals will allow you to find the perfect match that complements your musical aspirations and personal preferences.

It's easy to wonder 'what size ride cymbal should I get?' with so many different ride sizes out there.

Ride Cymbal Sizes Vary

Those sizes and instances can differ a lot, but there are some other things we can look at to help us make more informed decisions! Before we begin, just remember every drummer will have different tastes and it’s not one size fits all (get it? 😂 Cuz rides.. .😅) Let’s dig into those now!

Lots Of Stuff That Goes Into Your Ride Cymbal

So, what size ride cymbal should I get?? So, the best size of a ride cymbal depends on your personal preferences and the musical style you play.

Ride cymbals come in various sizes, with most common sizes ranging from 18 to 24 inches in diameter. Here are some general guidelines to consider when choosing the size of a ride cymbal:

Musical Style: Different styles of music may benefit from different ride cymbal sizes. Both smaller sizes and larger sizes have their benefits.

A vintage ride cymbal

For example, larger ride cymbals (around 22 to 24 inches) are often preferred for jazz drummers and orchestral settings due to their defined stick articulation and warm, dark tones. There are even bigger rides than 24 inches! That’s a big pizza pie! 🍕

Jazz drummers may also opt for thinner cymbals to obtain a lower pitch. On the other hand, smaller ride cymbals (around 18 to 20 inches) can be suitable for rock drummers and others like pop, or fusion genres, as they offer more stick definition and brighter tones. I play rock and prefer thin cymbals over thick ones. 

Volume and Projection: Larger ride cymbals tend to produce more volume and have greater projection, making them suitable for louder music genres or situations where you need to cut through a dense mix.

If you play in a band with amplified instruments or perform in larger venues, a larger ride cymbal might be a good choice.

Smaller ride cymbals can be more suitable for quieter musical settings or when you desire a more controlled sound.

Playing Style and Technique: Your playing style and technique can also influence your choice of ride cymbal size.

If you prefer playing with a lighter touch and emphasize intricate ride patterns and bell accents, a smaller ride cymbal may provide better responsiveness.

Conversely, if you play with a heavier hand and often employ more aggressive stick work, a larger ride cymbal can offer durability and handle the added force.

Ultimately, it’s essential to try out different ride cymbals to determine the size that suits your needs. Visit a local music store or try different cymbals in a studio setting to experience their sound, feel, and responsiveness firsthand.

Keep in mind that personal preference plays a significant role in selecting cymbals, so choose the one that sounds and feels right to you.

Things to Look At Along With Size

There are more things to take into account when asking, ‘what size ride cymbal should I get?’
Size: Ride cymbals come in various sizes, typically ranging from 18 to 24 inches in diameter. The size affects the overall pitch and volume of the cymbal.

Larger ride cymbals tend to produce lower frequencies and have a louder volume, while smaller ride cymbals generate higher tones with a more controlled volume.

Material: Ride cymbals are made from different materials, such as bronze alloys. The most common materials used are B20 (80% copper and 20% tin) and B8 (92% copper and 8% tin), though other bronze cymbal mix % exist (B10, B12).

Sabian B8 ride cymbal
A 20″ inch Sabian B8 Ride – These are beginner-level cymbals and are bright and pingy with a long sustain

The composition of the alloy impacts the cymbal’s tonal characteristics, including brightness, warmth, sustain, and overall timbre.

Weight: Ride cymbals have varying weights, ranging from thin to medium to heavy. The weight affects the cymbal’s response, stick feel, and the balance between its stick definition and overall wash.

Thinner ride cymbals tend to be more responsive with a greater wash and less pronounced stick articulation, while heavier ride cymbals offer more stick definition and less wash.

Bell Size and Shape: The bell is the raised area in the center of the cymbal. The size and shape of the bell influence the cymbal’s articulation and the strength of its ping or bell sound.

Larger bells produce a more defined and prominent ping, while smaller bells offer a more subtle and blended sound.

Hammering and Lathing: Ride cymbals can undergo various hammering and lathing techniques during their manufacturing process.

Hammering refers to shaping the metal through a series of strikes, while lathing involves removing metal through a turning process.

These techniques affect the cymbal’s surface texture, complexity of sound, and overall tonal character.

A hammered or unlathed ride cymbal tends to produce a darker, more complex sound, while a fully lathed cymbal offers a brighter and more focused tone.

Zildjian K Custom Dark Ride
This 20″ Zildjian K Custom Dark Ride – These cymbals are designed to be darker-sounding as well as have more overtones. These also have a faster decay.

Stick Articulation: Ride cymbals are designed to provide stick articulation, allowing drummers to create distinct rhythmic patterns.

The stick articulation refers to how clearly the cymbal’s sound emerges when struck with a drumstick. Ride cymbals with pronounced stick articulation have a defined “ping” sound, while those with less stick articulation produce a more wash-like and sustained sound.

Sustain: The sustain refers to how long the cymbal’s sound lingers after being struck. Ride cymbals can have varying sustain characteristics, ranging from short to medium to long.

Shorter sustain creates a more controlled and focused sound, ideal for genres requiring precise and defined playing.

On the other hand, longer sustain can contribute to a more atmospheric and expressive sound, suitable for various musical styles like rock or country.

Overtones and Harmonics: When a ride cymbal is struck, it produces a complex mix of overtones and harmonics that contribute to its overall sound.

These overtones and harmonics give the cymbal its unique tonal complexity and can be influenced by factors like size, weight, material, and manufacturing techniques.

beginner cymbals
This is either a brass ride or a B8 bronze ride (same with the crash)

Some Of My Thoughts

Hopefully I’ve answered ‘what size ride cymbal should I get?’ with everything above. I just wanted to give some additional insight to help you.

Although not necessary, high-end cymbals will almost always be the best cymbals you could go with. However, there are plenty of different sounds that can be closely matched in a similar cymbal for a fraction of the cost. 

Beginner drummers should look at a few cymbal packs if purchasing more than a ride. This will include hi-hats, a ride, and a crash cymbal at a minimum. It may be cheaper to look at sheet cymbals over cast cymbals if you’re on a budget.

You can even disregard the cymbal type of rides if you want to experiment. Some drummers opt for larger crash cymbals and use them as a crash ride (or just a ride).

A crash cymbal size that’s large enough to be a ride can be the perfect type of cymbal for an explosive sound. Remember, the right cymbals only need to make sense to you. 

Heavier cymbals or larger cymbals are always prominent, but you gotta carry that sucker around if you gig. I’m not against bigger cymbals, I have a 22″ ride and it’s absolute BUTTER (similar in sound to Zildjian K).

A small diameter ​ride can be pretty handy if you’re forced into a tiny area when playing the drums. Feel free to check out my Youtube channel by clicking here to hear this ride in some of my videos.

Sabian HHX Legacy Ride
My 22″ Sabian HHX Legacy Ride – Absolute Fatty BUTTER. This is just a GIF with no sound

The Cymbal Process Is Extensive

What size ride cymbal should I get was something I thought about a lot. It really comes down to a lot more than size and I hope that this post has been helpful for you.

By looking at other things like hammering, lathing, weight, taper, etc. we can understand more fully of why a cymbal might sound a certain way.

What Do You Think Of The Sizes Mentioned?

So, what are your thoughts so far on different-sized ride cymbals? Have you made a decision based on anything here? Feel free to let me know if you have any comments or questions below!

Want FREE drum hacks to help your drum chops foundation and get you on the right track?

Get those by clicking here.

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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