Why Are My Cymbals Turning Green? Cymbal How To

By Evan C

Green Cymbals For You?

Got some weird discoloration and asking yourself, ‘why are my cymbals turning green?’ You’re not the first and only drummer to ask that behind the drum kit. 

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Why Are My Cymbals Turning Green?

The greenish discoloration on cymbals is typically due to the oxidation of the bronze or brass alloys used in their construction.

This green patina, often seen on older bronze cymbals or those exposed to moisture and air for extended periods, is a natural chemical reaction between the metal and its environment.

Factors such as humidity, exposure to moisture, air, and even the oils from your hands can contribute to this green oxidation. It’s more common on cymbals made of bronze or brass alloys containing copper, as copper reacts to the air, forming a layer of copper carbonate or copper oxide.

green patina
This is what patina typically looks like

Green For Days

“But.. Why are my cymbals turning green and what can I really do about it?” Don’t worry, it happens to all types of cymbals (even new cymbals, although rare).  Let’s look at what it means for your cymbals and some easy ways to get rid of this green color.

Patina Ins And Outs

Best Sound Quality?

Fortunately, the greenish tint that appears on your cymbals is not proven to really impact the sound of your cymbal or performance of it.

The patina, while altering the appearance, doesn’t compromise the sound integrity (no studies have been done) of the cymbals.

The protective coating on brilliant finish cymbals will be compromised, however. Depending on if your green oxidation is on tonal grooves, it may affect the sound a tad (You really wouldn’t be able to tell unless the green color is HUGE on your cymbals).

He’s so happy. He has no idea copper oxidation is on his cymbal.

If you’ve just noticed a bit of patina on your cymbals, you should be fine. However, I can’t speak to a cymbal that’s covered in patina. I assume that would probably choke the natural resonance of the cymbal some.

Although, this is speculation and based off of reading other drummers’ experiences with heavy amounts of this green oxidation.

Aesthetics and Personal Preference

I know you’re thinking, “Why are my cymbals turning green? It’s ugly!” Well, for some drummers, the patina is an inevitable aspect of the cymbal’s aging process, as you can find a ton of older cymbals with patina.

Some even appreciate the unique visual character it adds to it, signifying its history and the experiences it has accompanied.

Others prefer to maintain their cymbals in a pristine condition and take measures to minimize the formation of patina. It’s also worth it to note that patina on brass cymbals may look more green, while bronze cymbals will have a bluish-green tint.

There are even some cymbals made where the cymbal manufacturers may purposely invoke a patina finish after lathing and hammering. I have seen them and am personally not a fan of most, but I know a lot of them sound great, like Sabian’s XSR Monarch! 😆

Sabian XSR Monarch
The Sabian XSR Monarch has a dark patina finish – these cymbals sound great too!

Preventing Cymbal Tarnish

Cleaning and Maintenance

If preserving the original appearance of your cymbals is your preference, the best way is to regularly clean cymbals.

Using mild cleaning agents designed specifically for cymbals and wiping them with a soft microfiber cloth can slow down the patina’s development.

Some drummers also put a special coating that protects and hinders oxidation to maintain their cymbals’ original brilliance. 

Free and cheap versions of cleaning include some lemon juice, hot water, and some good old fashioned elbow grease. Warm water works as well. I’d recommend your first visit be with these methods that are free.

You can use a a cloth pad or scrub brush, but be careful around tonal grooves. You can also use products such as groove juice to remove this patina. 

Paiste cymbal cleaner is another good product that is both a cymbal polish and cleaner. If you have brass cymbals, brass polish and cleaner would also help.

I mentioned tonal grooves earlier and this is somewhere you may want to be careful when cleaning, as it could alter your cymbals sound.

why are my cymbals turning green? It's copper oxide.

Brilliant finish cymbals may be easier to tell if you have had patina on them, but they look really nice after you clean them.

Drying and Storage

After playing, it’s a good idea to dry your cymbals to eliminate moisture. Storing them in a dry environment away from humidity helps maintain their appearance and slows down the oxidation process. 

Be careful just leaving cymbals in a cymbal bag unattended. Also, make sure to wipe them even if you think they are fine. For some reason, people love putting their greasy, oily fingers all over the drummer’s cymbals. It is the most annoying thing ever.

Embrace or Prevent? The Choice is Yours

The green patina that forms on cymbals is nothing to worry about and most drummers have dealt with it or knows someone who has.

Whether to embrace the patina as part of the cymbals’ character or take proactive measures to maintain their its appearance is a matter of personal preference among drummers.

The greenish transformation may add visual depth to the cymbals or might require regular cleaning and maintenance to retain its original shine – the choice is absolutely yours, my friends!

I asked AI to generate pictures of copper oxide on cymbals. Pretty close. 👀

Moving Forward With Green Cymbals

So, the next time you’re behind your drum set, you’ll have an answer to ‘why are my cymbals turning green?’ This green patina is annoying to deal with, but if you take the precautions, you can stop it.

To prevent further oxidation, you can regularly clean and polish your cymbals using any of the cleaning solutions, and avoid abrasive or acidic substances that might damage the cymbal’s surface.

Additionally, storing cymbals in a dry environment and wiping them down after use can help minimize further oxidation and maintain their appearance.

Thoughts On Patina

So, what are your thoughts on cymbal oxidation? Have you dealt with it before and what did you use to help it?

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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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