Cheap cymbals are cheap

So I got a drum kit. I had a very specific budget, did a ton of research, watched video reviews, etc. I chose the kit due to the excellent reviews, the smaller size (good for jazz), and of course because it looked cool.
The kit I chose, the Sonor Safari, is what’s called a “shell kit”. That means the price you pay only includes the four drums, and you have to shell out more money to get all the other parts. This include buying cymbals.
Now, being a musician and having worked in a music store (r.i.p. String Shoppe) I’ve learned that pretty much any musical instrument, no matter how cheap, usually has some redeeming quality that a little work and effort can bring out.
Cymbal “starter packs” are the exception to this rule. There’s nothing you can do for a crappy-sounding cymbal: you can’t rebuild it, you can’t set it up properly. I knew going in that I was going to have to cut corners on my cymbals.
When I was making my purchase at the Home Depot of music stores, the guy working in the drum department suggested a cymbal set from Meinl. The only time I’ve ever seen Meinl cymbals was on Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler’s kit. My sales guy, who was very cool and helpful, said they’d sound better than the Zildjian set I was originally looking at. Since I’ve been out of the music scene for so long and really had no idea, I decided to take his word on it.
I could have assembled a better sounding set of cymbals from my kitchen and garage. To my ears, these things sounded like random round pieces of metal. The 10″ splash actually sounded like a pie tin.
The next day I boxed them up and took them back to the store to exchange them. I grabbed the original Zildjian set I wanted and actually took them out and tried them, they actually sounded like cymbals! I even played the pie tin next to the Zildjian splash, which sounds like a splash, and the guy actually said “you think that sounds better?!”.
The lesson learned here is that even if you’re buying a cheap cymbal package that costs as much as one “good” cymbal, make sure you play them before shelling out the cash.
Now to figure out how to tune these drums…

It’s a bit blurry, but here’s the happy new cymbals:

20120615-060359.jpg

Update: I think I’m going to write a WordPress plugin that automatically replaces the word “actually” with a synonym.

Note to self: look up synonyms for “actually”

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