9 Best Ride Cymbals (2018 Reviews & Buying Guide)

Posted in Gear | Last Updated on September 13, 2018

stick hitting a cymbal

Choosing the best ride cymbal is a bit relative than one might think. Depending on a lot of factors, there are things to consider before making the final decision. Ride cymbals are divided into several categories based on their price and function. Each price range has its best cymbal, and so does each style of music (function).

Let us glide through the best in each category to give you a hint of what to select, at the bottom you will find a short buyer's guide. We are positive that after reading this article you will have much clearer perspective.

Top 9 Pick and Reviews


Best Under: $600

Zildjian K Constantinople 22'' Renaissance

To top it off let us just say that this ride cymbal by Zildjian is one of the best they can offer. It is made with the finest craftsmanship, and the brand name has done well to bring some recognition to this masterpiece. Zildjian is one of the top brands in the cymbal market, and one can expect nothing but quality as they portray this cymbal as one of their best.

There is no doubt that the Constantinople 22'' is for the professional level of drummers. In most cases, drummers with dedication and a passion for professionalism would do what it takes to have one. Once you have a few hundred dollars and you can afford it, you are good to go.

When it comes to performance, the Constantinople does well to deliver. It is a versatile cymbal that has a superior performance in comparison to its peers. Be it a concert or a gig in a coffee shop; you can rest assured because it can fit any drum and event easily. It comes with a lot of outstanding features which include the cluster hammering, its thin texture, and its weight.

This average weight cymbal is, however, one of the most beautiful ride cymbals you would find in the market. Although it is quite a top notch when it comes to quality, it is quite expensive and only available for drummers with a lot of cash to spare. But as the saying goes; ‘nothing good comes cheap.’

Even as the saying goes, the efficiency of the cymbal covers up for most of its flaws. It is very durable and rugged. It was designed by the Zildjian artisan; Adam Nussbaum, and it is made essentially for jazz drummers. No matter the type of the setup; either small or big, it would fit in perfectly. Its sound and resonance is outstanding and is the ultimate cymbal for those that can afford it.

  • Durable
  • Top quality design
  • Versatile
  • Top-notch performance

  • High price

For drummers out there, one can dub the Constantinople 22'' Renaissance as best. It is costly and is most likely to be used and purchased by experienced and professional drummers.


Best Under $500:

Sabin 21'' HH Raw Belly Dry Ride

In the world of cymbal making Sabian is one of the few at the top. One can rely on their reputation for selecting cymbals, and it is best to believe that whatever they offer is as legit as they call it. Having one of the masterpieces of Sabian is like having a dignitary visit your home; except that this dignitary is staying for a long time. One of Sabian’s masterpieces is the 21” HH Raw Bell Dry Ride.

This model is among their top product and can only be found in the expensive category. Upcoming drummers and those on a budget should try to get this cymbal, even if it’s the last quality piece of drum you buy. This is because every penny spent on it is entirely worth it.

This raw dry ride is constructed from top quality materials, and its design makes it easier to handle during play. It is no news that rides respond differently to being hit. Some rides are designed to return and maintain its previous position after being hit, while some rides just keep shaking lousily.

Amateur drummers might not notice the accurate and unlathed cuts, but professionals would notice the sound clarity and optimum performance it offers. Its durability and performance together make it among the top cymbals you can get for less than $500.

  • Top-notch performance
  • Versatility
  • Unlathed cuts
  • Top quality design
  • Durable

  • Fairly expensive

If you are seeking the best, then your aim should be in this range. The Sabian HH raw bell is quite expensive and common among the professionals.


Best Under $400:

Meinl SC20MR-B SoundCaster Custom 20-inch

Most drummers would know by now that Meinl are one of those cymbals to reckon with. The Meinl brand is known for its reputation and quality. They produce tons and tons of quality cymbals that would be of interest to any drummer. We, however, are focusing on their Soundcaster custom 20” brilliant finish medium ride. This ride cymbal is one of those that have a defined pitch.

Once hit, it gives that pingy sound that every drummer would want to hear from a good quality ride. It has a warm and brilliant response when hit. It has a fine blend of washy sound when hit on the edge, which makes it one versatile ride. Hitting its taper produces a sound that has more sustain you would expect, giving it a nice decay even when used for production purposes.

This ride cymbal is made possible by the extensive efforts of R and D, as they searched for new sounds to make the ride more exciting that it would normally be. Everyone has a particular conventional sound that they expect a ride to produce. In the world of Meinl, regular or conventional is not enough. Drummers crave for something new to spice up their drumming with, and Meinl did well to deliver.

It is made with B12 bronze alloy and finished brilliantly to produce a mirror-like surface for a brighter and richer sound, and aesthetics. Beauty plays a strong role in making musical instruments, and most times beauty is also mistaken for good quality. In the soundcaster ride, beauty is mixed with durability and quality to give a ride cymbal that is one of a kind. Its high frequencies are controlled, and it is ideal for creative and expressive drummers.

  • Defined and clear sound
  • Brilliant response
  • Balanced sustain and decay
  • Top quality design
  • Durable
  • Esthetic

  • Expensive for the average drummer

The Soundcaster falls under the category for professional drummers and intermediates. It is worth the try, and the brand name Meinl is one most drummers can reckon with.


Best Under $200:

Meinl CC20DAR Classic Custom 20''

Most times dark cymbals are just restricted to some certain genres of music. However, that does not stop them from being one of the best cymbals available at a particular price. The Meinl classic custom dark ride is one of the most noticeable models you would find. It is identified by its dark color and its unique sound.

Some might think the dark color is a form of coating, and only a few know that it is not. The dark color is part of the making process and not just another aesthetic coating that would wear off over time.

It is made in Germany, and its making process leaves it dark with a lot of complex tones. This is because of the finishing process it undergoes, and it leads to the production of a clearer sound known for classics cymbals. It has a unique widely spaced hammering and additional lathing to even out the tones as they produce a powerful response.

It is suitable for players that need agile cymbals, while it echoes its darkness as it is being hit. Itl has all the volume required without having any gleaming overtones. It can serve as an alternative for metal, pop and rock drummers.

To go into details on this model would open your eyes to the possibilities it offers to your play. During play, this cymbal is one of the most responsive rides you can find. It can serve as a ride or even a heavy crash. This dual ability is also dependent on your stick definition, and it would most definitely produce the dark tone you want to hear.

  • Dark and warm overtones
  • Cutting stick definition
  • Esthetic dark finish
  • Made with B10 bronze alloy
  • Nice sustain
  • Shaped with Pressure Point Technology

  • Suitable only for a few music types

It is better to not expect the best quality from Meinl CC20DAR because there are many models which are more expensive but with overall better characteristics than this one. This cymbal is ideal for those on a budget, but are not willing to settle for the cheapest.


Best for Funk:

Sabian 21'' HHX Groove

All funk drummers out there would know that there are cymbals for funk and other that are not suitable. In the circle of cymbals for funk, there are also some that are outstanding and some that are just termed regular. However, since we have the 21” Sabian HHX groove ride on our radar, then we are focusing on a very outstanding product. This HHX is model that every funk drummer should try to get, or at least consider. It is one of the best cymbals Sabian has to offer.

It has a very precise sound delivery, clear in tone and can easily be distinguished from other high quality models; features that can only be found in the high end models. Some say that there is something about the HHX that make them unique. Most likely true! If you are a drummer willing to become a professional, then having an HHX ride should be a consideration.

You can also consider other option form the HHX series too. They are known for delivering superior performance and versatility, especially for funk music and at an affordable price too; although HHX Groove belongs to the upper section of medium priced cymbals.

The Sabian HHX groove ride is a very durable model that is constructed with high-quality materials. It is hammered and cut in the traditional style of Sabian. One would note its efficiency from the way it is designed. One of the reasons why professionals often choose this Sabian model of ride.

  • Specially designed for funk
  • HHX tone projection
  • Precise and accurate sound production
  • Fine finish and texture
  • Durable
  • Two years of warranty by SabianTM

  • Not suitable for beginners

This cymbal is made by one of the best in the business. If you are skeptical about Sabian HHX, then you should go back and do your homework.


Best For Rock:

Zildjian K 22''

A lot of drummers that play rock always wonder the best ride cymbal they can use during any of their gigs. Drummers differ in taste, however, every drummer has a peculiar sound and feel that he seeks during play. But it is no news that ride cymbals need to be very washy on the tips and pingy on the bell. This would require a thick and high bell and a thin taper than usual. Some can call this a crash ride, however, the qualities defined are what makes a ride cymbal ideal for rock music.

What makes a crash ride different from a ride is the uniformity of the taper thickness. A ride has a uniform taper thickness, while a crash ride has its taper thinnest at the edge and thickest at the bell.

The Zildjian 22” K dark medium ride is the ideal ride for rock. Although it can also serve in the jazz music section, this counts for versatility. Considering the features of this ride cymbal would shed more light on the reasons why it is ideal for rock music. We would notice that it has a large bell; which is more likely to produce higher pingy sounds. It is made with special hammering and lathing to allow the cymbal to open up to broad and complex tones that might even be useful in jazz music.

The bell projection of this model makes it a very sweet cymbal to add to one’s collection. You would not have to worry about the surface area of the bell or how loud the bell sound is. The exclusive Pin Lathing makes the ride more wash to make it ideal for rock, and it has a distinct appearance that resembles of those of the 1960s.

  • Durable
  • Versatile for multiple styles of music
  • Ideal for Rock
  • Classic looks
  • Top quality design; copper-tin ratio of 80/20

  • Expensive for the average drummer

The Zildjian K 22'' meets every need for rock and can even serve for other styles of music. It is the best choice for those willing to try it out.


Best for Jazz:

Istanbul Mehmet Jazz Series N70-R24 70's Nostalgia

The Istanbul cymbals are not one of the most popular brands on the market. It is most likely that this is the first time you would notice them. Due to the presence of beasts like Zildjian, Meinl, and Sabian in the market, it is not impossible to have not noticed the Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals. The disadvantage of their lack of popularity is that most drummers would be scared buy them just to test them out.

What if they are whack cymbals? How would you know? Sometimes, there are risks worth taking, and those risks led to the discovery of the Istanbul Mehmet. It would be a good idea to give them a shot. While you are at it, you should consider the Nostalgia 24” ride by Istanbul Mehmet. It is handcrafted and made explicitly for jazz drummers.

Even the price might leave you in awe, for a product whose brand name is not popular. If you can just overlook the social standing of the brand name, you would notice that the N70-R24 does not look like the conventional cymbal and it delivers as much quality it is professed to deliver.

It is clear that the Istanbul Mehmet Nostalgia ride is a unique one that differs from its peers in shape and in quality. From its design, one would notice the smooth bell bridge that makes it one of the ideal cymbals for jazz drummers. Its texture and width are just superb, and it has a look similar to Turkish cymbals built in the early 1970s. To be honest, this is the best product one can use for jazz, and it is worth the price.

  • Unique design
  • Suitable for jazz
  • Durable
  • Esthetic, with a classic Turkish look

  • Ideal for only one style of music

Overlooking the brand name and checking the quality level would do more good than harm if you are a jazz drummer seeking the best option available.


Best for Metal

Meinl CC20EMR-B Classic Extreme Metal

One of the brands that has its products in almost; if not all, styles of music is Meinl. They are one of the leading brands in the world and have been known for quality. Moving straight to the topic of discussion, the CC20EMR-B is on of focus. This cymbal is dubbed as the best for metal drumming.

To verify this claim, you would notice the features that make it suitable for this purpose are quite evident. One of the features including the huge bell to ensure that all pingy sounds are produced distinctly. Other features such as the hammered texture give it a response that makes it suitable for metal play.

It is made with B10 bronze alloy and more of computerized tech-stuff. Regardless of the method of production, one would notice that this cymbal is a very durable. Why not try it out? It is the best for metal music anyways.

  • Suitable for metal music
  • Top quality
  • Durable
  • Made of B10 Bronze alloy

  • Suitable for only one type of music
  • Relatively expensive for the average drummer

If you are a metal drummer still skeptical about this one, giving it a try would not hurt, its a good product overall.


Best Under $100:

Sabian SBR2012 SBR Series

Sabian is one of the top brands in cymbal production. They are versatile and have at least one product suitable for each style of music. As we all know, there are little to no ride cymbals that are of good quality that one can get below $100. However, Sabian has done well to be among the little cymbals that are under $100 and still offer a profound level of quality.

Cymbals in packs are usually for starter drummers and are not usually sought after by intermediates or professionals. However, if you need something on cheap that has an acceptable amount of quality, you should check this one out. It has a classic design and a solid performance.

It is one of the best-selling models on the market because of its high value for the money, affordability and its versatility. It is part of the budget category and is ideal for those who are not ready or able to spend much or the ones that are beginners.

  • Affordable
  • Classic look
  • Suitable for beginners

  • Not suitable for professionals
  • Poor sound quality

This model is great if you are a starter or low on budget, but not so good for pros and intermediate drummers.


What to look for in ride cymbal

Before you make your choice, you should consider the following;

  • QUALITY DIFFERENCES: models differ in quality, and most drummers would prefer checking this before making a purchase. This is why a lot of drummers do not like buying cymbals online; you do not get to see, feel and hear what you are purchasing.
  • CATEGORY GAPS: the gaps between ride cymbals of different price ranges are broad. One should be familiar with the terms ‘budget’, ‘medium,’ and ‘expensive.’ These define how one would prepare to purchase a ride cymbal.
  • BRAND QUALITY: in as much as most people deny this, you cannot rule out the fact that some brands offer quality than others. Consider the brand's reputation when choosing, even thought there are some really nice picks from unpopular brand. So the answers is invest time in due diligence.
  • BUILD QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE: some drummers prefer handcrafted products to machine-carved. This has its effects on the performance of the instrument and the overall tone.

Conclusion

Choosing a ride cymbal needs a lot to be put into consideration. The brand, the type (dark, medium, etc.), the style of drumming, and a host of others are important factors to consider. But it is safe, however, to note that drummers are different. It is possible that a funk drummer prefers a ride cymbal designed for rock drumming only. You are to follow the guide to help you make that ultimate decision.