Cymbals with Holes: What Do They Do?

Cymbals are a fundamental part of any drum kit. But you’ve probably noticed that some cymbals are not simply their traditional shape but have extra features like holes or more pronounced dimples.

If you are looking to buy a new drum kit, cymbal, or are simply curious about what difference these holes and dimples make, then we have tried to explain here everything you need to know!

Why Do Cymbals Have Holes in?

Some cymbals have holes in them to reduce the mass with the aim of either lowering the volume or sustain to produce a unique tone. Some hi-hat cymbals have smaller holes in them to prevent them from sticking when moving from a closed to open position.

Some Handy Terms!

There are plenty of terms frequently used to describe certain sounds relating to drums and cymbals. While these might be self-explanatory to some, they can also get pretty confusing to new drummers!

Therefore, we’ve put together this handy list of terminology to explain exactly what we mean when we say these different words to hopefully help you to picture the sound even better!

  • Trashiness: Trashiness refers to a cymbal sound which is less clean or ‘pure’ sounding. This can also be described as a more aggressive sounding cymbal.
  • Sustain: Sustain simply refers to the amount of time the sound of the cymbal remains after striking. This is affected by the size, thickness and the presence of holes in the cymbal.
  • Dark/lighter sounds: Lighter sounds are generally used to mean higher frequency sounds which sound ‘bright’. Darker sounds can be used to mean lower frequency sounds produced by cymbals.
  • Attack (stick sound): This refers to the sound immediately following the strike by the drumstick and can be affected by the sound of the wood itself if using a wooden tip drumstick on the cymbal. The sound can create a distinctive ‘ping’, separate from the rest of the cymbal sound following the stroke, or blend in with this sound which is described as the attack being wash or spread.
  • Wash: Wash is described as the sound that spreads following the initial sound of the stick striking the cymbal. Where a cymbal has a high amount of wash, this can cover the initial stick ‘ping’ and prevent the sounds from appearing ‘separate’.

Cymbal Types

If you are familiar with drum kit set ups, you will know that there are a number of different cymbal types that they can include. These different types of cymbal can also contain holes in different locations, at different sizes and for different purposes.

Here, we are going to take a look at the most common cymbal types that can features these holes, and why they might be important!

Fast Hats

Some hi-hats, very appropriately named fast hats, feature small drilled holes on the bottom cymbal.

As the name suggests, these fast hats are able to open and close at a faster rate than regular hi-hats as these small holes allow are to escape and prevent suction and resistance when the hi-hat is moving from the closed to open position.

This is an example of where holes offer a practical advantage for drummers attempting certain faster beats, as opposed to simply creating a different sound or accent for the cymbal.

Fast hats also feature a distinctly heavier bottom cymbal compared to the top, further help to promote the faster opening of the hat, alongside the small holes in the same cymbal.

Effects Cymbal

When most people think of cymbals featuring holes, they are picturing a few, large holes. These are generally called effects cymbals.

It is important to note that not all effects cymbals feature these holes, but cymbals featuring these types of holes are generally effects cymbals. The point of effects cymbals is to create unique sounds and accents.

Not all effects cymbals which feature these larger holes are the same. Depending on the size and model of the cymbal you are looking at, these holes may vary in size, shape and number which will affect the specific effect that they have to the cymbal sound.

Sizzle Cymbal

Sizzle cymbals feature holes where chains and rivets can be added. This leads to a more prominent wash sound as well as an additional ‘sizzling’ sound, depending on what is added to the cymbal.

This sizzling sound can be a great addition to your drum kit and truly create a unique sound compared to other cymbals. This sound is also fitting for certain songs or rhythms that feature this distinctive rattling sound and loud wash.

Low Volume

Some cymbals may be specifically designed to be significantly lower in volume. This can be done by having lots of small holes almost completely covering the cymbal which will make the cymbal lighter and with significantly less mass, resulting in a much quieter sound produced.

Many people may select these cymbals as part of an acoustic drum kit if they live in close proximity to others who may not appreciate the noise created by a loud full kit!

As well as featuring these numerous small holes, low volume cymbals can be made from lightweight and more flexible materials.

Are Cymbals with Holes More Likely to Crack?

One of the most frequent questions asked by anyone looking to purchase cymbals featuring holes is are they more likely to crack.

It is commonly believed that cymbals with more larger holes will be less durable due them featuring more edges than cymbals without holes. This can create more opportunity for cracking, as cracks most commonly form starting at edges.

With larger holes, there is also the potential for your drumstick to get caught in one of these holes while you are playing, increasing the chances of causing damage and cracking.

There is no saying for certain if your cymbals with holes in will last for less time or the same amount of time as other cymbals. Often, this can be affected by your playing style and how much you use them. However, there is a general agreement that cymbals featuring holes have the potential to be less durable, and so may need more frequent replacement.


Holes can have a number of different effects on your cymbals, such as by affecting the sound, volume or speed of playing.

Effects cymbals can be made to sound trashier and sizzle cymbals with more of a prolonged rattling sound, whereas some cymbals feature lots of holes which can lower the volume. Whereas, fast hats feature a collection of small holes on the bottom cymbal which allow for faster opening of the hat due to less resistance.

These holes can vary in size, frequency and size which will alter the specific sound of the individual cymbal. Testing out different cymbals in stores is a good way to know exactly what sound you can expect from different models and sizes of these cymbals to make sure you are getting the perfect sound for you!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to know more about choosing and getting the most out of your drum kit, be sure to check out our other blog posts and keep up to date with our most recent articles!


I’m here to share with you my passion for drumming, as well as some tips and tricks for choosing and making the most out of your drum kit and accessories. Whilst I play primarily on electronic drum kits, I love all things drumming and hope to share this with as many people as possible!

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