Everyone knows that cymbals are an extremely important part of your drum kit, capable of creating a number of sounds and effects which can really add to your performance.
However, cymbals come in so many shapes and sizes and with so many different features that it can be difficult to know what effect these factors will all have. One of these are cymbal dimples.
Cymbal dimples can be seen on the surface of the cymbal as a number of small pits, creating a more textured surface compared to a smooth cymbal.
Cymbals featuring dimples are a great way to add a more complex sound to your drum kit. These are generally hand-hammered, meaning that no two cymbals will be exactly the same!
Why do some Cymbals have Dimples?
Visible small dents can be seen on some cymbals as a result of the hammering process of cymbal making. These hammered dents can add complexity and a unique sound to the cymbal.
So, why exactly are these dents created and why do only some cymbal have them? We will also be looking at what differences in these dents can have to the overall sound of the cymbal.
If you are looking to buy a new cymbal or are simply curious about different types and features of cymbals, keep reading for our ultimate guide!
How Cymbals are Made
Cymbals are made using a multi-step process which also holds the key to why some cymbals might feature this dimpled look. We won’t go into a really in detailed description of the process here, but here is a general guide to how the cymbal making process is done to get a better idea of how these dimples come about:
- Casting- During casting, the metal intended to be used to make the cymbal is melted down and poured into casting pots. This is the first step in the cymbal making process before the cymbal is hammered into shape.
- Hammering- Hammering is the process responsible for the dimpled effect in some cymbals. During this part of the process, the cymbal is hammered and flattened into the shape we all recognise for a cymbal.
- Lathing (turning)- Lathing includes cutting grooves into the cymbal which provide spaces for sound waves to radiate from the cymbal. These grooves are often concentric and help to tune the sound of the cymbal further.
- Polishing- Cymbals are available in a number of finishes. Cymbals can be polished to help to protect the cymbal from oxidising, retaining a ‘brighter’ and more crisp sound. Some cymbals can be purchased without this high level of polishing to produce a darker sound.
Generally, hand-hammered cymbals are those where during the hammering process, a handheld hammer is used and each cymbal is hammered individually.
Some other cymbals that are called hand-hammered still do use a machine which is controlled by someone for each specific cymbal.
Hand hammering characteristically is able to produce very unique cymbals, as no two cymbals will undergo the exact same process during hammering.
Areas of the cymbal which are hammered mean that the material here is even denser, along with creating a dip which can affect the sound waves generated. As no two cymbals which are hand-hammered will have the exact same hammering pattern, the exact effect on the sound waves will not be the same, creating a unique sound.
How do Dimples Affect Sound?
Dimples add a large amount of complexity to the sound they produce.
Large hammer marks can lead to darker sounds being produced, whereas smaller strike marks will have the opposite effect. Regardless of the size, these hand-hammered marks will create a complex and less ‘clean’ sound.
This can be an excellent addition to any drum kit if you would like a range of different sounds to choose from for different songs.
Other Special Features of Cymbals
Dimples are not the only additional feature which can be found in different types of cymbals. These features can further affect their sound.
Cymbals can feature holes for a number of purposes. An example of this is effects cymbals. These are usually cymbals with larger holes in them where these can change the sound and effect of the cymbal. This could include making the cymbal sound less ‘clean’ and create a ‘trashier’ sound.
Some cymbals which feature a number of small holes usually have the effect of lowering the volume of the cymbal. This is because the mass of the cymbal itself is reduced. This might be preferable if you are in close proximity with others who may not appreciate a full volume cymbal!
Sizzle cymbals also feature holes where rivets and chains are added to create a different and more complex sound. This creates a distinct ‘rattling’ sound with a large wash which can be a great addition to your drum kit for certain songs!
Rivets are small metal pieces which can be drilled into cymbals in order to create a ‘sizzle’ effect. This generally creates a rattling sound with higher sustain than a regular cymbal, and can be a great addition to your drum kit to create a different and distinctive sound!
To conclude, cymbal dimples can be caused by the cymbal being hand-hammered. In general, this will mean that the cymbal has a complex and unique sound which can be a great addition to any drum kit!
This also means that no two hand-hammered cymbals are exactly the same as all cymbals will receive a slightly different hammering pattern.
This could mean that the cymbal is slightly more effective as it received special treatment during the hammering process.
Cymbals can also feature a cumber of special features which add complexity and different sounds to your cymbals. These could include featuring holes to create a ‘trashier’ sound, to create a sizzle cymbal with rivets or chains or to reduce the sound of the cymbal.
Don’t forget to check out our other posts on all things drumming and getting the most out of your drum kit, as well as answering the most frequently asked questions!