Just because you’re a beginner it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be using poor quality cymbals that you will outgrow in a few months. You may have just bought a brand new drum set, got it home and aren’t happy with the cymbals in the slightest. This is common with these complete packs, as what you really pay for when buying a drum kit is the shell pack, the cymbals are usually tagged on as an afterthought, if at all. As a result, you get a fantastic beginner drum kit which is let down by the cymbals. This isn’t always the case as some combo deals come with a Zildjian or Meinl cymbal packs, but if you don’t get these, you may want to look at an upgrade. Compared to the drum set these are fairly cheap and we will look at the best cymbal pack for the money.
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The next question is should I buy a pack of should I buy the individual ride, hi-hat, crash, splash and so on? We would strongly recommend a cymbal pack. Both as a parent looking for your kid or as a player themselves, it is easier and more cost efficient to buy a pack. If buying used then you can personalize your cymbals whilst keeping the cost down, however, at this stage you probably don’t know what cymbals will suit your style so we would still recommend buying new and buying a pack.
Starting out you will want to play around with what suits you and 3 months down the line you may realize the 20″ Meinl ride you chose is too dark and you want something with a brighter ping and a better bell, or you may hate the feel of your hi-hats. Unlike a drum where you can simply change the heads and tune them – with a cymbal you can’t. The sound produced by the cymbal is its sound. Of course, how it sounds and resonates will depend on how you play it, but that’s all you control.
As you practice and develop your style you may realize that the cymbal’s tone or bell is not what you are looking for. It is very common, almost inevitable. At which point you will be much happier that you bought a cheaper pack than a few individual cymbals. As well as this, cymbals break and it is much less heartbreaking if you have bought a cheaper pack as opposed to a wonderful high-end crash, but a cheaper pack. That is not to say they have to be poor quality or cheap store cymbals, but buying a pack is usually more cost efficient than buying individuals.
Lecture over, let’s move on to the reviews. As will be pretty clear from that we will not be looking at individual cymbals, but instead the best beginner cymbal pack. Chances are you have spent your money on a shell pack without cymbals or you have been given substandard starting stock cymbals, but don’t want to spend too much more money. As such here are some of the best budget cymbal packs. Note that some of these packs will contain more cymbals than you need as you probably only have use for hi-hats and a ride at the moment, but it will give you the option to change the crash for the ride and try out a different size which is a nice bit of a flexibility to have.
All the cymbal packs listed here are under $300 as you shouldn’t be spending more than that as a rookie. Learning is about experimenting and expensive cymbals should be the end goal, not the starting point. Unlike the rest of reviews which we rank, this list is not in any particular order as it offers a range of packs at different prices.
|Model||Name/ Rating||Summary||Check Price|
Meinl Cymbals HCS1314+10S HCS Pack
Score: (4.65 / 5)
|Best budget pack. Extra cymbals good for experimenting. Perfect for beginners|
Sabian Cymbals SBR5002 SBR
Score: (4.35 / 5)
|Decent, but basic, hi-hats and crash at an extremely affordable price.|
Wuhan WUTBSU Western
Score: (4.70 / 5)
|Good quality hammered cymbals. Unique sound and great articulation. Dark ride cymbal. Intermediate level|
Zildjian ZBT Starter Set
Score: (4.75 / 5)
|Incredibly competent cymbal starter pack. Good for at least the first couple of drumming years|
Zildjian L80 Low Volume
Score: (4.40 / 5)
|Low volume Zildjians, perfect for quiet practising whilst retaining the response and feel|
Sabian SBR Performance Pack
Score: (4.60 / 5)
|Extra cymbal from previous Sabian’s allowing for tailored practice. Lower-end pack.|
Meinl Cymbals HCS141620+10 HCS
Score: (4.65 / 5)
|Like the Sabian’s above. Great bang for your buck- 5 cymbals for under $200!|
Starting with the cheapest, everything you see listed above comes in at under $100 which is an unbeatable price. This is the ultimate starter set and for the price the cymbals are pretty decent. They are a bit too pingy and the sound rings on a bit too long, so you aren’t going to be using them for gigs any time soon, but they are extremely durable and better quality than the stock cymbals you get with most drum packs. The standard sizes you will see in this list is 14″ hi-hats, 16″ crash and 20″ ride, so you can see that these cymbals are a little dinkier and as such the crash is fairly uninspired and you won’t get a big deep sound out of it. The splash is more less of a cannonball and more like a belly-flop. It should, however, hold up against you striking the hell out of it. Overall passable cymbals at an extremely affordable price. [/one_half]
This two pack only contains hi-hats and an 18″ crash/ride which is the configuration you will probably be starting with as a beginner. In all likelihood you only have two cymbals stands at the moment, so you may be thinking what is the point of having 3 or 4 cymbals now when you will only use two. It may be that you want to switch say the 16″ crash for the 20″ ride, but in all likelihood, as someone just starting to play, this will be unnecessary and won’t happen so the spare cymbal will just sit in your cupboard collecting dust. As such this two pack is a great affordable option.
This is the first pack on our list that really steps it up a level. The pack comes with the standard 14″ hi-hats, 16″ crash and 20″ ride as well as a cymbal bag. Unlike the basic Meinl and Sabina Performance packs, these are surprisingly competent cymbals at a higher level. The 14″ hats are crisp and clean with good articulation. They aren’t too tinny and the hand hammered quality of the cymbals give them a unique sound. The crash gives a thin sound that doesn’t ring on and on and on. It is pretty trashy, but it won’t ruin the experience. Overall a deep sound for something so small. You would be forgiven for thinking it was one of the big dark cymbals from the jazz category (ok an exaggeration, but you catch our drift). The ride is clear, not too pingy and whilst it is a bit too bright for some, it has a good depth with a distinctive and decent bell sound. Perfect for a beginner who doesn’t want the cheapest pack possible to replace the stock cymbals. These are actual cymbals.
So if you know anything about drumming or have been doing your research you will have heard of Zildjian. Their ZBT starter pack is often included with shell packs and if they are you should be happy. Zildjian are master cymbal makers and whilst the ZBTs are nothing compared to their higher-end cymbals like the Custom Ks, these are still incredible starter cymbals. Whilst they do sell a 5 cymbal starter pack consisting of 14″ HiHats, 16″ Crash. 18″ Crash and a 20″ Ride for around $300, the set for $200 is more than enough for a beginner. With it you get a:
For 3 Zildjian cymbals, this is an incredible price and these cymbals are bright, have a wonderful ping, not too much ring and the ride has a good bell. These cymbals will easily take you through your first couple of years of drumming. Whilst the smaller set can be a bit tinny overall the quality is as you would expect from Zildjian. For a bigger sound, you should go with the 5 cymbal pack as the hi-hats and ride are bigger and so will feel less dinky.
Next up is another set of Zildjians, but these are a bit special as these clever little cymbals are 70-80% quieter than traditional cymbals (parents and neighbors rejoice). Once you have some Remo Silentstroke heads for your drums you are ready to practice without driving everyone else around you insane. Given that these cymbals are semi-silenced they still have a really nice tone. You can’t expect the crash to have the richest sound full of depth but it is still really pleasant and the bell won’t sound like a bronze bell but overall they sound good and the quality is incredible. As a practice set these are perfect.
Another great budget entry-level cymbal pack for under $200 by Sabian. These are a step up from the previous Sabians in terms of size. If you are looking for a bigger sound and heavier cymbals then these will be more suited, having a 16″ crash and 20″ ride. For an entry-level set, they have a nice sound, seem to be reasonably durable and give you enough to fill a basic kit and feel like you’re playing music. So overall this should be more than adequate for a beginner.
This pack is very much like the Sabians – same sizes and similar quality. You get a splash included with it for a similar price, but ultimately it will come down to personal preference. If looking at this low-end cost for a pack then the quality will be fairly similar throughout.
One thing you have hopefully learned from this (apart from the fact that we make awful puns) is that for an absolute beginner, a pack will be perfect and will save you the hassle and the money in buying individual ones. If you then decide to change in 6 months or a year you won’t think twice about it.
If you think you maybe fit into the intermediate category or still want individual cymbals then check out this website they have lots of good tips and information that should get you on your way. If as a beginner you have your heart set on one particular cymbal then we would recommend trying to buy it used first. We would advise going to your local music store or a reputable online music store, such as Guitar Center, as they will have tested out cymbal and offer you a returns policy. Unlike buying a whole drum set, buying used cymbals is fairly simple as it is easy to see its condition and not much will go wrong.