Orlando Drummer Blog

Adam’s Meinl Cymbal Setup Walkthrough

By June 4, 2015 No Comments

Well! After being bombarded with cymbal questions for quite a while, I figured it was time to finally compose a little “cymbal blog” for all you curious drummers. In this blog, I’ll be detailing my Meinl cymbal choices, and why I’ve made them. Though the list below does contains all the Meinl cymbals that I use, I have not yet written a review of each cymbal. Check back for updates!

14″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Hats
14″ Byzance Benny Greb Sand Hats
10″ Byzance Dark Splash over 12″ Byzance Traditional Splash
16″ Byzance Trash Crash over 12″ Trash Splash
18″ Byzance Vintage Pure Crash
18″ Byzance Extra Thin Jazz Crash
18″ Byzance Extra Dry Dual Crash
19″ Byzance Extra Dry Thin Crash
20″ Byzance Extra Dry Thin Crash
20″ Byzance Vintage Crash
20″ Byzance Traditional Hand Hammered Thin Crash
20″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Ride
22″ Byzance Benny Greb Sand Crash/Ride
22″ Byzance Vintage Pure Light Ride

14″ Byzance Benny Greb Signature Sand Hats

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These. These, my friends, are a serious pair of hats. Incredibly dry and responsive, these hats have a weight to them that I don’t often find in the “dry” cymbal lines, as they can be a bit thinner overall. The whole “void of all life” type of sound is appealing to me; but I wondered if my kit would just sound flat and lifeless. These hats strike the perfect medium for me. I get the dry, scratchy articulation that I need, but still plenty of breath and tonal warmth to not sound like I’m playing pieces of sand paper. These hats also record incredibly well, which is a priority for a session player, or even an online based player like myself. It doesn’t matter how the cymbals sound in the room; a bad recording will render any piece of gear useless to me. You’ll find the Greb hats are wildly musical and have that perfect uniqueness that allows you contribute your own sound, yet not stab the mix to death with your hats. I will admit, these hats do sound “weird” until you put them in context. Don’t listen to them so closely- you’ll notice they begin to melt into any mix. It’s a sonic wonder.

14″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Hats

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Often times I find it tough for me to choose between the ED Hats and the Sand Hats. Though very similar, there are some specific differences that should be noted. The ED Hats, in my experience, have a more subtle articulation; thinned by the airy nature of the hats. I wouldn’t say they are not articulate, but there is a certain grit that the ED Hats don’t have. So…why do I play them? Well, in the case of these particular hats – they simply inspire me! I find the response I get from the ED Hats is just flat out interesting. Some of my favorite grooves don’t feel right on the ED Hats: inspiring me to think outside the box, and reach for some newer, more compatible sounds. I’ve also noticed that I don’t like the sound of the ED Hats against a tightly tuned snare. In fact, I was so happy with the sound of a “dead” snare against the ED Hats, that I have yet to change it. Don’t you love when your gear inspires you?

18″ Byzance Extra Thin Jazz Crash

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Lately, this kit has been a staple in my smaller practice configuration. I find the Extra Thin Jazz line to be far more musical than the name might imply. Sometimes “Jazz” can imply a certain sonic complexity, or characteristic of the cymbal, that may be specific to that genre. In the Meinl Jazz series, I never find this to be the case. This crash is equally as suited for metal as it is for jazz. Not only is this cymbal highly compatible as a stacker, but it also stands alone as a bright, incredibly sharp, snappy crash cymbal. Don’t hesitate to snag this versatile cymbal, as it’s versatility supersedes the name by a long shot.

18″ Byzance Vintage Pure Crash

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No different than any cymbal from the Byzance Vintage Pure line, this hunk of metal is absolutely gorgeous. Though colors, hammer patterns, or other “birth marks” may vary, I find the lighter blues and green colors of the cymbal to be stunning on camera. Sonically, you should expect a truly dry and vintage sound, with a very fast decay, and lower overall volume. This cymbal honestly looks like she was rescued from a 17th century shipwreck, and sounds just the same. I would recommend this cymbal as an alternative crash, but likely not a main crash. Ideal for jazz, hip hop, or anything that can suit the abstract breath of a Vintage Pure.

19″ (and 20″) Byzance Extra Dry Thin Crash

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This cymbal, as well as the 20″, have become a staple in my set up. I’ve learned in recent years that I have a preference for crashes with a much shorter sustain. This stems from my influence in players like Chris Coleman and Matt Garstka. I find it that I like to incorporate short crashes into my fills and throughout my playing. However, if you’re smashing a 20″ Heavy Crash during the middle of your phrases, you’ll quickly find that those big rock crashes will bleed over your playing. Ghost notes are inaudible for a second or two after you’ve tagged a massive cymbal. For my set up, I wanted to eliminate this problem, and give myself some “shorter” options to utilize during faster and//or busier sections. This is why I choose to use the 19″ and 20″ Extra Dry Thin Crashes. The both provide an immediate decay, which is very important to me. From a practical stand point, it also makes Private, Skype, and Live Streaming Lessons much easier. Shorter cymbal decay means less time grabbing/silencing cymbals and more time teaching! If you need another reason to commit to the Extra Dry Thin Crashes, keep in mind that this line is incredibly thin! Thin cymbals mean durability; the more they bend, the less they break. As far as durability goes, these crashes are as tough as they come; a priority for the cymbals you’re going to bash the hardest, right?

12″ Byzance Traditional Splash over 10″ Byzance Dark Splash

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This is an interesting combo. I always like to have a “normal” splash in my arsenal, especially for recordings. Though the Dark Splash was a stretch from “normal”, I figured I’d give it a shot. I initially preferred the 12″ Traditional Splash, but over time, the natural sound of the 10″ Dark Splash began to grow on me. It was when finally I had to time to record the Dark Splash that I decided to make it a permanent part of my setup. This splash records incredibly dark and fast, and I find it compliments the Extra Dry Thin Crashes quite well. When I discovered how well these 2 cymbals stack, I decided to keep this “mini-stack” on my smaller kit. It’s incredibly easy to place around the drum set because of it’s small size, and the sustain is absolutely perfect, with no “clamping” required. These cymbals sit together perfectly, which usually makes stackers a little friendlier on the ears.

22″ Byzance Benny Greb Sand Crash/Ride

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Alright. This is a big one. Pun intended. At 22″, this is likely this largest cymbal that will ever see my drum set. I’m normally a fan of 21″ ride cymbals, but I’ve wanted to experiment a little more this year. Initially, I decided to go with the 20″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Ride. (It was too gorgeous NOT to use.) Though this cymbal records beautifully, I noticed it didn’t quite have the crash-ability that I was looking for in my ride. So, I moved the Extra Dry Medium Ride to my Sonor, and tried another. My next choice was the 20″ Benny Greb Sand Ride, which I had hoped would accompany my Sand Hats well. However, again I found that the Sand Ride still wasn’t quite “crashy” enough for me.

Then, I moved up to the 22″ Benny Greb Sand/Crash Ride. Now, Benny normally uses this as his far right crash. In fact, I couldn’t really recall ever seeing this cymbal used as a ride, but I figured I would give it a shot. I immediately noticed that the rivets on the ride brought too much sustain for me. I removed one and tried again; still to much sustain. I found the perfect balance with one single rivet in the cymbal. Though this is a large and crashy cymbal, I find it works great for nearly any musical situation. There is no “lack” of stick definition, but rather a larger cymbal spread that comes with the cymbal at all times. The bell is musical and decently sized, and the crashing abilities are limitless. Because of it’s size and weight, this cymbal opens up effortlessly and takes over the room in seconds. Only recommended for those intending to make some serious power moves.

20″ Byzance Benny Greb Sand Ride

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This is undoubtedly my “all-purpose” ride cymbal. I truly don’t think I could find a musical situation where the Sand Ride would be entirely out of place. This cymbal has a perfectly articulate bell, musical crashability, and great stick definition. As with some other Meinl cymbals I’ve owned, the true beauty of the cymbal comes out in the recordings. Listen to any of Benny Greb’s recent recordings with Moving Parts, and you’ll see what I mean! This may be the “safest” ride purchase you could make. You’ll love it. I promise.

20″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Ride

Here’s another cymbal that’s used by two of my favorite drummers, Chris Coleman and Matt Garstka. This is a true “ride” by definition; very articulate, normal sized bell, and a friendly flat space for audible sticking. The best qualities of this cymbal come out in its recordings, where the dark undertones are perfectly subtle. You won’t find a ton of musical crashability in this ride, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try! Plenty of drummers beat the hell out this ride, and I can’t say I hate it. For me, I found this cymbal to be a little heavy for regular crashing, but the overall tone I can get

16″ Byzance Vintage Trash Crash over 12″ Classic Custom Trash Splash

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Can’t lie about this one – this was not my idea. This stacker combo is used by a number of Meinl players, including Mike Johnston and Luke Holland. When Chris Brewer of Meinl told me about this combo, I was hesitant because it included a cheaper line of cymbal. My first thought was simply, “Why would anyone choose to put a cheaper splash on the top? Surely something else would be better.” I was wrong. This stacker is absolutely ideal for a number of reasons. First and foremost, these two cymbals fit seamlessly against each other. (We all know one of the best ways to make a lame stacker is to pair up cymbals that don’t lay flush.) You’ll find the 12″ sits comfortably on top of the 16″, and there is little to no “rattle” after you strike the cymbal.

This stacker also has a very interesting volume level. Though it does peak loudly, I would say that this stacker is noticeably quieter than other cymbals on my kit. I actually enjoy the recorded sound of this stacker if its left alone to bleed in through the other microphones. (In my set up, the stacker is more audible through the floor tom mic bleed than through the overhead mics. This is largely because the stacker is placed almost completely under the 20″ Extra Dry Thin Crash.)

Another one of the most interesting features I learned about this stacker combo is that its actually reversible! You can first mount the splash upside down, and then place the crash on top of it, also upside down. This creates a much faster sounding stack, and it reminds me more of an extremely thin china; a great option for metal player who doesn’t want to crank the brutality to Level 10 every day. My preference is to leave the stack how it would normally sit, but its always nice to have options!

20″ Byzance Vintage Crash

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What can I say about this one. Massive. Beefy. Buttery. This cymbal made the cut for the simplest of reasons; its a big, beautiful crash. I wanted to include at least one cymbal that fell into the “normal” category. The last thing I want is for my kit to be so specific that it’s non-musical, or only catered only to my taste. In my opinion, I chase a balanced sound of unique voices, and familiar ones as well. The 20″ Vintage Crash is that familiar voice. I chose the 20″ over the 18″ because I found the larger spread of the 20″ to be more useful against my shorter Extra Dry Thin Crashes. This is an absolutely beautiful cymbal, which I find sits perfectly as my far right, “big accent” crash.

22″ Byzance Vintage Pure Light Ride

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From the moment I heard this cymbal, I knew I had to have it. This mysterious bronze circle of dark energy will make you feel things you’ve never felt before. Used by Meinl Artists like Anika Nilles and Jost Nickel, this ride is becoming increasingly popular because of its wildly unique voice. Truly, there is no cymbal that sounds or looks like the VPL Ride. Though I love virtually everything about the damn cymbal, my favorite quality is the “breath” that projects from the instrument. The VPL is like a warm blanket over your drum set, which I find compliments my other Meinls; acting as a platform for other cymbals to thrive. (A little deep, but I wish I was kidding. Lol.)

The bell is painfully dry, but somehow satisfying nonetheless. In my opinion, the crashability and articulation of the VPL is right in between the 20″ Sand Ride and the 22″ Sand Crash/Ride. Though I couldn’t recommend this cymbal to drummer seeking a truly versatile ride, I can attest that this cymbal has a voice that you won’t hear anywhere else. I draw inspiration from this cymbal every time I play her!

18″ Byzance Extra Dry Dual Crash

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Here’s one that freaked me out at first. I’ve yet to show the Dual Crash to someone that doesn’t have a curious look on their face after hearing the first whack. What I’ve found, after spending months with this cymbal, is that it’s a perfect sonic blend of wet and dry. Despite “Extra Dry” being in the name of the cymbal, I can’t help by hear a shimmery glow accompany the undeniable sandy quality that’s also produced. I’ve made 18″ Dual Crash the left crash on my main kit, because I find its fun to use at lower dynamic levels. The dry qualities tend to be more noticeable at lower volumes, while the louder/faster attack of the cymbal produces a spike of brightness.

20″ Byzance Traditional Hand Hammered Thin Crash

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Here’s a killer example of Meinl’s ability to make all around, solid crashes. If you don’t love the sound of this crash, you probably hate music. This cymbal opens up quickly into a stunningly powerful wash, that suits all genres. Another safe purchase, this buttery monster will add a useable power to any setup, across all genres.

 

Will my set-up change? Yes. I’ll do my best to keep all of you updated as that happens. In the mean time, I hope this blog can serve as a comprehensive guide to my Meinl choices and why I made them. If you’re considering making the switch to Meinl, and want to research some of their products, head over to http://meinlcymbals.com/cymbal-finder to see a full breakdown of their cymbal lines. You’ll be glad you did.

-Adam