Best Ride Cymbals: Picking a Perfect Match

Looking for the best ride cymbals, you should be aware of what style you are playing and what kind of sound you want to achieve. If you’re totally new to the drum kit, try the most popular solution amongst the drummers who play in your favorite music genre. Looking for reviews by experts on YouTube and Google is also a good solution. I’ve been drumming since 8 (for 20 years already), so I have something to share with you. Catch the list of the ride cymbals that proved their great sound characteristics to me and thousands of other experienced drummers. And hey, don’t skip the drum notation lessons! Read here about all types of cymbals.

Product
Top Pick
Sabian 20" SBr Ride Cymbal (SBR2012)
Runner-Up
Zildjian Planet Z Ride Cymbal (ZP20R)
Premium Pick
Zildjian 20" K Custom Dark Ride
Rating
Prime
-
Pros
Bright bell and accents
Affordable ride model
Low projection with medium decay
Top Pick
Product
Sabian 20" SBr Ride Cymbal (SBR2012)
Rating
Prime
Pros
Bright bell and accents
My preview
Runner-Up
Product
Zildjian Planet Z Ride Cymbal (ZP20R)
Rating
Prime
-
Pros
Affordable ride model
My preview
Premium Pick
Product
Zildjian 20" K Custom Dark Ride
Rating
Prime
Pros
Low projection with medium decay
My preview

7 Best Ride Cymbals Reviews

  1. Sabian 20" SBr Ride Cymbal (SBR2012)
  2. Zildjian Planet Z Ride Cymbal (ZP20R)
  3. Zildjian 20" K Custom Dark Ride
  4. Meinl 18 inch Big Bell Ride Cymbal
  5. Meinl Cymbals 20 inch Heavy Ride
  6. Paiste 18 Inches 2002 Giga Bell Ride Cymbal
  7. Paiste 20 Inches PST 7 Ride Cymbal

Below are the detailed reviews of the most reliable and well-sounding serial ride cymbals that you can buy anytime on Amazon. I did my best to gather models that match the requirements of different genres so that the article was useful for everyone.

1. Sabian 20″ SBr (SBR2012) – Best Drum Ride Cymbal

Sabian is currently one of the most demanded manufacturers of cymbals, drum kits, and other accessories for drumming. The brand was established by Robert Zildjian, who decided to create a rival company to Avedis Zildjian. He inherited one of the original Zildjian factories where Sabian cymbals production had started in 1981.

To my mind, the younger brother, Robert, makes great metal. The SBR2012 cymbal proves this. This affordable ride has become a standard for beginners and many professional players due to its versatility and excellent sound. The thicker 20’’ plate has a bit longer sustain than similar Zildjian models (and probably the longest amongst brass models).

This cymbal has a highly controllable dynamic response so that you can easily apply the needed amount of power and achieve tight sound and make powerful bright accents. Despite the relatively low price, the design of the cymbal copies pro-level models, which makes these rides suitable for both practice and recording.

If you’re a beginner, you can take the entire cymbal set from the SBR series for your practice, and I promise you won’t regret it. They’re available in all popular sizes. Similar to other trusted brands, Sabian makes perfectly balanced kits.

Sabian 20' SBr Ride Cymbal (SBR2012)
228 Reviews
Sabian 20" SBr Ride Cymbal (SBR2012)
  • A versatile model for beginners
  • Smartly priced, SBr Brass is in a class of its own

PROS:
  • Long sustain;
  • Bright bell and accents;
  • An affordable model with nearly pro-level sound.
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty;
  • Great for beginners.
CONS:
  • May lack sound richness if you’re an experienced pro (not necessarily).

2. Zildjian Planet Z (ZP20R) – Second Most Versatile Ride Cymbal

Zildjian is the oldest manufacturer of cymbals and drumsticks in the world. The initial company was created back in 1618 (!!!) by Avedis Zildjian I, who was an Armenian alchemist and metalsmith in Constantinople. In the early 1900s, Avedis Zildjian III has moved the entire company to the USA and established the Avedis Zildjian Co. in 1929. Since then, the brand has become the largest cymbal manufacturer of all time, and it remains on the top. Vic Firth and Balter Mallet brands are produced by Zildjian as well.

The Planet Z brass cymbal is the biggest rival to the Sabian’s entry-level model. It also offers clear and focused sound production due to a high-quality brass alloy and hammering. It’s also a model with some of the best sustain characteristics, and it sounds a bit wetter than the Sabian’s analog. At the same time, it sounds a bit darker than previous versions, which adds more focus to the sound.

It’s actually the #1-rated ride cymbal on amazon, but I didn’t choose it as the first one as I like Sabian’s sound a bit more. That’s up to you to decide anyway. You can test both before purchasing at a local rehearsal base to have at least a small impression. However, both models are perfect for beginner practice and don’t ask for too much cash.

Zildjian Planet Z Ride Cymbal (ZP20R)
928 Reviews
Zildjian Planet Z Ride Cymbal (ZP20R)
  • Bright and focused sound of brass is great for the developing ear
  • Updated hammering and lathing pattern provide a refreshed look and sound

PROS:
  • An Amazon top-rated ride cymbal;
  • Affordable ride model;
  • Excellently focused sound;
  • Great for beginners;
  • Updated design and hammering for 2020-2021.
CONS:
  • You probably should look for something else if you’re a pro in your genre.

3. Zildjian 20″ K Custom Dark Ride – Premium Dark Sound

Looking for a professional solution by the best cymbal brand? Zildjian Custom Dark Ride might be the one. When I first tried this one at my friend’s studio, I was so satisfied that I bought one for my own setup later. Actually, all custom dark ride cymbals are unique as they feature pretty chaotic handmade hammering. Of course, it has a certain pattern, but it’s not as obvious as cheaper models have.

As you’ve already assumed from the title, this model offers dark sound characteristics. What I can add is that it grants you warm undertones and a rather dry stick sound. I also like the trashy crash sound that makes it a perfect cymbal for exquisite accents. I bought it for my funk lessons and then applied it to funk gigs with one of my former bands. I really enjoyed how it matches the funk style, so I also suppose it will sound great if you’re a jazz or blues drummer. Hundreds of comments on Amazon and drummer forums support my theory.

Zildjian 20' K Custom Dark Ride
34 Reviews
Zildjian 20" K Custom Dark Ride
  • Excellent stick definition
  • Dry, full-bodied stick sound

PROS:
  • One of the best for acoustic jazz and blues;
  • Rich dark sound with over-and -undertones;
  • Low projection with medium decay;
  • Can be airy and washy;
  • Good articulation and sustain.
CONS:
  • It’s an expensive pick;
  • Not a universal one.

4. Meinl 18″ Big Bell Ride Cymbal – Best Cymbals For Metal

Meinl is one of the most popular brands on the market. It has been competing with Zildjian, Sabian, and Paiste since 1951. Roland Meinl, the founder of the brand, handcrafted the first models of cymbals, and in the 60s, his designs became quite popular in the US. It’s the only company that produces cymbals of four different bronze alloys. Meinl is also one of the most popular brands amongst metal drummers.

The 18’’ big-bell ride is currently the best model for metal that I know. It’s made to accept all your heavy, aggressive hits without any problems. It sounds pretty precise, even if you crash a plate hardly while entering Valhalla on the next gig. I found out that it sounds similarly well when you play those groovy stoner metal patterns as well as speedy power-metal parts in the early Lars Ulrich style (he uses signature Zildjians, though).

This model has one of the largest bells you can find, and it really adds volume and projection to your sound. In fact, the sound is bright enough to play along with a loud band during the rehearsal without drum mics. Finally, they have such a good premium finish that I thought they would cost me around $300. Fortunately, they’re available below $200 almost everywhere.

Meinl 18' Big Bell Ride Cymbal - Classics Custom Extreme Metal - Made in Germany, 2-YEAR WARRANTY...
28 Reviews
Meinl 18" Big Bell Ride Cymbal - Classics Custom Extreme Metal - Made in Germany, 2-YEAR WARRANTY...
  • 18” Classics Custom Extreme Metal Mega Bell ride cymbal — this authoritative ride has an in-your-face sound made for blast beats and super intense playing — its enormous bell is designed for intense clarity and cut with a deep tone
  • Brilliant finish and fully lathed — to deliver as much shimmering cut as possible, these cymbals feature a highly reflective brilliant finish with fully lathed surfaces on both sides — the combination of lathing and buffing delivers a classic, clean sound

PROS:
  • An oversized bell for more volume;
  • Designed for aggressive style;
  • Premium-quality finish;
  • Great for most metal styles;
  • Two-year warranty (for Amazon as well).
CONS:
  • A bit too expensive for beginners;
  • Not a universal one.

5. Meinl Cymbals 20” Heavy Ride – Best Heavy Ride Cymbal

Meinl has also made their universal beginner-friendly ride cymbal (and an entire cymbal kit) that is highly competitive. It will cost you some $30-$40 more than Sabian and Zildjian beginner cymbals, but the extreme German precision is probably worth it.

The item is made of Meinls unique B8 bronze alloy that combines brightness and clearness with excellent articulation. I like the most because it’s very easy to produce even sound from this one, even if you’re a total rookie. There are no complex tones that you have to unravel and understand. It’s just clear and straightforward so that you can practice any genre without trouble.

You can choose between heavy 22” and semi-heavy 18’’-20’’ rides, and you will get high precision and high clarity in both cases. The larger one will also be a bit darker, which is preferable for jazz and blues practice.

Meinl Cymbals 20” Heavy Ride – HCS Traditional Finish Bronze for Drum Set, Made in Germany,...
6 Reviews
Meinl Cymbals 20” Heavy Ride – HCS Traditional Finish Bronze for Drum Set, Made in Germany,...
  • 20" HCS bronze heavy ride — the word “heavy” applies to all aspects of this cymbal — its weight and thickness are greater than a standard ride, resulting in a deep “ping” sound with a loud and easy to play bell — great for high energy styles
  • B8 bronze alloy — HCS bronze cymbals are designed for beginners who are just starting or players looking to expand — their B8 bronze alloy is fully lathed for a refined, bright and clear response and a balanced sustain

PROS:
  • Excellent heavy ride for students;
  • Highly-durable alloy;
  • Versatile sound production;
  • Good for both calm and aggressive styles;
  • The finish looks so festive!
CONS:
  • It could be a bit cheaper for beginners.

6. Paiste 18 Inches 2002 Giga Bell – Good Drum Cymbals with Black Finish

You probably know Paiste as a Swiss brand, and it really is. However, it all started in 1906 in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. During wars and revolutions, Toomas Paite has changed many locations. Finally, he stopped in Switzerland and established a company that remains one of the industry leaders and, unlike Zildjian, a strong family unit.

2002 Giga Bell is a stylish black ride that would look posh at any rock or metal drum kit. Similar to legendary old cymbals, this one is made in Switzerland and has a bright brilliantly-articulated sound. It’s both capable with moderate classic-rock style, fast-paced heavy-metal strikes, and complex rhythms of modern contemporary rock bands. It’s actually the best ride cymbal for rock that I’ve ever had. On the other hand, it’s pretty expensive and may look too extraordinary for a beginner. But if you’re an intermediate with an urge to experiment or a pro looking for a universal rock ride, you’re going to like it.

Paiste 18 Inches 2002 Giga Bell Ride Cymbal
12 Reviews
Paiste 18 Inches 2002 Giga Bell Ride Cymbal
  • 18" Ride Cymbal with Large Bell Black Finish

PROS:
  • Stylish black finish;
  • Pro-level sound production;
  • Versatile for rock music and some metal;
  • Rather a complex sound.
CONS:
  • Costs almost $300;
  • The complex sound isn’t beginner-friendly.

7. Paiste 20 Inches PST 7 – Best Jazz Ride Cymbal

Paiste PST7 Series 20" Ride

PST 7 is an outstanding small-bell ride cymbal that most of my friends use to play some smooth jazz. It’s made of a proprietary CuSn8 bronze alloy that sounds really well under the sticks of people who know how to treat it.

At the same time, this model isn’t too complex for beginners and costs less than professional solutions (below $150). Using this one, you can achieve a clear washing sound as well as a strong bell response. You have an option to take a 20’’ light model or opt for a thicker and heavier 22’’ one to achieve a slightly darker sound.

Paiste 20 Inches PST 7 Ride Cymbal
12 Reviews
Paiste 20 Inches PST 7 Ride Cymbal
  • 20" Ride Cymbal with CuSn8 Bronze Alloy Fmulation

PROS:
  • 45-day full money-back guarantee;
  • Bright and warm sound;
  • Excellent articulation;
  • Great for jazz, but it fits other genres as well.
CONS:
  • Not the most affordable beginner option, but not too expensive either.

Ride Cymbals FAQ

You ask me questions on a variety of topics, which I’m very grateful for! I picked the 6 most frequent questions about ride cymbals and decided to include them here for your convenience.

What is the best Zildjian ride cymbal?

Zildjian Planet Z (ZP20R) is currently the best ride cymbal by the brand I’ve tested. It also has the best ratings amongst the fans of the manufacturer and many well-known drummers. It’s a universal and highly durable model.

Where do you put a ride cymbal?

You should position your ride cymbal (which is usually the largest one in the kit) above the floor tom but far enough from the right side tom so that you can hit both. It’s a standard position, but you can change it eventually. If you don’t use the right tom, you can place it right above the kick. You can place it on the left if you are a left-handed player.

What is a ride cymbal used for?

Unlike crash cymbals that are used for accents, a ride cymbal is usually used for playing steady patterns. You can play it using a technique similar to hi-hats. Some drummers use rides as lower crashes, but that requires much more hitting power. Actually, such a style is quite rare, and you should have a style that requires such a setup.

Do cymbals sound better with age?

Older cymbals usually have a more balanced tone. Drummer’s sweat, fingerprints, and marks from sticks may cause the patina to build upon the surface of a cymbal. However, the process takes years, and there’s no guarantee that your cymbal won’t crack during that time. But if you achieve it or purchase a cymbal like that, you will get a darker and more complex tone. That’s a really interesting thing to try, and you may love the dark aura of a patinated ride cymbal.

What are cymbals made out of?

There are 4 main copper-based alloys that are used for making cymbals, including malleable bronze, brass, bell bronze, and nickel silver. Brands like Zildjian are made of a secret alloy that includes copper, tin, and silver. Making good cymbals is a fine art, and every company has its tricks.

What is the best drum cymbals brand?

There’s no straight answer to this question as you have to choose the one that sounds the best for you and your style. You should experiment. Different brands may offer unique sound characteristics. The best way to start is to buy cymbals that are recommended for your favorite music genre. In most cases, you won’t regret it.

Sound Bright!

With all the knowledge you have now, you can choose the ride cymbal (or several!) that suits your style and favorite genre the most. I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy one of the standard solutions, but, in most cases, they really work it out. So, make a choice, prep your kit, and enjoy learning!

Are you a green drummer or looking for a new ride to spice up your sound? If first, please, comment upon what model you are going to buy and why. If second, I’d be happy to hear about your experience. Do you find my top rides good, or maybe you have something to add? I’m looking forward to any reply!

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