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What Is the Ride Cymbal on a Drum Set?

Learn about the ride cymbal from drum teacher Jason Gianni in this Howcast drum video.


If you're a right-handed drummer, the cymbal off to your right side normally is the ride cymbal. If you're a left-handed drummer, it's usually the opposite side. And depending on how you play, you can arrange the ride cymbal in different places, but normally, we're gonna find it on the right side and if you wanna think right, ride, RR, something to that effect.

The ride cymbal is named that because we play patterns on them, things such as... Those patterns are gonna enhance the grooves that you play on drum set and you're gonna get a lot of different tones depending on the rides that you pick out. There are heavy rides, there are light rides, there are rides that work in a Jazz setting, there are rides that work in a Rock setting, there are rides that work in a Latin setting, there are medium-sized rides, general rides, many different sizes and shapes and forms.

Typically, you're going to find that a standard size ride is about 20 inches. For Jazz, they might go down to 18 or 19, and there's typically three parts of a ride cymbal, or a cymbal in general. We have the edge right here, and a lot of times we'll use that edge to crash on it if you're playing a heavier style of music like this... Then you have the centralized area of the ride, which is called the body, and typically, that's what we play just normal patterns on, especially Jazz patterns, or patterns that are a little bit lighter in nature, and that's right about here...

And then, you have the bell, which sits right in the center of the ride, and that's more for punctuated accents... And again, depending on the style of music that you want, you're gonna get a little heavier for Rock styles and a little bit lighter for your Jazz styles. So, that's your ride cymbal right there.

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