If you’re considering buying your first drum kit, upgrading, or adding parts to what you already have, hardware can be key. Sure, your drums and cymbals have to sound great. But what use are they if they fall down or break mid-session?
In this article, I’m going to help you avoid those pitfalls by going through what you need to know about cymbal stands. I’ll look at the parts you should know, specs, and different types of stands for your cymbals. So, from now on, you should be able to walk into a music shop and buy the best cymbal stands for your needs with absolute confidence.
Anatomy of a Cymbal Stand
There’s nothing too serious here. And yet, it’s important to know the different parts of cymbal stands. That way, you can compare quality, get replacement parts, or even get your stands repaired. Here are the parts to know.
The main part of any cymbal stand is the tube or tubes that make up its body. Tubes are nearly always steel (or cheaper alloys) that are either black powder-coated or chromed.
They can usually telescope. Meaning that they slide inside each other to shrink a stand lower or pull out to extend its height. The quality of the tubes is probably the biggest factor in the durability of the stand.
Legs and Feet
Not all stands have legs, as we’ll see later, but if they do, there are usually three of them. That makes a tripod that’s sturdy enough to hold a cymbal but not too many legs to get in your way. Hi-hat stands usually have a pedal and two or even one leg.
Legs can either be single or double-braced. In other words, each leg is made of either one or two steel bars – double-braced stands are stronger than singles.
The feet of a stand should be made from a sturdy, slip-resistant rubber to help them stay in place while you’re rocking out. After a time, rubber can go hard and brittle, and feet can be replaced on some stands. Some stands also feature spikes, especially hi-hat stands. These usually screw out to grip into a carpet if that’s what you’re setting up on.
Wingnuts, Sleeves, Felts, and Washers
These are the parts that connect your cymbals to the stands and are the easiest bits to replace. In general, a stand’s tube will end in a threaded bolt. A washer is put onto this, then a sleeve of nylon or rubber is slipped over part of the thread.
A bottom felt ring is placed over the washer, and then the cymbal sits on this supporting pad. Another felt goes above, and then a wingnut screws down on the thread to hold everything in place.
For great sound and to prevent damaging your cymbals, they should never actually touch the metal of your stands. Sleeves and felts supply the padded barrier between bronze and steel. They absorb a lot of the abuse and therefore need to be replaced possibly more than any other part of your drum kit.
Different Types of Cymbal Stands
There’s more than one way to skin a cat (though surprisingly, I’ve never tried), and there are plenty of ways you can set up cymbals in your drum set. So, let’s get more specific about what you need to know about cymbal stands.
A hi-hat stand is quite a different animal. This is a pedal-controlled stand that has a long rod sticking up, onto which you clamp the top hat. The bottom hat sits on a felt on a washer, though, like most other cymbals – just upside down. This makes a cymbal sandwich that you open and close with your foot.
Because you’re going to be stomping on this stand, make sure you get something that will last. A good stand like Tama’s Iron Cobra will use a chain drive for the pedal. And almost always uses double-braced legs to support the stand against the crushing action of your foot.
A straight stand is your basic cymbal stand. It will have three legs meeting up in a strong tube. And then have one or two telescoping sections that come out of it. Pearl’s C390 Straight Cymbal Stand is a great example. Most players set up their ride and main crashes on straight stands because they’re stronger than boom stands.
Picture a straight stand with three telescoping sections. Now picture the top-most section being attached by a special clamp that allows it to adjust the angle of that top tube, so it leans towards you. You’ve got yourself a boom stand.
A boom stand, like the PDP’s 700 Series Boom, is great for getting the cymbal to where you need it without getting in the way. Its legs can sit back behind your drums while the boom holds the cymbal in the perfect position.
Just remember that you need strong and heavy boom stands to hold heavier cymbals. Tiny splashes and other accessories can be put on wimpier stands.
Arm Stands and Clamps
Notice those holes in the top of your bass drum? While you might normally slip arms in there to hold your toms, they can also be used for cymbal arm stands. These are just like the top sections of straight or boom stands, for example, the Gibraltar Cymbal Boom. They’re short sections without legs that can slip into holes or be clamped onto other components.
A clamp, like the Tama Drum Set Clamp, can help you to double or even triple up on a cymbal stand. All you do is clamp it to a sturdy pipe, then clamp on an arm stand, and you’ve made a cymbal tree. This is the best way to add small drum components without completely crowding your floor space.
A different approach to stands is the rack. This is a sturdy setup of steel bars that wraps around your drums and allows you to clamp on whatever you want, be it toms or cymbals.
A rack like the Gibraltar 4-Post Curved Rack is probably the best option for a drummer with lots of pieces of equipment. Although minimalist drummers might also prefer a rack for its easy setup and fewer parts.
Cymbal Stand Quality
Aside from good washers, sleeves, and felts, cymbal stands get their quality from the material they’re made from. While a general rule is that heavier is stronger, different alloys of steel can be made lighter and stronger.
Remember also that all that weight is a real pain if you’re gigging around a lot. Price is probably your best rule of thumb, but look at reviews, too, and make sure the products you’re getting are built to last.
Need Great Cymbals, Drum, or Percussion Accessories?
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Also, have a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Snare Drums, the Best Drumsticks, the Best Drum Practice Pads, the Best Jazz Drum Sets, the Best Drum Tuners, the Best Drum Thrones, the Best Portable Drum Kits, and the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500 you can buy in 2021.
What You Need to Know About Cymbal Stands – Final Thoughts
That’s basically it. There are different stands for different applications. As well as a lot of hardware options to help you get your cymbals into just the right spots. Stronger, sturdier stands will cost more but last longer and put up with more abuse.
Ultimately, stands are worth what you pay for them and don’t lose their value, unless you get terrible floppy ones. Choose wisely, and a good set of stands may well last you your entire drumming career.
So, until next time, let the beat go on.