Ride Cymbal Terms, What Do They Mean?

In my opinion choosing the right ride cymbal is one of the hardest cymbals to choose for your kit. There are so many sounds and one that doesn’t vibe well with your ears can quite literally ruin your fun playing.

There’s so many different sounds out there, and there’s so many terms used by people to describe them like, washy, pingy, dry, dark, clean, and more, then there’s also the bell sound which can greatly vary from ride to ride. Not to mention there can be a ride that is washy and dark, or a ride that’s dry and dark. However there most likely won’t be a ride that’s washy and pingy, but there can definitely be one that’s clear and pingy. Confused?

Let’s go into a little more detail as to what most people mean by using these terms.

  1. washy – washy usually refers to the attack as well as the sustain of the ride. For example when you hit it, the sound has little attack and a long sustain with a strong white noise sound. These types of rides are most similar to crashes. Examples of rides that could be described as washy are the Paiste PST7 Lite Ride or the Zildjian Sweet Ride. This sound is heard most often in 60s rock and some jazz and are usually light in weight. The bell sound can vary on a washy ride from strong to soft.
  2. pingy – pingy can be most easy be understood as the opposite of washy and are usually heavy in weight. When you hit the cymbal there is a strong attack (ping) sound. There’s still a long sustain, but with less white noise than a washy ride. There’s usually a noticeable note to the sustain. However this may not be the case if a ride is pingy, but dry. Some good examples of a pingy ride are a Paiste Alpha Metal Ride, and a Zildjian Megabell Ride
  3. dry – Unlike the first two examples dry almost only refers to the sustain of the cymbal. Dry means short sustain. Unfortunately the company Meinl has been trying to redefine the meaning of this term and produces a lot of cymbals under their “extra dry series”. These cymbals, even though excellent sounding are in actuality not dry at all. A more appropriate way to describe them would be dark and trashy. The term trashy does not mean bad, but refers to the sustain of the cymbal having a lot of dissonant undertones, much like a china cymbal giving them an almost gong-like quality. Zildjian are one of the only manufactures of true dry cymbals, like the K Custom Special Dry, or the Zildjian Earth Ride (which is also very pingy)
  4. dark – dark is quite popular these days. As I mentioned before, Meinl’s “extra dry” line, would be more appropriately described as “extra dark” but I guess from a marketing standpoint, there were already a lot of “extra dark” lines on the market, so they wanted to stand out, and it worked! However, dark usually refers to the pitch. It’s usually lower and trashier. The undertones are more dissonant and complex. This sound is very popular in all forms of music these days, though in the past it was more popular in Jazz. Good examples of dark rides are the Dream Energy Dark Matter Ride or the Meinl Extra Dry Ride

Anyway, I hope this helped you understand what people mean with these terms, and happy music making!

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