How to Clean Cymbals

If you want to preserve that first-class sound of your cymbals even after many years, you’re a true music enthusiast! Probably, this is why you refuse to lay your hands on the cymbals. Remove dirt, spills, and prints of fingers away from your cymbals with our guide on how to clean cymbals. Now, you can clean your cymbals!

However, the cymbals may attract and accumulate dust, dirt, and grime over time. If not cleaned, a cymbal may sound a bit mellow. They might even stop working for you at a point!

Now, many people argue that cleaning a cymbal would change the quality of sound. However, not cleaning would generate similar results. So, this is a risk that you have to take. If you do not know how to clean cymbals, follow our lead.

We care for your cymbals. Therefore, we would guide you on your cleaning journey. We would tell you ways that would not leave a detrimental effect on your cymbals.

Why Should You Consider Cleaning Cymbals?

How to Clean Cymbals
Photo by: Catherine Ledner

The cymbals need care just like every other thing in the world. Newly bought pairs of cymbals always come with protective layers on each of them. These layers work as protective sealing to restrict dirt and rust your cymbals.

However, these layers start to wear off the cymbals over time. Once they are gone, your cymbals would attract dirt and even accumulate oil from your hands. Hence, they would start oxidizing.

This process of oxidation would affect the high frequency of your cymbals. The gradual build-up of the patina due to the oxidation process is responsible for the mellow sound.

You can also read: How to Play Polyrhythms: A Comprehensive Guide

Does Cleaning the Cymbals Affect the Sound Quality?

You know that the green film known as Patina would make your sound darker. The only way cleaning can affect the sound quality is by making it brighter.

Now, many of you might be a fan of that mellow sound as it blends perfectly in Jazz. However, you also remember that this build-up of Patina can threaten the longevity of your cymbals.

Polishing vs. Cleaning

How to Clean Cymbals

This is the part where most people get confused. No, cleaning is NOT polishing. Cleaning the cymbals means removing the dirt, dust, fingerprints, and oil. On the contrary, polishing is meant to add that final spark. Although these words are used as a substitution for each other, their purposes are completely different from each other.

Most people confuse these terms probably because they polish the cymbals after cleaning them. However, if you wish to skip polishing but continue cleaning, you can go ahead. Bear in mind that polishing without cleaning will not affect.

Choosing the Right Products

Always read the label of your cleaning and polishing products. Although cleaning does not require any special product, you might even have to use some elbow grease at times. Sometimes, you might come across a few products that claim to clean and polish your cymbals.

However, we would advise you against using it as both the processes are completely different from each other. Use products that are specifically recommended for the types of cymbals you own.

Word of Caution

Cymbals are delicate. Therefore, apply gentle pressure while cleaning them. A lot of force will bend your cymbals. Also, avoid cleaning the inside of the cymbals to avoid an excessive mess.

How Often Should I Clean and Polish Cymbals?

You can clean your cymbals whenever you want. However, do not apply the same technique for polishing. Polishing generally requires abrasive products. These products can wear off a few layers and reach deeper which is not healthy to the sound of the cymbals.

The Process of Cleaning

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At first, you would want to wipe any dirt, oil, and fingerprints with a clean microfiber cloth. Do this after every use. That way you would not have excess dirt on the cymbals. If the fingerprint and the oil on the surface are stubborn, use a little soap. Then wipe the surface again with clean water.

Since metal and moisture are not a good combination, you must remove the water immediately to avoid detrimental effects. Try to keep your hands on the surface of the cymbals to avoid fingerprints again. This is the most basic and effective way to clean a cymbal.

However, if you want to, you can also use a cymbal cleaner for the entire process, especially if you have not cleaned it since the purchase. Do not use this process frequently though. Many people prefer to use household metal cleaners for the process. The problem with those is they discolor your cymbals gradually, sucking all its beauty.

The Process of Polishing

Photo by: Thomann

The cymbals usually have two types of finishes. One is traditional and the other is brilliant. Brilliant ones usually come with a polish, whereas the traditional ones need additional polish. Whether It comes with prior polish or not, you might have to polish it anyway after a few years of use.

When it comes to polishing, do not settle for just any product. Do your research and get yourself acquainted with it. Cheap polishes would distort the quality of the sound. So, go for the branded ones. To polish the cymbals, take a microfiber cloth again. Add a few drops of polish and gently rub the cloth on the cymbal.

Make sure that you are not haphazardly running the cloth on the surface. Try to cover the entire surface and avoid rubbing the surface twice. Once you are done, you can grab another cloth to get rid of any surplus polish that you have left. Another alternative would be to run the cymbals under warm water.

Do not soak the cymbals. Rinsing them would be more than enough. Then let the cymbals dry. After it has dried completely you would notice that the excess polish is gone.

If you want to polish the inside of the cymbals, repeat the entire process. Lastly, remove any moisture from the cymbals with a dry cloth, or you would end up with a damaged one instead of a polished one.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how to clean and polish cymbals, you should get into action to get those cymbals shining. Happy cleaning!

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