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Ride cymbal position

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  • Ride cymbal position

    Some drummers mount their ride cymbal quite low and to me it looks like an edge shot would be next to impossible.

    As a starting drummer I understand that most ride strikes are on the edge and bell. Is the edge used that much?

  • #2
    Hey bcomer,

    Im also a beginner, but I can cite what Im taught for you.

    The ride is usually (not always) used to play steady rhytmic patterns called ride patterns, similar to the hi-hat and opposed to accents, for which crash cymbals are usually used. While you can crash a ride cymbal of course that is not its main purpose. That said the common stroke for the ride is the bow shot usually close to the middle of the bow and done with the tip. Most players prefer a clear sound with harmonic overtones, that is best achieved by mounting the ride as horizontal as possible.

    Playing a ride pattern of course requires that the ride must be conveniently accessible for the right hand and so low that you dont get tired because you may have to do some hundred regular strokes. If you want to use open/close technique or play with rebound or play regular accents that also requires that the cymbal is not positioned too high.

    So while you can do whatever accomodates your playing style and genre the regular player will position the ride cymbal on the right side, horizontally above the (a) floor tom and as low as possible.

    If you want to crash the ride you can strike the edge with the shaft or shoulder or do a regular edge stroke by moving counter clockwise from the regular stroke position.

    As I said: Im a beginner too, but that is what Im being taught.




    • #3
      Just place the ride, and any other pad, where it is easy for you to reach and easy to strike where you want it. It's all about your anatomy, making it convenient for yourself, not about cool or non-cool looks ; -)

      The position will change over time anyway, when your skill and needs do change ...

      For example should you play music which requires frequent changes between HiHat and Ride with the same hand, it won't be a convenient layout to separate both pads at maximum distance. This would require frequent and quick changes of hand and arm position, which will probably hurt you physically one way or the other sooner or later, creating haste as an aside. It would be more natural to place them closer together, which you will hear through changed (hopefully improved) timing.

      The relaxed drummer is cool (walk, don't run on the drum set), and probably it's even cooler once your listeners can't resist moving with your beats ; -)
      Last edited by MS-SPO; 04-15-17, 05:41 PM.
      td-30 user ;-)


      • #4
        Originally posted by bcomer View Post
        As a starting drummer I understand that most ride strikes are on the edge and bell. Is the edge used that much?
        That depends.

        When I started I didn't use bell or edge, just 1 zone, striking the edge more unintendedly.

        If you use the default drums on your module, the three zones are assigned to 3 different sounds.

        If you find it convenient, you can play just on the surface (as I did as a beginner) and ignore or assign suitable different sounds to bell and edge, like a second snare to the bell and a barking noise to the edge, or vice versa. Or, if your sound module allows it, you can assign the same sound to all three zones, but change their volume or other effects. It depends on what you consider good for the music you play or the way you play the ride.

        It's best to perceive your e-drum as an individual instrument, rather than a simulated substitute for an acoustic drum set. There are some similarities and there are many differences, possibilities and limitations for both. Just explore over time and find -> your <- way.
        Last edited by MS-SPO; 04-15-17, 05:52 PM.
        td-30 user ;-)


        • #5
          Good question.

          I'm not so good with the drumming theory written in books, but I consider myself an intermediate player nowadays and I know how I best like to learn (if nothing else has changed since being a beginner lol).

          So I'll present my ideas how I'd like to be taught / how I setup my kit. This applies to drums as well as cymbals:

          1) Start with drumstick in hand, relaxed wrist.

          2) First I set the distance so I naturally hit where I want to be on the surface (to the left side of the bell, if right handed, or near middle of a drum) with the tip of the stick, with the least effort.

          3) With a loose grip, adjust tilt of the surface so that the stick rebound is in line with my arm motion (isn't being deviated to the left or right).

          4) Flexing my wrist upwards, I adjust the height of the surface so that - with the same action as before - contact is made with the edge/rim zone with the shoulder/shank of the stick.

          - Next steps for cymbals -

          5) Now adjust cymbal washer to be loose, so that a good swing occurs.

          6) When I hit the edge zone, the swing should be considerable enough to make it impossible to double strike an edge zone, yet it swings back in the time of the next 3/4 beats.

          7) At Allegro moderato tempo, I check that I can reliably strike an edge hit every 4 beats in time with the swing, flexing wrist muscles only.
          (e.g. edge - tip - tip - tip - edge - tip - tip - tip - edge). Tighten washer till this occurs.

          8) Cymbal now in optimum position.

          Hope my instructions are easy to understand.
          Last edited by Kabonfaiba; 04-15-17, 07:43 PM.
          ♦ Diamond Drums 4pc in Di-Noc carbon ♦ MegaDRUM + Roland UA-1010 / cymbals / KT-10 (x2) ♦ Tama / Gibraltar hardware ♦ JBL LSR3 Series 2.1 Monitoring
          Community Drum Module Document
          PA Specifications (wip)


          • #6

            There are a lot of ways to play a ride cymbal. Generally, as your technique improves and as you learn more techniques, you'll find you can get many sounds from a single ride cymbal and thus you'll want full access to the entire playing surface of the cymbal. Sadly, electronic cymbals don't have anywhere near the expressiveness and playability of acoustic cymbals, but many of the same techniques still apply to electronic ride cymbals.

            I crash my ride cymbal all the time and thus I want access to the edge. Also, I lay into the cymbal with the shank of the stick (the thicker three inches or so just below the tip), sometimes for glancing sideways blows to the edge and sometimes directly into the bow for what is called a "shank accent". Often, when you crash a ride cymbal, you don't necessarily want a full-on crash sound, but rather a little bloom of "color" to make an accented stroke stand out with different texture. Sometimes I lay into the edge entirely (but still in a controlled way so as not to damage the cymbal) to obtain a very washy riding sound; it's almost like crashing pulses on every note and the crashes overlap one another.

            There are bell patterns where one plays entirely on the bell of the cymbal. Also, one can play (and often does) bow-to-bell patterns where the tip of the stick plays unaccented notes on the bow and the shank of the stick plays accented notes on the bell. This is an area where electronic cymbal manufactures are out to lunch because almost all manufactures make their e-cymbals so only the front portion of the cymbal is fully sensitive. In fact, some e-cymbals are designed so you cannot even play 90 degrees off axis from the front of the cymbal. I say "electronic cymbal manufactures are out to lunch" because drummers often play 90 degrees off front axis, especially when playing bow-to-bell patterns and for other kinds of patterns, too! Thus, there are a number of classic ride patterns that while easy to play on acoustic cymbals, are somewhat harder to play (and don't really come across as well) on electronic cymbals.

            As you can see, there are lots of sounds you can obtain from a ride cymbal! This is why jazz drummers (who play the ride cymbal a lot) consider the ride cymbal the most important part of their kit.

            About your question "how to position a ride cymbal". As I think you'll now understand, the more parts of the cymbal you have access to, the more sounds you can obtain. Most definitely, you want access to the edge of the cymbal! I don't get too tricky about positioning, but neither is my positioning random. Generally, depending on where in the stroke you contact the ride, you want the ride at the same angle as your stick, so that the stick lays parallel and flat to the ride. When the stick lays flat and parallel, you achieve maximum rebound, allowing the stick to do a lot of work for you. For me, this means the ride cymbal is almost flat, but ever so slightly angled toward me.

            I adjust the height of the ride so that I don't have to reach up or down for it. Just a small reach forward, with my stick parallel to the floor, contacts the ride. I do not place the ride so low that I cannot reach the edge. Rather, I specifically place the ride so it is at a height where I have easy access to the bell, bow, and edge.

            Important side note: I do not clamp down on the bells of the cymbals by tightening the wingnuts. Rather, I open the wingnuts as much as possible, so that both acoustic and electronic cymbals swing freely. A lot of ride techniques (and cymbal techniques in general) reply on the swinging motion of a cymbal. If you look at my acoustic rides, you'll see I do not use top felts; there is a bottom felt, a sheath, and a wingnut adjusted way above the bell. It's not as clear in my electronic cymbal pictures, but again there is nothing clamping down on the bell of the cymbals; the cymbals are entirely free to swing.

            They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, here are some pictures of how I position my acoustic and electronic ride cymbals.

            Acoustic Ride Example 1
            (Click to zoom.)

            Acoustic Ride Example 1
            (Click to zoom.)

            Electronic Ride Example 1
            (Click to zoom.)

            Electronic Ride Example 1
            (Click to zoom.)

            Last edited by TangTheHump; 04-20-17, 03:56 PM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by bcomer View Post
              I understand that most ride strikes are on the edge and bell. Is the edge used that much?
              I'm sure you meant, "...most ride strikes are on the bow and bell..." , not the "edge and bell", Correct? In most cases the predominant playing surface is the bow, although, as others have said, all parts of the cymbal are played depending on the musical situation and artistic choice of the player.

              ATV aDrums & aD5, Pearl Mimic Pro, TD-25 triggering Superior Drummer 3.0, Roland Handsonic HPD-20.


              • #8

                I shared some pictures with you above, but continuing the theme "a picture is worth a thousand words", here is a video I made that will help you with your grip and ride cymbal position. I made this video for another forum member, but I think it will help you. The video isn't specifically about ride cymbal position, but based on the techniques covered, it will help you position your ride. Topics covered are:

                1.) French Grip
                2.) German Grip
                3.) Altered Fulcrums
                4.) Bow To Bell Patterns
                5.) Summary and Wrapup

                This is a half hour video so you'll need to sit down with it, but I hope it helps you. Side note, for some reason the video will not play online in the Google Drive Video player. Press the Download button (the arrow icon that points downward) and download the video to your computer or device. The video downloads fine. It's in MP4 format so just about any media player will play it.

                Grip and Ride Cymbal Demo

                Last edited by TangTheHump; 04-20-17, 04:13 PM.


                • #9
                  TangTheHump - thanks for your input I will watch it tonight.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bcomer View Post
                    TangTheHump - thanks for your input I will watch it tonight.
                    You are welcome. I hope the video gives you some ideas, despite the fact it's not specifically about positioning a ride cymbal. As you work on your grips, you'll find you end up positioning the ride cymbal to match your grips and technique, and that's what I hope comes across in my video. I put a tea towel over the cymbal so my voice can be heard when I'm talking and playing at the same time. That's the only reason for the tea towel.

                    Toward the middle of the video, where I first start talking about accents, the strokes I demonstrate with the clanky accent are shank accents on the bow and on the edge of the cymbal. If I took the tea towel away, those accents sound like small, crash-like blooms of texture under the notes, so that's an example of why you want access to the bell, bow, and edge. All these techniques work on electronic cymbals too, but it helps to have an e-cymbal with three-way triggering (bell, bow, and edge).


                    • #11
                      Thought I'd share this video with anyone interested. It's Todd Sucherman talking about sounds and dynamics, kit setup, and technique. Note that Todd places his ride cymbal a little higher and further away from himself than is comfortable, and he discusses why and how he may change this in future. Also note, for bell patterns, from the perspective of behind the kit, Todd approaches the ride cymbal 90 degrees (or more) to the left side of the cymbal. This demonstrates the problem with many electronic cymbals; the cymbals are designed to be struck straight on (yes, I'm referring to Roland, Yamaha, and others) and as you move further off axis, around to the left and right sides, the cymbals become less and less sensitive. Inexpensive triangle-shaped designs or circular designs where only the front is covered with a rubber playing surface (the remainder of the cymbal cannot be struck) are even more problematic. Once you watch Sucherman, you'll see what I'm talking about. To me, this is one of the biggest issues with electronic cymbals and no manufacturer has addressed it acceptably, yet.

                      Todd Sucherman Sounds and Choices Drumeo