What Is A Trash Cymbal?

What Is A Trash Cymbal

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There are numerous cymbal types and styles to choose from when building your kit. With a multitude of cymbal makers, both well-known and smaller boutiques, different sizes, weights, and finishes, there are near-endless possibilities.

One of these choices is a trash cymbal. So what exactly is a trash cymbal?

A trash cymbal is an effect cymbal. People have described a trash cymbal as falling somewhere in between a traditional crash cymbal and a china cymbal. The key feature of most trash cymbals is that they have a very fast attack and decay, meaning the sound produced from hits only lasts for a short time.  

Let’s take a look below at the key features of trash cymbals and whether you should add them to your kit.

What Is A Trash Cymbal?

A trash cymbal is a type of effect cymbal. According to Sweetwater, there are many different effect cymbals, the most common being trash, splash, and China cymbals. Trash cymbals have often been described as a hybrid between a traditional crash and a china cymbal.

Trash cymbals, like other effect cymbals, are not typically one of the main cymbals on a kit, those primarily being the hi-hats, crashes, and ride cymbals.

Trash cymbals can open up all sorts of new sound possibilities and can add a unique dimension and quality to any genre and playing style.

The key feature of many (but not all) trash cymbals is that they will have holes. The holes that are often found on trash cymbals help to create rapid sound decay. The general idea here is that the more holes there are, the faster the decay will be.

I currently have two such cymbals on my setup, as you can see below.

As you can see, I have mine positioned on opposite sides of the kit so that I can easily access each one no matter where I am playing on the kit. On the left side, I currently keep my 16” trash crash right next to my 18” crash, which is my most frequently used crash cymbal. On the right side of the kit, I have my 12” trash splash situated next to my 16” crash and right above my ride cymbal.

While my setup frequently changes as I add and subtract different equipment, this general cymbal placement has remained fairly consistent, although the trash cymbals are a relatively new addition to my kit.

I use my trash cymbals all the time, especially my 12” trash splash. It is perfect for cymbal hits during a normal rhythm section where cymbal hits may not be common. I love to throw cymbal hits at odd times during songs, but traditional crash cymbals often overpower these sections, and the slow decay can sometimes take away from what the rest of the ensemble is doing.

A main feature of trash cymbals is that they have a rapid response and a very quick sound decay, meaning that once you hit the cymbal, the sound will quickly dissipate, unlike traditional crashes or China cymbals, which typically have a longer decay. However, that depends on many factors, such as the size and weight of the cymbals.

This feature can give you all sorts of options when playing. For example, a trash cymbal will be a perfect option if you want a quick cymbal hit at the end of a drum fill without having to stop the cymbal with your hand like you might have to with a traditional cymbal to prevent the sound from bleeding over into the next part of the song.

Different Cymbal Options & Styles

A quick search for “Trash Cymbal” on Sweetwater gives 85 options, and the same search on Musician’s Friend yields 100 (although some of these are cymbal packs). While there are not nearly as many options as if you were looking for traditional crashes, there are still quite a few.

If you follow the links above, you can see for yourself all the different options available.

There is a wide range of sizes, finishes, and weights available for trash cymbals, just like any other type of cymbal. This means that no matter what style of music you play, you’ll likely find an option that is right for you.

On top of the variety mentioned above, there are a few different styles of trash cymbals to further add to the wide variety of trash cymbals you can select from.

First, there are the trash crash cymbals that are filled with holes throughout the cymbal’s surface. These come in all sizes and with many different options regarding the amount and size of the holes. Remember, the general idea is that the more holes there are, the faster the sound will decay.

There are also trash china cymbals that feature holes, as well as trash china cymbals that do not have any holes.

Lastly, there are trash stack cymbals. Stack cymbals are two cymbals stacked on top of each other, which can produce some unique and dynamic sounds.

Is A Trash Cymbal Right For You?

As you can tell from the above sections, there are numerous options and styles of trash cymbals available to consider.

In my opinion, having at least one trash cymbal on your kit is a good idea. It brings many more options to your playing, and trash cymbals work across many different genres.

As you can see in this video the sound each trash cymbal delivers can add so much to your music!

I played for years without having any trash cymbals on my kit. In fact, I had minimal effects cymbals in general beyond a splash cymbal. However, since adding trash cymbals to my kit, I don’t think I will ever go back to not having them.

I frequently use my trash cymbals as ends to fills, during parts that don’t often have cymbals hits, and as an alternative to a ride or open hi-hat when I am going for a louder and more aggressive rhythm.

If you are unsure about adding a trash cymbal, start small with a trash crash. They are typically one of the cheaper options, and they can give you a better idea of whether you want to add larger trash cymbals to your kit.

That is not to say that the bigger the trash cymbal, the better it will be, and as I said earlier, I use my 12” trash splash much more frequently than my 16” trash crash.

Closing Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a better idea of what a trash cymbal is and the many options available. Effect cymbals can add all sorts of cool layers to your playing, and trash crashes are among my favorite options.