Looking for different types of overhead drum mics, drum sticks or cymbals can be quite fun and exciting if drums are your hobby, passion, or profession. However, after you purchase all the accessories and components of your favorite instrument, you want to make the most out of them. This implies regular maintenance such as cleaning your cymbals. Here are some useful tips to get this job done easily and efficiently.
Why should you clean your cymbals?
Your cymbals look gorgeous after you purchase them. They are shiny and neat and you hope they will remain like this forever. However, as time passes, you realize that your once gleaming cymbals start losing their charm. This is absolutely normal as cymbals are almost always provided with a special coating.
Besides drawing attention, the coating’s purpose is to keep rust at bay and to protect the cymbals from dirt while they are stored. This coating fades away in time, which is absolutely inevitable, especially if you play the instrument quite often.
The problem is that once the coating is gone, the cymbals are more exposed to dirt and any liquid, grease, or oil you might have on your hand, which will promote the instrument’s oxidation. To prevent this type of damage, you should clean the cymbals regularly.
Except for bad looks, oxidized cymbals may lead to an altered sound. The high frequencies will not be rendered so easily on cymbals that have oxidized, which can give your sound a dark feel.
If you want that or if it fits the type of music you produce, you can go along with oxidized cymbals, although they will not flatter your look on stage, especially when the lights shine directly on your instrument.
Contrarily, if the bright sound you got from your cymbals the first time you touched them is what you aim for, you should avoid oxidation and clean and polish them more frequently.
Tips for cleaning your cymbals
Cleaning your cymbals means removing the dust and any stains that you inevitably leave there every time you touch them. To clean your precious metals, you can simply wipe them with a clean cloth, ideally made of microfiber or you can wash them with water and soap.
The second method is highly efficient, but it might take a little more time. You have to detach the cymbals from the stand, take them one by one, and gently soak them in water. Don’t put them all together in the tube or sink because you can easily scratch them.
If the drums have been stored for a while and they are really dirty, you might want to brush them too to remove the stains and dirt.
To do this, you can scrub them with a nylon brush and remember to always move the brush in the grooves’ direction and not oppositely. Also, remember that using a wire brush is not recommended because you could end up leaving marks on the cymbals.
Why cymbals need polishing
Cleaning your cymbals is the first step in the maintenance process. If you want to go all the way, after you’ve removed the dirt, you should also polish the cymbals. However, before you get down to it, you should ask yourself first whether you have the type of cymbals that need polishing.
It’s very easy to differentiate between cymbals that need polishing and those that don’t. In terms of aspect, there are essentially two types of cymbals – brilliant and non-brilliant. If your equipment belongs to the first category, then you should consider polishing it regularly to maintain its good looks and functionality.
However, according to specialists and those who produce drums, non-brilliant cymbals should only be cleaned and not polished. If you apply polish on these, you might actually end up damaging them and making them look dull and old.
Non-brilliant cymbals have their own type of finish which is meant to remain as such. Applying polish to these cymbals can produce discoloration or even leave ugly marks on the surface. Because it’s not recommended to apply polish on this type of surface, manufacturers don’t produce specific products for non-brilliant cymbals.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t have to clean these cymbals regularly.
Tips for polishing your cymbals
To polish your brilliant cymbals efficiently and to get a satisfactory result, you should arm yourself with some cleaning supplies such as a professional cymbal cleaner. You don’t have to worry about finding one as there are numerous products you can buy either from music stores or online shops.
Besides proper cleaning polish, you should also get a microfiber cloth. Start by wiping the cymbals’ grooves with the cloth. Then, take the polish and shake it before you apply it either on a cloth or directly on the cymbals. If you apply the polish directly onto the cymbals, make sure you spread it evenly, across the whole surface.
You shouldn’t use a lot of polish as these products are quite efficient even in small quantities. Whether you spread it onto the surface or use the cloth to apply it, the layers should be very thin.
To save the logo on your cymbals, don’t put any polish on it because it will make it fade away. After you’ve polished the cymbals with a very thin layer of cleaner, you should wait for around half a minute.
Then, it’s time to remove the substance. To do this, you can use another microfiber cloth and wipe the cymbal thoroughly.
Alternatively, you can remove it by using warm water. In this case, you have to be very fast because these items should not be held under water as they start oxidizing.
After you clean the polish with water, wipe the cymbals with a cloth until they are completely dry and the polish is gone. When you are done polishing the surface of the cymbal, you have to take the same steps to clean and polish the underside.
Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that polishing is not as essential as cleaning and that doing it too often might actually damage the cymbals. Therefore, you should avoid polishing your cymbals each and every time you clean them, especially if you are compulsive about the latter.
Damage can occur because of the cleaners that often have an abrasive action. This means they could gradually deteriorate the cymbal’s surface and alter your tone as a result.
Are there any homemade cleaners?
If you like to clean your house or personal items with natural solutions that are devoid of chemicals, you might want to apply this approach to your cymbals as well. In this case, you are surely interested in what type of homemade natural solutions you can apply. So, here are some affordable options.
Vinegar is a practical solution you might already have at hand. With this natural product, you can clean different household items and you can also clean your cymbals with it. Apply only a tablespoon of this liquid on your cymbals and gently rub it in. Afterward, clean the surface with warm water and dry the cymbals.
Lemon is another eco-friendly cleaning solution that can also work well for your cymbals. Just like with vinegar, you have to apply a bit of lemon juice on the cymbal’s surface, by squeezing the fruit. Then wait for approximately half a minute and rinse it.
Additional cleaning and maintenance tips
The cymbals’ smooth and glossy surface is quite sensitive when it comes to marks and stains. Each time you touch them, you leave fingertips on them, and if your hands aren’t clean, different stains and grease build up in time. Therefore, you should wash your hands before and after you use the instrument. Also, you should wipe them after each gig.
When you manage the cymbals, hold them firmly on the edges with both hands and avoid touching the surface with your fingertips.
When you store the cymbals, make sure they are well-covered, ideally in a protective case or cymbal bag, so that dust and dirt don’t damage them.
Taking care of your cymbals means taking care of your drums and prolonging their lifespan. No matter what type of cymbals you have and whether you choose to polish them or not, skipping the cleaning part is not an option.