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How to Clean your Cymbals ? Does Cleaning Cymbals Affect Sound?

How to Clean your Cymbals

Does Cleaning Cymbals Affect Sound?


Before you actually start cleaning, you should consider how you like your cymbals to sound – because yes, cleaning a cymbal can have an effect on it. A cymbal that’s either brand new or has been cleaned is going to sound brighter than one that’s seen a lot of use (and hasn’t been cleaned regularly). This is due to a gradual build up of something called patina. This is a brown or green film that can be found on the surface of bronze and other metals. It’s created by the oxidation process. This patina usually leads to a slightly darker sound, as it reduces any high frequencies. Tonal changes, all because of a bit of grime eh?

It’s also worth pointing out that from a visual standpoint, this patina will result in a darker look, which contrasts with the brighter shine of a freshly cleaned cymbal. Ultimately, deciding to clean your cymbals can simply be down to how you like them to look and sound.


How do you Clean Dirty Cymbals?

Firstly, you need to determine whether you’re looking to clean them, polish them or do both. Cleaning is meant to remove dust, dirt and fingerprints, but polishing is intended to add the final shine after an intense clean. It’s meant to augment and compliment. Some cleaning products will claim to do both, other times you’ll need a specialist product for each process.

Anyhow, cleaning/polishing is a good idea if you want to prevent your cymbals from becoming discoloured, dull, rusty or cracked. However, make sure that while you clean your cymbals that you don’t apply too much force or bend them accidentally! You’ll also probably want to do this cleaning outside as it can occasionally get a bit messy.


On a basic level, you can simply use a fresh microfibre cloth and clean the surface – removing any dust, dirt, moisture or fingerprints as you go. Anything more severe and caked on can either be removed with a bit of warm water and soap (as long as you dry it off after) or a cymbal cleaner (which you can find out more about below). You should make sure that you pay attention to the cymbals edges too; splinters from your sticks can sometimes mark and stick to this area if you’re a hard-hitter.

If you want to prevent these minor blemishes on your cymbals, you can always store them away in a cymbal bag when not in use. This defends against potential metal-on-metal scratching from occurring. Also, when you carry them or take them off a stand, only handle the edges of the cymbal, as this will prevent fingerprints from covering the rest of the surface. Some drummers will even clean their cymbals (in a basic manner) after each session – but that can be a tad excessive!


How do you Polish a Cymbal?

Cymbals shouldn’t be polished every single time you decide to clean them. You should only be polishing them every so often. In many polishing formulas, the abrasives that are present can remove certain layers if it’s used too much. This can sometimes go as deep as the lathing, which will be detrimental to the sound of your cymbal. Many brands have now produced their own versions, meaning there are plenty of options available out there.

You’ll want to use one of these branded cymbal polishes. Add a small amount of polish to a soft microfibre cloth. This cloth should then be rubbed over and into the cymbals grooves, ensuring that you don’t miss any of the surface area. Once this is done, you can either get rid of the excess polish with another microfibre cloth (that’s ideally clean and dry), or by running the cymbal under water that’s warm – drying it off completely once you’re done, with all of the polish taken off. If you’re using water, ensure that you’re gently rinsing and aren’t soaking/submerging the cymbal in a bucket.

You can then repeat this process again on the cymbals underside if you prefer a complete and in-depth polishing process. Remember though: any leftover moisture on either side can damage the metal alloy itself. Moisture and metal are really not a good mix.

What’s the Best Cymbal Cleaner?

The main cymbal cleaner(s) that we stock comes from a brand called Groove Juice. They’ve carved a solid niche in this space, becoming the go-to choice of many drummers when it comes to keeping their cymbals in working order. This is because it’s so quick and easy to use. There’s a reason why it’s maintained its place on the market for over 10 years now! Their Groove Juice Cymbal Cleaner was developed to be used on premium, professional bronze cymbals, while the Groove Juice Junior Cymbal Cleaner is formulated for use on entry-level and budget cymbals.





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