In common with other percussion instruments, such as gongs, tambourines and drums, a cymbal is hit to produce its sound. A cymbal manufacturer will commonly make other metallic percussion instruments, like chimes and sleigh bells, but some of the best-known cymbal brands are specialists with this type of instrument only. An essential part of any kit drummer's equipment, there are four main types of cymbal and it’s common practice for any cymbal manufacturer to produce them all.

The first of these is the ride cymbal, which is the most gong-like type that offers the deepest tone. Secondly, the so-called crash cymbal is usually smaller than the ride. It is frequently hit hard for a dramatic effect. Like a miniature crash cymbal, but with much less sustain, is the splash cymbal. Finally, the hi-hat is, in fact, a pair of cymbals which need a special stand with a foot pedal and clutch to operate. Unlike other cymbals, the hi-hat is played rhythmically with the foot as well as being struck with a drumstick or brush. Any stockist of drumming equipment needs to have a choice of all of these sorts of cymbal, often with their sub-variants included, too. By using, traders in cymbals can keep abreast of the latest product offerings from up and coming cymbal brands.

For variation of sound, some cymbal manufacturers will grind grooves onto the surface of their products as well as employing other treatments. Occasionally, for instance, cymbals will have holes drilled into them to change their sonorous quality or have little metal pegs inserted into them for a greater shimmering sound. A cymbal manufacturer will usually be focussed on drummers as their key market, but this is not always the case. Hand held cymbals, produced for professional orchestras or marching bands, are another important product line that is worth considering.

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