Cleaning your cymbals can help to prolong their life. It isn’t necessary though. While it will help to preserve them, it will also make them sound brighter by removing the grime. If you want darker sounding cymbals, you can opt out of cleaning and stick to a case to keep your cymbals safe.
If you prefer clean cymbals over darker sounding, dirtier cymbals, you need to take a look into different cleaning products. The most commonly used cymbal cleaning product is Windex. This works for most cymbals that don’t have special protective coatings.
For cymbals that do have these coatings, such as Paiste cymbals, you will want to go to the cymbal maker’s website and check out what cleaning products are available, and what methods are suggested.
In the end, taking care of your cymbals is up to you. Check your cymbal stands every single time that you play. Keep your cymbals in a case when you aren’t playing to prevent accidental damage. Clean your cymbals once a month to keep them grime free. Take the time after your drum lessons and practice, and your cymbals will last you a lot longer.
The first thing you need to check is whether you have cast or stamped cymbals. Why? Cast cymbals are usually produced in a way so that they shine by themselves whereas stamped cymbals get their shine from a layer of lacquer over the metal. There are different types of cleaning solutions for these two types of cymbals.
In either case, keep in mind that you should spread the agents quickly so they cannot attack the cymbal in a concentrated form. They would remove the lacquer from stamped cymbals or directly damage the metal in the case of cast cymbals.
Before starting the cleaning process you should probably isolate your working surface with a piece of unneeded cloths or some newspapers, because the cleaners include really strong chemicals. For actually cleaning the cymbals you should prepare two clean clothes: one for applying the cleaning solution and another for removing it.
You should use circular moves that goes in line with the grooves of the cymbal until all the dirt that has built-up is gone. I recommend starting with the lower part of the cymbals because when you turn it over it is easier to hold it that way (otherwise you would probably muck the upper side again). After you have applied the cleaning solution on both sides clean both surfaces with a clean cloth until the cymbal shines like a mirror.
As in the case of just about anything else on this planet, there are a few urban legends circling around regarding cymbal cleaning. Some people say that shampoo can clean cymbals; others say that salty water does magic. I would rather not try any of these options: cymbal cleaners are really cheap and they offer high quality cleaning, why would you risk your expensive jewelry?
I learned this the hard way – an old drummer told me that when he was my age he used to clean his cymbals with toothpaste and “trust me son, it is better than any freaking pro thing”. Well, it is not.
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