Repairing Cracked Cymbals
Just cracked your favourite cymbal(s)?Hoping there is some magic trick that will let you repair it good as new? Well, I'm sorry to say that once a cymbal starts cracking, it's all down hill from here on out. There is no 100% reliable way to repair a crack, but you do have a few options, however none are particularly desireable or attractive.
Should you REALLY want to save your cymbal, you could try having it lathed. This means that someone who knows what they're doing will shave about two inches from around the outer edge of the cymbal in order to prevent the crack from spreading futher. For example, if you've got a 17" crash, you might end up with a 15" crash (or possibly less) after the work has been done. There's no guarantee that this will work however as micro cracks can form in the metal which are unseen (for now) but will possible show in the future. If you're going to go this route, you need to catch the crack EARLY (i.e. stop playing it as soon as you see a crack and seek help).
Some people believe that drilling the cymbal at the top of the crack will slow its progress. Whilst this is true, remember that you're creating a big hole in your cymbal and whilst it MAY slow the crack from progressing further, your cymbal will lose a lot of volume and sounds pretty awful from now on. I've recently done this to one of my cymbals (Sabian AA Crash) which has 2 small cracks which very quickly developed into 2 large cracks :(
Again, you can simply cut a wedge out of the cymbal which contains a crack but this is similar to drilling and produces a similar sound.
You're basically left with one option; Buy a new cymbal. Yes, I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but that's life I'm afraid.
Cracked cymbals are sometimes a manufacturing defect, but this happens VERY rarely and more often than not it's down to poor cymbal technique. I suspect that the zildjian on the right was a manufacturing defect due to the way the cymbal cracked (you don't often see a crack start in the middle) but as I'd had the cymbal for a number of years, I felt it had done what it was supposed to do. At the end of the day, we're hitting these cymbals with force (though with correct techniuque most of the time) and I personally don't expect cymbals to last forever.
I'm the first to admit that my cymbal technique isn't perfect, when I'm playing a gig and really getting into it, I hit my cymbals way harder than I should. The end of our set has a song I love playing and has a gigantic ending with lots of crashes. I've only ever cracked 3 cymbals in 13 years of playing which is one every 4 years so I'd say I'm doing okay (but not brilliant). If you play carefully with correct technique, there's no reason that cymbals shouldn't last forever, for the sake of your cymbals (and your wallet) brush up on correct cymbal technique (article coming soon).
However, if you have cracked a cymbal you need to make a decision as soon as you notice the crack. Do you drill/cut it and hope that the crack will stop(and potentially kill the sound of the cymbal) or let the crack take it's course and replace when the cymbal is virutally unplayable. Cracking cymbals is certinaly not big, clever or an indication that you're some kind of drum playing god. By all means enjoy your playing, but remember that decent cymbals run at ~£130 depening on make and size.
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