Note: I'm not looking for recommendations of particular brand names!

I have several 'splash' cymbals - typically 8" and 10", but they all have quite a long sustain. Rather like mini versions of their bigger siblings of 18", 20", etc.

What I'm looking for is a way to make any of the smaller ones produce a real 'splash' - of 1 second duration at most.

What ideas have worked for any drummers out there? Some sort of choking (but not by hand!) would maybe be productive. Some sort of damping may do the trick, but there still needs to be the initial 'splash'.

  • 8
    Sounds like the setup to a joke: "Q: How to you make an effective splash cymbal"; "A: Throw it in a lake."
    – Aaron
    Mar 6, 2023 at 16:47
  • 2
    You really nd to define your acceptable decay parameters. A thin crash in a metal band will appear shorter than a splash in a drum/piano duo, because of your SNL.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 6, 2023 at 17:40
  • @Tetsujin - thing is, it's certainly not in a metal band, but I don't know what that would sound like. I already said <1 second. All my splashes last several seconds, which to my mind doesn't really make them any more than small crashes. Is my SNL curable..?
    – Tim
    Mar 6, 2023 at 17:55
  • clamp a fairly wide felt pad on it? Mar 6, 2023 at 19:33
  • 2
    Several seconds of decay is in my opinion normal for a splash, and if you play one at low volume it sounds just like a crash. If something sounds shorter it's either because it's buried in the mix under something louder or because it's actually a ribbon crasher, splash stack or something else.
    – ojs
    Mar 6, 2023 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


A one second cymbal without manually choking it seems like a tall order but this is an idea I had after reading your question. I have no idea if it will work and I don’t have a cymbal to test it on but it should be pretty easy to come up with a rudimentary way to test it and see if it will work.

Set up the cymbal so that on the back side opposite the striking side the cymbal rests lightly on a piece of foam or something similar. It might work better if the cymbal is just above the foam without touching it.

When you hit the cymbal the side you strike will go down and the opposite side will go up giving you a splash. The back side of the cymbal will then immediately drop and hit the dampener. Here is a rudimentary drawing, let me know if it works or is a bust. You can also experiment with different materials, hardnesses and sizes.

enter image description here

  • 2
    It certainly appears to be a working example! A simple, foolproof auto-damper. With adjustment it could be a winner! On the way to the bathroom right now!
    – Tim
    Mar 7, 2023 at 8:20
  • @Tim I added a bit to the last paragraph, maybe a small pillow or other material might work better. Mar 7, 2023 at 8:23
  • @Tim You can also experiment with the amount of pressure the damper puts on the cymbal from being a few inches below it to lifting the back end a few inches. Mar 7, 2023 at 8:32
  • Nice solution to solve the contradiction (see my comments comment about my answer).
    – MS-SPO
    Mar 7, 2023 at 8:41
  • 1
    I found an extension for a cymbal which fits a cymbal stand. But careful arrangement, I positioned the felts on the edge of a 10" 'splash'. Which actually gave me the crash I wanted, and by altering the pressure between the two felts, would change the decay of the crash. It works!! So now, I have two new cymbal sounds - short splash and odd splash. Many thanks to all.
    – Tim
    Mar 8, 2023 at 17:48

One common way to produce a very short splash is stacking small cymbals. Different combinations of splashes and mini chinas as well as putting one of the cymbals upside down produce different variants of the short splashy sound. Searching for "cymbal stack" should find a lot of videos to give an idea what it sounds like. If you have several splashes, this is probably the place to start.

Other temporary solutions are hanging a chain or any random piece of sheet metal across the cymbal. Putting loose rivets to the cymbal is also an option, but I wouldn't try it on anything that I wasn't prepared to throw away.

  • I thought that rivets were attached to give more sustain, not less!
    – Tim
    Mar 6, 2023 at 16:42
  • I don't understand how they could add sustain, the ones I have seen have had more "sizzle" and less sustain.
    – ojs
    Mar 6, 2023 at 20:42
  • 3
    @ojs rivets on big, heavy cymbals can increase perceived sustain. It works because these cymbals have very long-lasting low-frequency partials, which are however almost inaudible except in very sparse ensembles and/or with close miking. Rivets turn those LF vibrations into much more audible sizzle, which doesn't last as long as the free vibration would but does give a much longer duration where the sound is actually heard. Mar 6, 2023 at 23:29
  • @leftaroundabout you're technically correct (the best kind of correct) but this discussion was about small, thin splash cymbals.
    – ojs
    Mar 7, 2023 at 1:08
  • 1
    Had time so far to try the stacked idea. It worked best with a 10" Zyldjian under a Meinl 8". Trying various combinations with Zyldjian, Paiste and Meinl 8s and 10s resulted in only this one successful (for me) sound, of around <1 second. Thanks for the idea, yet to attempt John's variable damper.
    – Tim
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:19

To have dampening , which varies in time, you need to move from constant dampening to a variable on.

All mechanical attachments don‘t offer this property, be it tape, rivets, stacks etc., unless it‘s a kind of machine you attach.

Hand is an option, you exclude in your situation.

So foot can be an alternative: mount the splash as a kind of Hihat (open splash, closed done).

If you think in terms of a machine, go beyond mechanics, the classical perception. Think in terms of actuators, which brings you to electronics. In deed, the required electronics can be simple, while the electromechanical actuator needs some consideration.

A practical solution might be like this:

  • Perceive the splash as a speakers membran
  • Attach the required joke, magnet and coil to make it a speaker
  • Use it as a pickup to start a signal
  • Make the signal vary such that it increases „stiffness“ (dampening) quickly
  • A simple RC circuit may do that part of the „trick“.

Finally, a simple and „classical“ solution might be a splash assistant: a person, lending you a hand when it‘s needed. Funny. Why not. There are trained triangle players around, which do just that on their instrument …

  • Why would the dampening need to vary over time?
    – ojs
    Mar 7, 2023 at 8:18
  • If it doesn‘t, the splash sounds dull from the start. If you want it sounding bright AND have it silent quickly after, you don‘t get both: it‘s a so called trade-off situation, which is a different (bad) way to state a contradiction. // You can also watch the hand action: you don‘t attach the hand to the cymbal all the time. Rather, you separate in time, which is an other way to state variable dampening. // BTW, the drawing above introduces sep.in.time: free when hit, damped once returned to its rest position.
    – MS-SPO
    Mar 7, 2023 at 8:38
  • This sounds a lot like a made up problem to me. In real life cymbal stacks have a bright attack that is amplified by the two cymbals bouncing against each other. There is this video site called Youtube where you can find examples.
    – ojs
    Mar 7, 2023 at 8:48
  • To me, that's daily business. Much like reading notes may be to you :)
    – MS-SPO
    Mar 7, 2023 at 10:13
  • 1
    The hi-hat idea may work, with some damping instead of the lower cymbal, but that adds another pedal to an already crowded floor.
    – Tim
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:50

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