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Pro Drummer Explains: Cymbals with Holes – What Do They Sound Like, And Which Are the Best?

When it comes to cymbals, having holes in them isn’t always a bad thing. Some cymbals are designed to have holes in them, and those holes play a big role in affecting how those cymbals sound

These cymbals are commonly known as effects cymbals, and they’ve become extremely popular in modern drumming. 

In this guide, we’re going to break down all the kinds of cymbals with holes. We’ll explain what they sound like, and we’ll give a few recommendations from various brands.

What’s The Point of Having Holes in Cymbals?

Cymbals that have holes in them have very unique sounds. In most cases, the sound is much trashier than what you’d get without the holes. The sustain is also a lot shorter, as those holes will stop the cymbal from vibrating as much. 

The point of having holes in certain cymbals is for drummers to add a bit of extra texture to their cymbal setup. It can be very useful to have one cymbal option that sounds trashy and aggressive, and you can hit it whenever you need that shorter sound

Some drummers even have multiple effects cymbals in their kit setup, opting for an overall trashy sound from all their cymbals.

Different Types of Cymbals with Holes


Hi-hats aren’t the most common cymbals to have holes in them, but you’ll occasionally see brands with a few options in this area. You’ll also find a few pairs of hi-hats where the one cymbal has holes while the other one doesn’t

These hi-hats have much shorter sounds than standard hi-hats, but they’re also a lot more aggressive when you play them with your foot. This is because the holes take away the air gap between the top and bottom hats, giving you a stronger sound. 

If you play hi-hats where the top hat has holes in it, you’ll mostly need to play those hats on the edge. If you play them on the surface, you have a risk of your stick getting caught in one of the holes. Some hi-hats have very small holes, so that issue doesn’t come up. 

Crash Cymbals

Crash cymbals are the most common type of cymbal where you’ll find holes. These are often referred to as trash crashes, and they’re extremely popular. The sound is in the name, as these cymbals tend to sound very trashy

The amount of trashiness they have in their tone depends on how many holes there are in the cymbal. The more holes there are, the shorter and more aggressive the sound is. 

Some trash crashes only have a few holes, so they only have a hint of trashiness to them, and many drummers prefer that sound. 

You’ll also find cymbals with circular holes, while others have holes that are slightly different in their shape. Those shapes also affect how the cymbals sound

Splash Cymbals

Splash cymbals are also a very common cymbal type to have holes in. The whole idea behind splash cymbals that range from 6” to 12” is that they have short, high-pitched tones that are very punchy. When a splash cymbal has holes in it, you get a bit of trashiness that makes it even punchier

As with crash cymbals, splash cymbals with holes in them are typically referred to as trash splashes. It’s a fun name to say! 

Not everyone is a fan of splash cymbals, though. If you don’t like splashes and don’t want them in your drum kit setup, you probably won’t feel any different about trash splashes. 

Ride Cymbals

Ride cymbals are the only cymbal type that you won’t easily find ones with holes in them. The reason for this is that ride cymbals are intended to mostly be played on the surface, and having holes in the cymbal makes that very challenging. 

The holes are also mainly intended to add to the crashing sound of a cymbal, and that’s usually not the main purpose of a ride cymbal. 

The closest thing you’ll find to a ride cymbal with holes is a crash cymbal with holes that is 19” or 20”. 

China Cymbals

One of the more unique effects that holes have on china cymbals is that they make them a lot louder. All the loudest china cymbals on the market have holes in them, so that’s what you should be looking for if you want an impactful china cymbal that will cover the whole stage with its sound. 

China cymbals are trashy on their own, but the hole add even more trashiness, and they cut down the resonance. Overall, this gives you an extremely punchy china that fades fairly quickly after hitting it, but the volume will be very impressive. 

Cymbal Stacks

Cymbal stacks include two or three cymbals that you stack together to create a unique sound. Drummers often create them using their own cymbals, but cymbal companies also sell premade ones. 

Most premade cymbal stacks include at least one cymbal with holes in it. Effects cymbals tend to work best with cymbal stacks, as the holes in the cymbals allow air to flow through to the bottom or top cymbal.  

The sound you get from a cymbal stack depends on which cymbals are being used, but the common tone across all of them is a short and trashy sound. By now, you would have realized that all cymbals with holes have trashy sound characteristics.

Best Cymbal Series Options from Different Brands


Meinl has a wide range of trashy cymbals with holes in them. The best thing about the brand is that they offer these cymbals at all price ranges. You get trash crashes in the entry-level HCS line, and you get high-end trash crashes and stacks in the Artist Concept Model line. All these cymbals have various hole shapes and sizes to create different tones. 

You’ll find that Meinl have the most options on the market when it comes to cymbals with holes. Here are a few excellent ones that we recommend: 


Most of Zildjian’s cymbals with holes fall under their EFX line. There aren’t nearly as many options as Meinl, but these cymbals sound incredible. There are also a few stacks that the brand makes with holes in the cymbals that sound very punchy and effective. 

Here are our top picks: 


Sabian was the first major cymbal company to push the marketing on cymbals with holes, so many drummers believe them to be the brand that pioneered the way for all the others when it comes to effects cymbals. 

Their most popular cymbals with holes are the O-Zone line. The Holy Chinas are also incredibly popular cymbals from the brand. 

Here are a few good options from Sabian: 


Most of Paiste’s cymbals with holes are part of the brand’s PST X line. The best thing about these is that most of them are very affordable, but they all sound fantastic. If you want inexpensive effects cymbals, Paiste is one of the best brands to find what you’re looking for. 

Here are some of our favorite picks from that line: 

Should You Have an Effects Cymbal in Your Setup?

It all depends on what sounds you’re going for. Many drummers prefer the traditional sounds of cymbals, and if that sounds like you, you probably won’t like the idea of having an effects cymbal in your setup. 

Effects cymbals are very useful in modern music, though. If you play styles like hip-hop and pop, then having an effects cymbal to play is almost essential. Drummers who play these styles also heavily utilize stack cymbals. 

You’ll find that effects cymbals often sound bad to the ears when you listen to them on their own. They sound a lot better in combination with your drums and other cymbals, so we highly suggest you listen to them in that setting before deciding to get one or not.

Low Volume Cymbals

The final type of cymbals with holes that we need to mention is low volume cymbals. These cymbals have an entirely different purpose compared to effects cymbals, as they have dozens more holes that are intended to reduce their volume

They’re not meant to be used along with other cymbals within a standard acoustic kit. The purpose behind them is that you can use them to practice without bothering your neighbors with the loud sounds of cymbals. They feel the same as playing normal cymbals, but most of them are up to 80% softer. 

Drummers will usually get low volume cymbals along with low volume drumheads to create a quiet practice setup.

Final Thoughts on Cymbals with Holes

Cymbals with holes both look and sound great in most drummers’ eyes. They’re something that you need to try out to see if you like them. If you’re someone who likes cymbal stacks, you’ll love cymbals with holes.

If you want the traditional cymbal sounds that are bright and sweet, you may not be too fond of the trashiness that they bring to the table. 

If you’re open to it, it’s a good idea to have at least one effects cymbal in your setup. It will add a lot of character to your overall cymbal sound. 

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