BesT Hi-Hat Cymbals

Ultimate Buying Guide

Introduction:

Hi hat cymbals are arguably the most important cymbals on your kit. They are one of your main tools to keep time and hold the band together. You can’t have a drum kit without a pair of hi hats, and some drum kit setups have ONLY hi hats. So, it is important to have a good pair of them. 

Hi hats come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ll discuss what qualities make them different, and I have compiled a list of some good pairs. 

What makes a hi hat cymbal great? 

A good pair of hi hats will be ones that fit your sound. Everyone has specific tastes and plays different types of music. So, your hi hats should help you fit in with that. 

Some hi hats will be great for metal, but they’ll be way too harsh for jazz. Cymbals have certain qualities such as being dark, bright, dry or washy. Certain qualities of cymbals lend better to certain styles of music. 

Most mid to high tier cymbals sound really good. So, if you see a pair of hi hats that is pricey, it should have a pretty decent sound. Most cheap hi hats don’t sound too great, especially ones that are made with weaker metals. However, there are a few entry-level pairs of hi hats that sound pretty decent. 

I have gone and picked out 6 pairs of hi hats that I think would be great in certain setups. Hopefully after seeing this list, you’ll have an idea of what hi hats will be good for you and what you need.

Table of Contents

The 6 Best Hi Hat Cymbals

Best Hi Hat for Jazz

The Meinl Byzance Extra Dry hi hats have a distinctively dry and defined tone. Their dryness means that they don’t have many overtones. They have a heavy bottom hat and an extremely thin top hat. The bottom hat gives a heavy “chick” sound, while the light top hat gives a dark stick response with no washiness. 

These hi hats are great for jazz, since the sound is distinct when played with the foot, and the dark, dry tone of the cymbals blends nicely into a mix of instruments. 

The raw, unlathed surface of the top hat also makes it look quite unique and aesthetic. 

Build Quality
99%
Performance
99%
Price to Value Ratio
94%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Premium performance
  • Unique sound
  • Excellent durability
  • Great for Jazz
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • None

Best Hi Hat for Funk

The Zildjian K Custom 14 1/4” Hybrid hi hats deliver a bright and solid sound. The brightness makes these hi hats cut through a mix and sit nicely in grooves. They are slightly bigger than 14”, making them sound big and powerful. 

The bottom cymbal features Zildjian’s Mastersound hybrid hammering, meaning it has mixed metals together to give it a unique sound. 

The loud and clean tone of these hi hats makes them a good choice for funk music. 16th notes played on these will be clear and distinct. 

Build Quality
97%
Performance
98%
Price to Value Ratio
92%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Loud and Clean
  • Powerful
  • Hybrid Hammering
  • Great for Funk
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Not so versatile

The Sabian HHX Click hats feature fully lathed bottoms and partially lathed tops, which result in plenty of control and articulation. These hi hats are known for having a very good “chick” sound, which is something you want from a hi hat! 

When played with the foot, they produce a crisp sound that isn’t too washy. When played half open with a stick, they give a warm tone that isn’t too overpowering. 

These hi hats are quite versatile and will fit well in most styles of music. 

Build Quality
94%
Performance
97%
Price to Value Ratio
93%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Lathed bottoms
  • Warm Tone
  • Crisp Sound
  • Versatile
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • None

Best Hi Hat for Rock

Zildjian’s New Beat hi hats are an extremely popular choice for a lot of drummers. They are bright, loud and quite durable. They have a traditional finish and look very clean in a cymbal setup. 

The heavy bottom hat gives these hi hats a solid “chick” sound and the brightness makes them seriously loud. These hi hats are advertised as versatile for any style of music, but they actually fit best in a rock setup. They cut through a mix of distorted guitars and heavy vocals. 

Build Quality
92%
Performance
95%
Price to Value Ratio
91%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Great all around Hi Hats
  • Good for Rock
  • Solid “Chic” Sound
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • To loud if you have a soft playing

Best Hi Hat for Metal

Meinl’s Medium Classic Custom hi hats are loud, aggressive and perfect for metal. They produce a loud, cutting “chick” sound that will be super present in any mix. The glassy character easily pierces through distorted guitars, so you don’t have to play too hard to be heard. 

They are made from B10 bronze, which is what gives them a loud, bright punch. The smooth golden finish also looks great in a cymbal setup. 

Build Quality
90%
Performance
93%
Price to Value Ratio
95%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Agressive Sound
  • Loud and Bright
  • Perfect for Metal
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Not versatile

Best Hi Hat for Beginners

Sabian’s B8 cymbals have been the most popular value for money entry-level cymbals on the market for a long time. The B8X series is an upgrade to that. The B8X hi hats are precision formed and lathed. They get hand hammered to produce a bright, tight sound with crisp stick and pedal response. 

The B8X hi hats are extremely affordable, making them one of the top options for beginners who need quality hi hats, but don’t want to spend too much. 

In regards to a beginner, these hi hats will work well in any style of music. Once you become more experienced, you might want to look for some better options. 

Build Quality
87%
Performance
89%
Price to Value Ratio
94%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Ideal for Beginners
  • Super affordable
  • Good value
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Lacks the quality of premium HiHats

Things To Consider:

How do you choose a hi hat cymbal? 

There are a few things you need to take into consideration. Your hi hats should fit the style of music you play. Heavy, bright hi hats work well in heavier styles of music such as metal and rock. Hi hats that are thin and dark work well for jazz. Hi hats that are clean and precise work well for funk, since you’ll be spending most of the time grooving on them. 

Certain hi hats will have a mixture of qualities that will make them versatile and fit in with any style of music. Would it not make sense just to get those then? Well no, because they still won’t cater as well to the music as a dedicated hi hat will. 

You should then decide how much you are willing to spend. Companies will sell hi hats in categories: entry-level, mid range and high tier. Each range will have a good selection of hi hats, obviously with the sound improving as the price increases. However, you will find some entry-level hi hats that sound really decent. You will also find some high tier hi hats that you just can’t stand the sound of. This all comes down to personal preference. 

Lastly, it’s advised to commit to a brand. Brands will design cymbals in a way that makes them work well with each other. So, a pair of Zildjian hi hats will sound good when paired with a certain Zildjian crash. If you ever hope to get an endorsement by a cymbal company in the future, they will appreciate that you have been loyal to them. 

What hi hat size should you get? 

Size really depends on personal taste. However, most hi hats are 14”, so that is a good place to start. Standard hi hats range from 13” to 16”. Any thing smaller than that would be considered as an effects cymbal, since it would add a unique sound and you wouldn’t play it all the time. 

If you want a higher pitched sound, then a pair of 13” hi hats would be a good option. This size works well for styles like funk, gospel and fusion. 

If you want a deep sound that sustains for longer, 15” or 16” hi hats would work well. These sizes work well for rock and jazz. 

If you’re not too sure, then just get a pair of 14” hi hats and they will do the trick. 

What is the best brand of hi hat cymbals? 

There are 3 main players in the cymbal world. They are Meinl, Zildjian and Sabian. None of them are better than the other, but these are the companies that constantly deliver high quality products. If you’re not too sure on what to get, then definitely pick from one of these. 

There are a few well-established smaller brands that are reliable such as Istanbul, Paiste and Soultone. 

Conclusion

With hi hats being the most important cymbal, it’s crucial that you choose a good pair for yourself. A pair that suits your style and adds to your voice. 

A drummer is never limited to just one pair though. Most professional drummers have different cymbals for different situations. So, you could get one really expensive pair, or split that cash and get a few pairs.  Or you can also consider buying a cymbal pack.

When you grow as a musician, your taste grows with you. Your hi hat taste will probably change over the years. Go out and buy yourself a good pair! 

 

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