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Spray painting drum cymbals.

I thought it would nifty to paint my cymbals to match my drumset...

how do you think this would affect the sound and performance of the cymbals?



Member Mon, 02/26/2007 - 20:39
The trumpet body is a resonant chamber. The buzzing is the voice. Simple, like a person yelling in a quonset. The person makes the sound, the enclosure shapes and enhances it.

Oh, and I think spray painting cymbals is a craptacular idea, unless you're going to be hanging them on a wall or something. With spray paint's mass and finish I think you'll achieve dull sound rather than a darker sound. I've done my share of experimenting with/destroying instruments.

BobRogers Tue, 02/27/2007 - 06:42
I'm in the office now with four books in front of me on the physics of musical instruments. (All overdue by the way - better do something about that.) I definitely don't qualify as an expert in this, so let me separate some of the things that are clear to me, from what is a bit fuzzy while replying to Jeremy.
Cucco wrote: ....There seems to be a misconception of how a brass instrument works. It is not merely the vibrating column of air which makes the sound. It is a symbiotic relationship between the air and direct coupling of vibration (lip buzzing into mouthpiece into metal). ...[snip]...One of the cool tools they [Lawson Horns] have is a speaker which has been mounted to a mouthpiece which allows a repeatable signal (vibration) to be passed into a horn and measured. Bear in mind, there is VERY little vibration of air involved in this procedure and a very recognizable horn sound emerges from the bell.

My point about the air coming out the bell was to state that:
1 - the air does in fact pass through the entire instrument
2 - It is not merely the vibration of the air which creates the sound.
The speaker demonstration shows that point 1 (while true) doesn't mean much in the production of sound. The speaker replaces lip buzzing as the driving generator of vibration. There is a lot of vibration going on because you are forcing the system at a resonant frequency. There is just no flow of air through the horn. Flow is an irrelevant byproduct of using lip bus to drive the internal vibration of the air column.

All of the books I am looking at (and as far as I can tell, Lawson's calculations as well) treat the vibrating column of air as the only factor in determining the basic notes and overtone series of the horn. The lip buzz drives the notes, but the shape of the mouthpiece, tube, and bell determine the notes and the overtones. In fact, the calculations assume the walls of the horn are rigid (though some of the books talk about adding minor correction terms to make up for the fact that this is only approximately true).

The role of the bell in coupling the vibrating column of air to outside air is crucial, but the books are far less clear on how this works. The bell is referred to as an "impedance matching device" but they don't say how much is related to its shape and how much to it's vibration characteristics. There is a good deal of material on bell design, and the info is probably in there, but it would require a good deal of study for me to understand this. That the shape of the bell is crucial is clear from the original calculations which assume the bell is rigid. How much the vibration of the bell contributes to the projection of the sound is much less clear to me.
To suggest that the air is the single greatest component in the sound is counter to all of my personal experiences. For example, the simple changing of a bell flair (the last 10% of the metal on a horn) can completely change the entire sound of the instrument. This isn't voodoo or subjective - this is accepted fact.
What is clear from my reading is that the vibrations of the column of air is the single greatest factor determining the fundamental notes and the overtone series. The primary factors determining this are the shape of the horn (all parts) and the driving frequency. The factors involved with transferring the energy of this vibration to the surrounding are far less clear to me.

I think it is a very common tendency of musicians to take the basic physics of their instrument for granted and focus on the aspect that determine the fine details. You can make a valveless horn with a mouthpiece, a length of plastic tube, and an appropriately shaped tin funnel. Yes it would sound awful, but it would produce the proper notes and overtone series. You have always been able to take that as a given and focus on factors like the metal used in construction which produces the fine differences between instruments. Has that affected your ideas about the basic factors that produce sound?

audiokid Tue, 02/27/2007 - 08:14
Actually, about 30 years ago, when Santana used that Yamaha guitar with all that brass... I figured that was how he got all that sustain so I wanted to do that too.

I went to a antique shop and bought a brass kick plate (a brass plate located on old doors to protect shoes from damaging doors). I cut this thing up (like the shape of a work boot) and placed it between my bridge.

To make a long story short, I used NGI stain (non grain raising stain). Its an alcohol based product. You have to sand (lightly scuff) the brass a bit in order for it (anything) to stick. A very fine coating of lacquer to follow. My brass was deep purple and it looked pretty cool at that time.

Cucco Tue, 02/27/2007 - 10:14
Bob -

A lot of your statements are very correct. However, I stress again that it is not merely the column of air which is the key component of the sound. By "sound" I mean, pitch, timbre AND amplitude.

Pitch is determined by the air column as are, to a small degree, timbre and moreso amplitude.

However, the air column CAN exist without the instrument - it's called air-buzzing (buzzing sanz-mouthpiece - I do it as a warm up everyday.)

The air column generated here is the SAME air column as that inside the instrument with the only exception being that *in* the horn, it is bouncing off of (and consequently vibrating) the metal that is the instrument.

It is this relationship which causes timbre and tone and to a degree (depending upon the vibratory properties of that metal) amplitude.

My point at the very beginning of this was that the metal's vibrations are what produce the sound and I stand behind that point. Take away the metal (replace with plastic as you propose) and you merely have the sound of buzzing (I've done it. In fact, we've made "garden hose horns" using a garden hose and a funnel. What you get is the sound of buzzing mouthpieces. It certainly didn't "notch" any specific overtones (some were present, but certainly not strong). We used a section of hose 9' in length approximating a Bb instrument.)

So again, if you look at this as a simple equation:

buzzing(vibration) + air + sympathetic vibrations = desired sound

it all seems to make sense.

However, it's not quite that simple.

Buzzing (vibration) + sympathetic vibrations = close to desired sound (but does not equal no sound)

In other words, the subjective sound of the instrument (the timbre, projection, quality, amplitude) is created by the vibration of the metal.

In a woodwind instrument, this is completely different. The majority of the sound IS in fact created by a perturbed flow of air.

Remember, the whole point here was whether or not the cymbal would be affected by paint and my point was that horns are but not significantly. The fact is, the metal DOES vibrate (significantly at that) and that is what provides the "tone" and "timbre" of the instrument.

I am definitely not debating with you the fact that the air column plays a major role and that it is in fact the catalyst or proximate cause of those vibrations. My only argument is that all three components (initial vibration/buzzing, air column, vibrating metal) bear equal responsibility in the production of sound. (Take ANY of the 3 of those away from the equation or even substitute another variable and you end up equally non-usable sound - thus all are equal)

Bob wrote:
I think it is a very common tendency of musicians to take the basic physics of their instrument for granted and focus on the aspect that determine the fine details.
Quite possibly true, however, I've studied the acoustical physics of my instrument with great fervor.

Cheers -


Member Thu, 03/01/2007 - 01:25
multoc wrote: you'd be an idiot to do that. the coating that paiste did for joey jordison was not even permanent as spray painting would be. leave your expensive cymbals alone u dumbass cymbals are shiny leave them be

Heres the problem.

First off, I have crappy B8s, and not only are they inexpensive, but they sound awful.

Secondly, they not only sound way to bright, but... god damn it, shiny things scare me!

Right now, i have them tightened SO much to get rid of the extremely ugly shimmer they have. Worst decaying cymbals I've ever heard.

maybe the mass of the paint would stop this a lil bit?

BobRogers Thu, 03/01/2007 - 05:19
A bottle of lacquer thinner is a couple of bucks, so this is an easy thing to undo. (Just be careful when applying lacquer based spray paint or removing spray paint with lacquer thinner. Very toxic. Very flammable.) The one big negative is that the logos are definitely gone, so your resale is way down.

I've tried lots of things to try to tame down bright cymbals - including gaffer tape. Nothing much has worked besides buying better cymbals. But then again, this may be an improvement. M guess is that the most you could lose here is a little time and some of the resale value of the cymbals. It's up to you.

drumist69 Thu, 03/01/2007 - 19:33
Just save some money and buy better cymbals? If price is a factor, the Sabian X20 series is cheap and sound close to Zildjian A's. I got an 18" X20 crash for $80 new when I was on the road and in a bind with a cracked Zildjian A. Sounded similar, quality-wise, but quieter, not as full. Still, not bad for the money. ANDY

audiokid Sun, 02/25/2007 - 13:42
We need Remy on this one...

IMHO, a really bad idea, but if you are more interested in looks and not actually using them, I guess its cool. Paint may stick for a short while... until you hit them with a stick.

Wooden cymbals would paint really welll and last much longer. You could even add some trim around them and paint those another color.:lol:

drumist69 Sun, 02/25/2007 - 13:50
How would it affect the sound? Badly. The coating of paint would choke the cymbal's sustain. Paiste used to make a "Colorsound" line back in the 80's I remember. I don't know what they used to color the cymbals, but I bought a black crash cymbal, because I was in high-school, and thought it looked neat. Thing cracked within 3 months. Which brings up another point. If you choke the cymbal's natural vibration, you're most likely shortening its life by adding stress to the metal. Unless you want to do this for looks with cheap cymbals only for a video shoot or something, I would think its a bad idea. ANDY

BobRogers Sun, 02/25/2007 - 14:08
I was going to pile on with the "really bad idea" response, but then I thought about all of the logos that are spray painted on by the makers. I suppose it might be possible to do it without killing the sound, but I really doubt that it would be worth the time and effort to do all the experiments. At any rate, I've been convinced I can hear a difference in sound when I've cleaned a gunky cymbal, and paint qualifies as gunk in my book. I guess I might try it on a cymbal I thought was too wet, but not on a whole set.

audiokid Fri, 04/03/2015 - 20:56
I wonder is the OP ever followed through with this one. I can't imagine ever painting cymbals and not ending up with cured paint flying all over the place from the vibrations. I don't recall anyone mentioning this

So, enough time has passed where I'm betting this was a cool until the sticks started flying.

Member Sun, 02/25/2007 - 15:25
gunky cymbals can also get that dark sound some people are interested. I purposely dont clean my cymbals because I dont like bright and crisp.

consider this though:

when you buy a cymbal it usually has a logo or brand painted on it. Maybe if you paint the cymbal with whatever they use to do that logo...'

or maybe just because the logo is small and very thin (usually comes off after a couple polishes), it doesnt matter.

who knows.

Cucco Sun, 02/25/2007 - 17:54
Interesting topic.

I must say, in the brass-playing world, there is MUCH heated debate as to the merits of lacquer on an instrument. (One camp suggests that the lacquer is so thin that it has little to no impact on the sound and protects the instrument from tarnish and premature wear. The other camp suggests that the lacquer deadens the sound and is willing to live with the tarnish.)

That being said, I'm in the latter of those two camps and recently unlacquered my own personal instrument. (Something that the guy who made my horn would absolutely freak out about since he's in that first camp).

Anyway...after unlacquering my horn, I noticed a tiny difference. That difference was not noticed by anyone else in my section.

Of course, the principle in which both cymbals and brass instruments make sound is exactly the same. The only difference is that the surface area of my horn is at least double that of a large crash cymbal.

In other words, I say go for it. The difference should be negligible at best.

Cheers -