Mounting a splash cymbal should be easy, but I struggle with finding the right hardware to mount different splashes around my kit. Certain setups have worked over the years, so I wondered if there’s an easy way to determine what works best to mount a splash cymbal.
Splash cymbals are often played as accents that dance around larger cymbal and drum hits. I like to mount my splash cymbals close to my hi hat or in a place that facilitates movement around the drum set. Out of the way of larger cymbals and drums is a good start, yet other considerations like microphone placement or the added weight when hauling gear are also important.
Hardware can get expensive, especially if you don’t explore your options. You could end up buying one failed setup after another. I have certainly spent my fair share of money on hardware for cymbals, percussion, and drums, so here’s what I’ve learned over that last couple of decades.
1. What size is your splash cymbal?
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to the best sound. That’s a matter of personal preference. If you have a larger splash cymbal, like an 11” or 12”, you may want to consider the added space needed to play the cymbal.
Some boom arms reach far enough to get the larger splash away from a crash cymbal. You’ll want to decide whether coming off a cymbal stand from the vertical tubing is what works for you. This configuration is easier with a smaller splash cymbal because it doesn’t need as much clearance from nearby drums and cymbals. Otherwise, you would have to raise a larger splash over a nearby cymbal or get far enough away to stay clear.
Drummers like Carter Beauford raise their larger cymbals higher and out of the way of the array of splash cymbals and other effects he has in his arsenal. I’ve tried this approach with some luck, but I play a tighter setup than Carter and need to mount a splash with enough room to fit in a small patio space for a brunch gig.
2. Where do you want to place it?
Right. Left. Middle. Depending on where you want to mount a splash cymbal, you’ll need different hardware. You may need a long boom or only a short one. This may entail buying a boom with a built-in clamp or buying a boom with a separate clamp.
The right or lefts sides are fairly straight forward. I mount a splash cymbal off a cymbal stand that has a boom that can create space for both cymbals. If you want to mount a splash in the middle of the kit, it’s easiest with a rack system.
But whatever you do, avoid mounting the splash to the tom arms, especially if the toms are mounted to the kick drum. This creates so much extra unwanted vibration. For many players, they won’t care much. But for the time you decided to mic your kit and press record, the cymbal vibrates the tom heads and vice versa. It creates another problem that’s avoidable.
3. Do you have another splash cymbal?
Two splash cymbals opens up lots of new possibilities. I liked mounting them next to each other and sometimes one in the middle and one on the left. Wherever it made sense to play hi hat or fills and hit the two splashes one after another, I was happy.
With two cymbals, you may want to look at some of the mounts that work together. For example, Gibraltar has arms that clamp on booms as well as the tubing of the stand. I like the compact designs that the Gibraltar systems provide because there’s never enough room to get the cymbals exactly where I want them.
The Gibraltar spanner bar allows you to attach two booms on either side of a straight or boom stand. It’s like a mini rack, which I think would be perfect if you need to mount a splash cymbal in two places in proximity to one another.
4. Is a stack the way to go?
Up until now, we’ve been talking about how to mount splash cymbals to the sides of stands, but you can mount a splash cymbal to the top of your cymbal stand, too. In fact, it’s a huge saver of space, weight to transport, money.
The DW stacker is the first one that comes to mind because it’s the first one I saw on the market. It’s simple and inexpensive. Like any stacker, it slides onto the cymbal receiver after a cymbal and felt has been placed.
You’ll want to be careful not to damage the threads on the cymbal stand that receives the staker. It it finds any movement, it could wreak havoc on both the stand and stacker. These sorts of issues could be helped by buying a stacker from the same manufacturer as the stand upon which you’re placing it.
5. What if you have other setups that may require different placement?
Drummers with different setups to accommodate are usually gigging players. I have three different setups I use, depending on the venue or music. This could mean bringing larger drums and cymbals for rock gigs and smaller ones for jazz. Either way, I still like bringing at least one splash.
One thing I don’t like to do is change my cymbal arrangements around too much. My dilemma around choices to mount a splash center on the fact that I don’t like to take heavy hardware loads to gigs. This often means using straight stands, not booms, which also means my splash is mounted to a stand with a crash much closer to the splash than I would like.
The best solution I’ve found is to raise up the crash a bit and use a longer boom attachment to mount a splash.
6. Have you thought about inverting the splash on a crash cymbal?
This is one of my favorites on the list. It only requires an extra felt. I’ve even ripped a felt in half to make it two. Once the felts are ready, flip your splash upside down, and place it on the felt above your crash, ride, or other splash, to name a few options.
I’ve seen drummers with several splashes inverted on cymbals like a flat ride, crash, or china swish. These splashes are often smaller ones, but I don’t think the size matters too much.
7. Will your splash keep you from placing microphones?
Microphones often have to fight for space around the cymbals and hardware. The two schools of thought that I;ve learned are:
- Drummers are responsible for keeping their cymbals high enough away from the microphones, and
- Sound engineers are responsible for rigging microphones to capture the setup that drummers choose.
Both of these ideas have merit, but, as a drummer who does his own sound engineering, I move the cymbals out of the way and place mic stands where they work best. For example, the snare drum mic can get in the way of where I like to mount a splash cymbal. I place the mic for the snare and then adjust the hardware for the splash.
I’ve found that buying hardware for splash cymbals is about having options. Working from the bottom up, like in the snare mic example, makes it is easier when the ratchet features allow more movement options. I like the Gibraltar booms that have a ratchet on the boom arm, of course, and one at the clamp.