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Cleaning your Cymbals - Drum Building and Repair
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Cleaning your Cymbals
Cleaning your Cymbals
Published by full metal
Cleaning your Cymbals

Cleaning your cymbals is somthing that ever drummer has to do every now and then to keep them clean and to make them look a lot better for showing off your drums or when you are playing live.
But cleaning them can be time consuming and a whole lot of very hard work.
I am going to take you thru things that I have done over the years and tell you what worked and what didnt.

What the your cymbal should look like.

I know that all of use should know what a cymbal should look like but I will put this in here anyways.
Your cymbals should a nice bright reflective bronze color. Some of theme will show a good reflection while others wont, If it has any dull coloring to it or even a lot of finger prints and smuges your cymabl is dirty.


Here are some of the cleaners that I have used over the years.
Brasso- Brasso works great but it is super messy and you are going to have to work at it very hard to get not only the grime out of the metal but also just trying to get it off after it has dried. Brasso is a liquid and when you put it on it is going to run off of the cymbal and on to the floor and it will stain most carpets and clothes. Once on the cymbal you can use a soft cloth tho rub it into the metal but I am here to tell you that because of the groves on the cymbal I always used a tooth brush, It would normally get down into the grooves really well. When you scrub it if it isnt turning a blackish green color you arnt done cleaning it. You then need to let it dry and when it becomes flaky and hard then you need to take a sof cloth to it and start buffing it out.
This process is going to hurt your hands a lot in the long run.
I once tryed using a car buffer on there with some nice soft pads. Here to say that it kinda worked but you have to really work hard at it because you are trying to get it out of those grooves.

Never Dull- Never dull is a favoret with the military and has been for a long time, I will boast about this stuff for a long time it is really easy to use and works great, only downfall to it is that it can be a little hard to find sometimes.
I have found it at normal grocrey stores before but a lot of them wont carry it but is out there I swear.
Never dull comes in a can and inside instead of a liquid it is cloth, it is a wet cloth that already has the cleaning agent in it. All you have to do with it is tear off a peice and it dosnt have to be real big just big enough to be able to scrub with a few fingers on it, and then just start to follow the grooves on the cymbal. As with the brasso you have to keep scrubbing untill it turns black on the surface of the cymbal, once you have gone all the way around(if you are on the floor be carful with the outside edge of the cymbal on the carpet It could stain it) let dry for maby 10-15 min and go back with an old soft rag and start srubbing following the grooves again and keep polishing untill you have a nice shine to it.

Cleaning them

When you start to clean them I sugest either starting at the bell and working your way outward or starting at the outer edge and working your way inward.
But dont just start in the middle because after you get enough polish on there is can be hard to see where you might have stoped ofr some reason or what you have already polished.
You want to follow the groove all the way around and not make circle motions like you would on your car with wax, and if it helps on bigger cymbals is to just do a section at a time.
And one other thing that works really well sometimes when you are cleaning the bottom of the cymbal is to just sit it in your lap and place a towel on your legs to help keep it steady and to keep from getting any polish on your clothes.


I know a lot of us like to keep the lables on our cymbals, but the question is why? becaue it looks really cool or because we want to show of what we got?
Whatever the reason I am here to tell you that polishing your cymbals is going to take them off over time and I have seen some come off almost instantly with some cleaners (brasso) but if you are kinda like me and been playing a long time they dont mean as much after a while and sometimes with some cleaners it will give them an almost faded look which in my opinon looks kinda cool almost like a vintage look to them, but the bottom line is that cleaning them is going to take them off and there isnt much you can do about it.
there are a few things you can do to keep them on though. one is not to clean around the area of them but then your cymbals look kinda weird and the other thing that have heard other people doing is to make tracing of what is already on there and making a cut out and after they get all the old lables off, they would then go and paint new lables on there. I am not sure what kinda paint that they were using or how well it had worked but I knw people have done it before.

Final polishing

For the final polishing I stated to use my dremal with a very soft polishing cloth and using it on there to get a really nice shineand it will also make sure that you got some of the polish you might have missed in the grooves and it can give it bit more of a shine to it.

There are a few things that I want to try and things I have tryed to keep that nice shine to it.
Incase some of you dont know most name brand cymbals come from the factory with a special coating on them to keep them shiny longer but once it wears off is when your cymbals will start to show more grim and finger prints.
My understanding is that this coating is some kinda trade secret and they dont want it getting out.
One of the things that I have tried before is armor all (you know the tire cleaner) it will help with some small cleaning of your cymbals and keep them cleaner longer but the down fall is that it leaves a oily reseude on them make it hard to hold them for say if you where putting them on or off the stands and it make stick marks show up a little bit more on rides and some crashes.

The next thing I am going to try using here in the very near future is a light coating of a floor wax.
We found years ago in the military that after you shine your boots you could put floor wax on the tips and it gives them a great shine and keeps it on there for a while, but the downfall was that after a while it would start to flake off, I am thinking it is going to do that on the cymbals as well or maby worse because of the vibrations but I guess only time will tell.

I know that I didnt talk about some other cleaners on the market but I have not used them and have only heard about some of them like the zildjian cream but my understanding is that it is just like the brasso in that it is more of a liquid and very messy and anouther one that I have been told works very well is bar keeps freind (thanks Drummermom) but still I have never used it so I dont know how well it works.
I am going to start trying some other products and will list results on here as I try them.

Well I guess last but not least is that cleaning your cymbals is hard work and I dont htink it matter what you use it is hard with any product but some eiser than others.
I hope that this has been helpfull for you all and helped you keep them shiny and shimmering.
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By slingerland59 on 11-20-2008, 10:29 AM
Re: Cleaning your Cymbals

I don't know, Groove Juice is way easier than any of these methods. You spray it on, work it in with a brush if the cymbal's really old, and rinse it off...very little mess, very little fuss. I suppose the argument may be that it's way too harsh, but aren't all the other cleaners harsh too? I think the trick is just not to overclean the cymbals. But I had some grimy, tarnished, 15 year-old cymbals and one application of Groove Juice brought them back to life.
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By paperdice on 02-11-2009, 04:03 PM
Re: Cleaning your Cymbals

wow that was helpful
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By mighty gaz on 02-12-2009, 04:33 PM
Re: Cleaning your Cymbals

got to agree with Slingerland59 - Groove juice is easiest by far. I've tried Barkeepers friend, if you don't get it all off totally you get "tarnished" marks.
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By bigstix on 04-01-2009, 06:42 AM
Re: Cleaning your Cymbals

Originally Posted by mighty gaz View Post
got to agree with Slingerland59 - Groove juice is easiest by far. I've tried Barkeepers friend, if you don't get it all off totally you get "tarnished" marks.
Can't recall the name, but I believe it was under the Slingerland banner. A tin of "wad" that had the cleaning agent in it. After applying as already stated in other posts, rinse off in warm NOT HOT warm water. Then, cut a lemon in half and rub around the tone grooves. DO NOT LEAVE THE LEMON JUICE ON. Juice stays on only as long as it takes you to again make your way to the bathroom to thoroughly rinse cymbal in warm water. Buff with a soft cloth and if you must use a buffer...be careful not to generate any real heat as this can leave dead spots on the cymbal. I've been using this method for over thirty years. It works for me. Cheers.
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By Damo on 04-01-2009, 09:01 PM
Re: Cleaning your Cymbals

Heres my method that has been working well for me for over 3 years now.

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