What Are Bell Cymbals?

A concave-shaped bell cymbal is a small cymbal with a concave shape. This type of symbol is usually distinguished from the larger crash cymbal found on modern drum sets drummers. The bell cymbal, on the other hand, is considered an effects or accent cymbal, or a specialty cymbal that is not widely used. Bell cymbals are often used in the same way that flat crash cymbals are: to provide a rapidly decaying “crash” sound after a certain time frame, to help separate bars of drum music, or to otherwise punctuate drum rhythms.

The sounds that this type of cymbal produces are one of the reasons that it is called a bell cymbal. Different cymbals can produce different pitched tones, despite the fact that musicians don’t always talk about percussion instruments in terms of tone. Depending on the cymbal’s construction, some produce a higher-pitched or lower-pitched sound.

The shape of this cymbal is another reason why musicians refer to it as a bell cymbal. The flat, broad rim of a traditional cymbal is separated from the concave or “bell” portion near the middle a concave or “bell” portion. The flat area of a crash cymbal is where drummers typically strike it. There is no flat portion on bell cymbals, only a bell shape.

The bell cymbal is sometimes referred to as an accent cymbal, which is a smaller cymbal used in drum sets to complement a larger crash cymbal. Some bell cymbals will be stacked or otherwise combined so that the drummer can easily strike multiples in close proximity or at the same time. These cymbals have a distinct sound from the flatter crash cymbal, and many drummers who want more sound variety will include them in a complete drum set.

A bell cymbal can be used as a “ride” in addition to being used as a crash cymbal. On some drum sets, the ride cymbal replaces the hi hat; instead of producing a sharp, rapidly diminishing sound, it produces a longer, sustained sound that drummers can use to create a continuous, consistent cymbal sound throughout a bar of drum music. Although a bell cymbal cannot duplicate the sound of a closed hi hat, some bell cymbals that are sold as “bell ride cymbals” can provide effective ride sounds.