Video: Choosing the Right Hi-Hats for Your Style

In recent months, groove guru Jessica Burdeaux has been stopping by the Reverb studio to help you build a drum kit, breaking down what you should look for in everything from your kick drum to your snare to your ride cymbal.

Today, she’s adding a missing piece to the set, diving into the dynamic duo that can bark, bite, click, and snap: the hi-hats. In the video above, she explains the broad qualities you should look for in different hi-hats and gives specific examples based on what genre (or genres) of music you play. Follow along with her choices below.

Classic Rock


To match the big guitar riffs and solos of rock, a brighter, bolder option for hi-hats is desirable. The Paiste 15” 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hats deliver in spades. Crafted with a B8 alloy that affords a higher fundamental pitch, this set has a grooved edge on the bottom hat to prevent air lock, produce a tighter chk, and add more wash when open.

Alternate Options: Meinl 14” MB10 Medium Soundwave, Zildjian 14” S Series Mastersound

‘50s & ‘60s Rock


For those after the smooth, sedate sounds of throwback doo-wop acts and those early Beatles recordings, you can’t go wrong with a pair of 14” Avedis Zildjian hats. Lighter and washier, a pair of Avedis anywhere from the ‘50s through the ‘70s also has that sweet touch of age for a mellower sound.

Alternate Options: Zildjian 14” A Avedis, Sabian 14" Crescent Hammertone

Punk/Metal


Here, it’s all about getting heard in the mix, so you need some cymbals that will stand up to the task. The Zildjian 14” New Beat Hi-Hats will aid you well in the journey for decibel dominance. The first cymbals designed with a high contrast in weight between top and bottom, these hats speak up while remaining versatile enough to be an industry-standard choice.

Alternate Options: Sabian 14” AA Medium, Meinl 14” Byzance Traditional Medium, Paiste 14” Signature Dark Crisp

Jazz


Dark, smoky, and full of atmosphere, complex cymbals are needed to match the varied nature of jazz drumming: that’s where the Istanbul Agop 14” Traditional Light Hi-Hats come in. Hand-hammered for a more buttery feel, Istanbul’s alloy also tends to be moodier and is still held as a gold standard for old-world Turkish cymbal-smithing.

Alternate Options: Paiste 14” Signature Dark Energy, Zildjian 14” K Light, Meinl 14” Byzance Jazz Thin

Funk/Fusion


Every note on a pair of hi-hats in the middle of a funk jam better jump right off the cymbal, and the dry profile of the Meinl 14” Sand Hi-Hats won't disappoint. Sporting a raw cymbal on top with a finished one on the bottom, the staccato bite of this pairing will have you grooving for days, with every note heard.

Alternate Options: Zildjian 14” K Custom Special Dry, Paiste 14” Masters Dark, Dream 14” Dark Matter


Once you've found the right set of hi-hats, learn the best way to build out the rest of your kit with our full series.

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