Guide to Sabian Cymbals

The amount of cymbals produced by Sabian has the potential to boggle the mind. With this handy guide, we've discussed the key benefits of each series - helping you select the cymbals that are ultimately best for you!



Sabian have developed a well-founded reputation for delivering cymbals which provide drummers with an incredible range of different sounds to choose from, while still remaining incredibly affordable. For over 30 years they’ve crafted hi-hats, crashes, rides and effects cymbals suitable for both the beginner drummer and professionals alike – stretching from the Artisan and AAX series, through to the HH and HHX range. No matter your budget or skill level, Sabian have got your percussion needs covered.

The History of Sabian

The company was founded in Canada during 1981 by none other than Robert Zildjian, who decided that there wasn’t enough choice or variety for drummers when it came to selecting cymbals. Utilising his years of experience and contacts in the percussion business, Sabian was born.


In the ensuing years, Sabian have become a leading innovator in the design and production of cymbals, granting drummers around the world a versatile selection that rivals and exceeds many competing brands offerings. From more traditional, vintage and modern, to dark, bright and everything in between, the amount of tones and styles on offer is truly mind boggling.


Just some of the drummers endorsed by Sabian include Ben Johnston (Biffy Clyro), Phil Collins, Jojo Mayer, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Chad Smith (RHCP); proving Sabian’s pedigree and reliability is alive and well in the fiercest of drumming arenas!

The Sabian AAX Series Cymbals

Style: Crisp & Clear, Highly Playable.


The AAX is arguably one of the brands most popular series and its easy to see why. A highly playable surface and a bright, crisp sound makes the AAX range a perfect choice for pop and metal drummers alike. No matter the genre or musical scenario, the AAX will thrive. This is in part due to the use of B20 in their construction – the most commonly used type of bronze - which leads to an extremely wide frequency range.

The Highlights

AAX 18" Frequency Crash


Sabian have refined an exclusive, dual-lathing process which results in a crash that not only looks unique, but sounds it too. It will cut through any mix, with each hit instantly returning an explosion of hi-frequency tone of astounding clarity. This massive sound fills any space with clear, punctuating sound that will benefit any recording or live show.


AAX 14" Thin Hats


A new hammering style has produced a thinner, darker pair of hi-hats which retain a hint of brightness in the top end. The smaller bell (crisp and tight) lends to their versatility, making them an absolutely ideal choice when it comes to recording in a studio environment.

The Sabian Artisan Series Cymbals

Style: Traditional, warm & dark.


The Artisan series will bring a darker, richer sound to your playing. A more traditional feel and sound is on offer across the board, with crashes that add warmth and dirt, and rides that sizzle with every single strike. The premium nature of these cymbals ensures that their natural or brilliant finishes look just as good as they sound.

The Highlights

Artisan Elite 20" Ride


Handmade using techniques harking back to the days of traditional cymbal making, this ride has been meticulously pored over at every stage of its creation. The dirty look is reflected in the low-pitched sound; dark, deep and powerful. When using the lower profile bell, you’ll find a woodier tone that integrates well with the sound of the overall cymbal. This prevents any jarring contrast occurring when switching between the different sections –something which you’ll sometimes find with other ride cymbals.

The Sabian HH Series Cymbals

Style: Dirty & Dark.


The HH range are viewed by some as the black sheep of the Sabian cymbal family, which isn’t to say that they don’t deliver on their promise. Heavy hand hammering has produced a traditional set of cymbals which remain tonally complex, with a darker, dirtier sound. The finishes and unique embellishments also give them a visual flair and individuality which you won’t find in many other places.

The Highlights

HH 14" Vanguard Hats


These lightweight, eye-catching hats boast a sharp and precise attack which lends itself well to funk and jazz especially. The seamless transition from open to closed brings welcome speed as well as two contrasting sounds. When closed, they produce a drier, closed stick sound, whereas when open, they project a meatier, thicker tone. This pairing of fast response and a complex, layered sound makes them a perfect, new component for your kit.

The Sabian AA Series Cymbals

Style: Durable & Loud, with a Vintage Sound.


AA cymbals will attack any type of music with gusto. The bright, vintage sound offers a fairly balanced mid-range pitch that lets it adapt especially well to hip-hop, punk, and classic rock. They are seriously loud and durable – making them an ideal choice for the hardest hitters out there. Dynamics remain important though; tightness and a controlled response allow you to cater to whatever drumming scenario you find yourself in.

The Highlights

AA 19" Holy China


Developed and designed in collaboration with RHCP drumming powerhouse Chad Smith, the Holy China (the loudest cymbal Sabian have ever made) is a monster in every sense of the word. This titanic sound is projected thanks to 51 holes, a large bell and a higher profile with a wide lip. A bright, explosive sound is emitted – ensuring that you’re guaranteed to stand out on stage!

The Sabian HHX Series Cymbals

Style: Cutting & Dark.


Sometimes you don’t expect darker cymbals to cut through as much as their brighter counterparts. In the case of the HHX series, that shouldn’t be a concern. These dark cymbals effectively penetrate through the wall of noise generated in a full band setting – letting your drumming do the talking.

The Highlights

HHX 18" Evolution Ozone


The Ozone isn’t your run of the mill crash cymbal. It has a bite to it that sets it apart. This is due to the perforated 2" holes which contribute towards a raw, dark sound which simmers and sizzles during and after it is hit. If you’re looking for a truly unique piece to add to your setup, this could just be it.

The Sabian XSR Series Cymbals

Style: Vintage leaning, budget cymbals.


The XSR range may be a budget price, but that doesn’t mean you’ll receive budget performance in return. Using the same B20 bronze as the brands most expensive cymbals, this series sits justifiably alongside the best affordable cymbals in the business. You get plenty of bang for your buck here. A vintage style is coupled with a bright pitch and a contrasting, darker sound across the range.

The Highlights

XSR 16" Fast Crash


A double-ring O-Zone hole construction has resulted in a dark crash with increased attack, enhanced white noise and a more sensitive response. When played, it explodes with a brightness and balance that makes it incredibly raw and aggressive.


XSR 19" Monarch


The XSR Monarch contains all of the characteristics you’d expect from its namesake. It has an unrivalled presence and power that promises a big, memorable, loose sound. It features a range of pitch and improved crash-ability that means it is an extremely well-rounded ride cymbal.

The Sabian FRX Series Cymbals

Style: Balanced, with Unique Frequency Reduction.


Damaging your cymbals? Finding that your recording/live microphones can’t handle your playing? The FRX series might be the ticket. These modern cymbals are very well balanced and are suited to a wide range of performance and studio applications. They’re never overwhelmingly loud – no matter how hard you actually hit them. Annoying your bandmates will be a thing of the past.

The Highlights

FRX 18" Crash


This extra-thin crash brings a soft, precise feel and a shimmering response to proceedings. It works in the same way as the rest of the range, by cleverly reducing certain frequencies, which changes how yourself and others perceive the volume. This lets it sit snugly in any mix, making it ideal for use during standard live gigs, as well as in churches and schools.

The Best of the Rest



In conjunction with Rush drumming legend, Neil Peart, the brand has conceived a range of vintage styles that sound bright, powerful and articulate - just like the man himself.




Made using the finest Turkish cymbal crafting techniques, Crescent cymbals are traditional, durable and highly reliable pieces of equipment.




Aimed at the beginner drummer, while not compromising on quality and sound. A special hammering technique manages to increase projection and the amount of bright tones on offer.



Another series that’s perfect if you’re just starting out on your drumming journey, these cymbals are built from brass and are really fun to play.  




SR2’s are Sabian B20 cymbals that have been returned to the company from store displays, trade shows and artist loans. After a detailed inspection, the cymbals are lovingly refurbished and made available to the public at a competitive price point.


What are the best sabian cymbals for beginners/on a budget?

If you’re thinking about learning the drums and are considering making your first cymbal purchase, or you’re working within a strict budget, its worth thinking about a few things before taking the plunge. Firstly, do you buy individual cymbals or do you buy specific ones? Secondly, take into account how soon you might want to, or need to, upgrade your set. It may be worth shelling out a little bit more now to avoid having to update your cymbals earlier.


The most cost-effective solution however, is to buy a starter pack. Sabian offer the B8X performance and complete sets, as well as the SBR performance and promotional sets. These package together hi-hats, crash cymbals and rides at an extremely affordable price. They contain everything you’ll need to get your drumming off to a good start.


If you’re willing to shell out a little more, then its worth taking a look at the AA and HH ranges, which provide you with a bit more for your initial investment.

What is each Cymbal range made from? What does this effect?

The AAX, HHX, FRX, AA, HH, XSR, Artisan, Paragon, and SR2 series are all made from B20. This bronze metal is the most commonly used material when it comes to cymbal manufacturing. It provides you with the widest possible frequency range and is found in both dark and bright sounding cymbals. The versatility of the material means that B20 cymbals appear in (and suit) just about all types of music, from pop and jazz, to rock and metal.


The B8X range consists of cymbals produced using B8 bronze. It is largely used in the creation of entry-level, budget cymbals. However, this doesn’t mean that they lack quality. This metal produces a bright and focused sound which will suit any kind of genre; an ideal feature when you’re just starting out.


The SBR series is built from brass. Brass is not as common as bronze in cymbals, and is usually utilised for extremely budget cymbals (e.g. similar to the ones that you sometimes receive when purchasing a starter kit). This means they are perfect as a first affordable purchase which you will probably then upgrade at a later date.

Which Series is best for me?

This all ultimately depends on what tones and sound you are looking for and how much you want to spend. Each of the different ranges offer qualities that may be more suited to your budget, personal drumming style and/or the genre(s) of music you usually play.


For example, do you want a cymbal that projects a brighter tone or a darker one? Are you a heavy hitter that needs cymbals which will stand up to regular punishment? Is a budget selection more appropriate for you at this point? Are you searching for that perfect cymbal for heavy-metal? Its worth scrutinising each of the above series sections and deciding which one suits you the most. Only you can really decide!

Should I buy cymbals from the same series or can I mix and match?

If you’re searching for a unified, consistent cymbal sound, then it makes sense to select your cymbals from the same series. This will help tie the sound of your kit together and keep it sounding balanced, no matter which section you are playing. However, it can sometimes vary your tones further if you select contrasting cymbals and mix and match your hi-hats, crashes, rides and effects.