The 4 Best Flat Ride Cymbals – Reviews 2023

flat ride cymbal

Photo by Polmuadi / CC BY

So why get a flat ride cymbal? Well, not other cymbal gives you the tight control of a flat ride. The dry tone was a huge part of the Latin-inspired jazz sound of the ’60s. For a sonic reference, think Roy Haynes on Chick Corea’s Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. They’re excellent for small-group jazz because they provide a softer and more subtle ride tone than the traditional bell design.

Some modern flat ride cymbals will give you a very dry tone, while others will have a bit more shimmer and decay. While they’re not as common as other cymbal styles, there are still quite a few excellent options out there, in an array of sizes and styles. Check out the products below to see our favorite flat rides—one of them just might be the perfect addition to your kit.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best flat ride cymbals on the market:

Zildjian K 20” Light Flat Ride Cymbal

If you want a flat ride with the driest tone possible, the Turkish-made flat rides should be at the top of your list. The light flat ride cymbal from Zildjian’s K line is hammered ultra thin, using the same traditional techniques they employ on other cymbals in the line. The result is a tone that’s both dark and defined—dry when you ride it but still capable of a good wash when you crash it.

Even when you’re using a quieter cymbal, you sometimes want to have an explosive moment. That’s one thing we love about the Zildjian K flat ride. The sound completely changes when you lay into it, with a power and warmth that’s surprising in contrast. The only potential disadvantage of its light weight is it will sway more than you’re used to from a 20” ride cymbal. This can make it harder to control at first, but once you get used to it you’ll be amazed by how it plays.

K Zildjian 20" Light Flat Ride cymbal 1612g

Bosphorus Cymbals BP18FR 18-inch Flat Ride Cymbal

Bosphorus is another company you should look into if you’re going for that ultra-dry Turkish flat ride sound. Their Black Pearl series is a hybrid of the company’s unlathed Master Vintage and lathed Master series. This unique approach works especially well for the flat ride, which has a dark, shimmering tone that’s unlike any other cymbal on the list.

The Black Pearl is a showstopper, both in terms of looks and sound. It’s an innovative design with a distinctive dark finish. And the sound matches the finish, especially when you crash it—rich and shimmering with a quick decay. It’s a blast to play, too, super responsive to your stick and capable of a lot of different sounds once you start playing around with it. It gets high marks for both versatility and control, and it’ll look great on your kit, to boot. Hands down, this is one of the best flat ride cymbals for the money.

Bosphorus 18" Black Pearl Crash Cymbal (BP18C-1031015A)

Meinl Byzance 20-inch Jazz Club Flat Ride Cymbal with Rivets

The flat ride is most common on jazz kits, and the Byzance flat ride from Meinl is designed specifically with the needs of that genre in mind. It has the precision and dynamic control you want from a flat ride but with a warmer tone that has a bit more presence than the cymbals above. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a sound that’s softer than a normal ride but still has a decent sustain.

You can get the Meinl Jazz Club ride with or without rivets. The rivets add a bit of sizzle to the sound, although some people find they muddle the clarity of the attack and prefer the cleaner tone you get without them. Both versions are hand-hammered, with large hammer marks that give the tone its dark, almost velvety tone. It’s the perfect cymbal for a vintage jazz player, and the complexity of the tone makes it a versatile option for anyone who’s looking for a more subtle ride.

Soultone Cymbals Flat Ride CBR-FLRID20

Flat rides are a more specialized cymbal, and that often translates to a higher price tag. The budget-conscious drummer might want to check out this cymbal from Soultone, which can give you that sought-after control. Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean they shirk on the quality, either. Each cymbal is hand-hammered for precision and consistency, and you’ll love the brilliant finish.

Compared to other flat rides, the Soultone has a bit of a unique feel. The best way to describe it is that it’s a bit bouncier, with a livelier response to your stick. This is perfect if you’re mostly interested in a flat ride for the control. In terms of tone, it’s as brilliant as the finish, a bright, crisp sound that’s still soft enough not to overwhelm your bandmates. For value, you can’t do better than the Soultone CBR.

The Best Flat Ride Cymbals: Does Size Matter?

The flat ride cymbal traditionally comes in either 20” or 18” diameters. Both sizes are represented on the list above. The sonic difference between sizes will be most noticeable when you crash the cymbal. A 20” cymbal will be a lower pitch, and capable of slightly more volume than an 18” cymbal of the same design. When it comes to the ride sound, the pitch difference in the main thing you’ll notice; the 20” will be deeper, and the 18” a bit brighter.

But Which One’s the Best?

That depends on whether you’re mostly shopping for sound or feel. To our ears, the sound of the Zildjian light flat ride (see full specs) best captures the classic flat ride tone. It gives you the iconic dry attack and quick decay that defined the sound of the original ‘60s models.

If maximum control is your main goal, though, you’ll want to try out the Bosphorus Black Pearl (see full specs). It’s both a bit heavier and a bit smaller in diameter than the Zildjian, resulting in less sway on the stand, and it’s incredibly responsive to changes in your attack.

Whichever one you go with, adding the best flat ride cymbal to your kit can let you take the overall volume down a notch without losing intensity, keeping the groove going at every dynamic level.

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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