Taper (cymbal)

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In cymbal making, taper refers to the gradual change in thickness from the bell to the rim of the cymbal. It is one of the key features that determines the tone of the cymbal.

This change is typically not uniform, and it is extremely difficult to generalise on the effects of taper, just to say that they are profound. Crash cymbals tend to have the most pronounced taper, with the faster crashes and the richer tones the most pronounced of all. The bell of a paperthin crash or a fast crash can be thicker than that of many ride cymbals. On the other hand, china cymbals tend to have little or no taper, as do the heavy to medium weights of splash cymbals.

Hi-hat and ride cymbals tend to have intermediate taper, with the washier ride cymbals having less than the pingier cymbals, but there are exceptions. A flat ride cymbal may have no taper at all and simply be a machined disk of uniform thickness, but a slight taper is more common.

Taper is achieved in several ways:

  • Casting the melt alloy -- done by UFIP
  • Rolling out the hot dough -- done by Sabian
  • Lathing -- only possible, if surface is reasonably even, in explanation not too deep hammer marks.

Simple pressed sheet-metal cymbals have no deep lathing hence have bad taper; the inner areas, especially the bell, are thinner than the outer ones. Yet many such cymbals such as Paiste 404 have been used successfully. Paise 2002 still have thin bells but good taper towards the edge, tho sometimes uneven. Only UFIP makes well-tapered bells.