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REVIEW: Meinl Cymbal Tuners

Laura  Barnes
REVIEW: Meinl Cymbal Tuners

At this year’s NAMM show Meinl showcased a handy new gadget to help drummers control the sound of their cymbals.

Meinl’s Cymbal Tuners are simply two sets of paired magnets. It might seem almost too simple, but it turns out you can do quite a lot with these humble magnets.

The firm promises to give users a huge range of damping, tuning and dryness variations. They're not wrong, with a little experimentation, you can create a variety of different tones from just one cymbal.

The set comes with two big magnets, and two smaller ones. The four magnets come in a small cylindrical case that’s very portable and fits easily in a stick bag, on a key chain or even in your pocket without taking up much room.
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They are all very strong and after using them, it appears there is very little chance of them flying off the cymbal at any point. While their strength is certainly needed for staying on a cymbal, the larger magnets can be a little tricky to separate with your hands to get them on a cymbal.

It might make life slightly easier to have a small square of material, like a piece of cloth, in between each magnet to make them easier to separate. While it’s not the biggest of problems, if you needed to add the magnets to a cymbal during a set, you might find pulling apart the larger magnets a little frustrating – especially if you’ve got a case of sweaty drumming hands. However, once the magnets are on, you’re good to go without having to worry about them moving about or falling off.

I tested the tuners out of an Istanbul 20” traditional dark ride and a Zildjian paper thin crash. You could clearly hear the difference between the two magnet sizes and the larger ones did a great job of dampening and drying out the 20” ride when placed near the very edge of the cymbal.

When placed in the middle you can hear a nice change in tone with a slight increase in dryness and less ringing. I also placed the magnets on the bell, which gave a much more subtle tone change, which is great for getting some new textures out of your cymbal while still being able to get some crashing tones while riding on the edge with the side of your stick.

For the crash cymbal, I found the smaller magnets worked best at creating a sound that could still be used in a live setting. I saw similar results to the ride cymbal, with the magnets successfully cutting out the ringing higher tones without making the cymbal sound dead.

Many drummers have experienced that sinking feeling of getting to a venue and realising during sound check that it's just not build for a loud set. And there’s nothing worse than being asked by the sound technician to “play the cymbals a little softer”. Trying to perform with energy and enthusiasm while also trying to not hit too hard is incredibly frustrating. But with these cymbal tuners, you could easily cut out a lot of the ringing and higher tones from your cymbals without compromising your performance.

If you’re planning acoustic or quieter performances these little magnets could also help you keep your cymbals at the right level by moving them a little nearer to the edge to increase their dampness.

There are also those moments where you may be using someone else’s cymbals, either for a live performance or at a rehearsal studio. The chances are, these cymbals will be quite different from your own set. With Meinl’s Cymbal Tuners, you’ll be able to play around with the sound a bit to try and find a tone similar to what you prefer.

Aside from these emergency situations, the magnets could also be used to help deaden your cymbals when practising. I placed all four magnets on the ride cymbal to see what would happen and the resonance and ringing of the cymbal pretty much disappeared. Couple this with some mesh heads on your drums and you’d have a nice, quiet kit for practising without having to attached annoying foam pads. If you’re looking to do this for more than once cymbal, you’ll need to buy more than one pack.

Despite their impressive magnetic qualities making them a little tricky to separate at times, Meinl’s Cymbal Tuners are incredibly compact and offer drummers a variety of different tones and levels of dampness. They can be used in lots of situations and are a much better, and quicker, alternative to taping up cymbals or using foam pads.

Any drummer would benefit from having this handy gadget in their kit bag in case of a cymbal emergency, an acoustic gig, or to simply breathe some life into an old cymbal by giving it a new, unique tone.

Meinl’s Cymbal Tuners have an RRP of £16.60 and are available from D'Addario UK – 0191 300 3000.

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Tags: meinl , drumming , new gear , Reviews , cymbal tuners

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