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Care and Maintenance

To gain respect as a member of a musical ensemble and as a cymbal line requires you to show respect to your instrument. Learning to properly maintain the quality of your cymbals, keep them clean, transport and store them properly will demonstrate that you are deserving of respect, even before you rehearse or perform as an ensemble.

Music City Mystique Cymbal Instructor Alex Queen walks you through how to properly care for your Zildjian cymbals:


Whether you’re practicing or performing indoors or out, cymbals (including those in the front ensemble) should be cleaned regularly. Oils from your skin, sweat, as well as dirt and grime from your surroundings work their way into the grooves of the cymbal. Develop a habit of cleaning your cymbals at the end of every rehearsal. If left for a longer period of time, dirt and grime will permanently tarnish a cymbal and may prevent you from achieving the shining appearance that is necessary for a great looking visual ensemble.


For daily cleaning, we recommend using a solution of mild dishwashing liquid diluted with water and a sponge or microfiber cloth. After cleaning the cymbal, wipe with a slightly damp soft cloth and allow the cymbal to dry. Always polish the cymbal WITH the direction of the grooves (not AGAINST the grooves as this will embed the dirt into the cymbal and cause streaking). Try to avoid or lightly polish any logos that are on the cymbal as they will begin to fade over time.


Cymbals that have not been cleaned frequently may require a cymbal polish designed specifically for the type of cymbal you’re using. NEVER use brass, silver or other types of metal polish on cymbals as they contain abrasive ingredients that can damage the surface of your cymbals. Household cleaners such as furniture polish, bleach or “scrubbing bubbles” also contain chemicals that may damage your cymbal. The same goes for lemon juice and catsup, which are both ineffective and create a sticky, smelly surface!

Here’s the steps to using Zildjian Cymbal Polish

IMPORTANT: Cymbal polish is for BRILLIANT finishes only. Do NOT use cymbal polish on traditional, natural and specialty finish cymbals.

Apply the polish around the cymbal.

Wear gloves to keep the polish from getting on your hands and fingers. Shake the bottle of Zildjian cymbal cleaner and coat the cymbal with small daubs of polish.

Using a clean rag, work the polish into the cymbal using small circular motions. Pay extra attention to edges or areas where there are more finger prints. Avoid or very lightly polish over the logo.

Wipe off any excess polish – you just need a light film spread evenly across the cymbal.

Let the polish set for 10-15 seconds.

Use paper towels or a clean towel to wipe off the dried polish. Use a significant amount of force on the cymbal, working in the direction of the grooves. Change the paper towels frequently or continually fold the towel so that you’re working with a clean cloth. At a certain point, the dirty polish will build up on the cloth and you’ll be simply spreading it around. Remember to go easy on the logos, otherwise you’ll rub them off.



After your cymbals are clean and dry, place them in a cymbal bag if possible. To transport the cymbals, use a cymbal bag if possible to avoid sweat, dirt and grime from getting on the cymbals.

During rehearsals, it’s important to set your cymbals down together in an organized manner as a line in order to show respect for the instruments and to gain respect for your section from others. Cymbals that are haphazardly laying around may be damaged by someone inadvertently stepping on them!

If you’re indoors, set the cymbals on the ground with the Zildjian logos facing away from you, the edge of the right cymbal resting on top of the pad of the left cymbal, and the straps positioned towards you.

If you’re outdoors, always set the cymbals away from direct sunlight (especially if it’s very hot outside). Use a bag if possible and avoid setting the cymbals on concrete or gravel. Stack your cymbals on top of each other on top of a bag (with logos aligned).

As you’re learning any advanced “juggling” techniques, be sure to rehearse in a safe environment in case you drop your cymbals. We recommend practicing on wrestling or tumbling mats if possible, or having multiple layers of moving blankets positioned around each player. Always wear sturdy shoes so that if a cymbal drops on your foot, you’ll avoid as much pain as possible!

Store your cymbals in a cool, dry place, separate from other instruments and away from direct sunlight. If you are storing your cymbals for a long period of time (between marching seasons or over longer breaks), we recommend taking the straps and pads off the cymbals to keep any moisture, dirt or grime from the leather bleeding onto the cymbals.

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