Earth-toning (soil-aging) Cymbals, (to Get a Darker, Warmer Sound)




Introduction: Earth-toning (soil-aging) Cymbals, (to Get a Darker, Warmer Sound)

The purpose of this Instructable is to show you how to soil-age a cymbal, which gives it a darker and warmer tone. Many cymbal companies sell already soil aged cymbals, but have extremely high prices.
These cymbals can run from $400 to $800 dollars. If you don't believe me, just check out Zildian or Sabian's websites. For most of us, those prices are way to high. This Instructable is fairly simple, and pretty easy. all you have to do is select a cymbal, dig a hole, and bury it, and then wait.

The Picture below is the finished product

P.s., if you like the instructable, vote for me in the art of sound contest!

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Step 1: Items Needed.

The first step is to gather all the materials and tools.
(note: you will need a good soil mix, with not too much clay, or too much sand, a good loamy soil works the best)

the cymbal of your choice, water spray bottle, cymbal cleaner, and rag

Tools: shovel, rake(optional), axe or clippers (optional)

Step 2: Preparing the Cymbal

To prepare the cymbal, you first need to clean it, so the soil/elements will bond to the surface.

After the cymbal is fairly clean, spray it with a fine mist.

Step 3: Digging the Hole.

Once you have the cymbal prepared, then you need to dig the hole to bury it in.

First, find an area with dappled sunlight.

Then use your rake to move away any leaves,

Now dig a small hole, approximately 6 to 8 inches deep, the purpose of this is to see if there is a high clay content. if there is, find a new spot to bury.

If you encounter large roots while digging the hole, use the axe or clippers to remove them.

If the soil is nice and rich, with little to no clay, start digging. if your cymbal is 18 inches wide, dig the hole around 21 or 22 inches wide, so you have a little extra room, and about 12 inches to 18 inches deep.

The fourth picture shows you what type of soil not to use

Step 4: Saying Goodbye.....for Now

Now comes the time in every drummers life where he/she has to let go of that prized cymbal, and let it grow and get a more mature sound.

1. Put about 4 inches of soil back in the hole, and mound it around the edges.

2.Place the cymbal in upside down, and put more soil on top.

3. Bury it completely.

Step 5: Mark the Site

After the cymbal is completely buried, mark the place where it is, you will be leaving it there for 4 to 8 months.

I used a 3 ft. long peice of pvc, and hammered it into the ground, and put a ring of rocks around it so when i dug it back up i wouldn't hit or crack it.

Step 6: Wait

This is the most important step, becuase the soil has to have time to bond to the b20 metal. the wait time depends on many things, such as the amount of overtones you want, the tambour and the resonance.

If you want one of the lighter tones, leave it buried for about 4 months, while if you want a darker heavier tone, leave it in longer.

While waiting, i reccomend making and creating things in a site called instructables, i'll post the link below.

Step 7: Unearth Your Masterpiece

After you wait for those few endless months, get your shovel, and go to work.

After you carefully recliam your cymbal, brush off the majority of the dirt off, and put it on a cymbal stand outside.

While on the stand, hit it with a drumstick for four or five good crashes, and take it inside.

You now have an earthtone cymbal for a fraction of the price.

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    10 Discussions

    doo da do
    doo da do

    3 years ago

    Like music hang one out side

    and listen to the rain Doodado


    4 years ago on Step 4

    This is a bad idea and could damage the sound of your cymbal. If you believe burying a cymbal in dirt will improve its sound, my suggestion is to bury it and leave it there (maybe say a prayer or two if you're so inclined), and buy yourself a cymbal that sounds good. I have been playing for 28 years and I've heard this fiction all my life. Cymbals cannot be made to sound better by burying them. I've never seen one cymbal maker make a Cymbal Dirtying Polish, but I have seen them make Cymbal Cleaning Polish. Some like Paiste and Meinl even apply a factory protective wax to resist light fingerprinting from become permanent marks. Copper and Tin react with acids, and bases, in negative ways, that change the chemical composition of the cymbal. It could become more brittle, which could lead to cracking, or corroded spots in susceptible areas of the cymbal. What nonsense people. Many Sabian lines are wonderful sounding cymbals like the one being interred. If you don't like the cymbal, sell it. And in case you think I am full of it, when I was a kid, a fellow drummer buried his Avedia. EXACTLY what I am saying happened to his cymbal and rendered it useless.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Clearly playing for longer than I have been alive makes you an experienced metallurgist. I had a friend once, he did a thing and it made me an expert in that field as well.

    I had studied this process, and seen it used multiple times effectively. part of the process is knowing your soil composition as well. maybe I did't list all of that at the time given I was 15, and had already tested the soil in my area. I have changed the tones of multiple cymbals since then, successfully. one failed trial does not support 1 point of view.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    how long does the tone last? i saw below that you cannot use cleaning agents on the cymbal, does this mean that the bonded soil is not very strong? 4 months seems like a long time to wait, if the resulting tone only lasted a few weeks.


    Actually Sabian buried a whole bunch of cymbals for that exact purpose... earth toning. it produces a dark and heavy overtone. you can look it up on their website. they have pictures and everything documenting the process. before you go telling this guy he doesn't know what he's talking about, do some research for yourself. even the most seasoned veterans of ANY instrument have something to learn. 

    And as a note, Sabian buried their cymbals for a whole year and they note a definite and obvious sound difference from buried cymbals. they wouldn't spend the time, renting a digger, employing metallurgists and leaving that much money buried in a hole if there was nothing to gain from it.

    Your post has validity Kendallkedaver.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    can you clean it with cymbal cleaner after the earth toning?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    no, this will remove the majority of the dirt that has bonded, taking the cymbal back to its origanal sound


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Well somebody must play them or they would be out of business especially in this economy.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Skrate up G! This instructable wasn't promoting a certain brand of cymbals anyways. Simply showing how to