Archive for August, 2013

Great method for Cleaning and Polishing Cymbals (when they’re really nasty)

I’ve been a proponent of “non-cleaning” for years, mostly because I couldn’t find a cleaner that would faze fingerprints.  But I spend a couple hours polishing my kit, cleaning all the chrome, and then have crappy looking cymbals when I play out.  And since people expect my kit to look like the ones the guys playing the arenas — who all have bright, shiny [new] cymbals – I figured I’d better try to polish them up.

I tried just about everything (Off the shelf brass cleaners, Groove Juice, Zildjian and Sabian cleaners), and arrived at Barkeeper’s Friend.  I comes in a power and a paste; I use the power since it’s cheaper and makes into a stronger solution than the paste.  I wet the cymbal down, sprinkle the BK Friend across it, and mix it into an even pasty layer.  I let it sit for a few seconds (or minutes, if it’s really nasty).  Then I rinse and rub it off the cymbal. It works fabulous (kiss the logos goodbye if you’re not careful, however) but… the cymbals would tarnish up much faster after I used it, and if a drop of water hit them, it would spot tarnish. I figured there must be some acid left from the Barkeeper’s Friend. So, I decided to try this combination:

Barkeeper’s Friend, get them shiny.  Rinse them like crazy, dry them up good.  Then, I use Zildjian polish evenly across the cymbal (which, like Brasso, always turns black, no matter HOW good I clean the cymbals up beforehand) and polish them only part way back to the shine the BKF gave them.  (My theory is that whatever is in Brasso and the Zildjian polish reacts with the bronze and instantly oxidizes.)  So I have cymbals that have a bit of patina and no fingerprints or stains, and a residue of Zildjian polish.  And it seems that the Zildjian polish keeps them from tarnishing as quickly.

By the way, for some reason, the BKF works much better with fingers than with a cloth, especially on spots.  I’ll make a paste and I can clean up almost any spot with the paste and a finger.

Now, someone will say that cleaning ruins the sound of the cymbal.  I acquired a Zildjian that had such a heavy bottom logo that it was like the paint on the roadway; I decided to to a before and after video when I decided to clean off that logo. Put on headphones and decide for yourself the difference…

If I can find a really nasty cymbal I’ll try to throw together a video showing me cleaning it up…

Check out these APX Cymbals available on eBay!

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