We are a funny lot when it comes to things that potentially break with what we find as ‘traditional’. When something new does come along which is a little less usual we have a tendency to look at it with either love and fascination, or a questioning ‘why’?
In this case, the new Cymbal Tuners (or ‘magnets’ for the more cynical among us) have the potential for either liking and using them, or thinking they’re a silly idea.
Either way, the Cymbal Tuners are basically rubber covered magnets which you apply in pairs (one top, one bottom) as desired on a cymbal to ‘tune’ it. In the pack you get one pair of lighter magnets and a pair of thicker, heavier magnets. Given that, you have three obvious combinations available.
‘Tuner’, in this context really means ‘dampen’ more than anything else, but in more broad terms this also means controlling the sustain and adjusting the volume as well.
So, do they work or are they just a gimmick? Well, yes they do work and noticeably too.
As you might expect, placement is key with the Cymbal Tuners, which is something I will come to later.
What I found was that depending on the type of sound and use I was going for, this dictated the positioning of the magnet. That’s probably a bit evident really.
I didn’t try using any splash cymbals as that seemed a little pointless to me. However, I did use hihats, a crash and a ride from Benny Greb’s signature line, which seemed appropriate since he helped develop the Cymbal Tuners. These cymbals aren’t too thick, nor are they that thin.
In the video, I put the tuners in different positions across the bow and bell of the crash and ride cymbals. Clearly, as you’ll see, one or two of the positions don’t work on certain cymbals, but that was what I was expecting, I tried these positions for effect and demonstration more than anything else. I only did the bow for the hihats.
Having the magnets on the cymbals was noticeable in relation to the weight/balance aspect, but that varied on where they were placed and I got used to it very quickly. All it takes is a little experimentation of the placement of the magnets to get the desired sound or effect.
However, all that said, I have a very big complaint about them and one which Meinl – I am politely asking here – really should address I think.
That complaint is this – small, round, all black items have a real tendency to get lost on floors very easily, especially when playing live. No one likes to lose things they’ve bought. Both Mike and I lost pairs of the Tuners, in fact, the pair I lost was actually doing the video for this review. Upon review, it was quite amusing watching the top Tuner flying off the ride cymbal in slow motion to disappear to wherever, but that’s not cool. I still haven’t found them yet either, but that’s why there is no clip of the lighter Tuners on the ride cymbal. Basically, they came off in style.
To me, the obvious solution to this is to offer the Cymbal Tuners in colours, preferably bright ones at that. They may look a little strange to begin with, but the bigger picture is that you won’t lose them quite as easily.
In terms of why the lighter version came off, I think it was just that I may have put the Tuners too near the edge before crashing on it (although they weren’t that near) so it may have been my bad. All the same, it does emphasis the point, and I didn’t strike the cymbal that hard to begin with. If you’re not going to crash on your ride, then putting them near the edge won’t be an issue.
Anyway, that’s it really.
As I said, the Cymbals Tuners aren’t gimmicks and they do really work. They won’t be for everyone obviously, but they are a viable alternative to tape, they look a lot cleaner in that respect too, and are more flexible as well. I’ve never liked putting tape on cymbals so this really is a nice option to have.
Also which I found was useful was that if you’re only using two of the tuners, the container with the other two in it will stick to a hihat or cymbal stand if you want to keep them to hand without using the attached hook.