Why I Like Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbals So Much

For years I’ve been playing Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbals exclusively. After many cymbal changes for a good 15 years I finally ended up with a set that I’m extremely pleased with. This is it:

  • Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash 18″
  • Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash 16″
  • Zildjian K Custom Dark Ride 20″
  • Zildjian K Custom Dark China 17″

Then oddballs in the bunch are:

  • Zildjian K Custom Hybrid HiHat 13-1/4″
  • Zildjian K Custom Splash 10″ (Not dark)

I absolutely love this set of cymbals. It’s the most musical set I’ve ever put together. Their crash sound is adamant and the overtones are pleasant. They avoid the overly bright tones that plague many cymbals. They sound great with nylon tip sticks and really show their dark nature with wood tips. They are incredibly versatile and work with just about every genre. I love how they sound great at low volumes when you are just barely brushing them, yet they hold up to some heavy bashing too. I’ve beat the crap out of mine and I’ve yet to crack one, and I’ve had this set for over 3 years! I’m not recommending you bash yours, as I know how to hit hard without breaking cymbals. It’s all in the hitting angle and follow-through.

Anyway, if you are considering a new set of cymbals or just a new crash or ride, I highly recommend you give the K Custom Darks a try. They are not jazzy like the really K’s. Think of them as K’s with balls. They are what you choose when you want the musicality of jazz and blues but want to rock out with them. Not only that, but the hammering patterns on them are unique and organic. They don’t look like machined-hammered cymbals (even if they are, I’m not sure). They also clean up great if you take care of them and store them in a case when not in use.

The Zildjian K Custom Dark cymbals are not thin cymbals, yet not light either. Thin cymbals work better for quiet music and they crack if you hit them hard. Thick cymbals are too loud for quiet music. And, while you might think they would be more durable, I find them to crack quite easily as well. I think it has to do with the lack flexibility of the thicker alloy. Then the thin ones crack for obvious reasons, they are lightweight and thin, therefore more weak. I find the medium weight cymbals like the K Custom Dark to be the most durable type of cymbal. They are heavy enough to be strong, but not too heavy and thus flexible enough to avoid stress cracks.

By Danny Cruz

Resourceful designer and publisher with a love for the ocean, good music and high energy sports. Danny Cruz is a drummer with 20+ years of experience playing the drums.


  1. It’s really good to be able to find detailed reviews of Zildjian cymbals on the internet like this one, so thank you for posting. I’m sure our customers will appreciate reading something like this if they are not sure what to buy – although we always say it’s best to try them out in store!

    1. Agreed. There’s no better way to know what best suits you than to try them out. However, online reviews do help a lot to help narrow down the choices. There are so many choices out there that it can be daunting to choose correctly. It helps when you have someone like me that has hands-on experience with a product for so long and can point out the pros and cons. I’ve played many cymbal series. If I were going to choose something other than Zildjian K Custom Darks, it might be Paiste Signatures, or 2002 series. -Danny

  2. Danny – I have the full set of the K custom darks and want to know what cleaning solutions you use.



    1. If they are really dirty, Groove Juice is hands down the best cymbal cleaner out there. But FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY, or you’ll ruin the cymbals.

      I’ve had a full set of Z Darks for over 4 years now and I haven’t had to use Groove Juice on them yet. But what I do is I clean them often with AMMONIA-FREE glass cleaner. And I never leave them installed on the kit unless I cover them with a white cotton sheet. Dust will really get to them.

      Also, I live in a dry climate. If you live in a humid climate, a sheet cover alone isn’t going to do much. In which case you should always take them off and store them in their case between sessions.

  3. Thanks so much for this description, I’ve been listening to samples of these and other K’s and I also came to this conclusion “They are what you choose when you want the musicality of jazz and blues but want to rock out with them.” I think I’m going to get my local store to order in a 20″ K custom dark ride for me. This is the ride I’ve been looking for.

    1. Glad I could help! I play many types of music. I find the K Customs to be some of the most versatile cymbals around. There’s another cymbal I’d love to own and that is the K Custom Dry Ride 20″. But I think it’s only good to have if you already own a really versatile ride. The dry ride is a bit more focused and not as versatile IMO. Plus, it’s ugly. But I love how it sounds in plenty of situations. Let me know how it goes with the K Custom 20″ after you’ve used it for a bit. -Danny

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