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What Kind of Cymbals Did Ringo Use?

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Drumming enthusiasts around the world have long been captivated by the unique sound and style of Ringo Starr, the legendary drummer of The Beatles. Ringo’s impeccable timing, creativity, and solid rhythm formed the backbone of the band’s music. Apart from his drumming skills, the cymbals he used played a crucial role in defining his distinctive sound. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of Ringo Starr’s cymbals, exploring his early influences, the evolution of his cymbal choices, and the impact he had on the drumming community.

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The Role of Cymbals in Drumming

Cymbals are an integral part of a drum kit, adding color, texture, and punctuation to the overall sound. They provide accents, crashes, and shimmering tones that enhance the musicality of a performance. The selection of cymbals can significantly impact a drummer’s style and sound, making it essential to choose the right ones to match their preferences and musical genre.

Ringo Starr: A Legendary Drummer

Before diving into the specifics of Ringo Starr’s cymbal choices, let’s take a moment to appreciate the legacy of this iconic drummer. Ringo’s contribution to music and his influence on subsequent generations of drummers cannot be overstated. With his tasteful and dynamic playing, he elevated the role of the drummer from a timekeeper to a true musical collaborator.

Ringo Starr’s Early Years and Influences

Ringo Starr’s journey as a drummer began in his hometown of Liverpool, England. Growing up in a city renowned for its vibrant music scene, Ringo was exposed to various musical styles and genres. Influenced by drummers like Jimmie Nicol and Bobby Graham, Ringo developed a keen interest in finding his unique sound.

The Evolution of Ringo Starr’s Cymbal Choices

Throughout Ringo’s career, his cymbal choices evolved as he experimented with different brands and models. Each phase of his musical journey saw him exploring new sounds and expanding his sonic palette. Some of the notable cymbal lines that Ringo used extensively include the Ludwig, Zildjian, Paiste, and Istanbul Agop.

The Ludwig Cymbal Line

In the early years with The Beatles, Ringo primarily used cymbals from the Ludwig brand. Ludwig offered a range of cymbals known for their versatility and quality craftsmanship. However, as Ringo’s drumming style evolved, he ventured into using cymbals from other renowned manufacturers.

The Zildjian Cymbals

One of the significant shifts in Ringo’s cymbal selection came with his exploration of Zildjian cymbals. Zildjian offered a diverse range of cymbals that suited Ringo’s evolving musical style. The bright and cutting sound of Zildjian cymbals complemented the energy and dynamics of his drumming, making them an ideal choice for recording and live performances.

The Paiste Cymbals

During the late 1960s, Ringo Starr briefly experimented with cymbals from the Paiste brand. Paiste cymbals were known for their rich and warm tones, which added depth and complexity to Ringo’s drumming. Although he didn’t stick with Paiste cymbals for an extended period, his exploration demonstrated his willingness to explore new sonic possibilities.

The Istanbul Agop Cymbals

In recent years, Ringo has been associated with the Istanbul Agop cymbals. Istanbul Agop is renowned for its handcrafted cymbals, known for their traditional Turkish sound and exceptional craftsmanship. These cymbals have a unique character and offer a vintage-inspired tonality, perfectly suited to Ringo’s musical sensibilities.

Ringo’s Signature Cymbals

As Ringo’s influence grew, cymbal manufacturers began recognizing his impact on the drumming community. This led to the creation of signature cymbal lines in collaboration with Ringo himself. These signature cymbals aimed to capture the essence of Ringo’s sound and style, allowing drummers worldwide to replicate his iconic sound.

The Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Series

Zildjian introduced the Ringo Starr Artist Series, a line of cymbals designed in collaboration with the legendary drummer. These cymbals were carefully crafted to emulate the sounds Ringo achieved throughout his career. They offer a combination of warmth, clarity, and versatility, making them suitable for various musical genres.

The Meinl Byzance Vintage Series

Another notable collaboration resulted in the Meinl Byzance Vintage Series, inspired by Ringo’s iconic sound. These cymbals aim to capture the timeless quality of Ringo’s playing, offering a vintage character with a modern touch. The Meinl Byzance Vintage Series is highly regarded among drummers seeking to achieve Ringo’s distinctive sound.

The Sound of Ringo Starr’s Cymbals

Ringo Starr’s cymbal choices greatly influenced his overall sound. His cymbals had a unique brightness and clarity, allowing his drumming to cut through the mix while maintaining a musical balance. The combination of crisp hi-hats, explosive crashes, and controlled rides contributed to the infectious energy and groove that defined his playing.

The Influence of Ringo Starr’s Cymbal Choices

Ringo Starr’s cymbal choices left an indelible mark on the drumming community. His distinctive sound influenced countless drummers who sought to replicate his style. Ringo’s willingness to experiment with different cymbal brands and sounds showcased the importance of personal exploration and finding one’s unique voice behind the drum kit.

Cymbal Selection Tips for Drummers

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For drummers looking to find their own signature sound, exploring various cymbal options is essential. Here are some tips to consider when selecting cymbals:

  1. Understand your musical preferences and the genre you primarily play.
  2. Experiment with different cymbal brands and models to find the sound that resonates with you.
  3. Consider the tonal characteristics and versatility of the cymbals.
  4. Pay attention to the different sizes and weights of cymbals, as they can significantly affect their sound and projection.
  5. Test cymbals in person whenever possible to assess their sound in relation to your playing style.

Remember, your cymbal selection should reflect your personal musical expression and enhance your overall drumming experience.


Ringo Starr’s choice of cymbals played a vital role in shaping his distinctive sound and musical legacy. From his early years with Ludwig to his exploration of various renowned brands, Ringo’s cymbal choices were a testament to his constant pursuit of sonic excellence. His influence on the drumming community continues to inspire generations of musicians, reminding us of the profound impact cymbals can have on a drummer’s style and sound.


1. What other drummers use similar cymbals to Ringo Starr? There are several drummers who have been influenced by Ringo Starr’s cymbal choices. Some notable examples include Phil Collins, Stewart Copeland, and Charlie Watts.

2. Can I achieve Ringo Starr’s sound without using the exact cymbals he used? While using the same cymbals can help you get closer to Ringo’s sound, it’s important to remember that your playing style and technique also play a significant role. Experimenting with different cymbals and finding ones that suit your musical preferences can help you develop your unique sound.

3. Are Ringo Starr’s cymbals still available for purchase? Yes, many of the cymbals Ringo used throughout his career are still available for purchase. Drummers can explore various cymbal manufacturers and their signature lines to find options that replicate Ringo’s sound.

4. Did Ringo Starr ever experiment with other cymbal brands? Yes, Ringo Starr was known for his willingness to explore different cymbal brands and sounds. He experimented with cymbals from Ludwig, Zildjian, Paiste, and Istanbul Agop, among others.

5. How important are cymbals in creating a drummer’s unique sound? Cymbals play a crucial role in defining a drummer’s unique sound. They add texture, dynamics, and accents to the music, allowing drummers to express their musicality. Selecting the right cymbals that match the drummer’s style and preferences is essential in creating a distinct sonic identity.

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