Best Hi Hat Clutches for the Highest Adjustability & Sturdiness

Author: Brett Clur | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

I’ve always lived by the philosophy of how your hi-hats are only as good as the clutch they’re attached to. If you have a poor-quality clutch, your hi-hats aren’t going to feel comfortable to play.

I’ve played too many gigs where they provided the drums and hardware, and I felt off all night because the clutch on the hi-hat stand just wasn’t good enough. So, I’m going to tell you about some of my favorite hi-hat clutches so that you never have to experience that.

4 Best Hi Hat Clutches on the Market

Let me start off by saying that I love the name of this clutch. If there were a contest for a product with the best name to say, the DW One Touch Clutch would win it easily. In all seriousness, this is a great clutch that has a few unique qualities that make it stand out.

It’s called the One Touch because it has a mechanism at the top that allows you to adjust the top hat very easily. You could do it in the middle of a song if you really needed to. Apart from that, I found that this clutch makes any height adjustments feel smooth.

It tends to keep your hi-hats in the same place for a long time before you need to adjust them again. I like how you get an audible clicking sound when you tighten the hats in place. It makes me feel like they’re very securely held.

The big unique part of this clutch is the fact that the cymbal felts are attached to the nuts that screw on the rod. I’ve lost so many felts in the past as they dropped into the abyss when I was adjusting the hi-hats. It’s a lot harder for that to happen with this clutch.

However, I can see some drummers not liking this aspect as it stops you from being able to replace the felts. You’re stuck with what they give you.

The included felts are perfectly usable, but I have a friend who swaps all his felts out with plastic. He wouldn’t like this clutch. If you’re fine with the attached felts, it’s a fantastic clutch to consider.

Something that surprised me about this clutch when it first came out was the price. Typically, anything with the DW name is incredibly expensive. Whether you’re buying a drum kit, a kick pedal, or a drum throne, DW products are some of the priciest out there.

The DW One Touch, on the other hand, is very competitively priced compared to most of the clutches that I’ll mention below. So, price is something that works against it in this case, and I love that.

PROS

  • Height adjustments are easy
  • Keeps the top hat very secure
  • You can adjust settings with one hand

CONS

  • The felts are attached to the nuts so you can’t swap them out

The Gibraltar SC-4421D is a standard hi-hat clutch that will get the job done without any hassles. I love the Gibraltar company, and I’ve been using their hardware for several years.

While my favorite piece of gear is my Gibraltar kick pedal, I’ve been using this clutch for a while and it’s lasted way longer than I thought it would.

I use this clutch on my personal kit as well as the two drum kits that I teach lessons on. I love how inexpensive, yet reliable it is. I found that it stays very secure, no matter how hard you play.

Typically, cheaper clutches tend to loosen up as your drumming gets more aggressive. That’s not the case with this clutch.

Since it doesn’t offer anything special, I’d recommend getting this clutch if you’re looking for the cheapest thing you can find that still has a high-quality construction. I’ve also found that it’s an excellent clutch to have as a spare.

It’s always good to bring your own hi-hat clutch to a gig where a drum kit is provided. I’ve kept a Gibraltar clutch in my stick bag for years. It’s been really useful all the times I needed it.

Just like drum keys, hi-hat clutches have a tendency to go missing. Getting a few of these clutches won’t break the bank as they’re so inexpensive. So, it won’t be a big issue if you lose one.

I feel that this clutch perfectly represents Gibraltar as a company. It’s sturdily designed to do a job, and it does it well. Yet, it’s one of the most affordable hi-hat clutches you’re going to find. Most of Gibraltar’s products have the same effect.

They’re one of the few companies in the world to make drum hardware specifically, and they’re the company I trust most when looking for affordable hardware that won’t let me down. They have a few other fancier clutch options, but I love the SC-4221 D the most thanks to its simplicity.

If you’re not looking for any bells and whistles, I’d highly suggest you get this clutch. It has served me incredibly well on all the drum kits I’ve played on with it.

PROS

  • Very inexpensive
  • Solid and reliable
  • Great to have as a spare hi-hat clutch

CONS

  • Doesn’t have any unique features

This clutch is primarily intended for drummers who play with a double bass drum pedal. It has a lever mechanism that you can hit with a drum stick. Once you hit the lever, the gap between the hi-hats closes so that you can play the double pedal without worrying about the hi-hats being wide open.

While there are a few drop clutches on the market, I think this is the best one because it allows you to control just how much of a gap you want between the hats beforehand. I haven’t seen this option on other clutches, making this a highly valuable tool.

I also found that you don’t need to hit the lever as hard on this clutch as you do on the other drop clutches. This makes it incredibly easy to use while you’re playing. It does take some time to get used the dropping mechanism, but it’s incredibly useful once you get used to it.

I’d only suggest getting this clutch if you’re a double pedal drummer. It’s way more expensive than the other clutches on the list, but the price is highly worth the value it gives you. You’re just not going to get the most out of that value if you’re only playing with one pedal.

I’ve seen so many metal drummers using the Tama Sizzle Drop clutch. They’re all proof of how good of a product this is.

Once you get a clutch like this, you’re most probably won’t want to turn back. I used to think that hi-hat clutches were simple pieces of equipment that held your hi-hats together.

After playing on a friend’s kit that had this Tama Sizzle clutch, my mindset changed completely. It works in your favor, and in turn, makes your playing better.

PROS

  • Great for drummers who use double pedals
  • Control lever doesn’t need much force
  • Allows fine adjustments

CONS

  • Expensive

Whenever I think of solid and high-quality hardware, my first thoughts always jump to Pearl products. So, the final clutch is the Pearl Rapid Lock Super Grip. The standout features of this clutch are the snap-together and pinch-release mechanisms.

I absolutely love the pinch-release aspect of this clutch. It basically stops the felts from falling off while you’re adjusting your hi-hats with the clutch. This saves you from losing felts, which is what often happens with some drummers. Me, in particular.

Another great feature of this clutch that I like is the allen screw locking tensioner. It’s the main reason for the nuts staying so tight when you’re playing the hi-hats. While most clutches start to loosen after a while, this clutch stays tightly in place for what seems like forever.

Overall, it’s one of the highest-quality hi-hat clutches you can buy. It’s also one of the most expensive. Surprisingly, the cost is even higher than the DW clutch we looked at earlier.

I’d suggest getting this clutch if you want to get a heavy-duty piece of hardware that will last you years. It may seem expensive at first, but you’ll save a fair amount of money from not needing to replace it any time soon.

I’ve used countless Pearl clutches over my lifetime as there’s a big Pearl supplier where I live. Even the cheapest clutches from Pearl are incredible tools that will last decades if you don’t lose them. The Pearl Rapid Lock Super Grip is one of the top clutches from Pearl, and it’s the luxury option on this list.

PROS

  • Snap-together and pinch-release mechanisms are great
  • Doesn’t loosen while playing
  • High construction quality

CONS

  • Expensive

Do You Need Different Types of Clutches?

You may be wondering whether you need to buy different clutches for different scenarios. While it could benefit you to do that, most drummers like to stick with a single type of hi-hat clutch.

If you play with a double bass drum pedal, you should get a drop clutch that will allow you to change the height of the hats on the fly. If you’re looking for a fast hi-hat setup process, a quick-release clutch will be the best option.

A standard hi-hat clutch will work perfectly for everyone else who isn’t looking for anything specific.

What Clutch Do You Use for Auxiliary Hi Hats?

If you have a second pair of hi-hats on your kit, you’re not going to be able to use the foot pedal. So, you need to have a clutch that allows you to adjust the tension of the hats fairly easily.

Some companies sell clutches that are specifically designed for auxiliary hi-hats. My favorite clutch like this is the DW Incremental Clutch.

How Many Hi Hat Clutches Should You Have?

You technically only need to have one hi-hat clutch. However, I always tell drummers that it’s a good idea to have a few of them lying around. You should definitely keep one in your stick bag as you never know when you’ll need to use one at a gig.

I have played so many gigs over the years where the provided hi-hat stand has a wonky clutch. It usually ends up in me keeping my hi-hats closed the whole gig as battling the clutch is too frustrating. I eventually learned to bring a clutch with me, and it’s saved me more times than I can count.

Personally, I keep one hi-hat clutch in my stick bag, one on my kit, and a spare one in a storage bag with other drum parts. Having three of them keeps my mind at ease.

You should also keep large cymbal felts to put on the bottom of the hi-hats. When you play gigs, venues will often have a kit with a hi-hat stand that is missing those felts.

If you don’t have the felt, the bottom hi-hat cymbal will be connecting with the metal of the stand. Metal on metal is what cracks your hi-hats eventually, so drummers should avoid that at all costs.

Are Certain Hi-Hat Clutches Better for Heavier Cymbals?

All clutches are designed to withstand any weight of hi-hats. Thankfully, you don’t need to go in search of a heavy-duty clutch if you have heavy cymbals. Sometimes, I put two 20-inch ride cymbals on my hi-hat to get some huge sounds. It’s a lot of fun, and my Gibraltar SC-4421 D clutch seats those huge cymbals quite comfortably.

However, the mechanism on drop clutches may not work too well with cymbals that heavy. You’ll be able to tighten them and play the hi-hats normally, you just might struggle with dropping the top cymbal and fastening it again afterward. 

Brands

While the only brands I’ve mentioned here have been Gibraltar, Pearl, DW, and Tama, know that every drum brand has decent hi-hat clutch options. The ones I’ve mentioned are my personal favorites out of all the options on the market. I feel that they’ll give you the best value for your money.

Brands like Yamaha, Mapex, Gretsch, and Ludwig have great clutches as well, though. They’re just not as popular. Also, they don’t put as much emphasis on selling clutches individually. Their clutches will come with their hi-hat stands, whereas the clutches I’ve mentioned above have been designed to be bought separately. The Gibraltar SC-4421 D is the exception as that clutch comes with most Gibraltar hi-hat stands.

Wrap Up

I always used to think that changing out my hi-hat clutch wouldn’t make much of a difference. I realized how wrong I was after spending a bit of cash on a high-quality one. A good clutch will provide a solid platform to play the hi-hats from.

A poor-quality one will make your hi-hats feel loose and unsecured. So, I highly suggest you invest in a good clutch. All the clutches I’ve mentioned above are great options to consider and each one offers unique features depending on how much they cost.

About Brett Clur

Brett has been drumming for almost two decades. He also helps his students get better at drumming. He can be found on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where you can regularly catch glimpses of his drumming.

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