At some point, while watching a video of one of your favorite drummers performing, you may have noticed a tambourine mounted to or lying on a hi-hat.
You may have noticed that from time to time a drummer may lay a hand-held tambourine slightly askew atop their hi-hat during their performance.
Have you ever thought about trying a hi-hat tambourine out for yourself but, maybe you are unsure where to start?
We’re going to look at a couple of things you should know if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of adding a tambourine to your hi-hat.
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Why Do Drummers Add a Tambourine in the First Place?
The answer to this is more obvious than you’d think. Drummers are constantly experimenting with new textures and sounds.
A tambourine is a centuries-old percussive instrument used in a variety of musical applications. It was inevitable that drummers would find a way to add the tambourine to their kits and further expand their percussive repertoire.
John Bonham of Led Zeppelin could safely be cited as the drummer who made the usage of a hi-hat-mounted tambourine more mainstream.
As a consequence of the tambourine’s more prominent usage in the world of mainstream music, manufacturers began to innovate further. The tambourines we have available now are more capable and diverse in their applications.
Different Kinds of Hi-Hat Tambourines
Utilizing a hi-hat tambourine, as you would probably guess, is very simple. However, there are a few different kinds of hi-hat tambourines as well as methods of utilizing a traditional hand-held tambourine on your hi-hat we will discuss.
The first thing we will discuss is mounted tambourines. Mounted tambourines, as their name implies, mount to your hi-hat’s pushrod. They easily attach to your hi-hat’s push rod using virtually the same mechanism as your top hi-hat.
Mounted tambourines normally sit just above the hi-hat itself. You can adjust the height at which the tambourine sits by loosening the mounting mechanism and sliding it up or down. There is no incorrect setting.
To get the tambourine to produce its sound, you simply open and close the hi-hat as you normally would. The sudden opening and closing of the hi-hat will cause the tambourine to produce its sound. It’s that simple.
You can also lightly strike the tambourine to produce sound. I’ve also seen many drummers place the tambourine very close to the hi-hat. To the point where the tambourine will be almost touching or directly touching the hi-hat. This way when the hi-hat is struck it also triggers the tambourine to work as well.
The second option I’d be more inclined to refer to as a “drum accessory” as it does have multiple applications. For the sake of this article, I’ll call a, lie-flat hi-hat tambourine. Other names you may have heard associated with this type of hi-hat accessory are, bling-ring or ching-ring.
This type of hi-hat accessory does not directly attach to the push rod of the hi-hat. It simply lays flat, directly atop the hi-hat. When the hi-hat is struck, it will produce the tambourine tone in tandem with the hi-hat’s natural tone.
Since this type of tambourine does not attach to anything, it can be easily moved around the kit. Sometimes drummers will also use this type of accessory on their snare drum as well.
The third option is to drape a hand-held tambourine over the top of your hi-hat by placing it over the push-rod.
You’ll be able to get the energetic jostle of the tambourine by opening and closing the hi-hat as you would with the mounted tambourine. The only issue you may run into here is because handheld tambourines are usually bigger and heavier, you may sacrifice the use of your hi-hat.
What’s the Right Tambourine for Me?
Finding a tambourine with the proper sound profile for your setup shouldn’t be too hard. Especially with the variety of tambourines available to you today.
Depending on what materials are used in their creation, tambourines vary dramatically in tone and volume. There are bright and splashy sounding tambourines. There are also dark and dry sounding tambourines.
Don’t be mistaken, even if you play heavier genres of music, a tambourine can add an interesting, subtle texture to your sound.
For example, drummer Mario Duplantier of the heavy metal band Gojira has utilized a tambourine in studio recording for the song “New Found”. Tambourines were also widely used by Ludvig Kennberg on most of the tracks from Ghost’s album, Prequelle.
How Much Does a Hi-Hat Tambourine/Mountable Tambourine Cost?
If you are interested in purchasing a hi-hat tambourine accessory, you’ll be happy to know that they are a fairly accessible and inexpensive option.
Hi-hat tambourines average around $20-$65 in price. In fact, you can get one from popular websites you probably already use like, Sweetwater or Amazon.
Popular options include the Meinl Percussion Series Hi-Hat Tambourine. This is a mountable hi-hat tambourine with 8 pairs of steel jingles in a circle formation.
The Bling Ring from Big Fat Snare is not only a popular accessory but an economical one as well. The Bling Ring can be used on different pieces of your drum kit in addition to the hi-hat.
For drummers who want a little more volume, something like the Stagg Half Moon formation mounted tambourine would be a great choice.
I genuinely hope you’ve found this insight into the application of hi-hat tambourines to be useful.
I’d encourage you to try out a hi-hat tambourine on your kit. You will see that introducing new accessories into your practice sessions is a surefire way to open yourself to new styles of play.
A hi-hat tambourine is one of those accessories that can act as the spark to ignite the creative fire within you.
After all, great things often come in small packages!