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Hit Hats: The Essential Components in Drum Kits



Hit Hats

Hit hats are an essential component of drum kits, providing rhythm and groove to various music genres. They consist of two cymbals mounted on a stand, operated by a foot pedal, allowing drummers to produce a range of sounds from tight and closed to loose and open.

History and Evolution

Early forms of hit hats

The concept of hit hats dates back to the early 20th century when drummers experimented with various combinations of cymbals and mechanisms to achieve a controlled sound.

Innovations over the years

As drumming techniques evolved, so did hit-hats. Innovations like adjustable tension springs and improved pedal designs revolutionized the way drummers played and incorporated hit hats into their setups.

Components of Hit Hats

Hit-hats consist of three main components:


The two cymbals, usually made of bronze or brass, are mounted on a stand and can vary in size and thickness to produce different tones.


The pedal controls the opening and closing of the cymbals, allowing drummers to create a variety of sounds with their feet while keeping their hands free to play other parts of the kit.


The stand holds the cymbals in place and provides stability and adjustability for the drummer’s comfort and preference.

Different Types of Hit Hats

Hit hats come in various types to cater to different musical styles and preferences:

Traditional hit hats

These are the classic setups consisting of two acoustic cymbals mounted on a stand.

Remote hit hats

Remote hit hats feature a cable or electronic connection between the pedal and cymbals, allowing for more flexibility in positioning and setup.

Electronic hit hats

Electronic hit hats produce sounds through sensors and triggers, offering versatility and programmability for modern music production.

How to Hit Hats Work

Hi-hats produce sound when the two cymbals come together or are separated by the foot pedal.


The pedal mechanism controls the distance between the cymbals, determining the tightness of the sound produced.

Sound production

The sound of hit hats varies depending on factors such as the material, size, and thickness of the cymbals, as well as the force applied by the drummer’s foot.

Choosing the Right Hit Hats

Selecting the right hit hats involves considering several factors:


Cymbals can be made of bronze, brass, or other alloys, each offering unique tonal qualities and durability.


Hit hats come in various sizes, from compact 10-inch models to larger 15-inch options, catering to different playing styles and preferences.

Brand considerations

Reputable brands like Zildjian, Sabian, and Meinl offer a wide range of hit hats, each with its own sound characteristics and quality craftsmanship.

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance is essential for preserving the sound and longevity of hit hats:


Regularly cleaning the cymbals with a soft cloth and mild cleaner helps remove dirt and grime, preserving their appearance and sound quality.


Storing hit hats in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures prevents corrosion and damage to the cymbals.


In case of damage or wear, professional repair services can restore hit hats to their optimal condition, ensuring consistent performance.

Popular Hit Hats Brands

Several brands are renowned for their quality hit hats:

  • Zildjian: Known for their classic sound and innovative designs, Zildjian hit-hats are favored by drummers worldwide.
  • Sabian: With a focus on craftsmanship and innovation, Sabian offers a diverse range of hit-hats to suit various musical styles.
  • Meinl: Meinl hit hats are celebrated for their versatility and affordability, making them a popular choice among drummers of all levels.

Famous Drummers Known for Their Hit Hats Usage

Many iconic drummers have left their mark on music history through their distinctive use of hit-hats:

  • Stewart Copeland: The driving force behind The Police, Copeland’s dynamic hit hat work is a signature element of the band’s sound.
  • Dave Grohl: As the drummer for Nirvana and frontman of Foo Fighters, Grohl’s powerful hit-hat grooves have influenced countless musicians.
  • Neil Peart: Renowned for his technical prowess and creativity, Peart’s intricate hit-hat patterns are legendary in the world of drumming.

Hit Hats in Different Music Genres

Hi-hats play a vital role in shaping the rhythm and feel of various music genres:

  • Jazz: In jazz music, hi-hats provide a subtle yet essential foundation, driving the groove and improvisation.
  • Rock: Hi-hats are a driving force in rock music, setting the tempo and intensity of the music with their powerful sound.
  • Electronic: In electronic music genres like techno and hip-hop, hi-hats are often programmed or sampled to create rhythmic patterns and textures.

Impact of Hit Hats on Music Production

Hit hats have profoundly impacted music production, influencing the recording and production of drum tracks.

Common Hit Hats Techniques

Drummers employ various techniques to achieve different sounds and rhythms with hit-hats:

  • Open and closed hits: Alternating between open and closed positions creates dynamic contrast and groove.
  • Pedal control: Mastering foot technique allows drummers to play precise and expressive rhythms with hit hats.
  • Syncopation: Syncopated hit hat patterns add complexity and interest to drum grooves, driving the music forward.

Future Trends in Hit Hats Technology

New hit hat tech advances sound and performance, with electronic and hybrid options for drummers and producers.

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