The new Meinl Cymbal Tuners are a step into the previously unexplored realm of cymbal dampening: until now the only options available to calm down that rowdy ride cymbal have been to slap on a Moon Gel and hope it’s still got enough stick left in it, or crack out the Gaffa tape (I can feel my fellow OCD drum-nerds wincing). This offering from Meinl brings us a more permanent-yet-adjustable solution in the form of magnets… really, how did it take us this long to think of this?

The product works simply, with one magnet on top of your cymbal of choice and the other underneath they stick firmly in place in any desired position. The presence of the magnet on the surface of the cymbal restricts how much the cymbal can freely vibrate, thus dampening it. The further the magnet towards the edge, the more aggressive the dampening effect.

Meinl Cymbal Tuner

In keeping with Meinl’s reputation, this product has clearly been carefully thought out and is well presented. The magnets are inside a rubber shell to avoid buzzing and any damage to your precious instruments, while stylish metal Meinl logos sit atop each magnet facing outwards. The ‘tuners’ come in a small pot with a handy carabiner style clip on the lid. While the pot may be a little cumbersome to carry on your keys, I found it matched a clip in my stick bag rather satisfyingly.

One thing I do find strange about these little jokers is the branding of cymbal “Tuner”, as tuning associates itself with pitch to most drummers, surely these are cymbal “dampeners”? On the other hand, you could say that dampening is part of the tuning process, as with drumheads… Trivialities aside, how effective are these magnets at actually adjusting cymbal tone?

A relatively short amount of time playing around yielded a variety of uses for these guys; there are two pairs of magnets included in a pack, one light/normal pair and a heavy (double thickness) pair. I found the light/normal pair placed on the bell of a crash gave a noticeable reduction in volume, really taking the ‘edge’ off of the tone, without stopping it from opening up too much. Moving further down onto the bow of the cymbal very quickly reduced sustain, resulting in a rather hollow ‘thunk’ in some cases. This led me to question in what situation I would choose to employ the thicker magnets, but a little imagination answered my woes.

Meinl Cymbal Tuner

Some experiments led me to discover that the heavier magnets placed mid-bow on a hi-hat bottom cymbal instantly dried out the open/choke sound and gave a rather pleasant crisp tone, leading my usually buttery Meinl 15” Dual-Hats to sound reminiscent of Jojo Mayer’s signature Sabian Fierce Hats (well known from performances on his DVD “Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer”). Further experiments on a ride cymbal ranged from a mild volume reduction with the light magnets placed on the bell, to completely drying out the tone and controlling the crash with the heavy magnet on the bow.

While these cymbal tuners won’t make up for anything already lacking in the cymbal (experiments with budget cymbals led to very anticlimactic results) it can open up a plethora of tone and volume options within mid/high-end cymbals, offering the ability to dial in the sound you need for any particular room or gig. Drier cymbals respond especially well, while some thicker/brighter cymbals can sound a little too ‘held-back’ and ‘thunky’, but considering Meinl are so well known for their dry and controlled cymbals this seems fitting.

All in all, a refreshingly simple yet effective solution for cymbal dampening that offers drummers a wider tonal palette from their existing cymbals.