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The basic material used for making cymbals is invariably a copper alloy. Copper alloys are the oldest alloys used by humans, because they are malleable enough to be shaped and cut by artisans with simple tools. Copper is unique in color among metals, and it has great properties for producing sound, which is why it is the main ingredient in cymbals. All of the alloys used for cymbals consist of copper (Cu) and at least one other ingredient: tin (Sn), nickel (Ni) or zinc (Zn). All alloys also contain trace elements, such as silver, but they are carefully controlled to avoid degradation in sound potential.

An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals. In an alloy source metals do not bond chemically. They coexist in a microscopic grain structure. Melting and thus mixing the ingredient metals produces the alloy. During this stage, the exact temperature and heating process will produce a specific and carefully controlled grain structure. The molten metal mix is then cast from the melting container, which involves forming it into a particular shape by pouring or pressing it into a mold while it slowly cools off. This is the process called casting, and it is the only way to produce an alloy. (Regardless of what some current cymbal literature says, there can be no non-cast alloys and thus cymbals, it is just not possible. Similarly, the distinction between cast and sheet alloys is plain nonsense.

The cooled off cast, whether it be thick, round disks, big blocks or long, thick strips, is then repeatedly rolled using immense pressure to compress the alloy and achieve a specific internal grain size and hardness. During this stage, the alloy is repeatedly heated and allowed to cool off. This process is called annealing, and its purpose is to prevent brittleness and thus give strength to the alloy. At the end, round disks are cut out from the rolled alloy plates, which will then be made into cymbals. The exact sound property