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What Is Keyholing?

Keyhole i baekken
Question: Some people talk about a cymbal having a keyhole, or cymbal keyholing. What does this mean?

What Is Cymbal Keyholing?

The word keyhole kind of explains itself, it is a hole for a key. In the drumming world, it refers to the shape of the hole in the cymbal bell that can form if a cymbal has been used for a long time without being correctly mounted.

How Does a Keyhole Form?

The primary reason for why cymbal keyholing happens is because the cymbal does not have the correct protection for the mounting hole. A new cymbal stand is often born with plastic or rubber that prevents metal-on-metal contact between the cymbal and the stand. But this plastic or rubber protection gets worn with time and if you are not careful and replace this protection, your cymbal might wear down before you know it.

The next culprit when talking about keyholes is the fact that cymbals rarely have a 100% equal weight distribution (read more about this phenomenon here). Because of this, your cymbal will almost always find the same resting position after a while – e.g., you might see how your cymbal always has the logo in the same position when you play. This generates wear at one specific place at the hole in the cymbal bell and this is where the keyhole appears. The cymbal stand “eats” away at the cymbal and slowly creates a new hole next to the original one. The shape of the old hole with the new one forming resembles a keyhole, and therefore the name keyholing.

How Do I Avoid Making a Keyhole?

Cymbal Crown til baekken

You must regularly check on the beforementioned protection on your cymbal stand. If it looks like metal-on-metal contact may soon occur, change your protection immediately. Some cymbal stands have a plastic casting with a thread. If this one is worn down, you must buy a new one.

Cheaper – or older – stands often use what looks like the petrol hose from a moped. This one is very cheap to replace so it is quite silly to not do this. You can buy some extra length so that you always have some in reserve. This makes future maintenance easier.

Finally, you can replace all the parts of your cymbal stand with a No Nuts Cymbal Sleeve. It is made of solid plastic (where the cymbal touches the stand). A No Nuts Cymbal Sleeve is almost impossible to wear down. Should you happen to wear one down, then you need not fear. There is no metal beneath the plastic so your cymbal will not be damaged.

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