Meinl Cymbals: Custom Dual vs Custom Dark – Which is for you?

So – you’re looking for a new set of Meinl cymbals, a sound distinct enough to be your own but with a tonal profile that screams ‘heavy’, ‘punchy’ and ‘complex’. Well, the Meinl Classic Custom range has two lines that might just be that bedrock of earth-shattering power you’ve been looking for.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at the Meinl Classic Custom Dual and Classic Custom Dark lines, seeing what makes them unique, and comparing them so you can make an informed decision. Next stop, cymbal land!

Why use cymbals?

Cymbals add to your sound. Whether they are all from the same manufacturer, series, or even made from the same alloy – they make a drum set come to life.

The cymbals you’ll find most often are a pair of hi-hats, a crash, and a ride cymbal, giving you a staple sound that allows for rhythm keeping, accents and excitement. It also looks simply classic.

Without cymbals, you can still play the drums – take Phil Colins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ as an expert example of not needing them. However, these musical moments are few and far between, as songs often scream for the great sonic addition cymbals bring to bands, ensembles and recordings the world over.

One manufacturer that has seemingly come out of nowhere in recent years and gained the respect and admiration of the mainstream drummer world is Meinl.

Who are Meinl?

A German cymbal manufacturer since 1951, this family company has grown from a one-man operation into an organisation that encompasses 6 brands, ranging from cymbals and percussion to even guitars.

Meinl cymbals grew to prominence in the ‘mainstream’ drumming world through their work and endorsement of new Metal, Prog and Hardcore drummers.

This included the likes of Matt Garstka, Luke Holland and the 4-limbed monster that is Thomas Lang – all using them to create the new sound of Prog and Metal we hear today.

Most famously, Benny Greb plays Meinl and has his own signature line, presenting a richer, more earthy-sounding Meinl to the world. Although not the originators, Meinl has the market hooked on their ‘raw’ and ‘vintage’ looking cymbals, playing like a dream and looking stunning on any kit.

However, Meinl hasn’t forgotten its roots. Releasing lines of cymbals in the Classic Custom Series called Dual and Dark that are made for the Rock and Metal player, these cymbals combine their history of heavier players with modern innovations that have made Meinl so popular in recent years.

Part of this success is down to listening to players’ wants and needs, spending time creating lines that really speak to drummers and the music they are playing and getting the manufacturing nailed.

Let’s dig into the Classic Custom Duals and Classic Custom Darks, see how they match up, and if they’re the cymbals for you!

Classic Custom Dual

Before reading about them, check out the video below to see what they sound like. Then, afterwards, you can watch the following video and hear the subtle nuances that we discuss in this section.

their overall tone can now blend in with the drum kit and sit with the kit, rather than above it.

The Meinl Classic Custom Dual cymbals combine darkness and warmth into one package. Eye-catching visuals and great playing feel make these an ideal choice for players looking for cymbals that sit with their drums, without overpowering a performance.

These are, essentially, the love child of two of the most reliable and honest cymbals Meinl produce – Classic Custom Dark and Classic Custom Brilliant – and you can tell they’re related just by looking at them.

Let’s break down some of the key features.

Key Features

First off, the series looks highly original and unique. A contrasting darker centre with a polished and bright outer edge immediately makes you wonder what their tonal characteristics are going to be.

The darker centre highlights a visual vortex that accents a larger-than-normal bell – something that doesn’t look out of place and has a highly important role in this series. So far, I think we’re off to a good start!

These cymbals are made from a B12 Bronze alloy, a strong middle-of-the-road alloy for cymbals that sit between the fuller sounding B20 and the brighter B8. Meinl has used a B12 alloy to purposefully give the Duals a warmer fundamental pitch.

Meinl Custom Dual Series

I hear you saying ‘Aren’t cymbals meant to be bright and cutting?’. Well, these cymbals still do that, as you’ve already heard. But their overall tone can now blend in with the drum kit and sit with the kit, rather than above it.

This is especially useful for harder-hitting genres such as Metal and Punk, where the harder strokes usually cause the cymbals to be too bright.

Sitting within the kit’s frequency range makes the world of difference during recording or playing live, helping your setup sound like one cohesive unit rather than a collection of instruments put together.

Getting down to the construction of these cymbals, they are made from 100% renewable energy in Germany, where high-tech computerized manufacturing guarantees quality and consistency. This process goes as far as hammering toom where deep strikes give the cymbals a punch and support their darker character.

Meinl Custom Dual


Returning to the bell, the large size helps project the cymbal, adding volume and aiding in a faster response when struck. Helped by the lathed and polished edges, the Dual series produces a cutting response that works great for accents and crashable moments. As you saw in the video above, they don’t lack bite!

To counter this bite and add a darker tone, the dark centre controls the brighter tone the cymbal naturally wants to produce, combining a raw and complex edge with a classic cymbal. This surface treatment helps simultaneously deliver a dark and complex tone with the cut of a brilliant cymbal.

All of this has created a line of cymbals that are medium weight and come highly recommended for Metal, Rock, Pop, Fusion, Studio and R&B.

Standout Cymbals in the Range

14’’ Hi-Hat – Darker tones that come from its construction, blended with the staple 14’’ size create a highly complex and cutting hi-hat that won’t get tiresome on the ears. Able to go into a range of genres too, they can be added to an existing setup with ease.

22’’ Ride – Well defined, dry stick attack with a great wash that’s perfect for crashing. The slightly darker tone compliments the larger bells cutting ping. In a 22’’ size too, the stunning contrasting finishes make your kit a must-see.

Trash Crash – Striking cut-outs add energy and explosive projection for a great accent cymbal. With a short sustain, they work great by themselves or when placed in a stack for added colour.

These cymbals sit comfortably in the drum mix and overall mix, working in a range of genres whilst keeping their distinct tone. Now you’ve learnt a bit more about them, check out this other video and see if you can hear a change.

Shop for the Meinl Classic Custom Dual Series here.

Classic Custom Dark

Once again, check out the video below to see what they sound like. Notice the slightly more subdued high-end in comparison to the duals, with a much lower pitch.

These cymbals don’t have the polished and lathed outer edge that counter the dark body that the Duals have, but this is their superpower.

The Meinl Classic Custom Dark Series gives striking visuals a new standard.

Unique dark concentric circles from centre to edge make these imposing, powerful, and accent your setup beautifully. With darker tones, they allow the higher frequencies of guitars to come through without being overpowered by cymbal brightness.

Echoing the sound of darker, more earthy cymbals but with a distinctly modern appeal, they are truly a unique blend of traditions and modern needs.

Just like the Duals, these cymbals have a striking aesthetic. With a dark finish all over that instantly grabs the eye, you can imagine these on stage where, instantly, you can tell it’s going to get heavy. With a concentric design of black and bronze, you’re forgiven for just staring at them.

Like the Dual’s, this visual vortex is a standout feature that makes any drum kit look mean and imposing. A similarly large bell adds to this look too – look at them!

Meinl Custom Dark Stands

Made from the same B12 Alloy as the Duals, these cymbals offer a balance of brightness, durability, and a complex profile. You can expect this from the construction of cymbals designed for heavier genres, as B20 is often too soft and pliable and designed for dynamic playing.

On the other hand, B8 is a beginner alloy, more rigid, and is made to handle the lack of technique a seasoned player holds. B12 is right where you want to be if you hit hard but want tonal nuance – the heavy sweet spot.

You can instantly tell this cymbal is made for styles like Rock and Metal. Also made in Germany, the Dark line uses extra-deep hammering that lowers the pitch, bringing a darker and more intense sound whilst maintaining the projecting, cutting tone the Classic Customs are known for.

The hammering also rounds out the attack, making a kick/crash combo work nicely in unison for an instant accent that’ll make people turn their heads.

Meinl Custom Dark

These cymbals don’t have the polished and lathed outer edge that counters the dark body of the Duals, but this is their superpower. With a reduced high-end (for cymbals anyway) they allow you to crash, strike, and play hard for extended periods of time and never let the brightness get too much.

If anything, they maintain a dark and brooding sound throughout a session and let you rip into your kit without making either yourself or your band members’ ears squirm.

With a large selection of both standard and effects cymbals, the Classic Custom Dark cymbals excel as both standalone cymbals, whilst adding a brand-new tone to any existing setup.

Before listening to the second video, make a mental note to pay attention to the high frequencies and how much more complex they are rather than bright.

Standout Cymbals in the Range

Hi-Hats – Able to switch dynamics quickly but consistently, these can sit in Rock, Metal and heavier mixes perfectly. From closed to open, the darkness comes through regardless of your type of stick.

18’’ Crash – With a controlled yet prominent attack that works with a bass drum, the dark tone makes this great for compositional climaxes, making everyone from your bandmates to the sound engineer nod their heads.

16’’ Trash Stack – Darkness in both visuals and sound coming together, this cymbal is a great addition to a stack. With a fast attack and cutting presence, this cymbal adds a biting attack and heaps of character to a stack with ease.

These cymbals make light work of the heavier genres, adding complexity to a drum sound that most struggle to achieve. Now you’ve learnt a bit more about them, check out another video and see if you can hear any subtle changes.

Shop for the Meinl Classic Custom Dark Series on our website.

Which is right for me?

In our opinion, both cymbal lines are great. They both do exactly what they say on the tin with their own flair attached to each.

With the Duals, they add a darker edge to a bright cymbal that adds a complexity rarely found elsewhere. The Darks are complex through and through, with a brooding tone that really punches in heavier settings.

The Duals do this too, but with slightly more dexterity than the Darks that pride themselves as a ‘mosaic of complex sound’.

The Duals blend visual uniqueness with a sound that can be used in a range of settings, whereas the Dark cymbals remove the bright harshness some cymbals make when hit harder, having a focus on the power and tonality that players are after.

Depending on your genre, you’re going to want different things. If you are a heavy hitter, both will suit your needs.

If you want brightness with some complexity, Duals are your go-to. If you want a reduction in presence, perhaps the Dark range is your best bet.

For a complex response in conjunction with your dynamics, Duals will provide the specific respinse you’re looking for. And, if you want to be heard amongst dense guitars, the Custom Darks will cut through with more clarity.

As you can see, this can go on for a while!

The choice is up to you – we can’t tell you which is better or worse for your playing. But what we can tell you is that with either of these cymbals, you are sure to be happy with your choice. It really is up of preference, and the choice is yours!

Whichever you go for, here are some tips and tricks about taking care of them to get the most fout of your playing for years to come.

Tips & Tricks

Angle is Important

Angle your cymbals! I know Travis Barker looks cool (and there’s no arguing he doesn’t) – but I can guarantee his cymbals hate him. You want to hit a cymbal with your sticks’ taper, allowing for a smooth wash and easy access to the tip of your stick.

Without the angle, you have to play above the cymbal (like Travis) which works in some styles, not all. You can expect cracking and keyholing from poor angles – something Travis won’t be worrying about because he likely gets them for free!

A good way to achieve a good playing angle is to position the edge of your cymbal towards your lower belly. This angle works in conjunction with your arm during play, providing a natural flow that, once you’ve tried, won’t put them flat again. ANGLE YOUR CYMBALS!

Keep ‘Em Clean

Cymbals get touched, there is no way around it. Whether it’s during setup or teardown, muting for short accents, or interested people giving them a spin to look at them.

You can use a micro-fibre cloth to clean them, but to really make the cymbal shine – and who wouldn’t with finishes like the Dual and Dark Series – they deserve a bit more respect and care.

The Meinl Cymbal Care Kit includes a cleaner and protectant that you can use together with a micro-fibre cloth to really make them stand out. CLEAN YOUR CYMBALS!

Stack ‘Em

With some of these cymbals designed for stacking, and some giving tonal additions that scream ‘Stack Me!’ – don’t think there are any bad ideas. Some stacks will sound great from the get-go. Others, you’ll be questioning why you even bothered. This is part of the fun!

You can either place them directly on top of each other for a direct relationship, or use additions such as the Meinl 6mm Long Cymbal Stacker or Meinl 8mm Long Cymbal Stacker for an easy way to stack cymbals rather than a new stand.

Give ‘Em Some Love!

Enjoy your cymbals, look after them, and think about what kind of sound you want to project. Study your favourite players for great videos on how they sound – and, if you like Meinl cymbals, you’re in luck because their videos are excellent!

There’s no wrong sound from cymbals, only wrong sounds for the musical situation. Let your mind rest and go with your gut. If you hear just one cymbal from the videos above that speaks to you, then you can be sure to find a use for it somewhere in your setup.

If you’re looking to expand your cymbal range, why not check out our full collection below?

Shop now | Meinl Cymbals 

See more | Meinl

See more | Cymbals

Content Writer - Drums

With almost 6 years of drum related experience - professional playing from bars to festivals and recording - Myles' passion for the drums started with the famed Cadbury's gorilla advert. Hearing that dunun, dunun, dunun, dunun, dun-dun has since guided him through higher education, music school and Bachelor's and Masters degrees, focusing on creating and capturing a great drum sound. He is most likely to be found in a YouTube hole or gigging with his function band Citrus Funk.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This