Crash ride cymbals are cymbals that combine the elements of two of the five cymbals typically found in a drum set, the crash and the ride cymbals. These dual-purpose cymbals produce a lively and brassy sound that accompanies the traditional "ping" and sustainability of the ride cymbal. The function of the ride cymbal is to provide a steady rhythm, and the purpose of a crash cymbal is to produce an accent or flair. When combined to create crash ride cymbals, the cutting aspect of the ride is sustained while allowing for quick, energetic crashes when necessary. The drummer has the benefit of the two cymbals in one, so his or her hands don't have to venture too far from the timekeeping element of the ride cymbal.
Music that employs a heavy, loud sound, such as hard rock, heavy metal and punk is well served by crash ride cymbals. Jazz drummers also use crash ride cymbals, as the lighter, washier sound of the crash ride is popular in jazz music. Some types of music call for a "washy" cymbal sound throughout, and this is where the crash ride cymbal shines. The louder sound of the crash aspect of the cymbal combined with the prolonged sound of the ride generates a perfect shimmering sound.
Drummers usually use nylon-tipped drum sticks to play crash ride cymbals when playing them as a ride so that they can have the clean stick articulation that is needed in a ride element. If they are going to play them as a crash, drummers often hit the cymbal with the shoulder of the drum stick, which is just below the tip, or flip the stick over and hit the cymbal with the butt of the drumstick to create the crash accents. In order to produce the ride sound, the drummer will play near the middle of the crash ride cymbal; to crash the cymbal, they will hit it at the edge.
Diameter and thickness also distinguish crash ride cymbals from singular ride or crash cymbals. Crash ride cymbals are smaller and thinner than ride cymbals, and have a smaller bell — the raised, dome-shaped area in the middle of the cymbal that works as a resonator. Most crash ride cymbals measure between 15 to 19 inches (381 mm to 482.6 mm), although some jazz crash rides are smaller, starting at 14 inches (355.6 mm).