Gear Review: Sabian Adds to the Big & Ugly Collection

SABIAN has just introduced new crash-friendly sizes and hi-hats to their Big & Ugly collection. Initially launched as big, dark, loose and dynamic, Big & Ugly was all about sonic versatility, tonal complexity and huge fun. Now Big & Ugly offers even more versatility, more sounds and way more fun!

18” AA Sick Hats


The 18” Sick Hats are very unique looking and eye-catching! Playing them inspires creativity and experimentation because they bring out unconventional sonic qualities that aren’t expected from traditional hi-hats. Not only are they a full 18″ (traditional hats are 14″), they also have huge gaping holes that span across the entire top cymbal (the bottom cymbal doesn’t have holes). Dark, raw and airy are the best terms to describe the sound of the Sick Hats, and while they’re fat sounding because of the big size, the holes lighten them up simultaneously. Overall, they’d serve well as special effect or auxiliary hats, but if you’re in a more creative and modern situation, you can experiment with using them as your mains. If there’s any drawback to the Sick Hats is that the sticks can get caught in the holes while playing them because the holes are just so big — there’s about as much open space as there is cymbal! It takes some getting used to, and you need to keep an eye on where your stick is hitting if you’re striking it on top. Turning the cymbals over is an option, making them heavier on the foot with more stick articulation, but also makes them slightly more pingy sounding, which isn’t as desirable. Sabian’s Sick Hats may seem expensive at $445 from most retailers, but keep in mind that they are 4” larger in diameter than most hi-hats. Overall, they are a very unique effect hi-hat both visually and sonically.

14” and 16” AA Apollo hats


These hats both feature a thin top cymbal over a medium-weight bottom, which makes them light on the feet. For articulations, they have moderate stick definition. This makes them suitable for a variety of situations, including jazz, funk, and even lighter styles of rock. The Apollo Hats have a fat sound to them because of how thin they are. Like the other cymbals in the Big & Ugly collection, they are dry and dirty sounding; they aren’t very splashy or wet. The 14” hats are higher in pitch compared to the 16”. The 16” have a slightly fatter sound and quieter volume. The two sizes are a good alternative to each other and allow drummers to pick whichever sound and feel suits them, however, 15” would be a nice addition to the line-up. As they are, either the 14” or the 16” can easily serve as a versatile and reliable main hi-hat pair.

14” XSR Monarch Hats


The XSR line within the Big & Ugly collection are for the beginner to intermediate drummer. The Monarch Hats are crafted with B20 alloy. Silvery-gray copper tones on the outside make them look intriguing and like professional cymbals, which is different and nice (some entry-level cymbals have logos or physical qualities that give immediately give away their lesser value). It’s refreshing to see an intermediate pair of hats look very vintage and professional at first glance. Turning the cymbals over reveals that the inside of each is lathed, which makes for an interesting contrast in sound. It provides crashability for open, sloshy hi-hats, and definition for detailed, closed hat work. Not quite as thin as the AA Apollos, they are slightly less fat sounding. Overall, XSR Monarch Hats are solid looking and sounding, especially considering their price and affordability. If you’re an entry to mid-level player that wants to explore dryer hi-hats, these would be great to check out.

18” and 20” AA Apollo 


Like most of the Big & Ugly line, these new crash-friendly ride cymbals look like they were dug up from the ground — they’re dirty and vintage looking. Regardless, they have a great stick response and rebound. The AA Apollo’s dynamic response is very good: it responds equally well to both soft hits as well as hard strikes, which makes it very versatile. And the sound can suit anything from soft jazz to loud rock. If you’re looking for a moderately dry and versatile cymbal, the 18” or 20” AA Apollo is something to try.


18” and 20” XSR Monarch 


The 18″ XSR Monarch is a smaller and more crashable version of the 20″ XSR. Both are relatively thin and have a grimy look to them. The stick bounces well off of the 18″, and it has a loose sound. However, while the overtones are minimal, it is a bit pingy. These cymbals are made with a B20 bronze alloy. As with most of the Big & Ugly cymbals, the Monarch is versatile. It wouldn’t be surprising to see someone take it to a jazz gig one day and a rock gig the next.

Find out more about Sabian’s new Big & Ugly Collection at

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