One of the most overlooked components of a drum set is the hi-hat clutch. People tend to pay less importance to it, since it does not directly affect your sound quality or drum response in any way.
But unless you’re an amateur drummer, you know very well that a good hi hat clutch can make the difference between having to halt your performance midway, and playing perfectly without any restrictions.
The hi-hat consists of two cymbals that are mounted on a specialized stand. You can play them with a pedal, and sticks. The clutch is what holds your top hi-hat cymbal, so if it slips, you are going to end up with a damp and strange sounding hi-hat performance, which will mess up the rhythm of any song.
What to look for when buying hi-hat clutch?
While buying a hi-hat clutch, make sure to get a model with a locking bottom nut, or a drop clutch, since they allow you to play with your sticks more freely if you use a double bass pedal for your bass drums.
Drop clutches are designed to hold the top cymbal of a hi-hat at a certain distance above the bottom cymbal, even when your foot is not on the pedal.
Multiple redundancies prevent the clutch from slipping down the hi-hat stand in the middle of a performance. Each company has its own locking mechanism, and not all are created equal. Which is why we have gathered the best hi-hat clutches in the market, these are favored by both hobbyists, as well as pros. So take a look, and decide which one is right for your next jam.
Dixon PSHK-7A-HP Basic Hi-Hat ClutchPro: Full steel construction
Con: Cannot hold larger hi-hats under heavy load
The Dixon PSHK-7A-HP is an affordable, yet solidly built hi hat clutch which will easily latch onto any stand. It is completely built from steel, and the package comes with the pads and parts so you won’t have to go out there and spend any extra money scavenging around for little parts. The locking nut feels solid and grips the stand firmly, all you need to do is give a slight twist to the key in order to tighten or loosen the grip.
One disadvantage of being priced so affordably is the fact that there are simply not that many redundancy features to prevent the hi-hat from slipping down under heavy loads if the primary locking mechanism fails. So you might want to consider other options if you are a hard hitter, or if own larger and heavier hi-hats.
Yamaha LC-810A Hi Hat Clutch StandardPro: Steel body, secure locking wing nut
Con: May not fit certain stands
The Yamaha LC-810A is absolutely wonderful as a cheap hi hat clutch, because unlike the other affordable clutches, this one does not cut down on support for larger hi-hats. It too features only one locking mechanism, but the secure wing nut design makes sure that the hi-hat doesn’t slip, even if you are hitting it really hard during a live performance.
This lets you perform freely and cut loose, without having to worry about slipping hi-hats. One of the drawbacks to this design is the lack of support for certain stand models. However such stands are very rare, and in most cases, you can fit this clutch onto almost any stand with some tweaking around.
Pacific Drums PDAX379 Standard Hi Hat ClutchPro: Solidly built, easy to use
Con: Hard to find
This hi hat clutch is built by a company that is highly reputed for manufacturing top notch drum accessories – Pacific Drums. Not only is the PDAX379 extremely easy to use, but also a very reliable and well-built clutch. The entire unit feels as though it is one solid lump of steel, and it comes with all the PDP accessories that you’ll need to mount this clutch onto your hi-hat stand and begin drumming.
The thread-free inner section of this clutch means that there is less wear and tear, and the hi-hats will not damage the clutch no matter how hard you play them. It is a universal hi hat clutch, meaning that it can fit onto any standard hi-hat stands regardless of the make and model.
Gibraltar SC-DC Hi-Hat Drop ClutchPro: Drop clutch
Con: Complicated adjustment
First of all, this is a drop clutch. Meaning that, most of the time, you can play your hi-hat with just the sticks and run a double bass pedal configuration for your bass drum. All you need to do is strike the clutch with your drumstick, and the top cymbal of you hi-hat will drop, resulting in a closed hi-hat.
To reset it, just tap your hi-hat pedal and it will pop right back into the open position. The clutch does not disengage unless you hit it, and no matter you hard you strike the hi-hats, they will not slip on the stand unless you either strike the clutch or use the pedal. It is designed to work with all major stand brands and models, and the entire body is made from high-quality steel.
Remo HK-9045-00 Quicklock Hi-Hat ClutchPro: Lock notch system
Con: Pedal control is not very responsive
The Remo HK-9045-00 Quicklock is one of the most unique and best hi-hat clutches that you will find on the market. It does not use a thread operated key or locking mechanism, in fact, it is totally thread-free and allows you to quickly “pop on” and “pop off” hi-hats from your stand. Even as you play, the hi-hat stays put at its original mounting height and does not budge by even a fraction of a millimeter.
In case you ever need to change out tunes during a gig, you can simply disengage the locking pin and snap in a new hi-hat, rather than pause, unscrew, and then re-screw like you would normally do with conventional screw based clutches. It lets you change hi-hats within seconds, instead of minutes.
Pearl DCL300P Drop Clutch, Felt Washers, Lock NutPro: Drop clutch, fail resistant lock nut
Con: Hard hitting may re-engage the clutch
Pearl is one of the oldest and most experienced percussion instrument and accessory manufacturers out there, and their quality is second to none. This unique drop clutch comes with rubber washers to ensure smooth, jam-free operation and is built from heavy duty steel parts for maximum durability. The new bottom mounted lock nut design keeps your hi-hat mounted where they should be and is totally impervious to hard hitting.
Except in some cases, where a super hard strike to the hi-hat may actually re-engage the clutch and take the hi-hat into closed operation mode. Just tap the pedal to set it free, or just re-calibrate the tension in the locking nut to keep the clutch working properly.
Drum Workshop SM505 Drop Loc Hi-Hat ClutchPro: Drop clutch, allows quick changing between open and closed positions
Con: Can be hard to control with sticks if not calibrated properly
This hi hat clutch sits snugly on your stand and wraps itself around the circumference of your stands pipes. It features a unique drop arm that is extremely responsive, and unlike most other drop clutches, does not jam if you hit it too hard or slam the hi-hat shut. The mechanism is in fact so responsive that you can literally just nudge the foot pedal to re-engage the clutch and a simple tap on top of the clutch will disengage it.
However, the hypersensitivity is sometimes too much, because you may end up disengaging the clutch by accident if you tap near the drop arm, and the chances are even higher if you are a hard hitter who swings fast and wide. Some tension adjustment will take care of the sensitivity, but it is simply too high out of the box.