TLC for your fingercymbals

I have a confession to make. The zills that I bought since 2007 have never been polished before! The elastic has been replaced a couple of times but copper polishing never happened.

Not having weekly classes during the summer it was a good moment to get all my zills out and do a bit of upkeep. I love to hear tops and tricks about how you take care of your finger cymbals as well!

Let’s line ‘m up

Despite putting all my zills out on the table, I still can’t find my Saroyan Grecians. And they are my favorite zills ever. I’ll have to search a bit deeper in the rest of the house 🙁I have a collection of student zills, tourist zills and professional grade zills. You can see a selection in the image below. Missing are my Saroyans two tone and Grecians. The Fat Chance Belly Dance zills in the upper right are also very nice: light, nice sound, good size.

Some zill geekery

If you don’t own zills but you are in the market, I highly recommend Saroyan student zills if you want your zills to be an instrument. If you are not sure if you are into zills, go for a higher priced set of student zills with two slots for inserting elastic. The two slots will make it easier to play your zills compared to one slot zills.

Want to know more about zills? I recommend the BDBA talk about zills on October 10th. Join the BDBA facebook group to attend this meeting with my favorite zill loving people!

If you want to read more about zills, Princess farhana has a nice article on her website. A comprehensive guide for dancers written bij Dawn Davina Brown is available as an eBook through her etsy shop.


Back to work! I used Brasso copper polish, an old tea towel for polishing and piece of soft fabric to wipe away the residue and make them shine. This took more time and effort than I anticipated but seeing the shiny copper reappear is addictive.

Before polishing, I cut off the elastic. The elastic needed to be replaced anyway. You can also polish zills with the elastic still attached though. Here’s a close up of a zill that is halfway through the process.

The process

  1. Cover the item in polish
  2. Wait ten minutes and let the chemical smelling stuff do its job.
  3. Use elbow grease and rub away the oxidation.
  4. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the surface and they are back to being shiny again.

Some of the cymbals have extra oxidized spots that I couldn’t clean up completely. My husband came up with the idea to use a powertool for the ones that were very corroded, by attaching a piece of felt. That helped to polish away the last spots.


Previouse I used small elastic, about 5-7 mm wide. This time I went with 10-12 mm elastic as I used that width on my Saroyans and I am happy with the added grip and control. The white elastic shows stains from make up and grime, that’s why I chose black elastic this time.

I got the 8-10 mm wide elastic from my local sewing supply shop in the center of Utrecht. They had the regular black elastic and a wide selection of colorful and sparkly elastic on display as well. I couldn’t resist and got the tan sparkle elastic too.

Slid the elastic through both slots, and insert your thumb or middle finger. Measure how tight the elastic should be.

I then tie of the elastic while the zill is still on my hand. While wrestling with the knot the elastic could loosen or tighten. By keeping my finger in place I make sure the tension on the elastic stays the same.

The only thing is that wide elastic makes for wide and bulky knots. I knot with a figure eight knot, as demonstrated here.

Here’s a gratuitous ‘thumbs up’ picture with the tan glitter elastic 😊 Ready for a new seaon of dancing and zilling!

I am a professional bellydancer, costume-a-holic and dance studio owner living in the Netherlands. My passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I’ve been doing that for almost two decades. I am a teacher at the online Belly Dance Business Academy, where you can find courses and workshops to help you grow your belly dance business. If you like to be kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook , follow me on Twitter or find me on Instagram