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DrumChops.com Drum Head Selection Guide

by

Lou Stavris - Owner/DrumChops.com

I am often asked for advice on how my customers should go about selecting heads for their drums.  My first response is usually, what kind of drums do you have, and what type of sound are you looking for?  By asking these questions, I can see trends in what "today's" sound is and what most drummers are looking for.  In most cases, the type of drums that have already been purchased get a unique sound all their own, but all drums benefit from quality heads that support the type of sound that is desired.  So what are the trends that I am seeing?

Over the last year or two, there have been some common options that started on expensive kits, and are now included on even beginner level kits.  These are:

All of these qualities have one thing in common.  They show a trend towards a sound that is more resonant, or one that has more sustain.  In short, they make the drums "ring" longer with a truer tone.

Gone are the days of the 80's, where the "studio" sound was in!  Back then thicker heads and dampening devices coupled to muffle drums to produce a sound that had little decay and a deader "thump".  Double-ply heads were just the start. 

Double-ply heads or Black-Dot heads did serve another purpose though..... They lasted longer!!

Now that drummers are seeking to have a deep true tone with a natural decay, how can this be done without sacrificing the strength of the heavy double-ply heads?

This is where the Attack line of heads, and others like it come in.  There are now double-ply heads that are constructed stronger around the rim, so the head does not pull away, while also combining a medium thickness layer with a thin layer.  This combination gives the drums the desired tone and longer more natural decay, with the strength previously only found in thicker heads that also served to dampen the natural ring of the drum.

I've tried the Attack Med-Thin heads in clear, and for a more dampened sound, the black med-thins have been a good choice.  The Attack double-ply heads have been my next choice when I did not want the black color, but needed the extra dampening or a more durable head without giving up to much tone and resonance.

Bottom heads have pretty much stayed the same, with a single-ply medium or light weight head serving as the resonant head.  I've found that the medium or normal single-ply heads have been a good choice on the bottom, while a slightly thicker or Med-Thin ply head on the top.  This has been a good combination for the sound that I am looking for.

 While these are just some of the combinations and conclusions that I have come to over the last few years of talking to a lot of drummers and experimenting with my own sets, this is not to say that this is the only RIGHT way to choose heads for your drums.  No matter what the trend may be, the bottom line is YOU have to be satisfied with the sound of your drums.  So, if you like the sound that Remo Pinstripes, or Evans Hydraulic heads give you, then DrumChops.com is there for you!

What About The Snare?

Snare drums are unique in that this is the drum that will get the most play.  It is also true that for those that use brushes, you will need to have a coated head to get the "swish" sound needed for a good brush sound.  Couple these two prerequisites with the fact that most drummers like to hear a nice high pitched "CRACK" from there snare drums, and you have more then a couple of things to think about!

Again, my experience has suggested two heads that I find to cover all the bases for my snare drums:

The first is an Attack head that is single ply, coated, and has a tone ridge.  This head provides the "CRACK" that I am looking for, with some additional strength around the rim and perimeter of the head.  It also has the coated texture for a great brush sound!

My second choice is for drums that get a bit more abuse.  For those heavy hitters out there, I usually recommend the Remo Ambassador white coated head with the Dot underneath.  While this is still a single ply head to allow the high pitched sound that we all seem to be looking for, it also adds the extra durability of the black dot under the head.  The fact that it is under the head is key, because it still allows the use of brushes.

Don't forget the BASS......

Bass drums are still the one drum where a small amount of decay is still sought after by most drummers.  The guy's I've talked to all want that "THUMP" sound that you hear and FEEL!!  In the past that usually required double-ply heads, and a muffling device if not a pillow or blanket in the drum.  However, bass drum heads have come a long way in the last few years, and now Attack has "NO-Resonance" heads that you can put on the front and beater side of the bass drum.  Using this type of head on both sides, gives the bass drum a nice deep tone that is short and punchy.

These heads are also available with smaller holes for the front head that will allow for a Mic to fit in the drum easily.  This is a must have if you work with a sound man, or record a lot.

I found that I really liked the sound of my 17X22 bass with the Attack No-Res head on the front, and an Evans EMAD head on the beater side.  The EMAD head gives you the option of selecting one of two dampening rings that fit into a holding ring that goes around the parameter of the head.  No dampening ring, a small dampening ring, or a larger dampening ring....  It's your choice, and you can change them in a matter of about a minute.

This is a great flexible head!

Any head, Any Sound, Any Combination..... It's your choice, and our job to get you the heads that YOU want to make that sound you have in your head come out of your drums!!!

 

WebMaster: Louis A. Stavris
Last updated: October 21, 2002
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