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Drum Head FAQ

Questions: 

 

Q: What’s the best head/what should I use?

 
A: We can all make suggestions based on experience, but there’s no best, and the real only way to find out is to try it for yourself. Every head will sound different on YOUR drums, played by YOU. Coated ambassadors may sound great on my birch Premier Genista toms, but horrible on somebody else’s fiberglass Ludwig Vistalites! If you need help making a decision on what to try, be sure to include:


  • -what type of drums you’re playing
  • -what sizes (depth in inches x head diameter in inches, e.g. 8x12 tom)
  • -what style(s) of music
  • -what sticks
  • -any other pertinent information (e.g. "I’ve tried clear pinstripes before, but I think they’re too muddy")

 

Q: What head should I use on the bottom of my drums. I’m using x heads on top.

 

A: In most situations, you’ll want a medium to thin single ply head on the bottom. The function of a resonating head (you guessed it) it to resonate! So putting a pinstripe or hydraulic on the bottom would probably not be the best idea (unless that’s the sound you’re going for. In which case, go for it!). You don’t want the difference between the top and bottom heads to be too drastic. For example, a diplomat under a pinstripe might not be a great idea. An ambassador would be a better choice. You can match heads (ambassador/ambassador) if they’re single ply. Otherwise, an ambassador is a good choice.

Recommended head combinations:

Batter   Resonant
Pinstripe   Ambassador
Emperor   Ambassador/Diplomat
Ambassador   Ambassador/Diplomat
Diplomat   Diplomat/M5

 

Q: What should I use on the bottom of my snare drum (snare side)?

 

A: Snare drums need extremely thin heads on the bottom. For this purpose, head companies make heads expressly for this purpose. When you change heads, make sure you put a head marked "Snare side" on the bottom. Remo calls them "Ambassador Snare", "Diplomat Snare", etc. A thicker head produces less snare response and more tone.

 

Q: When should I change heads?

 

A: When they wear out beyond the point of functionality. What happens is once you put the new head on, and start playing, the plastic (or other material) begins to wear out. You begin to lose resonance and tuning range. The heads get flatter and flatter sounding. When you can’t stand the quality of sound anymore, it’s time to change. Some players change heads every show, some every ten years. It all depends on how hard you hit, how you hit, and what kind of heads you’re playing. If you’re breaking or denting heads, then there’s something wrong with your technique, or you need thicker heads.

 

Q: How do I get more attack (click) out of my bass drum?

 

A: Impact patches are small patches that attach to your batter head with adhesive at the impact point. Some companies make them out of Mylar, some from Kevlar, some from other materials. Do it yourself-ers have had success with pieces of old heads taped on, moleskin (Dr. Scholls), leather, metal disks, coffee can lids, etc. If you tape anything onto your head, be sure to cut the center out of the tape. If your bass drum beater is hitting the tape, it will heat up and melt the tape, and eventually your head!





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