Evans Black Chrome Batter Drum Head

How To Choose Drum Heads

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Replacing your worn out drum heads will restore the sound of drums that have lost their punch. How to Choose Drum Heads is your expert guide to finding the right replacement drum heads to match your music and budget.

By Mike Fitch
Musician's Friend Senior Staff Writer

Improving your drums' sound is often as simple as replacing your old, worn out drum heads. Even if you have just purchased a new drum set, the preinstalled heads are often of inferior quality, and a set of high-quality heads will ensure that your drums sound their best.

Remo 5-Piece Rock ProPack Drum heads

The Remo 5-Piece Rock ProPack offers a wallet-friendly way to upgrade the typical low-quality drum heads found on many starter drum kits.

The heads that go on the top of your drums, the side that you hit, are called batter heads, and the bottom heads are called resonant heads. Drum heads come in single- or two-ply construction. Generally, jazz, light rock, and acoustic players prefer the increased resonance and sustain of one-ply heads, while heavy hitters playing louder rock, funk, or R&B usually prefer the focused sound and durability of heavier double-ply heads.

The drum head's thickness is also important: thinner, single-ply (ply means layer) heads have a sensitive response, with bright, resonant sound and complex overtones. Thicker single-ply heads are more durable and have a higher tuning range with less sustain and more attack than thinner heads. Two-ply heads have a less pronounced attack and quicker decay. Some examples of single-ply heads are Remo Ambassador, Evans G Plus, and Aquarian Studio-X. A few examples of double-ply heads include Evans EC2, Remo Pinstripes, and Aquarian Response 2. Evans' unique two-ply hydraulic drum heads have oil sandwiched between the plies for an extremely dry sound with quick attack and short sustain.

Some batter heads have a black or clear dot affixed to either the top or bottom of the head to muffle excess ring for a more focused, drier sound—an improvement upon the old-school technique of applying a piece of duct tape to dampen the head. Drummers who use brushes will want to stick with heads using dots on the head's underside to avoid snagging the brushes on the dot.

Many drum heads are offered in clear or with a white or black coating that gives a subtle muffling effect. Some heads, such as Remo Pinstripes, have internal sound rings embedded around their outer perimeter to control excess ring for deep, wet tone with minimal resonance. Often, jazz drummers put clear heads on the toms and a classic white-coated head on the snare drum, as the texture of a coated snare head sounds better with brushes. The bottom head on the snare drum is known as the snare-side head, a transparent, extrathin head that maximizes response to the snare wires.

Bass drum heads often include some kind of internal dampening system on the batter head to provide a more controlled sound. Some resonant heads, especially those for bass drums, have a ported hole. A ported resonant head is essential when you need to mic your drum in a live or recording environment. The Gibraltar Bass Drum Head Port Hole Cutter allows you to cut a perfect port. Port hole protector rings are also available to prevent your drum head from ripping.

Shop the complete Musician’s Friend selection of Drum Heads.

Drum head technology has evolved tremendously over the years and we are standing by, ready to discuss all your drum gear needs. If you need more advice on what drum heads may be right for you, we encourage you to call our friendly, knowledgeable Gear Heads at (800) 449-9128.

Tags: Acoustic Drums


# Aaron Breslau 2016-12-25 05:14
Hey so I've been looking for a head for my maple wood piccolo snare drum and I wanted the same one that my school has. I don't know what it is but it says "butter" at the top. Any ideas?
# Al B 2016-07-11 10:22
I have a 8 piece Rogers set and use attack coated for my Kick,,, lower tone Tom's I use attack 2 ply as the sound is heavy and hold their tuning ,, dense sound but with power , my higher tone toms and snare I use Remo heads clear for punctuation hope this helps ,, play top 40 and reggae to classic rock,
Al B
# Daylon Woffinden 2016-07-06 12:16
Hey so I have a Premier Drum set and I've never changed out the stock Premier Reso heads, but I'm positive that switching those with some remos will improve my sound. I play music very similar to Twenty One Pilots and the drummer has the sound im looking for. What kind of drum heads should i get for the top and bottom to minimize overtones, but yet still create a nice bright tom sound, and a nice poppy snare?
# Jay 2016-03-24 13:43
I recently bought Evans drum heads, but I only bought the batter heads. The heads on it initially were Gretsch and the resonant heads are still the Gretsch. Is it important to switch those out for the same Evans heads I just put on?
# Cameron Saliba 2016-04-05 14:25
Hey Jay,it is not necessary to swap the heads, but getting better heads will definitely improve the sound of your drums. It also isn't necessary to get the same heads, usually batter and resonant heads on a drum are different. It's all completely up to personal choice and what sounds you like!! ;)
# Vance 2015-11-21 00:04
Hey there I have a 5 piece Pearl Forum Series drum set. I'm kind of new at drumming and I have no idea of what kind of drum heads to buy. My kind of music is reggae and blues. But yeah man I'm just looking for some help.
# Louise Hansen 2015-11-09 15:04
Hey I need help I want to buy a set of drum heads for my husband for his Birthday, He has a 6pc Mapex Drum set. Is there a certain brand of heads I need to buy or will any brand fit as long as its the right size?
# Jon 2015-11-11 10:24
As long as they are the right sizes, any brand will work. The question I would ask first is, what style music does your husband play? One of the best all around heads I have used is, Attack. The 2-ply are durable and produce a great sound. They also tend to not be as expensive as some other brands. Also, look for a package deal that has all the sizes you need. It will be less expensive than buying individual heads.
# Jonathon Hunecke 2015-10-14 17:54
I make snare drums out of solid hardwood. I've made about 15 drums now and am curious as to which type of head sounds best with a solid wood snare drum. The shells are all 1/2 thick, and i often get a very prominent ring to them.
# Gene 2015-05-01 18:45
Hi, I've had a ludwig club date kit for a year now and have never changed the heads, I'm 16 and have been drumming for 10 years and consider myself quite good, but am really not sure on how and when to buy heads and what is good and what isn't, I drum mostly Bluesy Hard Rock sorta stuff. Advice would be appreciated. Thanks! :
# Kanoajb 2015-07-16 00:07
Step 1:
Do the research and decide whether you want clear or coated.
Step 2:
Go with Evans Level 360

I'm not endorsed or anything, I'll tell you I haven't had an extreme amount of experience, but Evans has never disappointed me. Easy to tune, sounds great. I might go with Remo too. Either way, both brands are great and they haven't let me down. Works for all types of music.
# Keith 2016-01-10 21:36
I've used Evans for a long time they sound great but they don't last all that long if you are a drummer that gigs regularly. I recently just switched to aquarian heads, I'll tell yea they sound great and it has been 6 months since I put them on and they show no wear so far and sound great. I really don't miss the Evans that I replaced every 3 to 4 months.
# Eric 2015-02-06 09:50
Great info. Thanks for the insight!
# Jon 2014-05-22 09:40
One of the brands I always got great sound and durability from is, Attack. I never seem to see them mentioned, though.
# Bill 2014-05-08 09:30
great stuff

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