This column I am going to discuss drum heads. I will look at the different types, the sounds they make, different manufacturers and price point. It has been said that a solid relationship with your drums is like a solid relationship with your spouse or partner. It starts with good quality heads. Good heads that are made for the sound your are trying to achieve make all of the difference.
There are many different manufactures of Drum Heads. Some of the more common are, Remo, Evans, Aquarian and Hart.
Every manufacturer of drums issue their own heads on their drums when they ship them. Generally as a rule, all of the heads from a drum set manufacturer are worthless. The manufacturers heads are cheap and I believe are made so that the drums do not come without heads when sold. I would think this help sales. My favorite manufacturer of heads is Remo. They have
been making quality heads for a long time. They have great quality control. They manufacture all sizes and kinds for every type of drum. Of all of the heads out there, Remo seem to tune up nicely, wear evenly, keep their tone the longest and are generally priced so they are affordable. I have noticed many drummers use Evans heads. They are a close second to Remo. Actually, I prefer their bass drum heads because of selection and types. Aquarian and Hart are other players in the market.
It seems Aquarian are a cheaper head, trying to take some of the market from Remo. Hart is an electronic drum company who is making heads and they seem to be pretty good from what I hear but I do not have any actual playing experience with them. I do know that Hart makes quality products when they decide to make something. They call their heads the next generation of drum head for what that is worth.
There are many different types of heads and they each make different sounds. They come coated, oil filled and are made of animal skin. They come synthetically made, one ply, two ply, three ply, with muffles and without muffles. The list goes on and on. Basically animal skin heads are for conga and similar drums. (There are heads made synthetically that give the same look and feel of animal skin heads on the market. Remo make one called the Fyberskyn). Each drummer has their own preference as to the type of head they use. As a note: There are many different heads for concert drums, tympani, etc. but I will focus on heads that are made for drum sets and the styles of music that is being performed.
Here is a basic list of drum set head types and the style of music they could be used for.
WHITE COATED HEADS
This head is an all purpose head that seems to be the most common. Many manufacturers make these. They come in many sizes and thickness. They can be used in all styles of music and are very durable. I like to use them for Jazz and Rock styles.
SMOOTH DRUM HEADS
This head combines coated and clear heads with mid range tones, resonance and sustain. These heads seem to be good for additional tom-toms and bass drums. They are versatile for all styles but I do not use them very often.
These heads come with a layer of oil between two heads. These are great for dark metal music. They also seem to work well for Latin sounds as well as deep sounds. They tend to muffle the sound. I like to use these to record but not as a rule.
They have great durability. They provide a good tone and can be very useful for different sounds. I like to tune them tightly on a drum as to achieve a higher tone so it resonates longer.
BLACK DRUM HEADS
These heads are great for all styles except some jazz. They are very adaptable to electric fusion jazz but for straight ahead Jazz they just do not work. I especially use them for the bass drum. There are many brands of these as well as names. They are usually a pretty thick head that makes for a thicker tone.
These heads can be used for all styles depending on the amount of plys. As a rule the thinner the head the better it is for light acoustic based styles of playing with the thicker heads being for heavier darker styles of music.