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Drum Heads mega question

Discussion in 'Drums' started by ThirdBird, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    I am about to rehead both of my drumsets! (hasn't been done in awhile)

    I don't know what heads I want to use on them. I am a big fan of remo, that is all I have ever used, but would not be opposed to try Evans or Aquarian. I am also looking for general tuning tips/recommendations too.

    Drumset #1 - 1970 4-piece Ludwig Vintage Blue/Green Badge

    5.5x14 Snare
    14x22 Bass
    9x13 Rack Tom
    16x16 Floor Tom

    Snare is metal, drums are wood. I want this drumset to sound halfway between classic rock and a jazz/mo-town setting. Kind of mitch mitchell/ringo/funk brothers/late 50s early 60s jazz kind of sound. I was thinking coated ambassadors on all batters (even kick!) and clear ambassadors on resos (ebony on bass), with kind of a medium tuning all-around (hazy amb on snare side). I am open to all head and tuning suggestions, but definitely want the snare to have some character.

    Drumset #2 - 2001 DW Collector's Series 7-piece

    4x14 Snare
    18x22 Bass
    6x8 Rack Tom
    7x10 Rack Tom
    8x12 Rack Tom
    11x14 Floor Tom
    13x16 Floor Tom

    All are 5-ply maple I think. I use this for a modern hard-rock and reggae sound. I want the bass drum to sound like something that might be used in a rap song. A short deep, sweet, powerful cannon kind of sound...room shaking. The floor toms I also want to sound thunderous with tons of lows and boom. The top toms I want very punchy, that would still jump out with quick articulate work. The snare is a bit tricky, because it is halfway between a normal and piccolo snare. I definitely want it wail and drive a rock/metal song, but also to pop in a reggae/hip hop setting.

    I was thinking of Powerstroke 3's on the kick. I have used them on the beater head, but not the reso. I don't like to use much outside muffling, I like heads that take care of that themselves...with that being said I have used ebony ambassadors as the reso.

    For the floor toms, I was thinking of clear emperors, black dots, or powerstroke 3's. For top three toms, I was thinking black dots or pinstripes. I don't know if I should use clear or ebony ambassadors on the bottom, or use something heavier. Maybe something 2 ply like emperors, pinstripes, or powerstroke 3's. To cut out some of the resonance with using zerOrings, moongel, duct tape, or paper towels. I like my drums ring and resonate, just not forever. I have heard good things about Evans ec2's as tops and bottoms but am wary for no good reason except that I fear change of brand.

    For the snare, I was thinking of the standard coated ambassador/clear ambassor combo. I am tempted to try something crazy like using black dots on the snare, or even powerstroke 3's (maybe even coated). I think something like a coated emperor would be too heavy on such a thin drum.
    I want the drum to pop and cut through, but not be too tinny or too dry. I want it to be highish, but not in a standard piccolo range. In a perfect world I would just have two snares, but I digress.

    Other random thoughts:

    I have used the evans foam ring bass drum heads, and they sounded really good, but eventually the plastic ring that holds them dried out and cracked. I will not use them again. Also, ebony batter heads look amazing, but sound like garbage. Not even worthy for an entry level kit.

    Can you guys help me choose my drumming destiny? Thanks!
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    For recording, I like the powerstrokes on the kick for every style. Lots of control and the boom is determined by the front head.
    For a Jazz/lighter rock sound and especially on steel snare drums I like the Genera dry on top and clear ambassadors on the bottom. And use a huge snare. As many strands as you can find. I have a 35 on my old Tama. It gets used a lot in place of drummers traveling kit.
  3. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    Dave, powerstrokes on both sides for the kick?

    Is the genera comparable to the coated ambassador?
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Here is another thread on this topic.

    After that thread, we bought several new sets of heads for the set in the studio. (I get to count these as my wife's Christmas present. It's good to be married to a drummer.)

    I bought a PowerstrokeX batter head for the kick. I use an Evans EMAD resonant for the kick.

    For the snare we bought an Evans Hazy 300 snare side and A PowerstrokeX and an Evans Hydraulic for the top.

    For the toms we bought
    1. Clear Ambassadors for the resonant
    2. Evans hydraulics
    3. Powerstroke 4
    4. Coated Ambassador

    So far we have tried the Evans Hydraulics on the tops. Very nice, distinctive sound. Heavy on the fundamental, but still a nice lively sound. The new bottoms (Evans Hazy on the snare and the clear Ambassadors on the toms) did a lot for the sound to start things off. Made a big difference in the control and depth of the sound.

    We are expecting a foot of snow here, so with the typical SWVA "solar powered" snow removal philosophy we may have a lot of time to switch out heads. I'll give a report on the Powerstroke 4s when we get them on.

    Update: I should note that the Evans hydraulics are blues.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Well, you can...I'm with Bob on this. The Emad in the front gives you a LOT of control over the decay of the boom. There are three(I think ) Powerstroke models. I have used the 2's and the 3's. Excellent.

    The Evans hydraulics are still a go-to for heavy stuff. Be aware of the different weights. Reds ,blues, blacks....all different. There may be others.

    The Genera comes in both coated and smooth finish. The coated head sounds a LOT like the coated Ambassador's with a whole lot more control. And they do record DRY. For jazz brush work, these are my favorites. Crisp, and accurate. And your 'whack' will depend on the tension. I have an older Tama steel 6 1/2" snare thats been 'prepped' for the studio. I use the Genera coated on top and a clear ambassador snare head Its got the wide snares, all the hardware bolts have rubber grommets, the inner shell has been lined with the small aircell packing material and secured. This drum behaves under the mics and will do any sound you'd like.

    I find that control of length of the note as well as tone combined with head tension for feel gets you great separation in recording. If you get this physically, you have very little to do electronically and the shorter the path the better the sound.

    None of this works well for live.

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