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Drum heads

Discussion in 'Drums' started by BobRogers, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have a couple of questions on drum heads. I'm not a drummer, but I own a Mapex M Birch set for the studio and I've been working on trying to get it sound as good as possible. I'm recording mostly folk, alt. country, jazz, etc. The two drummer that I am recording most have a pretty light touch - though I have a couple of heavy hitters in now and then. I've been using Remo Pintripes as batter heads and clear, single ply Remo heads that came with the set a few years ago as resonant heads. I tend to tune pretty low, without trying to tune to the very lowest note possible. I like a tonal sound with a pretty quick decay and not too many high overtones. I use a bit of Moongel or extra damping.

    While most of the action is in the batter (top) head, I'd like to hear opinions on how much the resonant head affects sound - and what type of resonant head you use. Is there any reason to change out resonant heads as long as they are tuning up with no problems?

    I've liked the Pinstripes, but I'm thinking of trying the Powerstroke 4s on the toms and kick. I realize that it might be too dead, but it would be low and I might get the sound a like without any extra damping. Any comments on this?

    Please feel free to add any comments you have on drum heads for recording.
  2. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    i have always been a fan of remo clear ambassadors on the bottoms, i only change mine every few years.

    the bottom head helps decide what pitch the overall drum sound rings at, focusing on more of the sustain and decay aspect of the sound
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I agree with thirdbird on the function of the resonant head. This is the hardest part to control in the studio, and what sounds good live isnt necessarily what sounds good in a controlled environment.

    But you guys already know that.

    Given the time to experiment (I'm not a drummer either but I know drums) I have found that the weight of the bottom head has everything to do with length of note and tonal resonance. As far as tuning, this is something that is as varied as the number of drummers it takes to change a lightbulb.

    Some tune the top and bottom head to the same pitch. Others tune them in incremental steps with the fundamental being the initial strike on the batter and the bottom head being in some harmonic primary to that. Some tune them by ear, some by tension (drum dial) and some by some peculiar tonality that they were left with when the space ship ground to a halt in their back yards.

    The thing for toms in the studio....and all the drums actually, is to get the heads in some sort of sympathetic tune with themselves and find notes that have less sympathic overtones with the other drums involved.

    When you get rid of these physical 'excitements' between drums, you find a space that allows MORE of the initial strike and tonality to become prevalent and you have a clearer representation of the drums as musical instruments rather than a thud or whack at some point in the rhythm.

    Bob. The difference in quality sound between a pinstripe and the powerstrokes is huge. Yes the powerstroke is a bit 'deader' but in a good way. In a close mic'd situation they have all the tone without the extraneous rumble and rattle.
    Having a studio drumset , it is my advice to keep three sets of heads in good condition. The powerstrokes would be one set, a coated ambassador style set another, and a set of hydraulics. For a nice jazz recording tone, the ambassadors with the hydraulics on the resonant side is something the hear. Dead, no, controlled, yes.
  4. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dave, do you have any recordings with the jazz setup of ambassadors on top and the hydraulics on the bottom?

    I would be interested to hear that!
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well as a result of Dave's post I got my wife a bunch of drum heads for Christmas. (They call me Mr. Romance.)

    A while back we tried out the Evans blue hydraulics tops and the clear Ambassador bottoms. (Evans hazy on the snare bottom.) Very heavy sound with a big emphasis on the fundamental. Lots of control. Really liked the sound of the snare. Big, but still tight and crisp.

    Today we put on the Powerstroke4 tops and a PowerstrokeX batter on snare and kick. (Evans EMAD resonant head on kick.) We both love the tom sound. Nicely controlled without any damping. Great blend of overtones. Nice punch. Had to use three boogers of moon gel to damp the snare. Had a prominent ring that I wanted out of there. Might need to tune top or bottom to a different pitch. We stopped experimenting for dinner. Like the kick compared to the pinstripe, but I'm sure it will take some tweaking to get it ready to record.
  6. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    have you tried any 2-plys on the tom bottoms yet?
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Not yet. But the ambassadors were noticeably different than the Mapex/Remo bottoms that came with the kit. Didn't play too much with the new bottoms and the old pinstripe tops, but the slightly heavier single ply ambassadors made for a thicker, deeper sound. We are going to try the Coated ambassadors on top and hydraulics on bottom in the next couple of weeks and I will report.
  8. stealthchef

    stealthchef Guest

    Another thing you might want to consider is coated heads on the batters. Typically snares have coated heads, but I've found coated batter heads on the toms in the studio tends to work out nicely. Best way to describe the difference is that it has more attack and punch. Along with tuning correctly you still get plenty of depth. Most engineers I've worked with in the past have liked the sound. Usually I'll go with Remo coated emperors on the top head and a clear ambassador on the resonant head. Snare heads depend on which snare I'm using but they're usually in the same neighborhood as the toms. Evans and Aquarian have equivalent heads.

    Also, there's a series of YouTube videos by Bob Gatzen on drum tuning that are really awesome.
  9. cyrilruiz

    cyrilruiz Guest

    Drum heads is open ends of a drum. There are many part of drum heads like Holder clamp, Rim, Tension rod, Lug and Snare butt. Drumheads were made from animal skin and its use in first time in human history.
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Yes, and many guitars have shiny metal strings that were made from the intestines of feline cats first time in human history. These make sad and romantic songs especially pleasurable to listen to while at work.

    Sorry, I couldn't resist
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