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resonant heads

Discussion in 'Recording' started by cybership, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. cybership

    cybership Guest

    I recently picked up a kit for my studio and I need to replace the heads . I'm a guitar player so forgive the lack of experience in this area. The kit is a maple GMS. A drummer friend of mine recommended that I use regular single ply heads for the resonant side . He said the heads that are sold as resonant heads are to thin and that I would get a better sound from the single ply "batter head " on the resonant side. Anyone out there using batter heads on the resonant side ?

  2. Prof.Sound

    Prof.Sound Guest

    OK, some terminology needs to be discussed.

    First, many people mix the concept of what a resonant head is, with the concept that because its a resonant head, it must be thin.

    A drum has 2 heads, the batter (i.e. top) and the resonant (i.e. bottom). I'm not going to get into any great detail because I've already done that in The Drum Tuning Bible which will answer all your questions in detail, and it's FREE!!!

    The batter head controls attack and ring while the resonant head produces "resonance" and aids in sustain, it has a major effect in the overtones and enhances the timbre of the drum.

    When the drum is hit, the ear hears mostly the attack and the fundamental pitch of the drum, overtones are washed out at a distance. Overtones are also an essential component to making the drum sound carry through other instruments and to the audience.

    The most inherent sound created from any given head will be heard by placing a head of identical specifications on the resonance side. This is due to the ability for polymers of equal thickness (specification) to vibrate reasonably equal to each other, thus eliminating phase cancellations, which can cause a tight head to sound dead or lifeless.

    As you tune the drum with one side either higher or lower, you go through "zones" producing one of either clear pitch, phase cancellation, no sound or a Doppler effect. "Doppler" is where the drum when hit, descends in pitch from the point of initial attack to a lower pitch. This also becomes more pronounced when the head is of a different specification (weight/thickness) and the batter head is higher/lower in pitch than the bottom head.

    Resonant heads are almost always a single ply head (the exact same as the typical single ply batter heads under the trade names of Ambassador, Evan's G1 and Aquarian Classic), because its a good balance between the mass movement needed to accentuate the mid and low frequencies and the thinness required to capture high frequencies and give a drum life.

    Sanre drums are a different story. Their resonant heads (called snare-side heads) are almost always a thinner counterpart to the batter heads. Why? High-Frequencies and an easier ability to excite the head into movement means an ability to excite the snare sound. In this case, you really never want to put a true batter head on the resonant side of a snare drum because it will sound very lifeless and make it hard to excite the snares.

    There are, like all things in sound, exceptions. For example, Aquarian makes what is called a "High-Frequency" head which is thin and accentuates the high-pitched overtones on toms. Evans makes a thin "resonant"" head for toms that is designed for the same purpose, to accentuate the high-pitched overtones on toms. Some guys like to use these if they are using 2-ply heads on the batters for wear only reasons because it brings high end resonance back into the sound lost by using the 2-ply head. If you use a 2-ply head for sound muffling reasons, then you really don't want to use the thinner resonant heads as it un-does what you sought to accomplish.

    One last thing - things of mass take longer to stop once moving then things of less mass. Things that are thinner vibrate easier and faster, whereas thick things do not. So thicker heads, have a longer warmer sound than does a thin head. A thin head actually, while giving a bright overtone and attack, also can give a dry albeit colder tone to a tom.

    Simply - buy a standard single ply batter and use it on the bottom side of the toms. Coated for a warm sound, clear for a bright attack.
    Some manufacturers have made this somewhat confusing because they can often refer to the snare side head

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