Drummers | Music | Feminism

The Simple Guide to Drumheads

Selecting the right drumheads can make all the difference in the sound you get. For any of you shaking your head right now and thinking – ‘I’ve had the same heads on my drums since I got the kit and they sound fine’ – simply don’t know how good you can get your drums to sound with a little TLC. Whether you’d like to fully nerd out or just freshen up your wood children, this Simple Guide to Drumheads.

In the beginning….

Most drumheads today are made of plastic. They were once made out of calf skin, which are of course natural products that don’t stand up to moisture and changes in temperature well. Synthetic drumheads were invented by Chick Evans (of Evans drumheads) in 1956 and made popular by Remo Belli, who was an actual guy until he passed a few years ago. The fundamentals of sound comes from the type of plastic used, thickness of the plastic in the head (2 mil to 15 mil, for example), from the amount of plastic sheets on top of each other (plies), if they are coated or not and with what, and finally, there are all kinds of modifications that have been invented to dampen, dry, or muffle drums to your liking.

Fundamentals of the modern drumhead

For many drummers, drumheads start and end with a single ply, 10 mil head. Remo’s is called the Ambassador. Evans’ is called UV1 (which was recently added to compliment their G1). Using an Ambassador (or UV1) on all of your drums top and bottom (except the bottom head of your snare) will result in a wide open, unharnessed sound. In most cases, drum manufacturers use one of these 2 heads as their model for what they want their drums to sound like. If you know how to tune well, and have some moon gel (rubbery material you can stick on the heads to remove excess ring), you can go pretty far with this combination. For many, however, the sound that you’ll get will not be the sound you want. Here’s where we get into options. Here’s a loose guide to help you make heads or tails of drumheads.