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Today's Modern Drumheads

Gone are the days of natural animal hide drumheads. Drummers would scour the streets looking for their preferred grade and thickness of hide, then they would have to learn how to stretch and mount the hides on hoops, or pay someone to do it for them. Then drummers would have to deal with the effects of weather changes, sensitivity, availability, strength and consistency. It was an art in itself, that most drummers certainly don't miss, or even know about.

That all changed in 1956, when drummer Chick Evans invented the plastic drumhead. In 1957, drummer and innovator Remo Belli, along with chemist Sam Muchnick, developed a plastic head as well (known as Mylar), which led to the beginning of the Remo drumhead company. Once plastic drumheads were developed, the flood gates opened. All the headaches of natural hide heads were gone. Plastic drumheads were tough, already mounted on steel hoops, and readily available. New designs and variations followed quickly, and the modern drumhead was born.

Drumhead Types

Single Ply - The most popular drumhead type is the single ply head. It falls in the middle of the spectrum in regards to tone, resonance, and versatility. The ply is normally about 10-mil in thickness, but range from about 7-mil, up to about 14-mil. They are available in clear versions, with a semi-rough coating (for use with brushes), black and smooth white. Single ply heads produce an open, bright and resonant sound with nice "attack." They are generally thought to be used for lighter playing music styles such as jazz and light rock, but can be used for any style of music. Popular single-ply heads are: Remo Diplomat and Ambassador; Evans G1 and Resonant; Aquarian Classic Clear; and Attack 1-ply and Thin Skin.

Two Ply - Another popular choice are 2-ply heads, which include two plies of Mylar film. This combination produces a slightly different tone, defined as "fatter" or "warmer" with more durability, focus and depth. These are also available in black, smooth white, and coated versions for playing with brushes. It is a fairly common choice to have a two-ply head on the top batter side of the drum, and a single ply, more resonant head on the bottom of the drum. Two-ply heads are generally thought to be used for heavier, louder music styles, such as rock, metal, fusion and R&B. Examples of two-ply heads are Remo Emperor and Pinstripe; Evans G2; Aquarian Super-2; and Attack 2-Ply.

"Dot" heads - Generally used with single-ply heads, a "dot" can be applied to add another layer of thickness to the striking area. This serves to add some durability and life to the drumhead, as well as offering a slight muffling effect. Dots can be on the top or bottom of the head, and can even be coated for brush work. Examples: Remo Black Dot; Evans Power Center; and Aquarian High-Energy.

Drumheads with "Rings" - It is now quite popular for drumheads to include an "overtone control ring" mounted on the underside edge of the head, adding a muffling effect in order to dampen unwanted overtones. This thin underlay offers a more even and balanced sound. Examples: Remo Powerstroke 3; Evans EC and EC2; and Aquarian Studio-X.

"Hydraulic Heads" - These are two-ply heads with a small amount of oil placed between the plies for a fat, deep and thick sound, with a shorter decay and sustain. Evans Hydraulic heads are available in Clear, Blue, and Black versions.

A Note on Bass Drumheads - Bass drum head types are available in basically the same variations as those listed above. Music styles can also dictate whether the drummer prefers a more muffled sound, or a more "open" resonant sound. The type of bass drum beater will also make a difference, be it felt, soft felt, plastic or wood.

Drum & Percussion Gear at Cascio Interstate Music

Most every type of head mentioned above is available in black, such as: Remo Ebony series; Evans Black Chrome and Onyx; Aquarian Response 2; and Attack 1-Ply Black. Other variations of heads are created to look and feel more like old animal hide heads, some have both underlay rings and dots, and there are even triple-ply heads.

Muffling - Drummers have improvised all sorts of muffling ideas and devices through the years: felt strips, duct tape and tissue, wallets, O-rings, foam strips, pieces of leather, or whatever might be handy. It is rare to see a bass drum today without a pillow or blanket inside, as most drummers want a short, fat, slap sound, especially when it is being miked. There are now many manufactured devices available for muffling such as Remo Muffles; Moon Gel damper pads; and control rings. For bass drums there is the DW Pro Cushion Muffling Pillow; and the Evans EQ Muffler Pads.

Today, music styles cross all boundaries, and there is no right or wrong, or good or bad sound to strive for. The tuning of drumheads, although a science in itself, is subjective. Whatever works for the drummer and for the music, is OK. With the seemingly infinite variations of drumhead types available, drummers can experiment endlessly to obtain their unique and individual sound.

Drum & Percussion Gear at Cascio Interstate Music

Drum & Percussion Gear at Cascio Interstate Music Remo Drumheads Evans Drumheads Aquarian Drumheads Attack Drumheads Ludwig Drumheads DW Drumheads Latin Percussion Drumheads Pearl Drumheads Pearl Marching Tama Drumheads Yamaha Drumheads Gretsch Drumheads Dynasty Drumheads Mapex Toca Drumheads

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  • Since 1887, the Yamaha Corporation in Japan has grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of musical instruments. Musicians worldwide place their confidence in Yamaha Drums, Keyboards, Woodwinds & Brass, plus Live Sound and Recording Gear.
  • C. F. Martin & Co. has been creating the finest instruments in the world for over 175 years. One of the world’s leading acoustic instrument makers, Martin guitars are hand-made by skilled craftsmen and women, using both old and new design and techniques.
  • Meinl Cymbals inspire drummers, offering them new sounds to hear and feel. Six different alloys are used for crafting cymbals, offering   the widest selection of basic cymbal sound characteristics. Based in Germany, Meinl also offers a wide assortment of high quality percussion instruments for all skill levels.
  • Archer offers Acoustic, Electric and Bass models – quality instruments with "sound" value at modest prices. Designed and performance-tested in the USA, these are ready-to-go right out of the box! With Archer, you're not paying for the "name," you're paying for the guitar. 
  • Union Drum Sets are designed and performance tested in the USA ... and come with everything needed to start playing, right out of the box. Quality Drum Hardware and Hand Percussion round out the Union Drums line.
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