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Whether you are buying your first drum kit, or looking to add a bit of variety to your sound, choosing the right drum head can be somewhat of challenge. With so many options, brands, and sizes, it may seem a bit overwhelming. Much like guitar strings and drum sticks, it is important to know what type of sound you are after, and what type of player you are. And if you're not sure- we're here to help!
One of the most common subjects we get asked about in the shop is the difference between clear and coated drum heads.
Coated drum heads, which are most commonly found on snares, are warmer in tone, easier to tune, produce more bounce off the stick, and allow you to have more control over the sound. Coated drum heads are used mostly on the top, or the 'batter' side of the drum. Most commonly found on snares, coated drum heads allow for more precision and lend themselves to a more detailed technique for practicing and stick control. Unlike clear drum heads, most drummers prefer to have a coated snare so they are able to use brushes for genres such as jazz or soul. Many drummers who play rock, pop, metal, funk, and solo percussion prefer snares with coated heads.
Clear drum heads are slightly higher in pitch, have a brighter and less controlled sound, are louder and offer more sustain. Clear drum heads are less commonly used on snares, but are often recommended for toms, bass drums and floor toms. If you are looking for a clear tone with lots of volume, clear heads may be for you. Drummers who play rock, pop, and funk often use clear heads to get a bigger, louder, and a more bass-driven sound.
Once you make the decision between clear and coated, it is time to chose what specific type of drum head you will be needing. For example, the brands we stock like Remo often have special names for the different types of heads they produce: Here are some of the most common names and specifications of our most popular drum heads and skins:
Ambassador: Bright tone with a warm attack, long sustain, and a good durability. Ambassador heads are industry standard for both live and recording situations.
Emperor: Clear Emperor heads are among the brightest sounding heads, whilst Coated Emperor heads are warm in tone, have a medium sustain, and maximum durability.
Controlled Sound: Warm and focused sound, medium sustain and extended durability. The laminated center 'dot' adds durability and tonal focus.
Power Stroke: Warm and dampened tone, mid-range balance and great response. These are best known for their resonant sound on bass drums.
Pinstripe: Dark and dampened tone, low-pitched sound, and have a quick delay which make them optimal tom heads for rock and pop. These are made with a measured ring on the edge of the head which dampens high frequency overtones.
If you are still unsure which drum head is right for you, come pay us a visit in the shop to find your perfect fit!