It's All in Your Head, Part Two: A Guide to Buying Drumheads That Are Perfect for Your Unique Needs

By Vic Salazar

In part 1 of my article about drumheads, I shared details about the number of plies in drumheads and how they affect their durability and sound. This week, I'll cover three additional elements of drumheads: muffling, coatings, and bottom heads.

Pre-Muffled or Wide-Open Drumheads

Heads now exist with built-in muffling to reduce unwanted overtones, which is achieved is by applying a ring of material like Mylar to the drumhead's top or underside. Evans, a leading creator of drumheads, offers one with tiny-sized holes or vents along the perimeter that dampen overtones by moving air through the membrane. Evans also offers a unique drumhead that employs a thin layer of oil between the 2 plies of their Hydraulic series to achieve a muffled tone.

Keep in mind that these pre-muffled drumheads don t change the pitch of the drum when it's tuned: they only remove unwanted additional frequencies. Pre-muffled drumheads can also help to prevent the need for other means of muffling, like gaffer tape.

Clear or Coated Drumheads

Coated heads are spray-painted clear heads. While clear drumheads have more sustain than coated heads, coated drumheads have a sharper attack that emphasizes the sound of the stick striking the drumhead surface (this is the top reason why drummers traditionally use a coated head on their snare drum).

If you're playing with brushes, you definitely need to use a coated drumhead for brush response. A coated head also has a more dampened presence than a clear head - which makes sense since a coated head has an extra layer of materiel applied to its surface.

Resonant or Bottom/Front Head

You get your pitch from the top or batter drumhead and your sustain from the bottom drumhead, so you'd usually only have a single-ply head on the bottom side of your tom and snare drum and on the front of your bass drum.

Snare drum resonant heads are specifically created for the bottom side of your snare. They're ultra-thin and not made to be struck. This thinness helps to enhance vibration and sensitivity to your snare wires.

(FYI, never install a single-ply batter drumhead on the bottom of your snare drum - unless you want it to sound like a choked cardboard box!)

Have questions about drumheads? Feel free to reach out. I'm always here to help!

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