Drum heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific purpose. The type of drum being used, the type of music being played, and the overall desired sound should all be considered when selecting a drum head. To make an informed decision, additional factors such as expected lifespan and budget should be considered and balanced.
Plastic is commonly used to make drum heads that are designed to be played with a stick or mallet. Others are woven from synthetic fiber or made of animal hide. Plastic heads are available in a variety of thicknesses, and some have multiple layers with or without an oil layer between them. A thinner drum head is more sensitive, making it a good choice for tympani or snare drums, as well as music that requires a light touch. Thicker drum heads are better suited to bass drums and tom-toms, but in louder music, they’re frequently used on top of snare drums.
Heavy sticks or hard mallets are required in marching applications, which necessitate a much thicker drum head. For the bottom of the snare drum, the thinnest heads are used. A head made of animal hide will work best when playing hand. Woven drum heads are made primarily for durability and can be tuned to extremely high pitches.
Thin drum heads have a very sharp and tinny tone, whereas thicker heads have a more mellow and rich tone. Overtones and excessive ringing are reduced with double-layer heads, which also produce a rounder, softer overall sound. A smaller diameter disk is often applied to the center of the head and possibly on either side to increase the sharpness of sound in thicker heads. To reduce overtones, rings are applied to the outer edge of the head.
The texture of a drum head has an impact on the drum’s overall sound. Plastic heads are smooth, but they can be coated to add texture for jazz brushwork or to change the tone of a snare drum. Animal hide heads can be processed in a variety of ways to produce tonal qualities and textures that are similar to those of plastic drum heads, but they typically have a richer tone than other styles.
Considering all of these factors will aid in the selection of the best drum head. Perform market research after all desired parameters have been met before making a final purchase. Read reviews of the options you’ve chosen and talk to other drummers about them. Comparing prices and understanding the benefits and drawbacks before making a purchase will help ensure that the drum head you choose is a perfect fit.