BY R.L. HULSMAN
Introduced earlier this year at The NAAM Show in Anaheim, California, Evans’ new G14 drumheads have been designed to project a louder sound and to last longer. Bigger sound and more durability? Sweet! But how to put this to a real test? Since it is common knowledge that everything is bigger in Texas, it was only natural for me to take the G14s to the state that’s home to both the Alamoand ZZ Top.
WALTZ ACRISS (TO) TEXAS
My band, The Kentucky Bridgeburners, snagged a trio of last-minute party gigs at SXSW — the annual gathering of (what seems like) every band on the planet in Austin, Texas. The gigs involved multiple rehearsals, an in-town warm-up club gig, and three shows in Austin. Up against a couple of Marshall cabinets and a huge Ampeg “refrigerator” cabinet (you know — the one your bass player always needs help loading out … downstairs), the G14s were going to get a real test of both claims — volume and durability.
THINGS DONE RIGHT
I’ve been reviewing drumheads for DRUM! Magazine for several years, and the following may seem like it’s become some sort of cut-and-paste Evans review infinite repeat, but I think it’s worth pointing out — Evans’ consistent quality and attention to detail. I appreciate the company’s attention to the small stuff. For example, the box in which the heads come is easy to re-use for head storage. This may seem like a trivial detail, but when you’re wedging a four-piece band into a van, boxes help. The boxes are also well marked, with a short description of the construction and sound qualities of the head, as well as a four-column graphic that looks like faders on a soundboard, visually defining the sound of that particular head by Attack, Sustain, Tone, and Durability.
The G14 is available in clear and coated models, ranging in size from 6″–20″. Evans sent me clear and coated 12″, 13″, 14″, 16″, and 18″ models. Opening the boxes, the heads were flat and the seams on the hoops smooth. The glue under Evans’ “unique rollover hoop design” is nice and even and there is a barcode with head information on the side of the hoop.
All size heads popped right on, with no issues of being either too tight or too slack. I found the coated heads extremely easy to dial right in — it’s like they tune themselves. The clear models have a fuller tonal range, but weren’t especially ornery. I fitted all the heads on various drums at my practice space and found no weaknesses up or down the scale. The tone was consistent from 12″–18″, though the 12″ coated head had a throaty bark that I particularly enjoyed. This quick, safe, contained test was, however, only a tasty appetizer — the proverbial bowl of corn bread before the onslaught of ribs, brisket, and sausage. It was time to really dig in to some G14s.
THE REAL ROAD TEST
For the rehearsals and gigs, I started with the coated G14s. I put them on my 13″ mounted tom and 16″ floor tom, as well as on my 14″ x 6″ wooden snare. The tone was immediately warm and the heads tuned up quickly.
The heads are constructed with a new single-ply, 14mil film that Evans claims “delivers unprecedented durability, combined with the dynamic response of a single-ply drumhead.” Right off the bat, I couldn’t deny the dynamic response part. These are some sweet-sounding heads. Without naming any of Evans’ specific colleagues in the drumhead market place — just a random metaphor here — the coated G14’s personality sits somewhere in between say, that of an ambassador and an emperor. Stay with me, we’re talking people here, not other heads. An ambassador may have to deal with several factions, thus making him or her more likely to be flexible and versatile. But, an emperor must be powerful and know when to crush an opponent, and, in this very pained analogy, these loud heads crush — not necessarily opponents, but definitely ears.
BUT, WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW
So Evans’ claim of dynamic response is for real. What about the durability part of the promise? The Kentucky Bridgeburners play loud; I use large sticks and really lay into the drums. I played the coated G14s for three full-volume rehearsals, and an in-town club gig. Then, I packed them up and took them on a 17-hour van ride to Texas. I pulled the drums out for the first Austin show and barely had to lay a drum key on them. I had beaten these things extensively and relentlessly, but they were undented and still singing. I played the same coated heads that night in a very loud club and then again, a few nights later, at an outdoor gig. I finally switched over to the clear G14s simply for the sake of review. My inner cheapskate wept as I pulled the perfectly good coated G14s off of my toms.
I kept the coated G14 on my snare for the last gig in Austin because it was sounding so good, but I switched to the clear G14s for my toms. This third and last gig in Austin was in a club that has a covered stage and bar, but open-air dance floor. The sound system rocked but, outdoors, louder toms were appreciated and the clear G14s came through. I’m not sure I can substantiate Evans’ claim in a press release that, “the G14 is the loudest drumhead available,” but I’m not going to argue the point.
The Evans G14 features a single ply of 14mil film and is available in both clear and coated white versions; Evans’ proprietary white coating provides additional warmth of tone; the clear version provides a full frequency response for maximum projection.
D’Addario & Co.
These things bark and sing! And they’re incredibly durable. They’re sort of like that last, drunken party guest — loud and hanging around for a long time. The G14 series of heads follows through on Evans’ promise of a dynamic, loud sound and added durability. The G14 is a solid step forward for Evans and a likely future-day standard.