Do you want to have the best drum sound when recording? It’s important to use the right type of drum heads for your kit, and this will create a clear, full-bodied sound that is perfect for professional recordings.
In this article, we will guide you through the best drum heads for recording from the main companies in the business and teach you what to look for in your quest to find a suitable drum head.
Enough said, let’s dive in.
Recording drums with different drumheads
Various elements influence the final sound of the drums like
- drum wood
- drum room
Last but not least are the drum heads. They may be the biggest game-changer in the recording process. Some standard drum heads like Remo Ambassador will do the job in 90% of situations, but you must be careful if you decide to experiment.
Drum head manufacturers have the best-selling series that are very versatile but, besides them, they make unique sounding drum heads that serve only one purpose and work well only in jazz, or they are too dark, too dampened, and so on.
Now when you know the importance of getting the right drum heads to let us talk about how to choose the right drum head:
- Single or double-ply
- Coated or clear
It basically all comes to these two choices for 90% of drum heads. The rest of 10% is the drum heads we talked about earlier, unique and experimental drum heads like black editions or signature editions.
Single-ply drum heads
In general, single-ply drumheads are the most basic and typically thinnest variety.
Single-ply heads will resonate better than double ones, but they also have a bright tone and can help bring out the overtones of your drum.
They’re perfect for all genres but if you use them for hard rock or metal they can wear out quickly. Also they ring much longer so if you want heads with short sustained avoid single ply ones.
Single-ply is preferred by some players due to its attributes being just right when durability isn’t an issue.
- Remo Ambassador
- Evans G1
- Aquarian Studio X
- DW clear or coated
Double-ply drum heads
Double-ply heads tend to be more durable than their single-ply counterparts, and they exhibit greater attack with reduced overtones.
They also have a shorter sustain because of the two main plies found in this type of drumhead. Design makes them perfect for rock or styles where longevity is important such as jazz fusion music.
Double-layer drums offer many benefits, including increased durability, excellent response from notes played on top while still enabling clear articulation when desired by musicians playing lighter genres like pop.
It is because there isn’t too much weight behind each note being hit, so you don’t get muffled sound due to awkward-sounding resonances taking place inside.
- Remo Emperor
- Evans G2
- Aquarian Modern Vintage II
- Remo Pinstripe
- Evans EC2
Coated drum heads
If you’re looking for something special, it might be worth investing in a coated head. The sound will be quite different (muffled and warmer) than clear heads.
But don’t worry about losing those beautiful sounds of scraping against sandpaper! Just because they have coating doesn’t mean the drums won’t produce resonant frequencies anymore.
If you’re looking for a great jazz sound, add coated batter and fluffy beater on the pedal to get a rich-sounding low-end thud as opposed to dull boomy bass.
Clear drum heads
Clear heads will provide more attack and brighter sound. They are great for rock drums because they deal with high sound pressure levels better than coated heads.
Expect more overtones but more open sound. Being single or double-ply will not change the sound as much as having a clear or coated drum head on your drum set, so be aware while making a choice.
Drummers like Simon Philips always use clear drum heads to get big rock sound out of the toms. The same goes for the bass drum.
Best drum heads for recording
- Remo Ambassador
- Remo Emperor
- Evans G2
- Remo Pinstripe
- Evans G1
- Evans UV2
- Evans heavyweight snare batter
- Remo Controlled sound
- Remo Diplomat
- Remo Powerstroke
- Remo Powersonic
Ambassador has a couple of variations
- Classic fit
Although Ambassador as series contains 22 different drum heads, not all are used often in the studio.
The two most used in studios are classic Ambassador clear and classic Ambassador coated.
Ambassador Coated is the most popular drumhead in all of its glory, featuring a warm and inviting tone that will make any song come alive. It has a bright attack with controlled sustain for those who want to be able to stay clear.
With this special 1-ply 10 mil coating on top, you can’t go wrong no matter what type of music style it may pertain to – rock & rollers rejoice!
The Ambassador Clear drumhead is a great choice for aggressive playing.
With its open, bright sound and plenty of attack, it will add some swagger to your kit!
The 1-ply 10 mil thick construction makes this drum head durable, so you can play all day long without worrying about breaking the drum or losing tone due to wear&tear.
Same as Ambassador, Emperor contains multiple variations, 21 of them. Although Emperor Black Suede, Ebony, and Vintage became very popular in the last decade, two of the most recorded Emperor drum heads are classic Clear and Coated.
The Emperor Coated drumheads provide a warm, open tone with increased durability and projection. The 2-ply construction of 7mil thick-coated film provides the feel of silk. It is great for studio recording or live performance while still having enough strength to withstand rigorous playing sessions in clubs around town!
Their subtle attack makes these heads perfect not only for accents but also when you need an all-over wash during jazz quintet pieces – just think about how cool that swing would sound on top of those lush tones from the emperor coating heads!
The Emperor Clear drumheads are perfect for any type of music! They have the attack you need, projection and increased durability.
These two-ply 7 mil films will last longer than single layer 6mil Mylar heads. These qualities increase its lifespan in comparison with other brands’ products too.
One of the best drumheads for recording is, without a doubt, the Evans G2 series. These heads have been designed from scratch and were created to help you deliver professional-grade results right from the comfort of your home studio.
They’re made with high-quality materials that give them a really great sound, especially on lower frequencies.
Evans G2 Coated is the go-to drumhead for any player looking to make their drums shine. With its two plies of 7mil film and level 360 technology, this product provides consistency in sound that will cautiously growl all your hard-hitting beats while also making small tombs sing!
Pinstripe is another drum head that will work great for recording. This particular model is great to use on kick drums due to its patented spider web design, which allows the sound wave to release out of your drum without losing a low-end frequency response.
The Pinstripe is a popular drumhead that offers an improved sound with increased durability. Constructed of 2-ply 7 mil sheets, this head has been designed to reduce overtone and increase attack by having its overtone reducing agent applied between each layer providing perfect tone for all types of music genres. There are many sizes available: 6″ – 30″.
The G1 is one of the best all-around single-ply drumheads available, providing a warm and even tone with an enhanced attack. Designed to reproduce the best open sound on drums.
The Evans Coated G1 drumheads are a single ply of 10mil film that blends a bright tone, sustain, and sensitivity. The coating on this head makes it so great for metal sounds or those looking to achieve more warmth in their setup with an open sound. Tuned low, these heads will produce your cavernous rumble emphasizing the natural quality of any shell you play.
These heads are the best solution for the studio or live performance when a controlled, low-pitched resonance and an enhanced attack are desired. Featuring patented UV2 technology, these heads allow you to tune extremely low without loss of pitch and sustain throughout the gig. They also offer a subtle dryness in the sound, which allows control over attack and resonance.
The UV2 drumheads are made of Evans’ patented technology, including two plies, 7mil film, and a reinforced layer. These heads have been extensively tested to last longer than other brands on the market today for snare drums or tom-toms with plenty of attack.
Evans heavyweight snare batter heads
This head is made for extra volume and enhanced attack. The single 10mil ply, medium thickness provides a little more low-end than the regular EC2 series and an overall fuller attack and sound.
Evans’ Heavyweight snare heads are made with two plies of 10mil film. The combination provides maximum durability while maintaining a wide dynamic range, making these drum heads perfect for any style! Evans added their Reverse Dot feature to help you nail those tricky fills in the center – no matter what kind of situation arises on stage.
Remo Controlled sound
This head is known for providing a sensitive response with a true, open sound. The Controlled Sound features a ring of black or grey dot material that enhances the low-end and attack yet suppresses unwanted overtones.
Controlled Sound’s Coated Bottom Black Dot drumhead has been designed to provide focused midrange tones with added durability. Made from 1-ply of 10 mil coated film and 5-millimeter bottom dot, this head will deliver great sound for all music styles!
The outer area offers enhanced tone quality while the center dot helps you keep control over overtone levels in your playing environment, which is perfect if that’s what you’re looking for–especially since these are available in sizes 6″ – 18″.
The Diplomat Coated drumheads are a great choice for any application! These one-ply 7.5mil film drum heads have bright, open tones that make them perfect when you need maximum resonance and sustain in your music.
The coated surface also helps enhance the snare or tom response. These will work with almost anything – no matter what size drum it’s being played on from 6″ all way up to 20″.
These will also help control any ringing or overtones, making them perfect for recording. While these are the best option if you want a coated head, there is more than one reason why you should consider them.
The best part about the Diplomat Coated drumheads is that they work with almost anything.
The Powerstroke 3 Coated drumheads provide a perfect balance of response and tone control. The mid-tones are focused, while the low notes have a subtle attack for ultimate flexibility in your soundscape needs!
These heads come pre-stretched so you can start playing right away – they’re also available sizes 6″ through 28″.
Powerstroke offers a 1-ply 10-mil Coated head with 3 mil inlay rings for Toms and Snares, making it perfect to use on drums like the bass drum.
A truly unique drumhead that combines the finest features of two distinct drum head technologies. The tone is best described as dark and deep, which makes it perfect for recording purposes.
Powersonic Clear Bass Drum head is made with two-ply 7-mil and 5 mil clear film to provide focused lows, increased attack. A special subsonic dampening ring is placed strategically within the drum head for more depth in your tone when needed and a snap-on damped system that allows you to customize it according to different playing situations! These heads come in available sizes 18″ – 24″.
Heads for different styles of music
So far, we discussed some industry standards and best selling, most popular or even the best drum heads for recording but let’s now discuss heads for different styles of music.
Best drum heads for jazz
If you decided to go with Remo than definitely check out Fyberskin models.
They can be found in several series like Ambassador, Emperor, Diplomat, Powerstroke.
Steve Smith sometimes plays these drum heads, and they sound perfect in a jazz environment.
For this purpose, vintage drum heads are very popular. Both Remo and Evans produce these drum heads, and Remo has the classic vintage drum heads without any particular mark, while Evans calls them “Calftone 56”.
If your choice is Evans, UV1 can be a great choice also for playing jazz.
Aquarian has the largest pallet to choose from in terms of vintage drum heads, so check them out too.
Best drum heads for rock
Almost all drum heads mentioned in the section best drum heads for recording can do the job but let’s name a few that fit just right for rock situations.
We really love Remo models that have additional reinforcement in the middle like these three series:
- Powerstroke 77
- Emperor x
- Controlled sound
Ambassador x is also a great choice for rock with its enhanced attack and wide range of tones. The 1-ply 12 mil coated film provides great durability, so you can get your fill of stick abuse without worrying too much!
Evans is not bad either in terms of rock drum heads. UV2 is among the top picks in the rock world. UV2 drum heads are made of two plies; the first is an extra-strong 7mil film that has been reinforced to take abuse while also being UV-curable for lasting power.
These durable drum heads provide great sound when used on any size snare or tom, making them perfect additions no matter your playing style!
For true heavy hitters, Evans Made Heavyweight dry coated drum head.
This drum head features two plies of 10mil film, providing maximum durability, compressed attack, and a wide dynamic range. The 3 mil reverse dot lends extra durability to focus on the center.
Most muffled drum heads
Often black drum heads are the most silenced ones. So if you like drum heads with the short tone, reduced attack, and low volume, go for the black ones like:
- Ambassador Black Suede
- Emperor Black Suede
- Powerstroke 3 Black Suede
- Evans Hybrid Coated
- Evans Onyx
- Aquarian Concert 5
- Aquarian Hi-Impact
Best bass drum batter heads
It is necessary to talk about bass drums heads separately from the others because they are not the same as toms and snare drums.
We tried several single-ply drum heads, and they didn’t last. So, if you plan to use them for recording, cool but don’t plan the future with these.
Our vote goes to these drum heads:
- Remo Powersonic, clear or coated
- Evans Emad series
- Aquarian Superkick series
Resonant bass drum heads
In most cases, the drum head that you get when you purchase a drum set sounds great. If you are persistent in changing the resonant bass drum head, here are a few to go for:
- Remo Ebony Powerstroke 3
- Evans Emad Series
- Evens EQ3 series
- Aquarian Regulator Series
What to expect of a resonant heads
In most cases, drummers use the ones that came with the drum set.
The bass resonant factory drum head is, in most cases, really solid and the same goes for toms, while the snare drum has a different story.
Some companies have a number on a snare resonant drum head like 300, 500, and so on. The bigger the number, the thicker the drum head. If you like your snare drum to be like in the 80′, bright and clear, go for heads with a smaller number, let’s say 300.
Thicker snare drum head on a resonant side achieve warm sound opposite to thinner ones that achieve sharp sound.
Bass drum heads on the resonant side are oftenly modified with a hole, tube, or ring to add more low end.
How to tune drum heads?
Floor tom heads are best used when a big, fat low end is required. Tune high for a more defined sound, and tune low for a heavy sound. Floor tom heads can be tuned to suit your style or mix in the studio!
When tuning bass drum heads, remember that tuning them too tightly will cause them to ring too much and produce undesirable overtones – so don’t overdo it! Also, note that you should tune your batter side drum head tighter than the front drum head – this increases the amount of punch and click from kick hits on the batter side.
For toms, the best results are achieved by tuning them to a medium or low pitch. This will allow you to get the best sound for your particular style of music. If you tune the resonant drum head a little higher, you will reduce sustain and overtones, so we suggest going with this solution.
Tuning snare drum heads have several approaches, but our favorite way is to tighten the bottom drum head as hard as you possibly can. As far as the top drum head, do not exaggerate; just make sure all lugs are equally tight. You can even tune two top lugs less than the rest, so you can use these are for playing rolls.
Best drum head companies
In this article, you might notice that we only mentioned a couple of companies that we find trustworthy. We are not saying other drum head companies are worse, but just that you can’t go wrong with these companies that made their name producing highly durable and great-sounding heads.
The companies are:
The Remo story begins after World War II, when experiments are being made with Mylar, a polyester film made by Dupont.
At that time, it was used during wartime as heat resistant material for nighttime reconnaissance flights. It provided an unusually durable way of playing drums without worrying about damage or wear-and-tear because they’re so resilient!
And then there’s also how affordable it can be; you could have one on hand at all times just waiting if your kit needs some extra protection while out playing any day long.
In the 1950s, a young man named Chick Evans took up drumming. He was just anaverage musician doing his best to keep it together during one of history’s most turbulent decades–with only himself for the company in this vastness known as America.
But then something happened: while playing one day on an old kit inherited from friends who had moved away or gotten drafted into service, he spilled some cymbals that made their way through chipped, brittle wood onto polyester film, which served him well yet again and came out looking like new… except now there were no more cracks!
His invention would ultimately change how musicians across genres approach tom-tom duties forever.
In 1980, Roy Burns and Ron Marquez started Aquarian, and since then, they have been inventing and developing drum products.
The Cymbal Spring, X-10 Graphite Drumsticks, and the SafeTloc patented hoop were all introduced to drumming enthusiasts in 1978. One invention was an industry first for preventing tuning issues known as Sound Curve collar design which seated automatically when mounted on drums allowing them great accuracy.
The introduction of the Super-Kick™ Bass Drum heads by Ron and Roy shocked many in their community with both a comprehensive patent and specific qualities.
Drum head FAQs
What is a drum head made of?
Most drum heads are made with either a plastic material, such as Mylar, or a film composite of some sort.
Does drum skin matter?
It does, drum skin or a drum head can completely change the sound of your drums. For brighter sound with longer sustain, use clear heads; for shorter sustain and darker tone, use coated heads.
Is Remo a good drum brand?
Yes, Remo is a good drum brand. They make great drum heads and drums shells; best of all, they accommodate any budget, whether you are a beginner or touring professional.
How do I know what drum heads to buy?
If you are a newbie, we suggest some standard drum heads like Remo, Remo Emperor, or Evans G2, industry standards, and at the same time, two-ply drum heads that last much longer. They come in clear and coated variations, but we suggest going for the clear ones because they can be easier to play.
Are coated drum heads better?
Coated drum heads sound substantially different from the clear ones.
Drummers use coated drum heads in the studio more often than clear ones because their tone is warmer and sustainably shorter, so they have fewer overtones when they are miked.
What drum heads did John Bonham use?
Bonham’s drumming style was born from a variety of sources. He played on white-coated Remo Emperor and Ludwig’s heads, but when using his transparent Vistalite kit, he used the black dot or ‘CS’ type head, which added reinforcement in its center for better sound quality. In addition to these two types, there is also another popular choice – silver dots by Ludwig.
Is there a difference between snare drum heads and tom drum heads?
No, there is no difference. But why is the sound completely different, you may ask? It’s because the snare drum has a snare wire on the resonant side that gives the snare drums a unique sound.
Can you use tom heads on a snare drum?
As we mentioned, these drum heads are the same, so, YES, you can use a drumhead from tom on a snare drum as long it is the same diameter.
What happens to the surface of the drumhead while playing drums?
The drum head’s surface vibrates and makes waves, and it also forces the resonant drum head to vibrate. By doing that, drum heads, along with the drum itself, produce a sound.
How do I know if a drumhead needs changing?
If your drum sounds dead when you hit it, then it’s time to change your drum heads. In addition, if the sound goes away gradually as you hit it repeatedly, then it’s the best time to replace a new head on your drums because heads lose their tone over time and need changing. You can also check for loose lug nuts or rusted parts, which you should tighten up.
We hope this article has helped you understand the difference between coated and clear drum heads, as well as 1 ply vs. 2 plies.
Now that you know all of this information, it’s time to go out there and find some new drum heads for your kit! If you have any questions about anything in this blog post or need help picking out a set of drum heads, let us know below in the comments section. Happy shopping!