BY AJ DONAHUE | FROM THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!
When I first red that Remo was introducing a line of color-tinted heads, it absolutely blue my mind. I thought it was a sage move from the venerable skin-smith because players have been pining for this kind of thing for years. I mean, hue would have thought that it would take this long to get a full spectrum of options in a drumhead line? Orange you glad the folks at Remo finally made this happen?
(On the advice of counsel, I’d like to issue a formal apology to Drum, its staff, its readers, and all parties affected by the reckless and irresponsible pun-a-graph above.)
ROY G BS
Remo’s new Colortone series uses some of the company’s most popular clear models as the foundation to deliver a striking visual complement for your drum set. The heads at Big R have rolled out new editions of the Emperor, Powerstroke 3, and Powerstroke 77 in six beautifully rich colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and smoke.
For this review, I received 13″ and 14″ Powerstroke 77 snare drum heads in red and smoke, respectively; 12″, 14″, and 16″ Emperor models in green, yellow, and blue; and an orange 20″ Powerstroke 3 bass drum batter (resonant-side Powerstroke 3s with a 5″ offset port are also on shelves now). My drum set looks like a bag of jelly beans, and I love it.
We don’t need to spend a lot of time on sounds here. These are popular models familiar to many drummers already: The Emperors are full and punching with tremendous low-end; the Powerstroke 77s are loaded with midrange slap and fatness; and the reliable Powerstroke 3s deliver focused and forceful modern bass drum notes.
I spoke with one of the reps at Remo, who assured me that the company went to great lengths to achieve a consistent sound between the Colortones and their clear predecessors. This was apparently a more difficult task than I’d imagined, but makes sense considering that even minor changes to its signature Mylar formula can dramatically affect tone and feel. After spending some time with these heads, I think they nailed it. They are as responsive, cutting, and sonorous as their original archetypes.
Alright, let’s talk looks. The Colortones are pure eye candy. The first thing I noticed when I pulled them out of the box is that the colors are much richer and more vibrant than I expected based on photographs I’d seen. They remind me of when you make Kool-Aid and completely blow out the powder-to-water ratio. These are bold.
Those translucent tints are applied to the Mylar using Remo’s registered Skyndeep imaging technology, meaning that the shades are part of the film to ensure an even application and a durable pigment. Translation: Don’t worry about the color flaking off, because it isn’t a coating or finish.
Ever the skeptic (hey, it’s my job), I checked anyway. First, I examined every collar and flesh hoop joint, and saw no clear spots peeking through. It was evident that the film is definitely colorized before the heads are cut and shaped. After a fairly rigorous evaluation with no evidence of chipping or flaking, I scraped one of them repeatedly with a screwdriver to make absolutely certain the color wouldn’t come up — and it didn’t. Now I have a bass drum batter head with some scratch marks on it, but it’s still completely orange. Good stuff.
Before receiving the Colortones, I assumed that they would look best on clear acrylic drums, or on shells with lighter interiors that wouldn’t disrupt those rich shades. But I was so impressed by the colors in person that I chose to install the heads on a set of vintage-style drums with grey-painted interiors to see if that would muddle their appearance at all.
It didn’t seem to matter much. The blue, green, red, and smoke models were still bright — to the degree that smoke can be bright — and eye-catching, regardless of ambient light. The yellow and orange units suffered just a bit simply because the hues are lighter. If I were thinking about picking up a set of either of those colors, I’d want to make sure that my shell interiors weren’t so dark they kept the skins from shining. Otherwise, I can see the Colortones adding some potent pizazz to almost any kit.
The head honchos at Remo clearly accomplished their goal with these new Colortone additions. Each of the models featured in this review proved faithful to their crystalline counterparts, and the addition of the pigment to the Mylar didn’t seem to create any noticeable difference in sound or feel. As far as appearances are concerned, the Colortones really pop in just about any light. The looks are the selling point here, and I’d say they’re worth the investment for drummers in search of some new flashiness.