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Drumhead questions; maitenance, etc.

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  • Drumhead questions; maitenance, etc.

    I've been getting back into experimenting with my acoustics, getting my nuances down and such. I know my batter-side snare head is due for a change, but I was wondering about other things:

    -Many of us need to tune our drums differently for different scenarios, way up for the bebop, down for power rock, etc. Do you find that constantly altering the tuning of the batter heads affects the durability of the head? Will the head give out sooner if you tweak it all the time?

    When do you find is a good time to change bater heads? On snares, it's a little easier: when the coating is gone, so is the head. What about your toms? When do you swap 'em out?

    Here's another big one: when do you change resonant heads? Those are pushed by the amount of air that is generated from the batter head. When do you find is a good time to change resonants? I've heard about snare-sides, but those get roughed up by the snare wires. I don't often hear about people changing their fron bass heads. Hm... that's probably 'cause the cost so dang much.

    Thanks all.


  • #2
    Bater Heads!

    Okay, I'll take a stab at this one...

    Tuning your heads tighter & looser all the time probably involves actually hitting them with drumsticks at some point, as well. Batter heads have usually lost their "best" sonic properties well before you first notice any dings in the heads themselves.

    I'm a firm believer in "seating" your heads when first tensioning a new head, and this will stretch the mylar somewhat. Tuning up high for a long time, then trying to tune lower will probably result in less-than-optimum head performance, tho. The stretching of the mylar negatively affects its ability to flex & vibrate at lower frequencies. Maybe.

    First off, if you tune a head too loose, it is subject to being damaged more when struck. Odd, eh? A well-tensioned (evenly-tensioned!) head will distribute the force of the stick strike somewhat, across the surface of the head. Tune loose, and you'll get more dings in your head. Try it sometime.

    If you are playing live, practicing, or even doing some home demo action, you don't need to change heads every time you play. Every (oh, let's arbitrarily say) dozen hours or so of actual playing time will start to wear on your head and render it noticably less resonant. This varies according to stick type, how hard you hit, technique, what type of music, head selection, etc. As mentioned earlier, head tension comes into play, as well.

    If you are doing any actual "keeper" recording, change both your top AND bottom heads the day before & tune them up. You'll likely need to retune both before recording, but your kit will sound its best.

    When not recording, a fair rule of thumb is to change the bottom heads every other time that you change the top heads. Other people may disagree & say that this is too often, but try it sometime & see if you notice the difference in your sound. If you have a discriminating ear, I'm betting that you will appreciate the sonic benefits.

    Remember this, though: If you detune your batter head & notice any dings or warping, the head is long, long gone. All of this crap is subject to bugetary constraints, as well, so do what you're comfortable with.

    Hope this helped somewhat,

    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.