Changing heads

MisterZero

Senior Member
Okay, I know there have been similar discussions on this. But this isn't a " when do you change heads" thread exactly. My question is this: Should I change my heads preemptively even though they appear fine? Perhaps a little background here. My drumset is 3 years old. We practice about once a week and gig around 10-15 times a year. I have all the same heads, except snare and bass. While I love the durability these heads have afforded me, I am a bit concerned that they are getting "bad", even though they appear good. Do you guys change out your heads BEFORE they actually tear? Should I?
 

flydrummer

Member
Depends on your situation, how they sound and what you can afford. If I had a never ending supply of heads I would change them after every gig. Since I don't, I try to stretch them out as long as possible without compromising the sound I want. This works for me, might not work for someone else though.
 

Lunar Satellite Brian

Senior Member
after that long the sound of the heads have probably gotten a lot worse. Which you may not be able to tell as they have worsened gradually.

I would suggest changing heads at least once a year. Depending on the heads you use, probably should do it more often really.

Just because a head doesn't have dents or tears doesn't mean it's in good shape.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Under tension, heads become sort of complacent after a while. They lose elasticity, and therefore don't vibrate freely, and therefore don't make good tones.

This is particularly true of bottom/reso heads, which really don't get played at all, yet are so crucial to the overall sound of a drum. And the smaller the drum, the more noticeable the head's lack of response is. So a bass drum or an 18 or even 16" tom may not need reso heads replaced, but the effect on a 13" or smaller tom is noticeable.

Resos don't need to be changed too often, I usually do it every few years on my touring kit (as part of general cleaning and maintenance), and maybe every 3 or 4 years on my home kits.

Batters usually get used, so they're replaced regularly as needed.

That said, I do have some vintage kits with their original heads, and they certainly don't sound bad. The most extreme case is on my '59 transition Ludwigs with their original Play-On heads. They probably don't sound as good as they would with fresh (or calf) heads, but they sound more authentic with the originals, and they record great for early '60s rock & surf, old country & rockabilly, etc.

Bermuda
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Under tension, heads become sort of complacent after a while. They lose elasticity, and therefore don't vibrate freely, and therefore don't make good tones.

This is particularly true of bottom/reso heads, which really don't get played at all, yet are so crucial to the overall sound of a drum. And the smaller the drum, the more noticeable the head's lack of response is. So a bass drum or an 18 or even 16" tom may not need reso heads replaced, but the effect on a 13" or smaller tom is noticeable.

Resos don't need to be changed too often, I usually do it every few years on my touring kit (as part of general cleaning and maintenance), and maybe every 3 or 4 years on my home kits.

Batters usually get used, so they're replaced regularly as needed.

That said, I do have some vintage kits with their original heads, and they certainly don't sound bad. The most extreme case is on my '59 transition Ludwigs with their original Play-On heads. They probably don't sound as good as they would with fresh (or calf) heads, but they sound more authentic with the originals, and they record great for early '60s rock & surf, old country & rockabilly, etc.

Bermuda

Jon
I would love to see some pics of that '59 Ludwig if you wouldn't mind
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Yes, all heads wear out if they're beaten by a stick or not. With every hit of the batter head, the resonant head also flexes with the air currents inside the drum. I change my resonant heads about every six months, years ago I changed them more ofter than that. Depending on the kit, my batter heads might get changed two to four times in relation to my resonant heads.What it actually boils down to is, it all depends how ofter they are played and more so the condition that they are in when deciding on the change.

Dennis
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Page/info on my transition kit is at www.bermudaschwartz.com/wfl (I know, it's not a WFL kit... too lazy to change the info)

Bermuda
unbelievably gorgeous

your first "new" kit ...the Ludwig standard blue mist......WOW!

do you still have that one?

sorry to hijack the thread....just obsessed with vintage kits
 

ambientgreg

Senior Member
"Should I change my heads preemptively even though they appear fine?"

Simple answer = Yes.
1. when the heads sound like crap & no amount of tuning helps anymore.
2. when you've got the $$$ for new heads.

When those two things happen together or relatively close, time for a preemptive head change.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
While I love the durability these heads have afforded me, I am a bit concerned that they are getting "bad", even though they appear good. Do you guys change out your heads BEFORE they actually tear? Should I?
Like others have said ..... change 'em. Appearance is not the issue. How they sound, is. Of course, money/finances has a way of rearing its ugly face. I like to change heads about once a year. When I was doing band rehearsals/gigging 4 nites a week, I changed them more often. Now that I'm a little more relaxed with my schedule, once a year is fine.​
As far as "what you hear", if you're gigging, more important perhaps, is "what others hear".​
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Really, that's it?! Do you notice a big difference when you change them?
On my touring kit, yes, I do notice a difference mainly because they sometimes take a real beating in the heat (we normally tour during the summer months) and they also get haze on them, which undoubtedly dulls them. I suppose I could wipe them down now and then... :)

But in town, my drums aren't subjected to the rigors of touring, so those resos last longer for me.

In both cases, the improvement is most evident on the 10, 12 & 13" toms, I change the 14, 16 & 18" just so I know all of the heads have the same starting point.

Bermuda
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I read somewhere that Elvin only changed his heads when they broke.

Anthony, if you could take a little time from whispering sweet nothings to your Gretsch round badge you might like to confirm or not :)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I change my heads between one and two months, depending on how heavy I'm out playing. But on every gig I have a complete set of batter heads in my trap case (it's just a 4-piece kit) with me should the inevitable happen, and I carry two snares nowadays. Funny thing, I do notice Evans heads go dead when they start to go dead, and Remos tend to take longer to die out. Maybe that's why I like playing the Remos a bit more.

But after all this time, you're due for a head change, both top and bottom. If you change the front head on your bass drum, you'll notice this wonderful thumpy-ness to it with new heads.

Everyone should budget for new heads at least every six months, I'd say.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Funny thing, I do notice Evans heads go dead when they start to go dead, and Remos tend to take longer to die out. Maybe that's why I like playing the Remos a bit more.
That happened to me with the one Evans snare head I bought - once it worse it responded less well to tightening up than the Remos. I guess the material in the Evans seemed a little less flexible than the Remo. Aquarian seems to be somewhere in between. I liked the Evans, though, I much preferred its coating to the Remos.

This reminds me, my snare sounded really bad yesterday, even after cranking. It's time.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I change my heads between one and two months, depending on how heavy I'm out playing. But on every gig I have a complete set of batter heads in my trap case (it's just a 4-piece kit) with me should the inevitable happen, and I carry two snares nowadays. Funny thing, I do notice Evans heads go dead when they start to go dead, and Remos tend to take longer to die out. Maybe that's why I like playing the Remos a bit more.

But after all this time, you're due for a head change, both top and bottom. If you change the front head on your bass drum, you'll notice this wonderful thumpy-ness to it with new heads.

Everyone should budget for new heads at least every six months, I'd say.
This is pretty much where I sit too, but as Jon said, the variables are frequency of use, how heavy you hit them, how high you tune them, & the general playing environment.

I do think high temperatures make a difference, or more precisely, high levels of UV & ozone. For a plastic to remain "plastic", it has plasticisers added to it's compound. They are what keep the film flexible. Both ozone & UV tend to leach out plasticisers over time, affecting flexibility, and with use, accelerating work hardening.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
This is pretty much where I sit too, but as Jon said, the variables are frequency of use, how heavy you hit them, how high you tune them, & the general playing environment.

I do think high temperatures make a difference, or more precisely, high levels of UV & ozone. For a plastic to remain "plastic", it has plasticisers added to it's compound. They are what keep the film flexible. Both ozone & UV tend to leach out plasticisers over time, affecting flexibility, and with use, accelerating work hardening.
That too. I just like to try different head combos and such too. I think my next set will be Remo Fiberskyn 3's on the tops and good ol' clear ambassadors on the bottoms 'cause I just bought a Fiberskyn PowerStroke 3 for my bass drum that I thought I wanted to put on the front as a reso head. I read where Danny Seraphine was using calf heads on the first couple of Chicago albums and up to this point I thought I'd try real calf, but don't really have the money or the time to deal with it, and in the past the last time I used Fiberskyn was back in the 80s when they were completely different. So this next set will be "new" to me.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
That too. I just like to try different head combos and such too. I think my next set will be Remo Fiberskyn 3's on the tops and good ol' clear ambassadors on the bottoms 'cause I just bought a Fiberskyn PowerStroke 3 for my bass drum that I thought I wanted to put on the front as a reso head. I read where Danny Seraphine was using calf heads on the first couple of Chicago albums and up to this point I thought I'd try real calf, but don't really have the money or the time to deal with it, and in the past the last time I used Fiberskyn was back in the 80s when they were completely different. So this next set will be "new" to me.
I'm just about to try some Aquarian modern classic heads. They are supposed to sound reminiscent of calf heads, but with the benefit of modern accuracy, stability, etc. They do look & feel pretty cool. I've had them sitting here for a few weeks, but haven't had the right construction of drums to really put them to the test. That changes next week when I fit them to our Origin Classic range kit. I'm especially looking forward to fitting them to the 20" x 12" bass drum with segmented hoops. There's just something in my gut that's sure they're going to sing together. The bass drum head even has a felt strip bonded to the inside of the head, thus avoiding the usual felt strip bearing edge interference thing. Will report back.

Sorry, back to changing heads ;)
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
That does sound really exciting Andy. Report back and let us know!

I'll have to give those heads a shot...
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I'm just about to try some Aquarian modern classic heads. They are supposed to sound reminiscent of calf heads, but with the benefit of modern accuracy, stability, etc. They do look & feel pretty cool. I've had them sitting here for a few weeks, but haven't had the right construction of drums to really put them to the test. That changes next week when I fit them to our Origin Classic range kit. I'm especially looking forward to fitting them to the 20" x 12" bass drum with segmented hoops. There's just something in my gut that's sure they're going to sing together. The bass drum head even has a felt strip bonded to the inside of the head, thus avoiding the usual felt strip bearing edge interference thing. Will report back.

Sorry, back to changing heads ;)
I had a set of these sometime back. They're a bit dry and work better at higher pitches. Not as dry as Fiberskyns though, which I recently put a set of on my Safari kit to make them more boppish.

What I miss are the Remo Legacy heads. I have an old one on a snare drum. They are a great balance between the modern Fibreskyns (anyone remember the old woven Fiberskyns that looked like Kevlar and were actually pretty ringy?) and something like the Aquarian Vintages which are more like slightly dryer (and yellowed) standard coated heads.
 
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