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  #1  
Old 05-17-2013, 08:22 AM
drums360 drums360 is offline
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Default Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Just purchased a new Classic Maple kit from Ludwig...Vinnie's configuration (10,12,14 and 22 bass drum). Took 2 months to get them. They look amazing. Was so excited to get them set up and play them. Much to my surprise, I couldn't get any kind of consistent tone out of them. They do not sing as much as I expected them to. They feel tight even though they're not. They sound high pitched for 10,12,14" drums even when tuned as low as I can tune them. They came with Medium coated Ludwig heads on top and medium clear heads on the bottom. Even the bass drum sounds muddy.

I come from playing a 90's-ish Yamaha recording custom kit with coated ambassadors on the top and clear ambassadors on the bottom. Bass drum is a powerstroke 3. My old drums sound amazing compared to these.

My question is, do you think it's the Ludwig heads it came with that are making it sound so poor? If so, why would they ship with these heads? Also, if it is the heads, which ones would you recommend I use on them to get the most tone, warmth and range?

Thanks for your time.

Jamie
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2013, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I would buy a 12" ambassador or Evans G1, and see what difference it makes. I think classic maples should sing pretty good. I've heard several people say they don't like Ludwig heads. It wouldn't cost much to try one drum. If you like it you can buy more.
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  #3  
Old 05-17-2013, 03:24 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

A Ludwig "medium" head is comparable to a Remo Diplomat in weight.I don't like them, at all. I couldn't dial in my kick with Ludwig head, either.
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Change the heads! The Ludwig heads are aweful. I have a similar set of classic maples 10,12,14,16 and 20 When they arrived, I spent days trying to dial in a great tone with only minimal success (and I know how to tune a drum). Switched the Ludwig heads for a set of Evans G1's and it was like night and day. Not only did the drums sing beautifully, but they sang in a variety of tuning ranges. I was able to get a wonderful lower tone as well as medium range and they even sound killer in the bebop tuning ranges. Beautiful drums, but head selection really does matter.
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  #5  
Old 05-17-2013, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Heads will definitely make a difference. Some seem to like the Ludwig mediums as their snare batter. I've never heard a Ludwig batter that I like very much.

G1's should improve the sound although Ambassadors or Aquarian Texture Coated would do similar work.

You may want to consider that you're referencing a birch kit (Yamaha RC's) with a more controlled sound, all other things (heads, tuning, etc) being the same. If you want a sound closer to that, you may need to go 2-ply on the the tom batters and bass drum. I have nice drums but would love to have some Ludwig Classics. I'd use coated G2's or maybe Vintage Ambassadors on them.

HTH

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  #6  
Old 05-17-2013, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by drums360 View Post
They sound high pitched for 10,12,14" drums even when tuned as low as I can tune them. They came with Medium coated Ludwig heads on top and medium clear heads on the bottom. Even the bass drum sounds muddy.

My question is, do you think it's the Ludwig heads it came with that are making it sound so poor? If so, why would they ship with these heads?
First, understand that "fusion" size toms are only going to tune so low, and with the Classic Maple sharp-ish edge, there's not going to be a lot of warmth or low end from smaller sizes (I still consider 12/13/16 to be standard tom sizes.) But yes, different heads will make a difference, and my CMs still sport older Evans EC2s (the foil ones.) I get a really warm, punchy sound.

Ludwig isn't really known for their heads, and I would normally not recommend them for toms, which rely on the purest tones with nice decay. But on snares and kicks, I've found them to sound great. When I get a new snare or kick, I typically leave the factory heads on, and when I first change them them, then I put Evans on.

But Classic Maple and Legacy ships wirth Ludwig heads because they manufacture them, so it makes sense that Ludwig would use them, As it happens, Ludwig's Keystone series comes with Evans heads, which kinda says something. :)

Ludwig's heads aren't necessarily bad, but there are better choices in most drummers' opinions. And for toms in particular, I'd have to agree.

Bermuda

Last edited by bermuda; 05-17-2013 at 07:21 PM.
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2013, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I will agree with what everyone else is saying here. I have a set of Classic Maples and I think you can rest assured, the problems you're experiencing are primarily the heads. Change them to one of the combos suggested here and you'll be much happier.

As to why Ludwig uses these, I can't say, but the Ludwig heads are not preferred by very many people. They apparently use a different type of plastic for their film, and as mentioned, their medium is equivalent to a Remo Diplomat in thickness. The last time I really loved a Ludwig head was in the 70's and 80's when we used Silver Dots on our marching snare drums. It's too bad, because I really like their collar and hoop design.

Another poster mentioned that the Classic Maples will sound much different than your Yamahas, and this is absolutely true, as well. It may take a period of adjustment. The Ludwigs have a distinctive sound of their own, but it ain't like a Yamaha.

Good luck. Hope you end up liking your kit as much as I like mine!
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  #8  
Old 05-17-2013, 08:15 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Another Classic Maple owner here...

I changed out all the heads except the bass drum reso. I use Aquarian Modern Vintage on the batter side with Texture Coated on the resos. They definitely sing.
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  #9  
Old 05-17-2013, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

The heads that come with new kits are almost always crap. At least that's been my experience. If i were you I'd change all heads (that's what I did with my Gretsch drums and I achieved an amazing improvement in sound quality).
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  #10  
Old 05-17-2013, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by Swexx View Post
The heads that come with new kits are almost always crap. At least that's been my experience.
That depends mostly on whether the kit is budget, or a company's flagship line. There's a series of pretty cheap heads that come with most lower-priced Asian-made kits, and I'd agree that those need to be replaced immediately. But the better kits tend to feature US-made Evans, Aquarian or Remo heads, and they're also the choice of boutique builders.

The obvious reason for the cheap heads is to keep the price of the kit lower, which is crucial for budget and entry-level gear. In some cases, a set of new American-made heads rivals the cost of the kit! Same goes for cymbals, which can quickly exceed the cost of a "cheap" kit.

Bermuda
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  #11  
Old 05-18-2013, 12:30 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

When talking about the Ludwig heads shipped with the Classic Maple kit, in my opinion, yes most of them do suck. The only ones I kept was the snare batter and reso head, that combination sounds killer. I also kept the bass drum resonant head. There was very little consistency with the Ludwig tom heads. After much trial and error, I ended up with Evans G2 coated over G1 clear heads. I'm sure I could get equal results ( or better) using Emperor coated over Ambassador clear.



Dennis
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  #12  
Old 05-18-2013, 01:20 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I had Ludwig/Evans, (Ludwig heads that are made by Evans) heads come with my 2012 Club Date kit. I only kept the front bass drum head because like audiotech said, that head sounds great in combination with a good bass drum batter head. The other heads are just there to hold the hoops in place during shipment :)
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  #13  
Old 05-18-2013, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by bobdadruma View Post
I had Ludwig/Evans, (Ludwig heads that are made by Evans) heads come with my 2012 Club Date kit.
Those heads are made in Asia and pretty cheap, dragging both Ludwig's and Evans' names through the mud. They're not Ludwig's or Evans' US heads.

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  #14  
Old 05-18-2013, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Disgusting. It's a new drum kit. Practice good hygiene and put fresh new heads on it, bottom and top. Take some pride in your investment, for crying out loud.

Edit: Excepting the bass reso.
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  #15  
Old 05-18-2013, 03:37 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
Those heads are made in Asia and pretty cheap, dragging both Ludwig's and Evans' names through the mud. They're not Ludwig's or Evans' US heads.

Bermuda
Glad to hear that because I both like, and frequently use many heads that are made by Evans USA. I was just showing by my post that stock heads are not what they seem to be even though they may carry a brand name. Remo does the same thing with their "UT" heads. They whore themselves out to drum manufacturers to make a quick buck.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by bobdadruma View Post
Remo does the same thing with their "UT" heads. They whore themselves out to drum manufacturers to make a quick buck.
You can't blame the head manufacturers for wanting to sell product to the widest audience possible.... that's their job. It's the budget drum manufacturers that require cheap heads in order to keep their price down, and the head companikes also have to source their heads from Asia to meet that demand. Evans, Remo, and Ludwig have cheap overseas counterparts.

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  #17  
Old 05-18-2013, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
You can't blame the head manufacturers for wanting to sell product to the widest audience possible.... that's their job. It's the budget drum manufacturers that require cheap heads in order to keep their price down, and the head companikes also have to source their heads from Asia to meet that demand. Evans, Remo, and Ludwig have cheap overseas counterparts.

Bermuda
Not to hijack here, but does Aquarian have a cheap overseas counterpart too? Or is it just the ones you mentioned?
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  #18  
Old 05-18-2013, 06:20 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Hmmm, not aware of an Asian Aquarian. I suspect the entry-level buyers are swayed by more recognizable names, and both Remo and Evans have a nearly 30-year headstart over Aquarian.

Bermuda
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  #19  
Old 05-18-2013, 07:01 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Not to hijack here, but does Aquarian have a cheap overseas counterpart too? Or is it just the ones you mentioned?
I've never seen one. I don't think Aquarian goes down that road

Remo seems to be the cheap stock head juggernaut. I don't know who takes credit for the 'no-name' heads that show up on stencil kits.

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  #20  
Old 05-19-2013, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Thanks for all your responses guys. It's very relieving to hear that I'm not the only one who is experiencing issues with Ludwig heads. I'm anxious to change the heads and hear the difference.

I decided to stick with what I know. I went out yesterday and bought coated ambassadors for the tops and clear ambassadors for the bottoms. Also bought a PS3 for the bass drum. I'm going to leave the Ludwig reso head on the bass drum and hope that changing the batter head will garner the nice crisp sound I'm used to...

Keep you posted!

Jamie
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  #21  
Old 05-23-2013, 08:09 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

So I put the Ambassadors on my kit and all I can say is wow! I feel like Ludwig should have taken a few bucks off the kit and shipped it with no heads. I only played them for 15 mins and the dents in the heads looked worse than the heads I've had for over 5 years on my other kit.

Now they sound like the awesome drums I thought I was getting. Definitely a different sound than my Birch drums, but they have nice tone and the tuning range of the heads is much broader. Recommendation is that if you order a Ludwig kit, try to get them shipped with no heads!

Cheers.
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  #22  
Old 05-23-2013, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by drums360 View Post
Recommendation is that if you order a Ludwig kit, try to get them shipped with no heads! Cheers.
Haha, I know what you're saying, but they'll never ship them with no heads. The mounted heads help protect the bearing edges and keep the drums in round.

In any case, I'm glad you like your new Ludwigs with the Remo heads.
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  #23  
Old 05-23-2013, 09:32 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

When buying almost any kit these days, unless they come with original Evans/Remo/ Aquarian heads (not "made by" versions), you should factor in the cost of new heads, & I mean both batter & reso (at least on the toms).

On higher end kits, I think this is nothing short of a disgrace. I get the realities on real budget stuff.

The price that OEM's can get genuine make heads for is very low, yet the cost to the retail consumer is high. Let's take a 12" tom as an example: The difference in cost to the OEM of fitting two "made by" or no name heads compared to the genuine article is about 5 / $8, so about 1 - 3% of the cost of a high end drum.

Even taking such penny/dime pinching aside, why the hell wouldn't you want to present your fine instruments such that they sound as good as possible? Is it that the customer has already paid for them, so who gives a damn/let them carry the cost? You can bet they don't record their corporate product videos using those heads, or if they do, the recording is processed to compensate.

FFS manufacturers, stop treating customers of your upper range instruments like idiots. If you must penny/dime pinch to that degree, at least offer your customers the choice to have their new kit delivered with high quality heads & charge a sensible premium for doing so. Releasing your high end instruments with such heads makes many seriously doubt your integrity when asked to believe your marketing claims re: striving for the best possible sound, etc. If you're "cheaping out" on something as fundamental & influential as the heads, what else are you watering down - eh?

Sorry, mini rant over, but it really bugs me, because it's the uninformed that are getting suckered here. Just add $200 to the cost next time you're comparing kits that offer anything other than genuine Remo/Evans/Aquarian heads.
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  #24  
Old 05-23-2013, 12:38 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I agree KIS,
One of the factors that inspired me to purchase my Mapex Saturn kit was that It came with Remo Emperor/Ambassador heads. It was great to unbox the kit and simply tune and play without spending more money on heads.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:23 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I know the quality of the Ludwig heads is always in debate, but at the same time I totally understand why they use them on their kits.

Are there any manufacturer that ships top end kits with less than regular USA-made Remo or Evans though?
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  #26  
Old 05-23-2013, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I actually had an opposite experience very recently. I just got a new set of Ludwig Vistalites in the big-beat shell pack. The toms came with clear Ludwig "Heavy" heads on top and bottom. These are basically Ambassador-weight clear heads. They tuned up well and sounded very good with the factory heads. Of course, I did what all drummers do, and wanted to buy all new heads for the new drums. So I bought an Evans EMAD 2 for the kick batter, and clear G2s over G1s for the toms. The kick turned out killer with the EMAD. It was all boomy and bouncy with the Ludwig factory head. However, I rushed in and changed all 6 tom heads, only to find that I did not like the G2s, especially on the 16" floor tom. It just seemed to rob the drum of volume and sustain ... so I switched all 6 heads back, and quickly got them back to where they were, when I liked them. Maybe it just depends on the drum, but my general conclusion was that my new drums like the ringing sustain of single-ply heads, and in this case, the "Heavy" Ludwig heads fit the bill.

Last edited by steverok; 05-23-2013 at 07:13 PM.
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  #27  
Old 05-23-2013, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

This stuff is so much about sound preference. I replaced the Ludwig heads on my kit when I bought it, but I actually thought the heads my Supraphonic came with sounded great.
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  #28  
Old 05-23-2013, 07:05 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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This stuff is so much about sound preference. I replaced the Ludwig heads on my kit when I bought it, but I actually thought the heads my Supraphonic came with sounded great.
Ain't this the truth! So many people like to use particular heads, it seems it would be a fruitless venture to try to please everyone. There is a certain logic to putting a reasonably inexpensive head on new kits - experienced players are likely to change them out for what they want, and new players likely can't tell much difference or know exactly what they're hearing anyway.

Seems people either change heads right away or play stock heads until they are long past dead...
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Old 05-24-2013, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by steverok View Post
I actually had an opposite experience very recently. I just got a new set of Ludwig Vistalites in the big-beat shell pack. The toms came with clear Ludwig "Heavy" heads on top and bottom. These are basically Ambassador-weight clear heads.
I was under the impression that Ludwigs "medium heads" were more on par with the weight of the Remo Ambassador single ply 10 mil heads. The medium heads are what came with my Classic Maple toms. If I had a Ludwig "Heavy" head I'd mic it to check its thickness for you.

Dennis
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:26 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by audiotech View Post
I was under the impression that Ludwigs "medium heads" were more on par with the weight of the Remo Ambassador single ply 10 mil heads. The medium heads are what came with my Classic Maple toms. If I had a Ludwig "Heavy" head I'd mic it to check its thickness for you.

Dennis
No, the Ludwig mediums are 7 mil (Diplomat) and the heavies are 10 mil (Ambassador).
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

I used Ludwig Medium Coated for a little while, and I found the amount of tension needed for me to get the sound I wanted was WAY less than I used on any other brand head. The Heavy model as well, but I just didn't dig the tone of their film as mch as Remo's.

The Heavy is nice for the snare, and on my 16x26 I do like the Heavy coated a lot, but they don't do anything for me on toms. On my 18" and 20" deep bass drums I like the Coated Ambassador better.

DW's USA heads are Remo, but they use (or used--they change stuff so much) Ludwig's crimp hoop method.

Remo offers heads with the crimped hoop, but most people don't know about them because they don't advertise it.

Have fun with your kit drums360!!
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:17 AM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
No, the Ludwig mediums are 7 mil (Diplomat) and the heavies are 10 mil (Ambassador).
I did some drum head thickness measurements tonight. I measured the Ludwig "Medium" heads in both clear and coated and also Remo Ambassador clear and coated. What I found was the Ludwig "Medium" clear head measured about 7.5 mils, where as their coated medium head measured just shy of 10 mils. Incredible, this means that their coatings are in the ball park of 2.5 mils. No wonder that most of them supplied with my kit sounded a bit dead to me and very inconsistent. The Ambassador clear heads were about 10 mils thick and their coated heads were only about .5 mils thicker. I see a potential reason why many people have problems with their coating wearing prematurely. I'll check Ludwigs "Heavy" heads when I'm able to get a hold of one just for grins and giggles.

I should have checked some Evans G1 heads but ran out of time.

Dennis
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  #33  
Old 05-25-2013, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: Brand new Ludwig Kit...do my heads really suck?

Oh yeah, Ludwig's coating is pretty thick.
It's one of the reasons that bass drum doesn't need much muffling to tame it haha!
I once tried a Coated Silver Dot...holy cow.

The Med's seem like an "Ambassador weight" because of that coating. The clear is pretty thin when you move the film with your finger compared to the Heavy clear.

If someone liked a more articulate sound, Heavy clears on the bottom are nice. Nice tone, not too long a sustain (depending on tension. A little cleaner sound than a Clear Ambassador.
The thin's I thought were a bit too dry and short (compared to a Dip. weight), but I know some people dig that sound.
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