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  #1  
Old 08-03-2013, 12:34 AM
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Default Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

OK, I'm gonna let fly with a minor rant. This is your fair warning.

I decided to change my bass drum heads on my 16X24 Ludwig Classic Maple and wanted to try a non-premuffled batter head (inspired by Bo and Karl). I searched and found decent prices on an Aquarian classic clear and I picked up an Ambassador coated for reference, since I used them almost exclusively years ago, and figured I KNOW how they sound...

My first disappointment was to find the Aquarian is made in Mexico, and nowhere on the head does it specify Classic Clear. Not a huge deal, but I'm used to Evans and Remo being USA-made and telling you what you are getting. Anyway, I put it on and go. I had a hard time getting the head evenly tuned for some reason, unless I tuned up quite high, and then I didn't like the sound produced. The other option was to tune so loose it barely had any tone at all. I think this tuning would actually work well mic'd, but it sounds like sh!t from an acoustic standpoint, and many of my current gigs are acoustic. Any tuning between high and very low produced weird overtones that I just can't seem to even out. I'm using the Simon Phillips rolled towel and/or felt strip to muffle, BTW. I've been experimenting as I go.

The Remo presented a whole nuther issue - the Mini-Classic lugs on my Ludwigs are so short that the tension rods bottom out before the head is fully seated and the wrinkles are removed. I can order shorter rods, but man, what a frustrating day. The Ambassador must just have a deeper collar.

I'm wishing I hadn't spent the $ at all, and I'm just about ready to throw my old PS3 back on there, wear or no...

I'm not a newbie at all - 38 years experience, some of them as a tech, so I generally tune very well. So, I guess I'm not really asking for advice unless you have a magic bullet. Like I said, mostly I'm venting...
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Old 08-03-2013, 06:52 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

I gave up on the Aquarian after futzing with it all day. I just couldn't obtain a sound I was satisfied with. I put the PS3 back on. Boring as it is, it sounds worlds better than anything I came up with using the Aquarian.

Aquarian lovers REALLY love them, but I never seem to be able to get what I want from them. Oh well. More money wasted...
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:08 AM
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Default

I know sometimes doing stuff retro style is cool but some things I won't go back to. I love pre-muffled bass drum heads and won't go back to regular heads (with the exception of if I ever need a jazzy open sound). With PS3 type heads you start out with a killer sound and then add more muffling as needed. With regular heads, first you gotta tame those things before you can get a workable sound. And to me, a ring around the circumference distributed evenly makes more sense than a felt strip on one side or a rolled towel at the bottom.

The pre-muffled head was invented to make all these things like pillows, felt, etc. unnecessary to get a good punchy sound from the start.

And yes, head experimentation can be expensive. Especially when it comes to bass drums. I feel your pain.
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Last edited by Bernhard; 08-03-2013 at 09:37 AM. Reason: Edited by Arky: merging consecutive posts
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:11 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Completely agree with drumdevil9 about the PS3. It, combined with an EQ Pad, has resulted in the best bass drum sound I've ever been able to get. The EMAD with no additional dampening comes in a distant second.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:35 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

I quite like the sound of the Emad on my Ludwig kick. Serious punch. My Renown has a PS3 and my Catalina Club Jazz has Fiberskyn Powerstrokes front and back. Killer sound, no fuss, no muss.
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  #6  
Old 08-03-2013, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

The collar depth / head depth differences between makes are a royal PITA for drum manufacturers too, especially on designs like Origin with a definitive tensioning envelope & designs that incorporate full counter hoop enclosure. I wish they could all agree on a standard :(
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Old 08-03-2013, 05:47 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
The collar depth / head depth differences between makes are a royal PITA for drum manufacturers too, especially on designs like Origin with a definitive tensioning envelope & designs that incorporate full counter hoop enclosure. I wish they could all agree on a standard :(
Yes, I actually though of you, Andy, when I was fighting with those issues. I remembered you asking whether anyone was bothered by those types of problems.

Not only the depth of the collar, but the circumference and the fit of the wooden hoop is an issue, too. It was difficult to get the hoop seated against the counterhoop because it contacted the collar first. I've experienced that on every BD head I've tried except the Ludwig heads, to be honest. I sure wish manufacturers could get their stuff together.
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  #8  
Old 08-03-2013, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Weird. I use Remo clear Ambassadors on my drums (including bass drum) and have no problem whatsoever. I love the feel and sound it gives me.

I'm puzzled why your tuning bolts are "bottoming out". I don't understand what you're saying. Do you mean you're running out of threads? That's crazy. Is your bass drum hoop super narrow?
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  #9  
Old 08-03-2013, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
Weird. I use Remo clear Ambassadors on my drums (including bass drum) and have no problem whatsoever. I love the feel and sound it gives me.

I'm puzzled why your tuning bolts are "bottoming out". I don't understand what you're saying. Do you mean you're running out of threads? That's crazy. Is your bass drum hoop super narrow?
I got the Mini Classic lugs for lower mass, and they are much shorter than the regular Classic lugs. There is plenty of thread left on the tension rod, but the end of the rod hits the bottom of the lug (inside) before the head is properly tensioned. The hoop is the normal width.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
I got the Mini Classic lugs for lower mass, and they are much shorter than the regular Classic lugs. There is plenty of thread left on the tension rod, but the end of the rod hits the bottom of the lug (inside) before the head is properly tensioned. The hoop is the normal width.
I can understand why that must have been very frustrating. You could try another washer or two between the tension rods and the claws. Good luck.
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  #11  
Old 08-03-2013, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by Drumolator View Post
I can understand why that must have been very frustrating. You could try another washer or two between the tension rods and the claws. Good luck.
Extra washers is not a bad idea at all. I like it...
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  #12  
Old 08-04-2013, 12:20 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
I got the Mini Classic lugs for lower mass, and they are much shorter than the regular Classic lugs. There is plenty of thread left on the tension rod, but the end of the rod hits the bottom of the lug (inside) before the head is properly tensioned. The hoop is the normal width.
Oooooh! Got it. That is really weird that you don't have that problem with the Powerstroke 3. I can't imagine that the depth of the heads to the collar would be that different.

Do the mini lugs normally use the same tension rods, or are they supposed to be mounted with shorter ones? Are you tensioning the head super tight?
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  #13  
Old 08-04-2013, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
Oooooh! Got it. That is really weird that you don't have that problem with the Powerstroke 3. I can't imagine that the depth of the heads to the collar would be that different.

Do the mini lugs normally use the same tension rods, or are they supposed to be mounted with shorter ones? Are you tensioning the head super tight?
It all puzzles me, too. I am not sure if they normally use the same rods for the Mini Classic lug, but a shorter one would sure work better. I would like to tension the reso fairly tight, but I can't even get the wrinkles out when using the Remo head.

It is odd that the PS3 works. I had the problem on the reso side, so maybe I'll throw the PS3 on there just for comparison. Perhaps they put the wrong rods on the reso side only, or ended up sanding the bearing edge more. Who knows? But it is curious.
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  #14  
Old 08-05-2013, 12:51 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Let us know what you find when you try the PS3 on the resonant side of the bass drum. I bet Ludwig used the wrong tension rods.
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  #15  
Old 08-05-2013, 02:25 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Were you coming from Ludwig heads? AFAIK they (specially kick heads) fit differently from Remo and Evans heads. I tried to fit my old 22" silver dots on our church's China made Gretsch kit, and it was a major struggle. Maybe Ludwig drums are unusual to start with, and their heads follow their proprietary measurements. I remember reading about this in old threads.
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  #16  
Old 08-05-2013, 05:40 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Minor update - I haven't had time to swap the PS3 to the reso side for a test-fit, but I did unscrew one tension rod from each side and they are the same length. I'll keep you posted when I have a chance to do more measuring and comparisons. This really has me curious now.
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  #17  
Old 08-05-2013, 05:50 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Remo heads work great on the bass drums of both of my Ludwig kits. (Vintage Keystone 3 ply and 2012 Club Date)
Aquarian heads also fit the bass drums on both kits with no issues.
I use felt for dampening open style heads.
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  #18  
Old 08-05-2013, 06:04 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

I like the Evans EQ2 clear bass head bass head. You can play it very sensitively and then boom the heck out of it too.
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  #19  
Old 08-05-2013, 06:13 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
The collar depth / head depth differences between makes are a royal PITA for drum manufacturers too, especially on designs like Origin with a definitive tensioning envelope & designs that incorporate full counter hoop enclosure. I wish they could all agree on a standard :(
It's funny, cause that's the same thing we complain about with drum manufacturers and shell sizing, hoop dimensions, snare beds, bearing edge cuts and counterhoop design :-) That's what we went through with the development of Level 360.

@IDDrums I'd be curious to know what you think of the fit of our heads on this particular bass drum. Have you used any Evans heads on it?
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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It's funny, cause that's the same thing we complain about with drum manufacturers and shell sizing, hoop dimensions, snare beds, bearing edge cuts and counterhoop design :-) That's what we went through with the development of Level 360.

@IDDrums I'd be curious to know what you think of the fit of our heads on this particular bass drum. Have you used any Evans heads on it?
It seems some standardization would be good for everyone!

@EvansSpecialist - I have not tried Evans on this bass drum, merely because I was trying to find a head that was not pre-muffled to try. As far as I know, Evans doesn't offer such a beast. I think I've decided it's too expensive to chase that particular rainbow, anyway, so I may try Evans on my next head change.

I've got various 360 heads on the rest of the kit, and I'm happy with the fit of those, but then I've never had a problem with head fit on anything except this bass drum.
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  #21  
Old 08-05-2013, 10:09 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

If the tension rods are the same length on both sides of the drum, then something is wrong with that Remo head.

As for Evans, the equivalent would be the regular single ply G1 as far as I recall.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

OK, I have figured out what the deal is with the Luddie bass drum. The distance between the lugs and bearing edge on the reso side is 1.739 inches on my calipers. The same distance on the batter side measures 1.865.

So, heads that have a deeper collar, like the Remo, work on the batter side but not the reso. On the reso side, the rods bottom out. (I tested the PS3, and it does the same thing.) Heads that have shallower collars, like the Ludwig and the Aquarian, work on either side.

Some of the heads (notably the Remos also have slightly larger diameter JUST BEFORE the counter hoop, making it somewhat challenging to get the wood bass drum hoop seated evenly against the counter hoop. The Aquarian displays this tendency, too, but not as much as the Remo. The Ludwig fits perfectly. It's too bad I don't love the SOUND of their heads...

PS - a simple fix for using any heads on the reso side will be to add washers or get shorter rods.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

You have the answer, Add thick nylon washers under the metal ones that you have on the rods.
I add nylon washers to all of my drums because I like how they allow the rod to turn smoothly.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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You have the answer, Add thick nylon washers under the metal ones that you have on the rods.
I add nylon washers to all of my drums because I like how they allow the rod to turn smoothly.
Interestingly, my Ludwigs came with nylon washers all around. I just need to add another set.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

My 2012 Club Date kit came with metal washers and I added nylon.
My vintage Ludwig kit of course has metal washers.
I figured that Classic Maple's came with metal???
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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My 2012 Club Date kit came with metal washers and I added nylon.
My vintage Ludwig kit of course has metal washers.
I figured that Classic Maple's came with metal???
Yeah, I don't know, I never compared to any other Classic maple kit? But mine came with nylon, as did my Pork Pie Big Black. The only drum I have right now with metal washers is my Yamaha snare. I kind of figured all newer kits were coming with nylon. They sure cause less wear on the hoops than metal.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:29 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Why the hell would the lugs be mounted differently on either side of the drum? Is that standard operation procedure for that line of drums? I would contact Ludwig and say WTF??!!
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:16 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Why the hell would the lugs be mounted differently on either side of the drum? Is that standard operation procedure for that line of drums? I would contact Ludwig and say WTF??!!
I suspect they drill the holes for the lugs first and then cut the bearing edge. They probably had to take a tiny bit more off to get the edge perfectly level, and since they only mount their own heads, they would never know it could be an issue with the mini-lugs. I never knew there was a problem til I tried putting the Remo reso head on.

I've had the kit over two years, so I'm not going to bother Ludwig about it, especially when the fix is so easy.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
OK, I have figured out what the deal is with the Luddie bass drum. The distance between the lugs and bearing edge on the reso side is 1.739 inches on my calipers. The same distance on the batter side measures 1.865..
is it possible your BD was cut down from a longer length?

maybe from 18" or 20"? what's the distance between lug holes?

usually uneven distances like that suggest a cut-down

YMMV
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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is it possible your BD was cut down from a longer length?

maybe from 18" or 20"? what's the distance between lug holes?

usually uneven distances like that suggest a cut-down

YMMV
I don't really think so. I ordered it new and got the shipment directly from the Ludwig factory.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Yeah, I just realized that the difference is tiny, but still, they really don't leave enough tolerance for "normal" drum heads. That's just crazy.
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

Here's an update to the update.

My original plan to use the Aquarian head on the batter side and Remo Ambassador on the reso side didn't work because of head fit and because I hated the sound of the Aquarian head.

Once I ascertained that the head fit problem had to do with the drum's reso side dimensions and not really the head itself, I decided to try the Remo Ambassador on the batter side. I was still interested in finding out what Bo, Karl, and others were seeing in the heads without pre-muffling.

Well, shaZAMM! The Ambassador is everything the Aquarian was not - easy to tune, full-sounding, warm, and deep. The biggest advantage over the PS3 is that it still sounds quite full, even at LOW volumes, such as when I'm using brushes. It just seems more sensitive to me than the PS3. Not that the PS3 sounds bad - it doesn't. It just sounds more one-dimensional than the Ambassador. (I went back to the Ludwig stock head for the reso side.)

BTW, I am using a modified version of Simon Phillips' rolled up towel for muffling. I hate the duct tape on the heads, so I use velcro to hold the towel against the head. Looks much neater.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:52 PM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

My Ludwig bass drums all have the thick washers on--like 1/4" or 3/8" thick.

What did yours come with? If they are thin (regular) washers, I can see how a tension rod might bottom out with the Mini-Classic lug (I have the Large Classic, or Mach lugs on my drums).
I didn't really care for the look of the M-Classic, so I've never bought them, but, personally, I can't imaging that the little bit of size difference between those lugs could make a difference on the very resonant shells Ludwig makes. My Mach lug drums are real resonant too.

I've never had a problem with any brand head on my old 14x24 3 ply with metal washers and t-rods though.

The PS3 head may have not done it because it's a pretty thick collar with the 2 plies of head there. It takes a lot to get it to sound high pitched, so that is probably why you never got to bottoming out a rod. If you wanted a higher pitch on the front, and the head is tightened down, there probably isn't much space inside the Mini-Classic lug.
Before anyone "blasts" Ludwig for this horrific oversight in design, that's why the washers are thick. So you can do whatever you want tension-wise.

When I bought new die cast claws to change over some drums, they came with two thicknesses of washers in the package.

I like the CA because it is full, natural, and a great blend of tone and punch.
Since it's a 26, it sounds full and all that at any volume I play. It's very easy to play the 26 at lower volumes as Bo has also stated in his posts on this size drum.

My muffling is a "reverse Simon Phillips" method--that's even how I described it to Simon when he asked me how I got my bass drum sounding so great :-)
It sits between the posts and the head. I can move it around for more or less dampening of tones in the head just by reaching down.

One thing I think adds to the sound also, is the patch I use. It's a 3"x4" piece of Coated Ambassador taped to the head. It sounds like there is no patch because it's the same material (and coating).

I can't use a pre-muffed head anymore. Not after 17+ years of un-muffled glory :-)

Front heads I have used are Smooth White Remo, Smooth White Ludwig, Coated Ambassador, and Coated Ludwig (heavy-their 10 mil. head).
I like all of them. The Ludwig SW head is pretty solid sounding, with maybe a little more clear sound than the Remo SW. CA is a good in-between, sounds great, no problem front head. The Coated Ludwig sounds good, and gets a deeper sounding than either Remo style.
I don't use a felt, or anything on the front head. There's a medium sized piece of foam taped to the bottom of my shells to stop the sound from bouncing around. It doesn't touch either head.

I had a Remo Ebony head on front for a minute, but don't really like the sound of that head.

Ludwig heads do have a sound of their own, and I liked it for a bit, but went back to CA's--but, there's a new Legacy kit with the Ludwig Medium coated heads at the shop that sounds reeeeeaaallly good.
Ludwig heads need less tension on them compared to other brands (to get the same type of sound), and you can't play super heavy on them before they start kinda "boing-ing out".

Good luck with your drum!!
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  #34  
Old 08-08-2013, 04:38 AM
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Default Re: Disappointing Bass Drum head change rant

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Originally Posted by KarlCrafton View Post
My Ludwig bass drums all have the thick washers on--like 1/4" or 3/8" thick.

What did yours come with? If they are thin (regular) washers, I can see how a tension rod might bottom out with the Mini-Classic lug

My muffling is a "reverse Simon Phillips" method--that's even how I described it to Simon when he asked me how I got my bass drum sounding so great :-)
It sits between the posts and the head. I can move it around for more or less dampening of tones in the head just by reaching down.

Good luck with your drum!!
The washers on my drum are nylon, but they aren't really thick - nowhere near 1/4". Interesting. Easy enough to add washers or get thicker ones though.


Your description of the "reverse Simon Phillips" is one of the things that got me interested in trying that muffling method. Unfortunately, the roll tucked behind the posts of my direct-drive Yamaha pedal interferes with the linkage, so I had to put it inside like Simon's. Sounds great, but I don't have the flexibility you have. I'm happy with it, though.

All in all, I love the sound of the drum. This head change just threw me for a loop for a while, til I got it sorted out.
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