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  #1  
Old 04-26-2009, 08:22 PM
MadJazz MadJazz is offline
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Default How does calfskin sound

I keep reading how remo fiberskyn and renaissance heads sound like calfskin but I've never seen or heard a calskin drum set. So what's the sound like?

Remo describes fiberskyn as extremely dark and warm sounding. That sounds like the perfect head for pop, rock, funk etc! So why don't people use these heads more often? There must be a downside and the only things I can think of is that
a) they might make for a dull, lifeless thud
b) their thickness and coating might harm stick rebound

Is any of this true?

I find WK coated ambs too open and switched to coated PS3. The tone and sustain is OK now, although I wouldn't mind an even darker, fatter head. However, I don't like the biting, sandpaper attack of regular coating. That's why I got thinking of trying fiberskyns. Low tone, short sustain of regular coated heads but without the aggressive attack. How close am I to the truth?
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2009, 08:35 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I'd also like to know how these heads respond to high and low tuning and whether they have to be tightened more than a regular head to open up?
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2009, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Mad, I am old enough to remember calf skin heads. Had them for a while on the snares in school. I also have Fiberskyn III on my Renowns and they don't sound like calfskin. They don't sound much different than my Evans G2's I had on previous to them. Tuning range is good but so it was with the G2's.

From the Remo site.

Fiberskyn 3 heads are made by fusing a single-ply of Mylar film with poly-spun fibers in a proprietary high temperature bonding process. The resulting finish is similar to the texture of animal skin and is great for brushwork.
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2009, 10:57 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

yea when i first learnd about these heads i went and bought some cuz they seemed cool. Nothing too special as far as sound goes though...
thats probably why theyre not very popular
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  #5  
Old 04-27-2009, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I had a jazz drum teacher back in the early 1970's. He had a Slingerland set with a full set of calfskins on it. From what I remember, they had a very round sound to them (now that I think about it, what a drum should probably sound like), something alot of drummers look for today, but never seem to be able to find. Tuned high, like my teacher's obviously were, they seemed void of that annoying ringing overtone that plastic heads are notorious for, and you never needed to use the internal muffler like you had to with Remos at the time. I don't know when those internal muflers started, but I would bet it was about the same time that Weatherkings first came on the market, because Mylar, while not being affected by humidity like Calfskins, came with the plastic ringing sound, especially around the edges. Another edge to natural skins is the rouhness that gives brushes a better sound than on Mylar, but that is mainly important to jazz drummers. The notorious downside to hides is that humidity affects tuning, and if you gig, you often have to carry a hair dryer with you in the warmer months, depending on where you live.
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2009, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Fiberskyns certainly sound different than other heads though. They lack the plastic attack of other heads and have a warmer sound than say regular ambassadors. Renaissance heads aren't really more calf-like either, but are more open that Fiberskyns. I would love to have some sort of calf like sound on my Gretsch kit for the swing band I play in. I will probably use Fiberskyns (I've got G1 Coated heads on there now) myself, as Renaissance heads would result in tympani sounding toms, especially my 16,18 toms. I tried an Aquarian Modern Vintage head once (also claims to be like calfskin). Essentially, it's a coated head with extra thick coating, resulting in a softer feel and warmer sound, but it is nothing special and not worth the trouble or extra cost of finding them. For a warmer head get Fiberskyn Ambassadors. Try Fiberskyn diplomats (if you can find them) for an open, warm sound (used by a lot of jazz drummers like Jeff Hamilton, John Riley, and Steve Smith) Renaissance heads are slightly warmer than clear heads, but the main advantage is that the finish doesn't wear down like coating.
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  #7  
Old 04-27-2009, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I agree with the previous posts here, and unless I missed it in those answers, I'll give you my 2 cents on why you don't hear them in more contemporary music.

Attack

There is very little attack in these heads unless you really whack em'. I recorded with a set and they sounded great, but I had 2 overheads PLUS tom mics in order to dial a good attack in. That said, I think they are great for jazz.

I have never played calf on drum set, but I use a calf skin on my main djembe...
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  #8  
Old 04-27-2009, 09:37 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I had to jump in here with my 2 cents in defense of the Aquarian Modern Vintage. I used to use the Fiberskyn heads a lot until I got tired of the coating bubbling up after a while. Sometimes it wouldn't happen for several months, other times it took several days, but they were all consistent in that they would bubble up after using them for a while. I'm sure others will come to defend them, but in my experience, that's what would always happen. They WERE great sounding heads though.
At any rate, I switched to the Modern Vintage heads a while back and liked their sound even more. They seemed to tune up a lot easier and they give a nice warm, dark sound. Also, from what I've seen they are just as available as the FIberskyns...both of them are a little difficult to find though. But if you have the chance, I highly recommend checking out the Modern Vintage heads.
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  #9  
Old 04-27-2009, 11:20 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
I agree with the previous posts here, and unless I missed it in those answers, I'll give you my 2 cents on why you don't hear them in more contemporary music.

Attack

There is very little attack in these heads unless you really whack em'. I recorded with a set and they sounded great, but I had 2 overheads PLUS tom mics in order to dial a good attack in. That said, I think they are great for jazz.

I have never played calf on drum set, but I use a calf skin on my main djembe...
Yea Garvin nailed it
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  #10  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:50 PM
MadJazz MadJazz is offline
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Sound samples would help. Pictures of drum with fiberskins are also wlecome :)
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:22 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Here are my Gretsch toms.....
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by MadJazz View Post
Sound samples would help. Pictures of drum with fiberskins are also wlecome :)
I'm running Fiberskyns on my toms again, I'll try to get you some sounds.
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:27 AM
MadJazz MadJazz is offline
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Good looking!

But why no fibers on the snare?
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  #14  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Here you go. It's a horrible example but it's all I've got with me here at work. It's from last night's practice...something I do while warming up to help me relax.

The 12" is louder than the 16" because it's closer to the mic on that side. I need to move the other one down a bit...but I just moved into this room so it's all screwed up.

I'll try and get you something better tomorrow, maybe.

Anyhow...I think they're great on the snare myself...but they don't last very long under that kind of punishment and will "bubble up" fairly quickly.
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File Type: mp3 fiberskyns_pearl_mcx.mp3 (1.91 MB, 256 views)
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  #15  
Old 04-30-2009, 01:13 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Excuse the snare buzz, but this is my Fibreskyn file.
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File Type: mp3 STE-002.mp3 (2.04 MB, 260 views)
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  #16  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:30 PM
Spinozalove Spinozalove is offline
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
Excuse the snare buzz, but this is my Fibreskyn file.
Those drums sound great. Nice drumming too :-)
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  #17  
Old 11-03-2009, 03:06 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I have a Fiberskyn Powerstroke 3 on my 22x18" Ludwig cherry/gum Element SE bass drum. No muffling. It's a really cool, mellow sound to my ears. I *wish* I was involved in a project where I could use this set up. Alas, I'm playing with a blues-rock band, and as mentioned, this head lacks the punch that's handy to have in most louder playing situations...

What kind of resonant heads are you using? On toms, coated Emps over Coated Ambs works pretty well. Perhaps a smidge on the "dead" side for me. Next time it'll be Vintage A's on top.

-Ryan
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  #18  
Old 11-03-2009, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Here's Steve Smith playing some calf heads:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xrmm...layer_embedded

They're tuned a bit low for the context; most drummers playing in a jazz trio would tune somewhat higher than this.

But if you want more examples of how calfskin heads sound, pick up any jazz recording made before 1960 or so.
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  #19  
Old 11-04-2009, 05:06 AM
Old Doc Yak Old Doc Yak is offline
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Go to youtube and put in any of the classic jazz drummers; Gene, Buddy, Big Sid, etc. There are some great clips from the '30s and '40s with skin heads.
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  #20  
Old 11-05-2009, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

So, Zambizzi, Gruntersdad, what are you using for resos with those FA's?
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  #21  
Old 11-09-2009, 04:39 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I like that Steve Smith clip. It reminds me how bad I want a vintage Slingerland kit. Fiberskyn heads would certainly help steer your kit towards this sound, although they can't make it sound like a thin-shell mahogany kit. Fiberskyns are wonderful for avoiding that plastic zing other heads have while offering a warm tone with a rather focused center. Tune them high and they resemble regular ambassadors but without the sharp attack, but the real magic is tuning them low to get that calf-like thump. I've got one on my Slingerland chrome-over-brass snare now and tuned low it's a nice almost wood-like sound, and tuned high it has a nice crack.
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  #22  
Old 11-09-2009, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

If you want to try the real thing here is a site to buy them.
http://www.earthtoneheads.com/shop/
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Last edited by bobdadruma; 11-09-2009 at 05:17 AM.
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  #23  
Old 11-09-2009, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

i remember my school had a bass drum with calfskin heads. that thing was *always* out of tune. when it got dry it'd be like a big timbale.
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  #24  
Old 11-09-2009, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

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Originally Posted by dairyairman View Post
i remember my school had a bass drum with calfskin heads. that thing was *always* out of tune. when it got dry it'd be like a big timbale.
Yup. Lot of downside to calfskin. Expensive, a pain to roll your own heads/collars, and sensitivity to weather. Throw in detuning every night and retuning the next day.

I don't miss all that, but I do miss the sound. Sometimes.
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  #25  
Old 08-01-2010, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVZai...eature=channel

This really makes me wanna get them! Just listen to that high tom, beautiful. I have a fiberskyn on my snare, but It is too ringy and plastic sounding. And judging from the comments, it must be my bad snare not the head. Getting some vintage slingerlands in a few weeks, may kit it out with fiberskyns then. Not in any jazz band at the moment....one hip hop, one funk and one soul...these heads sound like they would be amazing!
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Old 08-01-2010, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by justJon View Post
So, Zambizzi, Gruntersdad, what are you using for resos with those FA's?
I'm using Evans G1 Clear.
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  #27  
Old 08-01-2010, 05:03 AM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

Looks like an old thread, but here's a video of a guy I won a free lesson from. Earthtone heads on one the most beautiful kits I've seen and heard.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrbXzD5BpGA
Also, notice on the right ride cymbal he's got a rivet right near the bell it seems... interesting.

Last edited by jodgey4; 08-01-2010 at 06:14 AM.
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  #28  
Old 08-02-2010, 10:06 PM
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Default Re: How does calfskin sound

I think they're definitely unique heads and unless you want that earthy, dry, rich sound out of the heads then you're better off looking elsewhere. A bonus being though, slapping a fiberskyn head on the front of the bass drum makes it look absolutely beautiful and does the job great too.
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