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  #1  
Old 09-05-2011, 09:53 AM
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Default Thickening a drum head

My drums are made of very dense wood and are very thick, which produces lots of overtones. My bass drum is only 18 by 18, so I didn't want to stick a pillow in there because it would reduce the interior volume substantially and effectively reduce the volume of the drum.

So I thought to thicken the head. Given that traditional heads on large drums are cowhide and maybe 1 or 2 millimeters thick, the newer (barely 50 years old) Mylar heads of a fraction of a millimeter are understandably too thinly scaled for a large drum. Which is why people stuff pillows, blankets and mattresses into their bass drums.

So, I took the natural approach and made the reso head on my bass drum thicker, with a circle of felt in the center of the head to reduce vibration. I used white latex paint to secure the felt circle to the inside of the reso head. Latex won't react with the plastic head and can be peeled off if necessary, but it grips the felt firmly and there is no buzzing.

The mod has thickened and focused the bass drum considerably, but not enough. I may get an 18-inch circle of felt and completely thicken the inside of the reso head. Maybe even the batter.

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Old 09-05-2011, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Cool if it works. But couldn't you just loosen the reso head to minimize the vibrations?
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Isn't an Aquarian SK II a thick two ply head with a foam ring instead of a felt ring glued around the heads perimeter to remove overtones ?
Why not just use a dampened head like that?
Also, The traditional felt strap method is tried and true.
Here is my way of doing it. http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=80527
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
My drums are made of very dense wood and are very thick, which produces lots of overtones.
Ah yes, the higher overtones produced as a result of increased reflection from harder/denser woods, I know them well, but muffling the life out of the heads isn't the way to go IMO. I know you don't want to stuff the poor thing with the week's laundry, & believe me, I'm with you on that, but you'd be surprised what a very small section of absorbent material can do. I use an Evans drum pillow cut in half ( so that's a piece of fabric covered foam about 6" square x 1" thick) secured with a small velcro strip in the bottom of the shell. Not touching either head, just sitting there. It absorbs high frequency overtones & disrupts their formation, whilst making almost no difference to the internal drum volume. Really, use your normal chosen heads, then fit the small foam pad as described, & hear all those high frequency overtones evaporate. You get much improved head resonance and the tones you want, with less of the tones you don't. Works every time, especially on thicker shelled stave & solid bass drums made from harder woods.

With your very special drum, the high frequency overtones almost certainly aren't coming from the heads, so head dampening will only work to a degree. The felt strip on the batter will offer some benefit, but more because it introduces a degree of absorbent material than it's head dampening properties. Normal rules don't fully apply on solid & stave bass drums. Trust Andy, give it a go, & let that baby breathe!

If I'm right, those overtones should present themselves as a metallic sound, almost what you'd expect from a big diameter steel drain, am I right?
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:33 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

I agree on the felt strip. Try one on the resonant head first and if that's not enough, place another on the batter head. I never tried one on an 18" bass drum, but they work great on 28", 22" and 20" drums.



Dennis
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Aquarian Modern Vintage 18 inch bass drum heads.
Give these a look! The felt is already on the head and ready to give you that vintage bomb sound.
http://www.samash.com/p/Aquarian_18%...rip)_-49984879
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by bobdadruma View Post
Isn't an Aquarian SK II a thick two ply head with a foam ring instead of a felt ring glued around the heads perimeter to remove overtones ?
Why not just use a dampened head like that?
Also, The traditional felt strap method is tried and true.
Here is my way of doing it. http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=80527
You put the strip on the outside of the head?
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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You put the strip on the outside of the head?
No, The strip is behind the head. I put a light behind the drum so that the strip would show in the pic. The Fiberskin head is fairly opaque. Just an illusion.
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Thanks for the advice. I know the general tendency is to have the thinnest possible heads and then reduce the interior volume of the drum to augment muffling, but I want to move the most air possible.

I like the idea of felt strips. How do the strips actually keep in contact with the head? How do they keep constant contact - don't they rattle or flutter? Seems like my disk of felt is basically the same thing, just fairly permanent. I know there are those Evans foam circles that adhere to the inside perimeter of the drum. Isn't that the same thing basically as what I am doing?

Thicker drum heads are a technique for overtone control going back thousands of years. Only in Western trap sets do we have big drums with unnaturally thin heads, then do weird things like stuff pillows in a drum. Western trap sets have shells of engineered wood products, so they can be much thinner than traditional heads, so they are much less reflective.

The bigger the drum, the thicker the heads. Seems to have made sense for thousands of years.
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
Ah yes, the higher overtones produced as a result of increased reflection from harder/denser woods, I know them well, but muffling the life out of the heads isn't the way to go IMO. I know you don't want to stuff the poor thing with the week's laundry, & believe me, I'm with you on that, but you'd be surprised what a very small section of absorbent material can do. I use an Evans drum pillow cut in half ( so that's a piece of fabric covered foam about 6" square x 1" thick) secured with a small velcro strip in the bottom of the shell. Not touching either head, just sitting there. It absorbs high frequency overtones & disrupts their formation, whilst making almost no difference to the internal drum volume. Really, use your normal chosen heads, then fit the small foam pad as described, & hear all those high frequency overtones evaporate. You get much improved head resonance and the tones you want, with less of the tones you don't. Works every time, especially on thicker shelled stave & solid bass drums made from harder woods.

With your very special drum, the high frequency overtones almost certainly aren't coming from the heads, so head dampening will only work to a degree. The felt strip on the batter will offer some benefit, but more because it introduces a degree of absorbent material than it's head dampening properties. Normal rules don't fully apply on solid & stave bass drums. Trust Andy, give it a go, & let that baby breathe!

If I'm right, those overtones should present themselves as a metallic sound, almost what you'd expect from a big diameter steel drain, am I right?
This sounds good. How about gluing felt to the inside of the bass drum, to basically coat it.
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:55 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

In answer to your question, The felt strips do flutter a slight bit because they are in loose contact with the head. This loose contact allows them to dampen the head without killing all of the tone. I find that they work better on the reso head than on the batter head.
I use a Remo PS3 batter head because of this. The PS3 has just the right amount of built in dampening for a traditional sounding bass drum.
Have you ever tried real calfskin heads on your bass drum?
They may be the answer for what you seek. They do require frequent tuning though as I'm sure you know.
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:58 AM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

The felt strips that I have really don't cause any audible flutter to any extent because they are held fairly tight and in contact with the heads. The tension comes from the felt being tightly sandwiched between the head and the bearing edge as the head is being tensioned. I was a bit concerned over any audible disturbance that the felts could cause, so as an experiment I close miked the bass drum right at the center of the strip and the audio was clean. Maybe with a larger diameter bass drum this could be more of a problem because of the longer span between the two mounting points.

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Old 09-06-2011, 01:10 AM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by audiotech View Post
The felt strips that I have really don't cause any audible flutter to any extent because they are held fairly tight and in contact with the heads. The tension comes from the felt being tightly sandwiched between the head and the bearing edge as the head is being tensioned. I was a bit concerned over any audible disturbance that the felts could cause, so as an experiment I close miked the bass drum right at the center of the strip and the audio was clean. Maybe with a larger diameter bass drum this could be more of a problem because of the longer span between the two mounting points.

Dennis
That makes sense. Even fluttering felt would make little noise, unless it were longer and stretched tight. How do you install these on the inside of the head?
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Watch this vid, At about 9.20 the felt is installed on a bass drum.
http://youtu.be/dcp_XSTcSsc
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

I have used these before and the easiest way I found is with the head off to taped the felt to the drum shell with scotch tape and once the head is on remove the tape so as not to leave behind any residue.
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Old 09-06-2011, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Interesting that he puts the felts along the bottom of the head. I always put mine vertically along one side of the head, usually on the right side looking from the driver's seat. I guess that stems from where the old big band logos such as Buddy Rich's were placed.
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:13 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

I accomplished the same thing by completely covering the inside of my reso head in duct tape. I mean COMPLETELY. Just one layer of methodical taping did the trick. The result was insane. On a 22x14 kick, EMAD batter, duct tape reso, absolutely no other muffling, gave the punchiest, fattest bass drum I'd ever heard. It was awesome.
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
This sounds good. How about gluing felt to the inside of the bass drum, to basically coat it.
No need to go nearly that far IMO. The mass of absorbent material needed is very small. Keeping the inside of the drum shell clear for reflections is important to the sound. I know the inside of your drums aren't production style smooth. That's a good thing for your drum's individual sound. Think of it like hand hammering on a quality Turkish cymbal. Honestly, I've done this to lots of thick shelled hard wood bass drums, including ebony. It works a treat. Totally different response than a multiple ply shell. It completely absorbs those high frequency "metallic" overtones, yet maintains a lovely open sound that moves maximum air. Far more effective than any head dampening, unless all you want is "thud".

A little 6" x 6" x 1" thick piece of open cell foam is all that's needed. Just place it (secure it lightly if you wish) in the bottom of the shell. It doesn't need to touch anything, it just sits there absorbing & interrupting the formation of higher overtones. Just try it with your standard heads in place. I think you'll be surprised. It won't alter the fundamental sound & response though, just get rid of that ring. If you want to dampen the drum, then the other suggestions will do the job well enough.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
No need to go nearly that far IMO. The mass of absorbent material needed is very small. Keeping the inside of the drum shell clear for reflections is important to the sound. I know the inside of your drums aren't production style smooth. That's a good thing for your drum's individual sound. Think of it like hand hammering on a quality Turkish cymbal. Honestly, I've done this to lots of thick shelled hard wood bass drums, including ebony. It works a treat. Totally different response than a multiple ply shell. It completely absorbs those high frequency "metallic" overtones, yet maintains a lovely open sound that moves maximum air. Far more effective than any head dampening, unless all you want is "thud".

A little 6" x 6" x 1" thick piece of open cell foam is all that's needed. Just place it (secure it lightly if you wish) in the bottom of the shell. It doesn't need to touch anything, it just sits there absorbing & interrupting the formation of higher overtones. Just try it with your standard heads in place. I think you'll be surprised. It won't alter the fundamental sound & response though, just get rid of that ring. If you want to dampen the drum, then the other suggestions will do the job well enough.
Just dropping a chunk of foam in the drum sounds interesting - easy to do and easy to reverse if needed. I will give it a try. Couldn't hurt and it would displace minimal volume. I know people have put wadded up tissue paper inside of snare drums for this purpose.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
No need to go nearly that far IMO. The mass of absorbent material needed is very small. Keeping the inside of the drum shell clear for reflections is important to the sound. I know the inside of your drums aren't production style smooth. That's a good thing for your drum's individual sound. Think of it like hand hammering on a quality Turkish cymbal. Honestly, I've done this to lots of thick shelled hard wood bass drums, including ebony. It works a treat. Totally different response than a multiple ply shell. It completely absorbs those high frequency "metallic" overtones, yet maintains a lovely open sound that moves maximum air. Far more effective than any head dampening, unless all you want is "thud".

A little 6" x 6" x 1" thick piece of open cell foam is all that's needed. Just place it (secure it lightly if you wish) in the bottom of the shell. It doesn't need to touch anything, it just sits there absorbing & interrupting the formation of higher overtones. Just try it with your standard heads in place. I think you'll be surprised. It won't alter the fundamental sound & response though, just get rid of that ring. If you want to dampen the drum, then the other suggestions will do the job well enough.
I did put a chunk of foam 11 by 5 by 1 1/2 inches in there. I Velcroed it to the bottom of the drum, a few inches from the reso head, sticking up like a skycraper. It helps a little to get rid of the metallic overtones. Maybe I will turn it on its side and move it forward to push against the reso head - kind of like a pillow, but very compact.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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I accomplished the same thing by completely covering the inside of my reso head in duct tape. I mean COMPLETELY. Just one layer of methodical taping did the trick. The result was insane. On a 22x14 kick, EMAD batter, duct tape reso, absolutely no other muffling, gave the punchiest, fattest bass drum I'd ever heard. It was awesome.
Wow, so I am not the only one who has thought of thickening a drum head. Duct tape sounds like it would certainly do the trick.

I did like the sound of my drum better when it had a Drumart head. The layer of plastic was put over a fairly thick head anyway, making it even thicker.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
No need to go nearly that far IMO. The mass of absorbent material needed is very small. Keeping the inside of the drum shell clear for reflections is important to the sound. I know the inside of your drums aren't production style smooth. That's a good thing for your drum's individual sound. Think of it like hand hammering on a quality Turkish cymbal. Honestly, I've done this to lots of thick shelled hard wood bass drums, including ebony. It works a treat. Totally different response than a multiple ply shell. It completely absorbs those high frequency "metallic" overtones, yet maintains a lovely open sound that moves maximum air. Far more effective than any head dampening, unless all you want is "thud".

A little 6" x 6" x 1" thick piece of open cell foam is all that's needed. Just place it (secure it lightly if you wish) in the bottom of the shell. It doesn't need to touch anything, it just sits there absorbing & interrupting the formation of higher overtones. Just try it with your standard heads in place. I think you'll be surprised. It won't alter the fundamental sound & response though, just get rid of that ring. If you want to dampen the drum, then the other suggestions will do the job well enough.
I did what you said with a 10x2x6 chunk of foam and it didn't do anything. I found a couple of sheets of foam from a shipping bag, about 18 1/2 by 1/2 by 12 inches. I tried these in different configurations inside the drum. I've found the best sound is when they are stacked on top of each other and laying on the inside bottom of the drum, so that each foam edge touches the bottom of the reso and batter heads (the drum is 18 by 18).

The foam sheets swallow ALL high frequency sounds and dampen the heads ever so slightly. There are just enough midtone frequencies (around 500 Hz) to produce good thump and definition. I hate to say it, but the foam sheets act like a pillow, just not occupying as much of the shell volume.

The drum has more punch than an LSD party, is more focused than the Hubble telescope and is fatter than a Wal-Mart check out line. The very low frequencies (below 20 Hz) stand out so well, you get this low wet vibrational ring in your eardrums for a split second.
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

Ok you may think I'm nuts but I tuned a buddy of mine's 18 bass drum using a Dr.Scholls mole skin patch around 3x4 inches on the batter side and a few dabs of silicone tub and tile sealer on the inside of the batter and reso head,close to the edge.It just takes out enough of the high end overtones and fattens up the bottom end just enough.The drum still breathes and the bass drum doesn't sound like a dull thud.The best part is the silicone sticks well and won't come off till you want it too.

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Old 10-08-2011, 08:45 PM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
My drums are made of very dense wood and are very thick, which produces lots of overtones. My bass drum is only 18 by 18, so I didn't want to stick a pillow in there because it would reduce the interior volume substantially and effectively reduce the volume of the drum.

So I thought to thicken the head. Given that traditional heads on large drums are cowhide and maybe 1 or 2 millimeters thick, the newer (barely 50 years old) Mylar heads of a fraction of a millimeter are understandably too thinly scaled for a large drum. Which is why people stuff pillows, blankets and mattresses into their bass drums.

So, I took the natural approach and made the reso head on my bass drum thicker, with a circle of felt in the center of the head to reduce vibration. I used white latex paint to secure the felt circle to the inside of the reso head. Latex won't react with the plastic head and can be peeled off if necessary, but it grips the felt firmly and there is no buzzing.

The mod has thickened and focused the bass drum considerably, but not enough. I may get an 18-inch circle of felt and completely thicken the inside of the reso head. Maybe even the batter.



You thickened the head? You've effectively 'reduced' the interior volume of your drum.


That's funny, I did the same thing with an 18 x 18 kick once, I used adhesive backed felt squares (Walmart craft section) on the inside of the reso with an AQUARIAN IMPACT batter head. I also had a a riser to get the beater dead center. The felt seemed to add too much weight.

PLASTI DIP in a spray can works better. Start with less, add more.
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

We wanted to fit my kick drum reso head with the band logo. So, I had a static-cling logo made for my reso head. Without thinking about the effects on my kick drum tone at the time, I had the shop simply make the static-cling piece so that it covers the entire head. Fortunately for me, after having it applied, while the head still resonates, it seems like all overtones are gone, and it sounds better than ever. When I say the overtones are gone, I mean that even if I do a half-ass tune, you can't tell, because there are no overtones. Interestingly, the head still resonates, and there was no effect on volume, at least that I can tell. Hope that makes sense.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:36 AM
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Default Re: Thickening a drum head

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You thickened the head? You've effectively 'reduced' the interior volume of your drum.


That's funny, I did the same thing with an 18 x 18 kick once, I used adhesive backed felt squares (Walmart craft section) on the inside of the reso with an AQUARIAN IMPACT batter head. I also had a a riser to get the beater dead center. The felt seemed to add too much weight.

PLASTI DIP in a spray can works better. Start with less, add more.
A cubic inch of felt is nothing compared to the thousand cubic inches of a typical pillow! My goal was to thicken the head with the bare minimum of interior volume increase, as zero is not attainable.

However, I do like your idea for the Plasti-Dip. I have used that for drum sticks but it peels off quickly. It would do a great job of thickening a head with virtually no volume displacement, although it would do little for sound absorption, like felt does - which might be a good or a bad thing depending. The nice thing about the Plasti-Dip is that you could put it on in gradual coats until you have thickened the head to your liking. Felt is pretty much all-or-nothing. And I think the Plasti-Dip could be peeled off without too much trouble. I used latex paint to hold my felt to the head and I don't think it's going to be too easy to get off.
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