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  #1  
Old 08-14-2010, 12:25 AM
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azrae1l azrae1l is offline
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Default raw hide drum heads....

i scroll threw craigslist once a day looking for things that catch my eye and every day there's a post from a local guy selling hand made raw hide and calf skin drum heads, real ones not synthetic mind you. not that i want any but i'm really curious what real skins would sound like on a drum kit...

anybody ever use any?
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  #2  
Old 08-14-2010, 05:03 AM
eamesuser eamesuser is offline
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

I have heard and tapped around some earthtone calf heads on a modern Maryland Drum kit and they had a very giving springy feel to them and were extremely warm sounding.
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Old 08-14-2010, 02:35 PM
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

When I started drumming, calfskin heads were still around. The have a beautiful warm sound with few of the high overtones you get from plastic heads. Also, their surface is perfect for brushes.

There are a number of drawbacks to their use, however, even apart from cost, which is quite high.

They do not hold their tuning like plastic heads, and they are affected greatly by humidity, which throws their tuning off, too. When used at higher tensions, such as on snare drums, you really need to detune the drum after use every time, to preserve their life. In the old days you had to mount your own skins on the flesh hoops--a pain. (The Earthtone heads come mounted like plastic heads.) Being a natural animal product, there is a substantial amount of variability from one skin to the next.

Here's a clip of Steve Smith playing a vintage kit with calfskin heads. They are tuned kinda low for the context--a jazz trio, where you'd expect higher tuning--but it will give you a taste of their beautiful sound.

Given that there are several models of heads available these days with the sole purpose of emulating the sound of calfskin heads, without the downsides, there doesn't seem to be much reason to use them anymore.
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:02 PM
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

Here's a clip of Steve Smith playing a vintage kit with calfskin heads. They are tuned kinda low for the context--a jazz trio, where you'd expect higher tuning

Yeah those heads sound nice!!!! Thanks for the clip. They are not tuned to low though. If he was playing some be bop, sure one could argue that they are tuned a little low, but he is emulating the style of early swing with drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. For that style this tuning is appropriate and any higher tunings would sound weird, in my opinion anyways.
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  #5  
Old 08-18-2010, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

Quote:
Originally Posted by drumtechdad View Post
Here's a clip of Steve Smith playing a vintage kit with calfskin heads. They are tuned kinda low for the context--a jazz trio, where you'd expect higher tuning--but it will give you a taste of their beautiful sound.
Wow--yeah, they sound great to me, too, and I also like the tuning.

I hadn't seen any recent clips of Smith. I see he was losing his hair and so did the shaved head move. ;-)
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:06 AM
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

Remember, too, that pretty much any drums you hear that were recorded before 1957 or so all had calfskin heads on them.
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  #7  
Old 08-20-2010, 01:24 AM
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Zickosdrummer Zickosdrummer is offline
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Default Re: raw hide drum heads....

I remember around 1957 going to a bar mitzvah party held out next to a swimming pool. There was a combo there and the drummer had calf heads on his kit (plastic wasn't widely used then) and it sounded like so many tubs filled with pillows. I don't know why anyone would want to use calf heads today. They are just not practical. I know some big name orchestra tympani players still use them, but they have to be retuned every time someone opens a door.
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