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  #1  
Old 08-19-2011, 12:16 AM
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wsabol wsabol is offline
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Default Calfskin simulation head

There are a lot of threads that piddle paddle around this issue, but I want to get right to the point. There are a handful of heads by different companies that are supposed to simulate the very warm, soft, round, calfskin head sound. For example: Remo Fiberskyn, Skyntone, Renaissance; Aquarian Vintage, Modern Vintage; etc.

So which head simulates the calfskin sound best? If you have never played calfskin heads or never heard them, then which head is the do you think is the warmest, roundest, vintagest, etc?
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Last edited by wsabol; 08-19-2011 at 12:44 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-19-2011, 12:47 AM
mediocrefunkybeat
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

I don't know about comparisons because I've never used Calfskin heads. I have Fiberskyns on my 'small' kit (16" bass drum, 10", 12" toms) and I like the sound of them a lot. They tune high very well indeed and the quality of construction is definitely there; they also react very well to brush playing. They're very good heads in their own right even ignoring what they are 'meant' to simulate.

As for comparisons with 'other' heads in a similar vein, I'm afraid I wouldn't know. It's hard to get some of the others straight off the shelf in the UK. Sorry I can't be of more help, but I will try and answer questions on the Fiberskyns if I can.
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Old 08-19-2011, 07:48 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

this is tough cuz my teacher who played for about like 60 years!!! says that even the fiberskyns dont sound and FEEL as great. he swears by the feel of calfskin because it makes the drums sound and feel "natural." the reason for the change is the CONSTANT tuning. this is the reason why many jazz drummers, max roach in particular have that high pitch tom sound. The studios are very hot and dry and this tightens up the heads. If its too cold the head becomes loose. Not only that but the heads have to be tucked on to the shell precisely. I really want to experiment with calfskin because according to my teacher nothing comes close to the feel. I can't comment on the sound and feel of the heads you mentioned by according to someone who played for 60 years and experienced the transition from calf to plastic heads, sounds like calf is unbeatable. I saw youtube clips they sound great but they take a lot of care to use.
goodluck with finding your sound though :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnu-_1-QWFc
in this vid you can kinda tell more mid range - lower tones are emphasized through calfskin and idk feels "rounder" in my opinion.
in my honest opinion though go right to the source and by calfskin i would get sacrifice tuning time to get that godlike sound if i were you.
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:46 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

Doesn't "Earthtone" (something like that) make real calf skin heads?
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  #5  
Old 08-19-2011, 04:19 PM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

Earthtone makes goatskin heads.

I'm asking this to try and weed out all the marketing and see which head actually does an ok job at replicating the sound and feel of real calfskin heads. I'm not going to buy calfskin heads because I know the problems that come with them and their impracticability. I know nothing is going to duplicate the calfskin sound, I just want to discuss which ones are closer than others before I go out and buy all of them and try them myself..

I know the fiberskyns sound good, and I know people will swear by the Modern Vintage. But how do they compare to each other and the other head that are supposed to be similar to calfskin?
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Old 08-19-2011, 06:45 PM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

I've tried several times to use Remo Fiberskyn's and be happy with them. Several issues keep popping up and I've talked about them here on different threads.

The first is the well known delamination or bubbling problem. Every Fiberskyn I've bought starts doing this at one point, usually well before the typical life expectancy of the head. Honestly it doesn't affect the sound noticeably when playing sticks. I still don't like it.

The other is how the head sounds with sticks for other than traditional jazz use. Not too much attack or crack unless it's really cranked (or if of course you are playing rim shots) and the highs are not as present as I'd like. I keep my snares at medium tension so FS's don't work for me sound wise. That being said, the FS Ambassadors probably sound closest to calfskin under sticks then any of the other heads trying to do the same thing.

Third reason is although they are 'brush ready' right out of the box, I find them only effective for traditional brush playing at very low volumes. I know that somehow Steve Smith and Jeff Hamilton don't seem to have a problem but usually I can't get enough out of the FS to be heard for most unmiked acoustic venues .

I use an Aquarian Modern Vintage on one snare drum as a rule. It just works well with that drum for several reasons. First is that the MV sounds great with sticks and brushes. It has a warm enough sound and thickness for jazz playing but has some attack should I need to switch to pop. I wouldn't use it on a snare I have to play more aggressive music on but if I had to play into it more on the spot, it easily outshines the FS.

The brush playing is good as well. It has much more grit than a FS and I usually have to do either a bit of light sanding or play it at home quite a bit with brushes before I use it on gigs or the studio. In that way it's more like typical single ply coated. If I use Aquarian's Satin Texture Coated single ply heads, the coating lasts forever but these heads are just a bit too abrasive at first for brushes and need even more playing/sanding.

The best out of the box brush surface I've had have been from Evans G1 and Remo Ambassador coated heads. The Evans was perfect from the downbeat. The Ambassador took a bit more time but not much. But these heads are definitely not calfskin simulations. I just threw them in as I know brush playing is usually important for players going down this road.

So to sum it up, for calfskin simulation, my favorite is the Modern Vintage for the reasons given.

Jim
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  #7  
Old 08-19-2011, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

Just to say - I've been using the Fiberskyn heads on my smaller kit for a year now and have had absolutely no problems with delamination at all. I've read that it happens - just not in my experience.
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Old 08-20-2011, 03:23 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

It's been soo many years since I've played my dad's Ludwigs with calfskin heads, I forget how they sounded to be able to compare anything to them. I'm watching this post to see if anyone believes that they come close.

Dennis
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  #9  
Old 08-20-2011, 03:30 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

I also have Fibreskins on all of my toms, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and have had no problems. At times my ear says that are a little plastic sounding, and at times they sound fine. I also put one on my snare for a while to try a tight, dry sound and it was fine. The beating on the snare caused no lamination problems. I am waiting for Evans to bring out their design since I am an Evans lover. No disrespect to the others but I just have had no problems with Evans.
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

I have played Fiberskyns, and I they sound and feel different from any other head I've ever played. They are very warm and soft and reminiscent of what modern recordings of real calfskin heads I've heard. I haven't played any of the other heads I mentioned, but from their respective companies' websites, I gather that they are nothing but special coated heads. Fiberskyns are the only head I've read about that coats the Mylar in something other than regular coating.... So that gives me the impression Fiberskyns are superior, but I really have no idea.

Delamination is a problem, but I've never personally experienced it. But of course, coating rubs off of other heads, and that's annoying, so you have to take the good with the bad. I've just never seen anything comparing the Fiberskyns to the Skyntones, to the Modern Vintage, or to the Vintage heads, to the Vintage Ambassadors... If there are other heads advertised as being similar to calfskin heads let us know..
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Old 08-20-2011, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

Quote:
Originally Posted by wsabol View Post
I have played Fiberskyns, and I they sound and feel different from any other head I've ever played. They are very warm and soft and reminiscent of what modern recordings of real calfskin heads I've heard.
I'm just wondering, in what modern recordings are you certain that calfskin heads were used? I'd like to check them out.

Dennis
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  #12  
Old 08-20-2011, 09:38 PM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

I've played the Fiberskyns in the past and I agree they're quite a bit different in execution to everyone else's calfskin-style heads, I also agree with Gruntersdad that they seem a little plastic-sounding at times. A little too rigid and clicky perhaps.

I'm currently using Modern Vintage on my toms and a Skyntone on my snare. While the Modern Vintage heads are "just" a special coating they are warmer and mellower than anything I've tried and really capture the sound, if not quite the look of calf. Tuned low they're soft, tubby, and a little dry, while cranking them up gives a nice bright sound that retains warmth and doesn't sound tinny.

The Skyntone is once again another beast entirely. It looks more like animal skin than any other head and this time I don't think it's a laminated head like the Fiberskyn but it seems like it has the texture and grain mixed into the film. Don't quote me on that though.
Either way, this is my new favorite snare head. It has a nice mixture of bright and midrange tones, with a really pleasant amount of ring, and it has a slightly soft feel under the sticks.

The only drawback is it didn't seem as versatile as the Modern Vintage heads, in that it didn't sound as good tuned low as it does tuned high, but it has a sound and feel like no other plastic head I've played. Now that Remo has added tom sizes I'm really torn between getting a whole set or waiting to see what Evans comes up with.
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Old 08-21-2011, 06:53 AM
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Default Re: Calfskin simulation head

Quote:
Originally Posted by wsabol View Post
Earthtone makes goatskin heads.
Not so ...

GJS

p.s. Not my photo; it comes from a post on cymbalholic
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