Best Heads For Jazz/ Blues

Ron_M

Senior Member
My personal choice is coated ambassadors. I think a 10 mil single-ply is a good place to start, but the various brands are different in tone and feel. Pick a medium tom size (12, 13, 14....) and order singles of the various brands to demo. I've gone this route, and can't recommend it enough. There are lots of good quality offerings out there, but we all have our preferences. For me, the ambassadors have a tone and liveliness that I prefer.
 

hippy chip

Silver Member
Remo Black Suede---Emperors over Ambassadors, or both Ambassadors---very close in sound and feel to coated heads, but the texture doesn't wear off after a month like the coating does!
 

gish

Senior Member
Totally agree with the earlier post in that you will probably have to experiment a bit to find your sound. I would start with coated ambassadors over clear ambassadors. Like what you're hearing but want more warmth? Go coated on the resos. Drums sound a bit thin? Step up to 2 ply batters. I've tried several head combos on my Saturn kit, and I'm really happy with what I'm using right now (coated ambassador on the 12", coated vintage emperor on the 16", clear ambassadors on the bottoms of each). Also, keep in mind that your drums will sound much different from the audience than they will from the driver's seat. That great sound that you're hearing in your head was probably quite different than what the drummer that was playing heard. Do you want the sound you described for the audience or for yourself? Drums can sound ringy and boingy up close yet sound great from 10 feet away. Conversely, drums can sound warm and thunderous from behind yet sound like cardboard boxes out front.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Thanks. Great advice.

The new kit I ordered comes with coated Remo heads so I don't need new heads right away when I build out the kit. They are supposed to be single-ply coated Ambassadors.

Totally agree with the earlier post in that you will probably have to experiment a bit to find your sound. I would start with coated ambassadors over clear ambassadors. Like what you're hearing but want more warmth? Go coated on the resos. Drums sound a bit thin? Step up to 2 ply batters. I've tried several head combos on my Saturn kit, and I'm really happy with what I'm using right now (coated ambassador on the 12", coated vintage emperor on the 16", clear ambassadors on the bottoms of each). Also, keep in mind that your drums will sound much different from the audience than they will from the driver's seat. D you want the sound you described for the audience or for yourself? Drums can sound ringy and boingy up close yet sound great from 10 feet away. Conversely, drums can sound warm and thunderous from behind yet sound like cardboard boxes out front.
 

Pylot

Senior Member
I ran coated emperors over coated ambassadors on my first kit.

But I found I liked jazz more than rock so on the advice of Josh at Rupps I put the ambassadors on the batter side and put clear ambassadors on the reso.

Then I figured out the primary resonance of the shell and tuned both batter and reso to that resonance. My shells just turned out to be a third from each other so they tuned up real nice.

Really makes em sing.

I have since tightened up the reso side to slightly attenuate the sustain of the toms.

Depending on what a jazz setting means to you getting them to play or have a nice sound is more important that shaping a tone for a rock set. Just my not so humble opinion 8>)
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Thanks. Great advice.

The new kit I ordered comes with coated Remo heads so I don't need new heads right away when I build out the kit. They are supposed to be single-ply coated Ambassadors.
There you go. That's a great starting point and seems like the sound you are looking for.
 

dullahan

Member
+1 For Aquarian Modern Vintage Coated single ply OR Aquarian Jack DeJohnette single ply heads are my favorites for jazz. Remo Coated Ambassadors single ply would be my third choice.
+1 from me.
I used to play on Aquarians in my music class, those were pretty glass resonant. Now I have Remo Coated Ambassadors 18" and 20" both single ply. Everyone mentions that these are best drum heads for jazz and softer music and that's true. I would also add that those are very easy to tune even for a beginner. I wish I found these earlier.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I use Remo Diplomat Classic fits on my 1955 Ludwigs. Play jump blues, swing, rockabilly, honky tonk/old country and old rock and roll on them. 99% of the time with brushes or hotrod type sticks..
 
'Bones, it sounds like you and I play some similar music and like similar tones. I use Evans G1 heads, coated batter and clear reso. But as others have said, if you need warmer, go coated on top and bottom.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
I think my original post was 3 years ago lol. Anyway, I've settled into Remo Ambassaors for batter heads on snares. For reso heads, well, I still experiment. And for tom batters I experiment, too. But I'm locked into Ambassadors for batter snare head.

'Bones, it sounds like you and I play some similar music and like similar tones. I use Evans G1 heads, coated batter and clear reso. But as others have said, if you need warmer, go coated on top and bottom.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I think my original post was 3 years ago lol. Anyway, I've settled into Remo Ambassaors for batter heads on snares. For reso heads, well, I still experiment. And for tom batters I experiment, too. But I'm locked into Ambassadors for batter snare head.
this is true for my snares in all the styles I play...rock/metal/jazz/punk...the Coated Ambassadors are just awesome on snare!
 

justadrummer

Junior Member
I'm glad that the Coated Ambassador has worked out for you. To me it is always the starting point with any snare, or that matter, any tom. It gives me a base line, and a lot of times it is all I need. If not, I at least have an idea of how the drum works with "my standard", and I can work from there.
 

Bluekit

Member
+2 for Aquarian modern vintage,,,,,played some at a school of rock,,,,and a couple of the teachers said they really like them
 

RickP

Gold Member
I have used a lot of the aforementioned heads for my Jazz gigs , so I will add my two cents on the ones I have tried .
I am currently using Remo Fiberskyn FD ( diplomat) on my Toms and Fiberskyn FD PS3 on my bass drum with excellent results . They tune up nicely and feel good to play .

Remo :
Coated Ambassador- the standard , nice for brushes work , very resonant . Occasionally they have issues with costing lasting on some batches . They feel great to play . These are usually my go to tom batter head .

Fiberskyn FA ( Ambassador) - I far prefer the FD model to these . The FD has better stick response and is not as muted sounding as the FA model .

Evans Calftone - mine started bubbling the first rehearsal I played them . That was a huge turnoff for me . They sound ok. Not that durable .

Aquarian Texture coated - fantastic coating , the industry best . Very spongy feel ( which I like ). The coating needs a bit of sanding with fine grit sandpaper to facilitate brush sweeps easier . Very durable heads that sound great .

Aquarian Modern Vintage medium - excellent coating , like the texture coated it needs a bit of sanding with fine grit sandpaper . The more these get played in the warmer they get . Superb heads , these were my go to heads for jazz gigs for years. They had become scarce in my area , so I went back to Remo . The cream coloured coating looks great .

Earthtone - Calfskin heads - real calfskin , not Mylar . These definitely need some sanding . Once done , nothing Mylar ( plastic) feels or sounds like calfskin . Unfortunately they are effected by the elements so care needs to be taken to keep them in tune . They are worth the effort .

Stern Tanning calfskin heads . The absolute best calfskin heads made today IMHO.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
I personally like the Aquarian vintage series heads, nice mellow round tone and Aquarian's coating is one of the more durable coatings in the market.
A +1 here: Aquarian Modern Vintage or Jack DeJohnette heads have always been recommended to me for jazz by jazz players. Remo coated ambassadors are good too. I’m trying out Evans 56 heads now and they’re okay so far.
 

kevinmac

Senior Member
Keep in mind old school jazz and blues were played on sets that had internal muffling. So the old school heads may not apply On newer sets without the muffling. You may have to go to a multiply coated head, with thicker plys.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
I want a very musical old-school classic jazz (or blues) sound. No hard rock acid punk hair band stuff.

I'm buying a new kit that offers shells with these capabilities. I need to know what are the best heads for toms and kick to milk that classic sound from the shells.
Coated Remo Ambassador...top and bottom, front and back. Alter where needed.

Elvis
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Keep in mind old school jazz and blues were played on sets that had internal muffling. So the old school heads may not apply On newer sets without the muffling. You may have to go to a multiply coated head, with thicker plys.
That's one of the reasons I really love the Aquarian Modern Vintage heads; you have the choice from a 7-mil, a 10-mil, a 7+7-mil and a 10+10-mil head. Plenty of options to really dial in the exact kind of sound you want.
 
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