Coated vs. Clear Heads

rocker261

Junior Member
Yes, you'll want clear batter heads for the style of music you're doing. The clear heads will give you that brighter, more pronounced attack which is what's needed for heavier music to cut through and not get lost in the mix.

It's not that coated heads sound bad, but they don't have as much bright attack than clear heads have. Now, if you mic the kit correctly, use quality audio gear, and know how to EQ, you can get some of that attack back in the mix. But it takes good mics, the proper use of them, and expertise on a mixer to know how to get more attack out of coated heads. It's just far easier and quicker to use clear heads, which naturally have that attack inherent to their sound.

Short answer: Get the clear heads, you'll get to the sound you find you'll need a lot easier!
 

Silver’n’Smac

Well-known member
I have a Gretsch Catalina Club that's all mahogany shells. The heads that work best on that wood (in my ears) are the Evans hydraulics (the 2-ply batter with the oil in between).
Some would put those on their kit & it'll sound like cardboard boxes. Mine resonated into tomorrow and I loved it!

Some love the Remo CS black dots as they give their kit that fat, 70's tubby sound that might work for your music genre.

Over the many moons I've been playing I've probably tried every head out there on my same kit. Over this time, I found what sounded good to me & stuck with it.
But it took time & experimentation to get to that point.

Thanks - good stuff.
 

Silver’n’Smac

Well-known member
I have G2 coated on the toms of my Pork Pie USA drums right now, and I don't like them; however, they work well in our close rehearsal space. If I was gigging with these, it would be single-ply Remo Ambassador all the way.
Why single-ply and what type of music? And clear or coated Ambassadors? Thanks
 

Silver’n’Smac

Well-known member
Yes, you'll want clear batter heads for the style of music you're doing. The clear heads will give you that brighter, more pronounced attack which is what's needed for heavier music to cut through and not get lost in the mix.

It's not that coated heads sound bad, but they don't have as much bright attack than clear heads have. Now, if you mic the kit correctly, use quality audio gear, and know how to EQ, you can get some of that attack back in the mix. But it takes good mics, the proper use of them, and expertise on a mixer to know how to get more attack out of coated heads. It's just far easier and quicker to use clear heads, which naturally have that attack inherent to their sound.

Short answer: Get the clear heads, you'll get to the sound you find you'll need a lot easier!
Hey thanks! Just to clarify, I don’t play in a band and mainly just practicing alone when I play (buddies might come over to jam a handful of times a year), so for the most part, it’s just me. And I just bought the Yamaha EAD10 and some Etymotic ER4SR IN-ear monitors. I haven’t set up the Yamaha yet but with that bit of new information, would you still lean towards the clear G2’s? I also don’t really understand when 2 ply is favored over 1 ply.
 

Sonorfan

Well-known member
Generally I like coated heads-an ambassador or a vintage ambassador (that is two ply one 7.5 mil and the other 3 mil ) instead of two 7 mil like Emperors. I like the clear emperors or clear G2 on my Sonor Safari. But I just took off the Vintage Ambassadors off my Pearl Decade and put clear Emperors and I don't like them-really disappointed. I like pinstripes but for the Decades I'm going to try the Controlled sound black dot. I've tried about every type head of Remo, Evans, and Aquarian but not a black dot. I did buy an Evans EC reverse dot for a lil 12 in snare and man that was a bad idea-that is one thick drum head. I'm not sure I'll like the black dot but it can be worse than clear emperors.
I have a Safari kit as well. I replaced the stock heads with clear Pinstripes and liked the sound. Then because I thought I wanted a deeper sound I went to
Evans Calftones. I play both Blues and Jazz and thought the Calf would be good all around. I wear hearing aids and thought the sound was ok. Then I made a couple of simple I phone recordings. My Mapex Brass Cat snare had an 10mil Evans UV1 and it sounded fine but the Toms were not mellow but muddy. I had also replaced the stock resos with the clear Pinstripes again because I wanted that fatter sound. After listening to the recording again I went back to stock resos and Pinstripes on top and presto
great sound all around. Here's my take, drums that have shallow depth which is standard for those Bop and other compact kits, require clear resos and batters to sound good. After all the stock heads were single ply clear both sides and the kit had plenty of jam right out of the box. Oh, and I use a Pinstripe as a batter on the kick with the original reso. I recently took out the felt strip I'd installed for the fat sound and bingo that 16 incher can sing. I guess Sonor knew what they were doing !
And.. the construction, wrap and hardware are superb.. amazing for the $$$
 

iCe

Senior Member
All personal preference ofcourse, but...

When i wanted to order new heads in 2013 or so i was really into the Gavin Harisson sound. Did some research, compared sound files and videos etc. and liked the Evans coated G2's the most. Ordered them and slapped them on my Pearl Vision kit. I did notice a loss in attack, but i'd loved the sound of my floor toms! On recordings i noticed that the notes weren't as audible as before. Eventually got a Pearl Masters kit and also slapped the coated G2's on there; same conclusion. Also noticed that for some reason these heads had a higher pitch. Switched to clear Emperors after that and the attack was back.
Eventually switched all the heads to Evans (clear G1's reso and clear G2 batter), but i came to the conclusion that Remo is the brand for me. Switched to clear Pinstripes and clear Ambassadors and never looked back since.

I really love the sound and warmth of coated heads on recordings, but for me they just don't work. I like attack in my drums with sustain and found that i don't get that with coated heads. At least for the music that i play now (instrumental progressive rock/metal)
 

TK-421

Senior Member
You know, there is another option. Last October I switched all my tom batters to Remo Smooth White Emperors, and I couldn't be happier! They have the attack of clear heads and the warmth of coated, but with a somewhat unique sound that's all their own. I REALLY like them, and I doubt I'll ever switch to anything else.

BTW, before the switch, I was playing either coated Ambassadors or coated Emperors on all the toms (I kept going back and forth).
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
It's not that coated heads sound bad, but they don't have as much bright attack than clear heads have. Now, if you mic the kit correctly, use quality audio gear, and know how to EQ, you can get some of that attack back in the mix. But it takes good mics, the proper use of them, and expertise on a mixer to know how to get more attack out of coated heads.

In my experience it is much more subtle than that.
Yes, brighter heads are a go to for bright attack, but I've used clear and coated heads on many different kits in many different situations (live, studio) for years and I've yet to have anyone comment on my head choice. The margin is that slight.
I've never had a PA or recording engineer scratch their head on how to fix my 'dull' coated heads, or even ask me to change heads for one or the other. The idea that you need specialist mics, eq and expertise is not mob experience at all.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Trial and error is the only way to find out what works best for you. Also certain drums prefer certain heads.

It's all about personal preference and what works best for the music you play. Bearing edges are good on even the beginner kits nowadays which really helps. Try a set of clear and work your way from there.

I have a modern set with clear 2ply over 1 ply as it works best for gigs and recording and I have ye olde Ludwig with 2 ply Coated over 1 ply coated if I want a vintage warm thuddy kinda sound which is what it's made for.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I'm in the midst of restoring a set of Tamas, actually they've been restored. But, I had 2 toms cut down from 12x11 to 12x8 and 13x12 to 13x9.
Prior to having the cut down, I put Aquarian Texture coated heads on, they sounded big and fat and awesome! After cutting them down, the coated heads have a much much different, almost dead/thuddyness. So I just ordered a clear G2 pack to replace the coated. I have G2 clears on my PDP m5s and love the resonance and tone.
 

iCe

Senior Member
You know, there is another option. Last October I switched all my tom batters to Remo Smooth White Emperors, and I couldn't be happier! They have the attack of clear heads and the warmth of coated, but with a somewhat unique sound that's all their own. I REALLY like them, and I doubt I'll ever switch to anything else.

BTW, before the switch, I was playing either coated Ambassadors or coated Emperors on all the toms (I kept going back and forth).

I've read other drummers as well that 'endorse' the Smooth White heads. Never tried them, but the way you describe them they could be the perfect middle road! Not going to buy them, i'm way too deep in my 'PInSTRipES ArE liFE' phase :p
 
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Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I also think the differences are really slight between clear and coated. Head construction (1-ply/2-ply) plays a much larger role in the sound than coated vs. clear. I think coated G2's will work just fine for what you have planned.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
You know, there is another option. Last October I switched all my tom batters to Remo Smooth White Emperors, and I couldn't be happier! They have the attack of clear heads and the warmth of coated, but with a somewhat unique sound that's all their own. I REALLY like them, and I doubt I'll ever switch to anything else.

BTW, before the switch, I was playing either coated Ambassadors or coated Emperors on all the toms (I kept going back and forth).
I'm tempted to try smooth Emperors when I replace the clear Emperors that came with my Renowns. I'll miss seeing the Silver Sealer but I'll deal with it. ?
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Why single-ply and what type of music? And clear or coated Ambassadors? Thanks

Single ply resonates more. As far ask the kind of music, I've used them to play worship music, rock, and country. I prefer coated heads because they add just the right amount of warmth.
 

Silver’n’Smac

Well-known member
All personal preference ofcourse, but...

When i wanted to order new heads in 2013 or so i was really into the Gavin Harisson sound. Did some research, compared sound files and videos etc. and liked the Evans coated G2's the most. Ordered them and slapped them on my Pearl Vision kit. I did notice a loss in attack, but i'd loved the sound of my floor toms! On recordings i noticed that the notes weren't as audible as before. Eventually got a Pearl Masters kit and also slapped the coated G2's on there; same conclusion. Also noticed that for some reason these heads had a higher pitch. Switched to clear Emperors after that and the attack was back.
Eventually switched all the heads to Evans (clear G1's reso and clear G2 batter), but i came to the conclusion that Remo is the brand for me. Switched to clear Pinstripes and clear Ambassadors and never looked back since.

I really love the sound and warmth of coated heads on recordings, but for me they just don't work. I like attack in my drums with sustain and found that i don't get that with coated heads. At least for the music that i play now (instrumental progressive rock/metal)
Very helpful - thanks!
 
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Silver’n’Smac

Well-known member
Wow! I wasn't expecting nearly this much feedback to my original post and I've received too many responses to thank you all individually. So here's a huge thank you to you all! I really appreciate it. So much knowledge around here that it's a bit overwhelming. You've all thrown so much information at me that I think my head is going to explode! Haha.

Recap of my kit (so that you don't have to read the original post):
- Tama Silverstar (all birch) w/ Ludwig Supraphonic metal snare
- Primary music played: progressive rock & metal

So I think this is what I'm going to go with and give it a whirl:

- Clear Evans G2's for batter heads of two rack toms and two floor toms (with clear G1's for all resonant heads)
- Clear Evans EMAD2 (level 360) for batter side of bass drum. Resonant will be the stock head that came with my kit (with Tama logo)
- The snare head is the original Ludwig "Weather Master". It seems to be in good shape still. Should I replace? If so, any recommendations?

I'm sure I'll experiment with coated heads at some point this seems like a good setup. How does that all sound?

Thanks.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Depends on the kit. My Renown kit is one of the most raucous kits I've ever played. I can't imagine using single ply heads on that thing. I use smoke colored Remo Emperors on that beast. Conversely, the Prolites work well with both coated and clear ambassadors. If I have to pick one it would be the clears. SQ1 kit gets coated ambassadors due to the birch having a more strident attack. The coated ambassador takes a bit of the edge off letting the tone/sustain shine.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The snare head is the original Ludwig "Weather Master". It seems to be in good shape still. Should I replace? If so, any recommendations?
Remo coated PS3
Aquarian Hi-Energy

A clear, single ply head will have more overtones than a coated or 2 ply head. A snare also gets more use/abuse than other drums. Put something on it that can handle being the head on a rock/metal snare.
 

MrBeats503

Member
Denting a double ply head after a couple times playing? Very odd. Unless you’re tuning JAW, maybe using ball tipped sticks, and absolutely slamming the drums, that should not be happening.
It’s just what happened. I’m not one of those drummers that takes pride in being a heavy hitter. The music I play is very loud and aggressive. Not sure if many of you can relate. I remember the first time I saw dented heads I thought of it as unmusical and that I would never do that, but here I am. What is tuning JAW? I was tuning to the lowest fundamental pitch, so that could have been it. I downloaded the iDrumTunePro app and have found it very useful.
 
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