Decent heads on cheap beginner kit?

Quirky

Junior Member
Set in question is a cheapo CB 5pc with 12,13,16 toms, 14 snare and 22 bass, purchased used. with crap plasticy clear noname heads on everything but the snare, which has a remo coated ambassador. The snare is the only thing that sounds remotely decent.

Played mostly by young teens and beat on occasionally by their stressed out parents in our basement only. So ideally we need something suited for beginners, easy enough to tune, durable, affordable... Obviously it won't ever sound fantastic but perhaps we can get a sound we can bare to listen to and not break the bank doing it.

Right now I'm thinking Remo and debating between coated emperors or clear pinstripes on toms. Emps better sound? Pinstripes more muffled and better for beginners? I've read a bit but am more confused now than when I started. Suggestions for the bass?

Thanks
 

zzdrummer

Senior Member
I could be wrong but I don't really believe there are begginner heads. I think you have to experiment with different types of heads that you read about and what kind of sound you want.
 

Cymbalrider

Pioneer Member
I would say the best heads would be Evans G1 Coated heads. Evans seems to be more consistent (plenty of threads around here about that) and the G1 Coated heads are versatile for anything. They are easy to tune in a variety of ways and make the drums have a nice warm natural sound. I would suggest putting G1s on the bottom as well (works amazingly). Coated resonant heads work well for adding more warmth, but clear g1s are fine too. As for the bass drum, you probably want a nice middle of the road sound. Something not too open and not too muffled. Evans EQ4 Coated batter and EQ1 Coated Reso will work beautifully. For the snare go with G1 Coated over a Hazy 300. With these heads, that kit will sound at least 80-300% better (depending on the condition of the drums and how good you are at tuning). I strongly recommend these heads because they are durable, and high quality and can be tuned low or high. They are sensitive enough for soft playing and project well for loud playing too. Make sure you replace those bottom heads too, including the reso for the bass and snare. You will notice a tremendous improvement in tone.
 

Quirky

Junior Member
Thanks for the suggestions for the Evans heads.

Remos are a little cheaper (at least on Ebay) which is why I was looking at them - but I appreciate any real life suggestions I can get, rather than just reading through endless marketing pitches :D
 

rmandelbaum

Platinum Member
I find the Evens G2 coated heads are great on all drums including cheap ones. I put some on some Pearl Exports and they actually sounded pretty good. As since they are 2 play they last a long time.

Just my opinion
 

drumguyfromWI

Senior Member
I suggest Remo Ambassadors.

If you couldn't guess, I'm a Remo guy. However, my new Gretsch 4-piece shell pack I just ordered comes stock with Evans coated G1 batters on the toms and snare, so I can't argue with that. It's a heck of a lot better than getting the crappy stock heads that most kits come with. Now I don't have to go out and buy all new heads right away. (thanks Gretsch!)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I, also, am a Remo guy. We used to have a "pioneer" member here, who would always say the Remo Pinstripe head would always reduce the "craptitude" of a cheap drum set. Since you're happy with the snare and on a budget, leave it alone. Remo clear Pins batter, on toms and kick, Remo clear Ambassador reso., for everybody. Day done. Since you seem to have more non-drummers than drummers playing your kit, this will probably be the easiest combo to tune, and keep sounding good. The Emperor is a great head, but given your situation, might require more tuning skills, and the CB's will not support the Emperor/Ambassador combo as well.
 

Cymbalrider

Pioneer Member
There's nothing wrong with Remo heads if you can get good ones. I just haven't had much luck with Remo myself and have received and/or experienced several defective heads. Then again, I have seen Remos that last for years (although not recommended to keep them on there that long). Pinstripes, though, are something terrible as they generally sound like plastic and really sort of suck the sound out of the drum. Coated Emperors over Coated Ambassadors would work, as would Coated Powerstroke 3s over Coated Ambassadors (dry sound). Actually the Controlled Sound heads would be ok too.
 

Quirky

Junior Member
The crapitude of the set definately does need to be reduced! The CB reviews I've read show some people out there can get them to sound good with new heads but they could be delusional, extremely good at tuning, or 12 yr old kids.


"Warm" from a coated head sounds better than "plasticy" - The emp/amb combo or evans equivents of that wouldn't work for a CB set? Hmmm. Does anyone know of a youtube video or something that demonstrates the different sounds and heads? I haven't been able to find one.

I would assume the Evans hydraulic would suck even more life out of the drums than pinstripes? Easiest way would be to just buy both and decide which I like, but how much do I really want to spend on a 300$ set of drums anyways.
 

Cymbalrider

Pioneer Member
Anything you pick is going to work, but how well depends on how you tune them. The important thing is to replace all the heads with fresh ones. If you choose pinstripes, get the coated ones. That should get rid of most of the plastic qualities of them. However, Powerstroke 3s may be a better choice. They are single ply but with a ring on the inside. In other words, they tune but are muffled unlike Pinstripes which sort of choke themselves out the tighter they get. Hydraulics would be very much the same-they just come in fun colors like blue, clear, and black. At college, we have a Maxwin set (budget Pearl drums from years ago) that has clear pinstripes over ebony ambassadors on the toms and a Ludwig silver dot head over a ebony pinstripe on the bass (not sure how this all ended up). Well anyway, the drums are crap and so are the heads. I've tried tuning this thing many ways and nothing works well. The problem though, comes from the heads and not the shells. The pinstripes go from being loose and no good at all to, wow it rings in a weird way. I've now got it at least where a decent sound can be heard out of the toms but you kinda have to play them hard to get that sound. Back at my high school we used to have an old Premier kit that still has stock heads on it. Well they finally got Coated G1s for the batters anyway and the sound improved 70%. Actually you might consider Remo Fiberskyns. These work great on kits and give a round, warm, anything-but-plastic sound to the kits as well as being somewhat controlled (less highs, more lows and mids) Fiberskyn Ambassador heads all around would work nicely (they look cool too) and a Fiberskyn Powerstroke 3 batter and Ambassador reso for the bass would do well (I had powerstrokes on both sides of mine one time and that was VERY dead sounding)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
The crapitude of the set definately does need to be reduced! The CB reviews I've read show some people out there can get them to sound good with new heads but they could be delusional, extremely good at tuning, or 12 yr old kids.
Well put. It depends on your point of reference. Having grown up in the 60's/70's, I was in a marimba band 4th-8th grade. We had a Ludwig kit. So I knew what good drums were supposed to sound like. I owned a "Gracie". (made out of genuine Japanese cheesewood). So I owned a set that would not "support" the same head combo's you could throw on the Ludwig.


"Warm" from a coated head sounds better than "plasticy" - The emp/amb combo or evans equivents of that wouldn't work for a CB set? Hmmm.
So let's throw out the "you're delusional" and "you're a 12 year old kid" option, and assume "you're very good at tuning". I have a 60's era Star 14x14 tom in my drum room right now, equipped with clear Pinstripe batter/clear Ambassador reso. And the drum sounds real good, for what it is. (A Tama drum, before they started calling their drums Tama.) My Rogers project is getting clear Emperor batter/clear Ambassador reso. I already have the 16x16 set up. http://harryconway.typepad.com/ Now, knowing that my Rogers XP-8 (Keller) shell is a much higher grade than my Star drum......what I said was "The Emperor is a great head, but given your situation, might require more tuning skills, and the CB's will not support the Emperor/Ambassador combo as well." The "as well" referring to "as well as the Pinstripe/Ambassador combo".
I would assume the Evans hydraulic would suck even more life out of the drums than pinstripes? Easiest way would be to just buy both and decide which I like, but how much do I really want to spend on a 300$ set of drums anyways.
And you are right. I'd say the hydraulic is not the direction you want to go. Nor a Powerstroke 4, or an Evans EC2. So back to your 2 choices. Emperor if you have "more" tuning skill, want more overtone, etc., and Pinstripe for less.
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
There's nothing wrong with Remo heads if you can get good ones. I just haven't had much luck with Remo myself and have received and/or experienced several defective heads. Then again, I have seen Remos that last for years (although not recommended to keep them on there that long). Pinstripes, though, are something terrible as they generally sound like plastic and really sort of suck the sound out of the drum. Coated Emperors over Coated Ambassadors would work, as would Coated Powerstroke 3s over Coated Ambassadors (dry sound). Actually the Controlled Sound heads would be ok too.
And I think that the pins do fantastic and liven up the sound and give a great warm sound...I tuned mine up and man what an improvement than the stock heads that came on my kit...but its all about ones own opinion and yours is contrary to mine.
 

wloeb

Senior Member
I've been playing for over 20 years and have had my share of cheap sets which I've gotten to sound decent.
I think that Harry is spot on. I've often got the best sound out of cheap kits with

Clear remo pinstripes over clear ambassadors for the toms
Clear pinstripe or powerstroke3 for the bass drum with a pillow inside.


If you want cheap heads, I've ordered from a guy who sells heads once used heads (for tv shows) for $5 each Tom and $12 for each bass drum head. pm me and I'll give you the contact info if you want.

Wayne
 
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