Evans '56 Calfskin/Toms

Stefan Brodsky

Senior Member
Thinking of replacing batter head on my Yamaha MCAN 12" tom with an Evans '56 Calfskin. As background re this kit, on my other toms (smaller rack and FT) I 've been using Remo Vintage Emperors, coated and clear respectively, and they're great. I've learned since purchasing this kit new in 2010, that my 8" x 12" has a tendency to get choked with a 2-ply, so have gone with 1-ply, which currently is an Evans G1 coated. It'll soon need replacing. Anyone ever try '56s as tom batters? If so I'd like to hear your reviews. Have one on one of my snares (Pearl Masters Maple) and love it.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I have more experience with Remo Fiberskins than the Evans Calftone, but they're pretty similar heads. I find them a little clicky sounding, and somewhat stiff. After a bit an adjusting period I learned to like the sound well enough, but it's been over 20 years since I've used Fiberskins on tom batters and the draw to try them again hasn't been very compelling.

It's already obvious with your current head situation that you aren't constrained by brand, construction, or even finish, but I couldn't imagine using a Fiberskin or Calftone head on just one drum in a multi-tom set up. The tone, feel, and response of those laminated fiber heads is completely different from a more conventional Mylar head.
 

roncadillac

Member
I have such a love/hate relationship with the Evans calftone heads. I used them exclusively for something like 2 years on three different kits during self practice, band rehearsals, recording, and live performance so I've got a good amount of experience with them.

The good:
They look really super cool (I know sound is more important but if you aren't into the look it will always bug you). They are very easy to tune and accept high, medium, and low tunings equally well. They have a fantastic bop tone when tuned high and a great classic rock/country/'vintage' sound in the low and medium tunings. They have a natural warmth and fatness that I've found with no other head. They are absolutely the perfect middle ground between the open tone of a single ply head and the overtone reduction of a two ply head. They work equally well as both batter and resonant heads, work great in unison on both sides of the drum, and work impressively well on concert toms. They are super punchy and warm bass drum heads, especially if you don't use pillows/additional muffling. Their sound with brushes is pleasing but very 'pre broken in'. They don't have the plastic 'bonk' that most heads do (regardless of coated vs non coated or company who makes them, I hate the plastic 'bonk' of most heads).

The bad:
The durability is horrendous. I'm not a heavy player at all and use 7a sticks but I found myself replacing snare heads every few weeks and tom heads every few months, by contrast a standard single ply coated head lasts me 6+ months on the snare and 12+ months on toms and I never break sticks. They are only 7mil thick (amb or g1 is 10mil for example) and extremely prone to denting and 'dishing' in the middle. I've had brand new heads on a snare last as short as two rehearsals before denting and 'dishing' (again a G1 would last me 6+ months by example). Even if you are lucky enough to not dent them right away... The coating will bubble. Noticably. What starts off as a small annoying wrinkle you see quickly turns into a soft mushy spot that pushes around as you play so it feels like you are playing on the 'dead' (foam) side of a practice pad. They are very very quiet, a low tuned hydraulic has more volume (less tone but more volume). The brush sound is very subtle which can be good or bad depending on preference.

To sum it up, I love these heads but got really tired of replacing them bi-monthly. I've since moved on the the UV1, not the same tone but friggin bullet proof.

Hope that helps!


PS: if you do try them, spring for a full tom pack and not just a single head that way you can get a realistic feel out of them. You can spend $45+ on 2 single heads or $35-$40 for a 3 head tom pack, no brainier.
 
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Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
My one experience with the Calftone head specifically was even worse than Roncadillic's... I got one as soon as they were available to try on a snare. By the end of one hour of playing the head had already begun to de-laminate. Laminated heads will de-laminate, there's no getting around that, but the Fiberskins I've used on snares over the years took months to get to the point the Calftone was at after an hour of playing. That was the final problem in a long series of problems I'd been having with Evans, and I've never gone back.

When it comes to all of the various faux calf heads I've fallen in love with Aquarian's Modern Vintage heads. They kinda have it all; Warm tone, bulletproof coating, and a lot of thickness options.
 

roncadillac

Member
My one experience with the Calftone head specifically was even worse than Roncadillic's... I got one as soon as they were available to try on a snare. By the end of one hour of playing the head had already begun to de-laminate. Laminated heads will de-laminate, there's no getting around that, but the Fiberskins I've used on snares over the years took months to get to the point the Calftone was at after an hour of playing. That was the final problem in a long series of problems I'd been having with Evans, and I've never gone back.

When it comes to all of the various faux calf heads I've fallen in love with Aquarian's Modern Vintage heads. They kinda have it all; Warm tone, bulletproof coating, and a lot of thickness options.

The aquarian mv heads are the most commonly suggested head for a balance between to the look and tone of faux calf with the durability of plastic so definitely a good suggestion there. I have no personal experience with them specifically and haven't tried them due to not liking most other aquarian heads I've tried unfortunately.

The last calftone I ever bought was a replacement snare head. Seated it on the drum and tuned it up before leaving for a rehearsal, got there and set up then gave it a quick adjustment tuning, and had an evening of band practice broken down into two separate one hour long sessions (two hours total). Damn thing was bubbling by the time I left.
 

Stefan Brodsky

Senior Member
I have such a love/hate relationship with the Evans calftone heads. I used them exclusively for something like 2 years on three different kits during self practice, band rehearsals, recording, and live performance so I've got a good amount of experience with them.

The good:
They look really super cool (I know sound is more important but if you aren't into the look it will always bug you). They are very easy to tune and accept high, medium, and low tunings equally well. They have a fantastic bop tone when tuned high and a great classic rock/country/'vintage' sound in the low and medium tunings. They have a natural warmth and fatness that I've found with no other head. They are absolutely the perfect middle ground between the open tone of a single ply head and the overtone reduction of a two ply head. They work equally well as both batter and resonant heads, work great in unison on both sides of the drum, and work impressively well on concert toms. They are super punchy and warm bass drum heads, especially if you don't use pillows/additional muffling. Their sound with brushes is pleasing but very 'pre broken in'. They don't have the plastic 'bonk' that most heads do (regardless of coated vs non coated or company who makes them, I hate the plastic 'bonk' of most heads).

The bad:
The durability is horrendous. I'm not a heavy player at all and use 7a sticks but I found myself replacing snare heads every few weeks and tom heads every few months, by contrast a standard single ply coated head lasts me 6+ months on the snare and 12+ months on toms and I never break sticks. They are only 7mil thick (amb or g1 is 10mil for example) and extremely prone to denting and 'dishing' in the middle. I've had brand new heads on a snare last as short as two rehearsals before denting and 'dishing' (again a G1 would last me 6+ months by example). Even if you are lucky enough to not dent them right away... The coating will bubble. Noticably. What starts off as a small annoying wrinkle you see quickly turns into a soft mushy spot that pushes around as you play so it feels like you are playing on the 'dead' (foam) side of a practice pad. They are very very quiet, a low tuned hydraulic has more volume (less tone but more volume). The brush sound is very subtle which can be good or bad depending on preference.

To sum it up, I love these heads but got really tired of replacing them bi-monthly. I've since moved on the the UV1, not the same tone but friggin bullet proof.

Hope that helps!


PS: if you do try them, spring for a full tom pack and not just a single head that way you can get a realistic feel out of them. You can spend $45+ on 2 single heads or $35-$40 for a 3 head tom pack, no brainier.
Good to know Ron. I had problems, as stated with an earlier '56 Calftone snare batter bubbling. Sent it back to Evans/D'Addario and they sent me a new one. It's been fine since. That said, I'll rotate it with another snare, which has had a G1, UV1 and now a Coated Ambassador. Will lilkely just use one of those, or perhaps another G1 on this particular tom. Have been jockeying with the idea of going to a clear single ply. I have a clear Vintage Emperor on the FT, and it kicks as*.
 

roncadillac

Member
Good to know Ron. I had problems, as stated with an earlier '56 Calftone snare batter bubbling. Sent it back to Evans/D'Addario and they sent me a new one. It's been fine since. That said, I'll rotate it with another snare, which has had a G1, UV1 and now a Coated Ambassador. Will lilkely just use one of those, or perhaps another G1 on this particular tom. Have been jockeying with the idea of going to a clear single ply. I have a clear Vintage Emperor on the FT, and it kicks as*.

Try the g12, it's a thicker single ply.
 

Stefan Brodsky

Senior Member
UPDATE: Found this video, which utilizes a 5-ply maple tom, and which may make things easier.
 
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