Not denting heads

Jankowske

Senior Member
I play metal. Sometimes my band complains about having to turn up because I'm too loud. But I don't think that I'm a heavy hitter. I use 5As and after a certain point I don't think that hitting a drum harder will make it much louder. Also I'm cheap so I play a stick until it breaks...which usually takes me a couple months of a half hour to an hour a day. By the end this sucker's frayed, splintered, and usually half the tip has flaked off leaving me with a much pointier bashing device.

My "problem" is that I don't dent heads. Now I've seen some dented heads. I've witnessed heads get dented. I saw a kid sit behind the school's jazz kit with some buddy rich sticks and he managed to leave a dent after every single hit for some of his fills. I've seen old heads that look like the moon's surface . One time I read a recording article about arguing with drummers about reskinning a kit before going into the studio...something along the lines of "even though they've only been on for three gigs they're probably already dished out and full of dents." And I have definitely left a few dents of my own...usually accidentally.

But for the most part it doesn't happen. I had some pinstripes on my toms for a year and a half, and when I took the scuffed, stick-marked grubby things off none of them were dished at all and there were maybe three small dents between the four of them. I just read an off-handed comment in some post about seeing a dented hydraulic and I was BOGGLED enough to write all this.

How often do you accidentally leave a dent? What do your guys' heads look like when you take them off? How much difference have you noticed in "dentability" between heads of different thicknesses/ply counts? How much do you think your technique has to do with it? What about stick size or balance?

Why do people hit their drums so hard? Why...
 

GeoB

Gold Member
Good question...

I, personally have only seen dented Remo heads. Perhaps because I have seen less of other brands.

I have never dented a head but I'm not a hard hitter, never cracked a cymbal nor keyholed one either, and my sticks last for quite a while.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I play single ply clear heads, 10 mil, and at home in the studio I don't dent them at all. On a gig, my tom heads will be dented after one night. Whatever.
 

Nour Ayasso

Senior Member
I use Vic Firth Corpsmaster drumsticks, or in general, very large drumsticks. I don't say I'm a "hard hitter" because I don't lift my arms and bash my stuff. But I put a lot of strength into strokes, which are usually 12" strokes (besides ghost notes of course). Full, firm strokes with very large sticks can cause dents immediately.

BUT...what REALLY matters is your tip; nylon, wood, barrel, tear drop etc... different tips impact differently. I find small tips like tear drops can really dent heads badly. I honestly think hitting hard with a tear drop will more likely leave a dent compared to my sticks.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I think it's largely the angle of the dangle. If you hit down into the drum, especially with mounted toms not tiled back much, then it's easy to leave dents in the head.

Sticks with small, round beads are more likely to dent heads because the power is concentrated in a small area.

It's also matter of power. I took this photo of a mounted tom on the Premier stand at the London Drum Show last year. For two days drummers were getting on there and really smashing into the poor things.

Personally, I haven't dented a head in years because I really am not a hard hitter. If I played metal I would not be heard at all :)
 

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double_G

Silver Member
my feel was stick control & relaxation. i always thought that dents were caused from too much tension in a players hands? at the split-second of impact, they are DRIVING the tip of the stick into the head, instead of "playing off the head" & letting the stick bounce naturally.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
my feel was stick control & relaxation. i always thought that dents were caused from too much tension in a players hands? at the split-second of impact, they are DRIVING the tip of the stick into the head, instead of "playing off the head" & letting the stick bounce naturally.
I never, never drive my sticks into the head, and they still dent. Nothing is perfect. It's all in the velocity. Calf heads don't suffer from this.

If I could invent a 10 mil clear plastic film that wouldn't dent....
 

ThumperJim

Senior Member
In my experience, the heads will dent easily if they are tensioned reallly low, and/or the tilt angle of the drum is so steep, that the very top of the tip acually digs into the head.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Agree Jim, I'd like to add that they also dent when they are tuned medium tight and at not too steep of an angle. I just like the attack of single ply clears so much, that I just have to accept the fact that I will always be playing dented tom heads. My snare is a 2 ply coated and that doesn't dent. But then again I play the rim almost always so I don't have to smack it hard. Some tom fills I do soft, but others I have to do hard and that's when they dent. Whatever. It does't take much force to dent them, a bad angle will do it quick. But even with a flat angle, they dent. Fact of life. I could make a fortune if I had the petrochemical engineering chops to make a dentless film.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
My understanding is that if you're denting the heads, you're hitting them incorrectly. You should be grateful that you're not denting your heads, as it means your technique is not horribly broken and/or you don't have your toms at some retarded angle. You can also dent heads that are not tensioned (completely loose).

If your toms are too loud, change to a quieter head, or use dampening. There are also a couple of tuning tricks that can be used if that still doesn't work out for you.

You could also invest $5 in a jumbo pack of cheap pink earplugs and hand them out to your bandmates. Put them in decorative gift bags with some OB tampons and Midol-sample-packs and play the rehearsal with teacup fingers (extend the pinky).
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
I always thought that if you were denting heads your technique was wrong, too.

Hitting the head with the stick using your wrist (what I do) seems to protect the head.

Hitting the head with the stick like your singing a hammer (little to no wrist) will dent the heads.

To the OP: Why is NOT denting your heads a problem? Do you HAVE to dent your heads when you play metal to garner some sort of respect or something?
 

Power Tom

Senior Member
Its a technique thing.

If you dent heads you are 'following through' and transferring energy to the head by 'burying' the stick in the head OR playing very hard.

If you allow the stick to rebound naturally and control that rebound (surely the holy grail of drummin and practically what studying technique is all about??) then you can play very hard and very loud whilst being relaxed.

I remember learning moeller when I was in my early twenties. I was at that time, killing a snare head (dead sound) a month and getting through a couple of pairs of sticks. (Not breaking them, but chewing them from cymbal edges and rims.)

Within a week of moeller, my sticks were lasting and I wasn't killing heads. I used to replace the tom heads every few months and went to them lasting YEARS instead of months.

My playing sounded better too. More natural tone and resonance.

Ive seen good players with good technique dent heads regularly, but they seem to be in the minority (unless were are looking at punk / metal)

Also, of course single ply heads dent more easily than double ply
 

ThumperJim

Senior Member
I play heavy Rock for the most part(Kick myself in the ass for not learning jazz at the beginning) and I use single ply batters, except for the snare, which I sometimes use a double ply head to fatten it up. I have not dented heads, except for the usual contact point of the Bass Beater for over 25 years. When I started out, I had a Pearl International kit(CB700) and I set up my drums with steep angles, tuned bery low. Heads were white dot pearl heads.
I thought the stock heads were the issue, then I replaced them with Pinstripes, and I still dented the crap outta them. Then, I was at a Drum Shop in San Rafael, and was explaining my problem with the guys at the counter and this guy standing a few feet away from me, named Steve, with Big Shaded glasses, very soft spoken, asked me to set up one of the floor kits exactly how mine were, and play a little. Turns out, It was the way i was striking the drums, and the angle and low tension, combined with a throne too high.
 

Jankowske

Senior Member
That premier head is just RUDE. Does that happen at trade shows often? What kind of animals do they let in to those places?

If your toms are too loud, change to a quieter head, or use dampening. There are also a couple of tuning tricks that can be used if that still doesn't work out for you.

You could also invest $5 in a jumbo pack of cheap pink earplugs and hand them out to your bandmates. Put them in decorative gift bags with some OB tampons and Midol-sample-packs and play the rehearsal with teacup fingers (extend the pinky).
My band wears earplugs all the time. Even for shows. We are entirely too loud. I use those gun range earmuff things for practicing. And I don't think my heads are really a problem; our practice space is very "loud" with lots of drywall and our PA is very lacking in power. Also a lot of the gigs we do have crappy sound and monitors. Afterwards we usually talk about who we could or couldn't hear very well while playing, and everyone can always hear me too well. Oh well...they're all following me anyways.

And to mmulcahy1: Yes. I must dent my heads to get my metal props. You must all tell me your secrets of head destruction so that other people will think I'm moar br00tal. 666 devil satan break all your gear and leave the people deaf and crying \m/,
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It's a matter of good technique being consistently used. I can play a whole punk show and have no dents at all regardless that I'm playing really fast, over super loud guitars. Play off the drum, not into it. Don't grip the sticks too hard, and don't wail on them for pretty much no reason as the sound will just choke anyway.

In fact, in all the time I've been playing, the only dents on my heads have been from other people using the kit, which I have to admit is really irritating. It's not like baseball where you try and hit through the ball.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
As a player of 40 + yr. My denting went away as I became a better drummer. I guess my technique improved as I got older. I never dent them anymore. I do remember in the 80's I was denting my heads whenever I used a certain cross over motion. My left hand crossing over my right, diagonally, from my snare to the rack toms. I starting buying sticks with a nylon ball tip. Billy Cobham Promarks, and Regal Tip had one also that I liked. Been useing 5B,5A, 8D's for yr. now. No dents.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
It's a matter of good technique being consistently used. I can play a whole punk show and have no dents at all regardless that I'm playing really fast, over super loud guitars. Play off the drum, not into it. Don't grip the sticks too hard, and don't wail on them for pretty much no reason as the sound will just choke anyway.

In fact, in all the time I've been playing, the only dents on my heads have been from other people using the kit, which I have to admit is really irritating. It's not like baseball where you try and hit through the ball.
Exactly right !

I never dent my heads. And I play loud.

.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I don't understand how some drummers see the broken sticks/cymbals/heads as a badge of honor. I guess that I'm just cheap and want my tools to last a good long time.
 

porter

Platinum Member
I use Vic Firth Corpsmaster drumsticks, or in general, very large drumsticks. I don't say I'm a "hard hitter" because I don't lift my arms and bash my stuff. But I put a lot of strength into strokes, which are usually 12" strokes (besides ghost notes of course). Full, firm strokes with very large sticks can cause dents immediately.
I use pretty heavy sticks and haven't dented ANY heads (including my 10" g1) since I made all my toms nearly flat. They're pretty low tuned generally too. Larry, I think it's just a matter of what you do with the stroke after hitting the head. I was trained as a marimba player so playing off of the head, rebounding immediately, and letting the stick do the work is second nature.

...guess who just figured out why they disproportionately prefer front weighted sticks?

 

hyruleherojoe

Senior Member
Hmm I never dented a head (only dented because something fell on one of my heads) nor have i cracked or key holed a cymbal.

Though I chew through my stick like no tomorrow! I use 5an xtreme, it would last about a month! It usually starts chipping in the center of my left hand (snare). Those addictive rimshots!
 
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