What kind of heads did Tony Williams use in his Miles period?

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You're talking the '60s, so I think you're only choice at the time was white coated remo ambassadors. Alot of people then were still swearing by calfskin too. I'm not even sure clear heads were an option.
 
D

Doctor Dirt

Guest
I used ambassadors, coated on top clear under. Some guys even used diplomates under and amb. on top. If you wanted a darker sound or more bottom emperiors on top and amb. under. the coated emper. was the choice for kick drums I liked the clear because it had more volumn and was punchier not as dark as the coated head. I started playing a kit in 1960 and never used a calk skin head, they were availble but pretty much on the outs by then. Other than congas and banjos calfs weren't used much then. Tony's sets are pretty well documented because of working with Miles so theres some info on his sets and head application I'm sure. I can tell you I should have kepy my yellow Nitrons, they were nice drums. The color got old after a while but the sound was strong. Doc
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
You're talking the '60s, so I think you're only choice at the time was white coated remo ambassadors. Alot of people then were still swearing by calfskin too. I'm not even sure clear heads were an option.
I don't have a definitive answer but I agree with this. I don't think there were many options and I never heard about Tony using calfskin.

I did ask a guy who loves Tony about the bass drum heads he used on those old recordings with Miles in the 60s and he said they were coated Ambassadors on both sides. Not to say it's a fact but a pretty good source.
 

Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
His Gretsch drums would have come with Gretsch Permatone (Remo) drumheads. If he would have changed to anything else after the stock heads they could have also been Evans, Slingerland, or Ludwig. Frankly I think you'd be hard pressed to hear very much difference between those brands at the time. Seems like they were all fairly similar configurations of mylar. If you're looking to emulate that sound I think the Remo Ambassadors would be a very safe bet.
 

Shedboyxx

Silver Member
You're talking the '60s, so I think you're only choice at the time was white coated remo ambassadors. Alot of people then were still swearing by calfskin too. I'm not even sure clear heads were an option.
+1

The Steve Smith quote is referring to a later setup Tony used after he was out of Miles band. The famous Tony Williams Yellow Gretsch set was a 6 piece somewhat rock oriented set with larger drum sizes. The Miles era drum set was a smaller 4 piece in more of the classic jazz sizes we've come to know. The Miles era set had what Bo and others are referring to in head choices (Remo Amb's, or calfskin). The set I remember from Tony's V.S.O.P. days was the bigger yellow set with Remo CS Dots all around.

Couple of interesting things.
If you look around YouTube you'll find Steve Smith using different Remo heads. I remember seeing clear Ambassadors (or Emperors) on toms. I believe he uses coated Ambassadors on some of the "Legacy" stuff he has out there.

Another interesting point is that the V.S.O.P band of the 70's was essentially a reunion of a classic older Miles band with Freddie Hubbard replacing Miles. Tony's approach to playing was more rock oriented and to my knowledge he never returned to the 4 piece configuration once he made the leap to the yellow set.

Jim
 
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