White heads on the bottoms......?????

johnwesley

Silver Member
When I first started playing in the 60s everyone had white heads on the bottom of their toms. Now it seems most everyone uses clear. I'm considering going back to the white because I just like the look. Never really thought about it until now, but that's going to change the sound since white are thicker ply. Right? So what can I expect from the sound? Less resonance and more thump? The toms will sound "dead"? Any thoughts on this or am I just bored?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I used Coated Ambassadors as resonant heads on toms for years. The coating, of course, creates a slight muffling effect that abbreviates resonance somewhat, but I never found the result to be extreme. I'm using Ebony Ambassadors as tom resos right now but only because I have Ebony Pinstripes on top. If I ever go back to coated batters on toms, I'll use Coated Ambassadors again underneath.
 

roncadillac

Member
I don't remember who it was but I remember reading a post a while back about a member who swears on using white non-coated heads on his toms. Something about the warmth of a coated head with the plasticy attack of clear. On the reso side maybe they would warm the sound up a bit but still keep it bright? I bet the sound difference would be negligible, if you like the look then go for it!
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
I think it really depends. I can depend on what your batter side is. If it's a coated ambassador, I'd probably stick with the same thing on the bottom. If the batter side is either a single ply clear head or the double ply heads like the Remo Pinstripe, I'd probably go for a clear single ply on the resonant side.
 

Ryan Culberson

Well-known member
I use coated Amb over coated Amb on all my toms (3 different sets) for that classic look and sound. The coated reso does warm up the sound a bit compared to a clear.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I don’t think white heads are necessarily any different than clear in terms of sound. You can buy clear or white timpani heads, I’ve never hear anyone say that the clear heads sound brighter, or noticed any difference in sound myself, either. I think it has more to do with just the actual thickness of the head, probably.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I think it has more to do with just the actual thickness of the head, probably.
The coating does add a hint of thickness, but something about the texture seems to have a slight muting effect as well. Coated Ambassadors, for instance, have more warmth and a less open sound than clear ones. That's what my ears have always registered, at least.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
The coating does add a hint of thickness, but something about the texture seems to have a slight muting effect as well. Coated Ambassadors, for instance, have more warmth and a less open sound than clear ones. That's what my ears have always registered, at least.
Oh, coated heads definitely sound different. I was talking about white uncoated versus clear uncoated.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
Coated heads will attenuate a bit of the higher frequencies/harmonics, but I find it pleasing. You can also consider White Suede, or even regular Suede (white-ish), or Smooth White. In each case, I would opt for Ambassador weight. I have used Coated or Suede on the bottoms for years. I think my favorite combination is with Clear Ambassador on the batter side.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
There’s a ‘Sounds like a drum’ video demonstrating this very topic - the sound difference is subtle, but maybe warmer/deeper.

Just this week I bought a set of coated ambassadors for the tom reso’s on my rock kit. Haven’t installed them yet, but am trying coated on coated instead of clear/clear.

On my 60’s kit I have coated Amb top and bottom, and when I replace a head the new one goes on the bottom, and the bottom one moves to the top.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
A few years ago when most of the kits I saw around me had black bass drum resonant heads I bought a kit with a white head. It's a look I prefer, white and unported, and I kept that look for several kits by swapping a coated 22" head from kit to kit. Re: the toms, I imagine that any sonic effect will be relatively small and not deal breaking.
Given all this, how long before all that exposure to Premier drums on Top Of The Pops in the 70s sees me fitting black dots top and bottom!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I doubt a white reso will make much difference. A coated one, a little bit.

Changing the basic type of head, probably a lot more.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I have them on my vintage Ludwig and they make the drums slightly warmer and have slightly less attack. These are minor differences though.
Same here, also helps control the sound a wee bit due to some dubious bearing edge work.

If you want a vintage sound do and use what the guys did back then.

It's evolution of the instrument plus the sound people were after, coated top and bottom was the progression from calf heads, bearing edges got sharper which lends itself to clear resonant heads.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
My guess would be that the effect of using an uncoated white head would be minimal. You could always experiment with tape, moongel, etc., on the reso heads to see if that makes any difference.
 

tfgretsch

Junior Member
All good info guys. I think you would hear more of a true difference when the drums are miked in the studio Vrs Unmiked playing a live gig.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
On the Pearl Export set at church, the toms have coated G1's on top and bottom. That was the best combo to keep the volume down. Peace and goodwill.
 
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