Best Drum Heads / Skins for Funk, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Metal… And almost all other styles

Several students have asked about drum heads and which ones to buy. The heads on your drums have a huge affect on the sound so it’s important to get the ones that will help you achieve the sound you want.

I personally play Remo heads. I’ve tried lots of different heads over the years by Evans etc and they all have merit. But when you consider that Remo have been around for decades and that a large proportion of the worlds greatest drummers play Remo. To me, they seem like the heads to go for. Thre’s a good chance that most of your favourite records involved Remo drum heads.

So, once decided on Remo. The choice is then which remo heads to use? There are loads out there and all of their descriptions highlight the positives about the heads so it’s tricky to find the heads that will suit your playing.

Over the years and after looking into what other drummers are using (check out the remo website – there are lots of promo vids) this is what I discovered –

1) There is almost an industry standard for resonant heads on the Toms, Snare and Bass drum.

2) If you are just starting to experiment with different heads then Remo have 2 (again, almost industry standard) heads to choose from – Emperor or Ambassador.

3) The Emperor and Ambassador heads come in Clear and Coated. This choice changes the sound considerably.


So in more detail….

1) (pretty much) Industry Standard Resonant Heads

Toms – Clear Ambassador®

These heads will work well fr most styles of music. They are medium in weight and allow the drum to resonate/sing for a short period, giving the drum some life and sound, but not for too long. A great starting point if you’re just starting out with experimenting with heads.

Snare – Hazy Ambassador®

Personally I go for the Hazy ambassador on the snare side. Again it’s medium weight so allows the drum to breath but doesn’t give too many over tones to the snare drum. It’s better for a shorter sustain so suits most contemporary styles.

Another popular option for the snare is the : Hazy Diplomat®. This is a thinner head so creates more sustain for the snare.

Bass Drum – Some drummer’s leave the factory supplied head on the front of the bass drum. Most of the time a hole is put in the front so it’s not used so much to shape the sound of the drum. So if you’re on a budget, this is the head to leave as it is.

2) Tom Batter Heads

Once you’ve got the resonant heads sorted – the fun starts with the batter side. These are the heads to experiment with to get dramatically different sounds out of your drums;  depending on the style you want to play.

Remo have two main types:

Coated Ambassador®

The coated ambassador’s are a great starting point. They are medium in weight allowing the drums to resonate but for a controlled amount of time. They are coated so have a warmer tone and are harder wearing. The coating also reduces some of the resonance, making them a good choice for contemporary music – rock, pop, funk, R&B.

Coated Emperor®

The coated emperor’s are made with two free-floating plies of 7-mil Mylar® film. This makes them thicker. They have less resonance, controlled sustain and give a warmer ‘thud’ to the drums. I’d say these heads are particularly well suited for rock, metal, heavy hitting R&B/Pop drummers.

3) Snare Batter Head

You could use one of the above; either the coated emperor or the ambassador depending on the sound you’re after. Remo also do the X series and reverse dot series. This is where you can really experiment with different amounts of dampening and thickness of the heads. A good place to start though is one of the heads noted above and go from there.

Bass Batter Head (again almost industry standard)

Lots of the worlds best use a Power Stroke 3 on the bass drum; either coated or clear. Again depending on how resonant you want the drum to sound.

In Summary

If you’re just getting into buying heads for your kit I’d recommend:

– Clear ambassador heads on the resonant side of the Toms and Snare (Hazy on the snare).

– Coated Ambassador or Emperors on the Batter side of Toms and Snare.

– Power Stroke 3 on the Bass Drum Batter Side, either coated or clear. And leave the front head as the factory supplied head with Logo.

From here you can go on to experiment with the batter heads. Trying out the reverse dot on the snare. Maybe the X series on all the drums. Fyber skin heads on the batter side for Jazz. There’s loads to choose from!

Hope this helps you out. FOr more drumming info, tips and events follow on Twitter or like Bristol Drum lessons facebook page. Links at www.bristoldrumlessons.com

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