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© Scott D. Smith/Retna Ltd./Corbis
Head choice has an enormous impact on your kit’s sound. There’s no hard and fast rule as to what’s better for metal, but given how busy a typical metal mix is, you probably won’t want or need to aim for overly ringy, open-sounding drums. A response that’s defined and crisp will make its presence felt without taking up valuable sonic real estate with overtones.
You might assume that heavier styles absolutely require the thickest heads available. It’s true that substantial two-ply heads on kicks and snares are a safe bet, both tonally and in terms of longevity, but toms often benefit from heads that strike a balance between weight and lively response.
The very thickest heads take a lot of energy to get moving as quickly as metal fills need them to, so a slightly more middle-of-the-road offering is often preferable.
The choice of coated or clear tom heads is purely personal - both types crop up on big name players’ kits; clear heads promote a more articulate top end, while coated have an extra degree of dryness and focus.