North-East-based BR Distribution has been in business for over 30 years marketing drums, cymbals, hardware and accessories.
The company’s custom heads on review are aimed at the budget end of the market.
Launched in 2017, the heads are currently available in 14" diameters only. There are three choices - a regular coated batter head (Custom 14), a coated batter head with reverse black dot (Custom 14B) and a clear snareside (Custom 14SS) - indicating that the range is suited solely for snare drum use. The heads are manufactured in China from generic Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) polyester, are all single-ply and are crimped into their aluminium hoops.
We take the heads to a local rehearsal studio where, sure enough, we find a pair of snare drums begging for new heads. The Custom 14 and Custom 14SS are gladly received by a 14"x5" wooden shell snare, while the Custom 14B wings its way onto a 14"x61⁄2" steel snare.
We start with the wooden snare and its Custom 14. With a thickness of 10 mil and a coated finish it is clearly modelled on Remo’s ubiquitous Ambassador. The Custom 14 gives a suitably warm, open and natural response, allowing the woodiness of the shell to crack through. Sensitivity is good across the circumference, with all dynamic levels represented well. On the snareside, the Custom 14SS works in tandem to deliver a crisp response from the wires.
The Custom 14B - also 10 mil thick - is not so neutral-sounding, courtesy of its underside-mounted black dot. Hit anywhere within the dot and the drum is audibly drier; a portion of the top-end is whipped off, leaving the note thicker and punchier. Beyond the margin of the dot the drum is livelier and moving from the edge to the centre reveals the contrast in sound.
After the initial fitting, tuning and playing-in, we notice both batter heads already showing playing marks. Returning to the studio a couple of weeks later we find a good deal of the coating has been worn away; at this price point durability is unlikely to match that of a premium brand so it’s horses for courses.