Rhythm Top Ten Tips: Getting the most from your heads

Where´s your head at? Find out with our tips on choosing, using and abusing your drum heads.

1. The sound of a drum is said to be 80 percent due to the heads you use.

2. If you want a different sound, try changing your head types rather than buying new drums.

3. The bottom heads are often the cause of tuning and ringing problems but they´re the hardest to reach and often go untouched.

4. To tune your toms, take them off their stands and seat them on the floor. Tune the bottom head first and damp it while you tune the top.

5. Many drummers say they tune their top (batter) heads for the feel and their bottom (resonant) heads for tone.

6. To ‘seat´ a new head, tighten it evenly and press down in the centre with a fist/palm. The glue channel is meant to make ‘crack´ noises!

7. Single-ply heads are brighter, more resonant; Double-ply heads are harder wearing, darker in tone, with more attack but less sustain.

8. Try to angle your drums so that the tips of your sticks don´t dig into the heads and make dents. You´ll get a fatter sound this way too.

9. It´s said you can get the dents and dimples out old heads by using a hairdryer. Try it - we have, although without much success!

10. Clean heads with cream kitchen cleanser or washing-up liquid and scourer. Coated heads lose friction if you rub too hard.

For more tips on tuning your drums click here.

We'll soon be coming to the end of our series of tips from Rhythm, but fret not, as we'll be opening it up to you guys to share your suggestions! If you have any tips for your fellow drums on anything from tuning, to choosing the right kit to the best methods for maintaining a grip on your sticks, let us know by emailing us at rhythmag@futurenet.co.uk or by leaving a comment at www.twitter.com/RhythmMagazine.

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. In addition to testing the latest music gear, with a particular focus on electronic drums, it's my job to manage the 300+ buyer's guides on MusicRadar and help musicians find the right gear for them at the best prices. I dabble with guitar, but my main instrument is the drums, which I have been playing for 24 years. I've been a part of the music gear industry for 20 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance music writer, during which time I worked with the world's biggest instrument brands including Roland, Boss, Laney and Natal.