Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prologue to Drumheads

Over the next several weeks I'll be talking about how drumheads affect your sound, and giving some basic advice on how to choose heads. We'll talk about what the differences in heads mean to your sound and the playability of your kit.

There are more choices all the time, from time-tested classics to heads for very specific applications. If you know what you're looking for - and at - you'll have a better chance at sounding like you want to. 

Before we start, though, two quick stories to set the stage. 

Lesson with Adam Nussbaum

I once had the opportunity to take a lesson from drumming great Adam Nussbaum. It was extremely worthwhile. Among other things, he talked a lot about being able to "trust" each sound in your kit so that you don't overplay. His thought was that the less you had full, resonant sounds, the more notes you felt like you had to play. I agree. Each sound in your kit should be something you absolutely love and can use with confidence. There should be no sounds that you avoid using.

Let's call them "Jupiter Music" just for fun!*

When I first decided to get serious about drumming, I knew my sounds were bad but I knew almost nothing about tuning, and even less about drumheads. I had a 22" Tama Rockstar kick, and I had picked up two Remo Renaissance heads on clearance. I was thrilled to have new heads, but absolutely hated my new sound. It seemed really pingy to me, and didn't have the low fundamental and punch I was looking for.

So I went into one of the big-box music stores (it's a chain that no longer exists, but will still remain nameless) and asked the "drum guy" about heads and what I could do to help my sound. His answer was classic, "Y'know, man, a bass drum head is a bass drum head. They're pretty much all the same, so the sound you're looking for is what the sound engineer is for."

I knew that answer wasn't right, so I was pretty frustrated. Luckily for me, Backbeats Drum & Backline opened shortly after that, and Kelly Wallis set me straight and got my kick sound rockin'. He put two Remo Powerstroke 3s on my kick drum, helped me set up some basic muffling, and explained to me how tuning effects the sound, and also had me listen to my drum from (literally) inside the drum, from the playing position, and from across the room. (I had never thought about the fact that the sound might be heard differently depending on where you heard if from and how far away you were.)

Needless to say, it was the beginning of my journey to better sounds - and much more satisfying playing.   

So, let's get started. On Monday, we'll talk about bass drum heads and get the heart of your kit sounding great.

Update 2-19-2012: The store was the now-defunct Mars Music. I was trying to hint at that and actually named an existing music company. My bad. The actual Jupiter Music has a great reputation, and I wasn't attempting to make any derogatory comments about them, at all. 

1 comment:

  1. This is such an excellent piece of writign in which you have introduced your unique vision on the issue related to Prologue to Drumheads.


Why musicians should watch the big game (Seriously!)

Photo by  Ameer Basheer  on  Unsplash Here we are, about to watch another televised wrestling match over who puts a football on one en...