Switching out your drum heads can breathe new life into a tired set of drums. In this buyer’s guide, we went on the hunt for the best out there.
At a Glance: Our Pick of the Best Drum Heads Available
- Evans G2 Standard Tom
- Evans EMAD2
- Remo Emperor X Coated Snare Drum Head
- Aquarian Super-Kick II
- Remo PP-1470-PS Pinstripe
- Remo Powerstroke P3
- Evans Power Center Reverse Dot
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Drum Heads Round-Up
- Why Do I Need New Drum Heads?
- Buyer’s Guide – What to Look for When Buying Drum Heads?
Best Drum Heads Round-Up
Evans G2 Coated Tompack
The G2 Standard Tompack includes a set of 12”, 13” and 16” drum heads, all of which are made from two 7mm polymer sheets.
They are coated with a layer of set liquid polymer, which means they produce a focused, warm sound with good depth. With that in mind, all this tone can be tailored to meet your specific taste, as the G2s can be tuned both low and high while keeping the full resonance that everyone loves.
Versatility is also achieved here thanks to Evans’ 360 tuning technology, which means that their G2s have an optimized angled collar for easy assembly and tuning.
Overall, this pack is best suited to people that like to play a variety of styles of music. Thanks to the 360 tuning system and the two-ply coated skins, you’ll be able to get fantastic sustain from both rack and floor toms alike, and you’ll be able to adjust them to exactly how you like your set up.
- Versatility – The unique 360 tuning system means adjusting the pitch will be easier than ever before.
- Tone – These G2s give you a nice, warmth and depth whilst retaining full resonance.
- A lot of sustain – These things ring out forever, which is nice but can becoming an interfering noise at times.
If you’re on the hunt for a really versatile bass drum head, the Evans EMAD2 should be on your list to check out. This drum head has an externally mounted adjustable damping system (or ‘EMAD’ for short) that lets you dial in specific tones.
The EMAD system is fully adjustable, with a two-ring damping system, which means you get way more control over the attack. Choosing the thinner foam ring gives your bass drum extra power, focus, and resonance, while the wider ring will increase the bass frequencies and attack of your kick drum.
It’s two-ply, with an outer sheet of 7mm polymer, and an inner 10mm version for extra durability. Just like Evan’s G2s, there is of course the same Level 360 Technology included. This means the collar allows the bass drum head to be secured easily, and more easily tuned for a wider tonal range and maximum control.
- Fast tuning – Thanks to the Level 360 Technology here, tuning will never be a problem again.
- Versatile – The fully adjustable EMAD system means that you’ll be able to recreate a wide range of tones.
- Price – All this technology is rather pricey.
- Heavily muted – Some folk don’t like the muffled sound, so you might be better off with something that sustains for longer.
Remo Emperor X Coated for Snare
The overall sound the Emperor X skins kick out is loud and powerful when you really go for it, but also capable of creating a light, ghostly punch when struck lightly.
Also, there’s also way less overtone interference in comparison to other brands, so for these reasons, these are a great option for use both in the studio and live.
Overall, we recommend this skin to anyone who hits hard in a heavy rock or metal band. Emperor X heads are affordable too, so you won’t end up breaking the bank.
- Durable – The Emperor X can take a beating and will last for months.
- Versatile – This item works well in upper-middle to low-end tones.
- Needs a setup – You’ll need to clean and wax this skin.
Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II
This Super Kick II Pack features something called Nu-Brite film, which makes for a fuller low end. There’s also a handy felt muffle ring, so there’ll be no extra dampening required.
Aquarian has designed them for low end and less interference, rather than versatility and sustain.
In terms of tone, the Super Kick II pack is still pretty clear and focused, which works well at controlling that big, deep bass drum tone.
Arguably the best thing about these skins is the ‘floating muffling system,’ which basically acts as a pre-dampener to allow the skins to produce a more natural sound. This saves you a lot of time and hassle stuffing blankets and pillows inside the drum cavity.
Just be aware that these skins are really muted, so may not meet the specific tastes of some drumming styles. However, they sound great in really heavy styles that need faster kick drum sections with little interference, like say death metal or thrash.
For this reason, we believe Aquarian’s skins are best for metal artists that want a specific muffled sound without having to lug around their duvet.
- Patented ‘muffling system’ – Gives you more control and reduces interference.
- Tone – The sound Aquarian’s skins produce is intense and vibrant, considering the pretty affordable price.
- Lacks sustain – If you like your bass drum to ring out, this is not the skin for you.
- Not so durable – Unfortunately, if you play hard, these things can rip apart in a few weeks.
Remo PP-1470-PS Pinstripe
These skins are made from a set of two-ply, 7mm polymer sheets, which feature a very rapid decay, making them great at recreating R&B and Pop tones.
As well as this, these skins have a moderate attack and response, which is a bonus in that they work well in most styles of music that aren’t verging on the extreme.
They feature an overtone reducing agent between the two plies, which means the drums have that extra control, to ensure your sound remains clear focused. Skins without overtone control can often sound muddy, and a little lost in the mix, so this is an advantage. Having two plies also means that this set of skins is likely to last you a fair while and will handle being hit hard.
So overall, we’d say this is a great option for anyone wanting a durable set of skins to work with pop, funk and rap styles of music. Their tonal diversity makes them an excellent place for beginners. For the price, you get a decent tone, that will work with different styles and loads of overtone control.
- Clear tone – The overtone reducing agent and rapid decay technology here really brightens up the overall sound these skins produce.
- Great all round skins – The sound these kick out suits most styles of music, as long as it’s not extreme, so would be a good place for a beginner.
- Not easy to tune – You’ll need a drum dial to get a good sound from these.
- Doesn’t metal – If you want to play heavier genres, these skins won’t provide enough bass and warmth for that style.
Remo Powerstroke P3
The Powerstroke contains a single ply 10mm polymer sheet, with a 10mm inlay ring in its outer edge to dampen any unwanted overtones.
The sound they kick out is nice too. The single ply polymer has been specifically chosen to produce focused mid-range and low frequencies, with a well-defined attack.
They don’t have the convenient tuning technology or the two-ply build for extra durability, so just be careful not to hit it too hard!
The Powerstroke P3, however, is capable of reaching a higher frequency range than the EMAD2 skins, which are slightly deeper and meatier.
Overall, this would be a great option for those of you shopping on a budget and wanting to play blues or classic rock.
Just remember, the Powerstroke P3 is probably not going to work well with very down-tuned heavy metal or drone doom as it’s built for more mid-range tones.
- Powerful Attack – The single ply sheet is very responsive and packs a punch.
- Dampener – The Powerstroke P3 has a built-in inlay that reduces the interference from overtones.
- Not much depth – Yes, this thing can do low, but it can’t do really low for more extreme styles of music.
- Not so durable – Even though the single ply sheet used here is pretty thick, it’s still not as durable as a two-ply option.
Evans Power Center Reverse Dot
Evans Power Center Reverse Dot has a power center patch, which offers a touch of extra durability and focus to the 10mm single ply sheet.
The power center contains unique notches in its diameter, which allows the skin to flex by keeping the head open at the edges. The power center can even be reversed, to make room for brushes, handy eh?
Of course, being made by Evans, it comes with that convenient 360 tuning technology. This is an enhanced collar design that ensures the skin fits onto the drum body easily by extending the playing surface evenly, 360 degrees around the drum. So, you’ll be set up and ready to play in no time at all!
One thing to remember is that this skin is single ply, so it’s not going to take as much force for as long as a two-ply design. But saying that, the tone it produces thanks to the polymer used is excellent. This thing is super responsive and kicks out a snappy pop, with plenty of sustain. So, it cuts through a mix well enough to be heard.
It’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a super responsive snare skin on a budget. You really can’t go wrong here, this thing will pierce through your band’s mix without breaking a sweat and you’ll be able to tune it in a matter of seconds.
- Easy to tune – The 360 tuning technology Evans have thought up means you’ll have this skin tuned up in no time.
- Cuts through a mix – This thing is loud and has plenty of bite, so it’ll cut through your mix no problem.
- Not so durable – Because it’s only single ply, this skin won’t last as long as a two-ply version.
- Extremely resonant – Because Evans has included the reverse dot technology, this skin can end up sounding a little hollow at times and may need a touch of dampening.
Why Do I Need New Drum Heads?
When your drum heads start sounding tired, flat or just plain worn out it’s time for a set of new skins. Even if you don’t need new ones, getting a different set can completely change your sound and inspire you to play new songs, so it can be a worthy choice either way.
How often should you change them? Well, even the highest quality heads will eventually need replacing, but generally, a standard set will last through 3 or 4 months of reasonably intense use before needing to be replaced.
Resonant heads can last up to 9 months; however, it’s recommended you change them somewhere before this time to ensure the sound they produce is up to scratch and projects well.
Buyer’s Guide – What to Look for When Buying Drum Heads?
Heads are categorized by the thickness of the ply layer, the number of ply layers, and the skin’s overall finish – all of which vary significantly between manufacturer.
Single Vs Double Ply
Single ply drum heads are used in pretty much every style of music for their bright, crisp and highly responsive sound. As you’ve probably gathered, single ply skins consist of a single sheet of polymer between 7 – 10 mm thick. It’s possible to find some single ply ones that are between 3-5 mm thick, but these are usually designed to use with snare drums.
Most artists and manufacturers opt for single ply skins for their resonance and punch, although they can’t stand as much of a beating. Medium weighted single ply skins will give you much more sonic diversity when you tune your drum differently.
Double ply skins consist of two sheets of material with each polymer being around 7mm thick. So, yes, they can take much more force than their single ply brothers. Tone-wise, double plies tend to produce a more meaty, focused sound, so are often used in rock and meta, and less so for genres like jazz. Evans’ G2 series and Remo’s Emperors, are a couple of excellent examples.
The coating refers to the layer of polymer material on the ply surface. If your skins do have the extra finish, the head is said to be coated, if not it’s known as a clear skin.
The type of coat influences tone too. Extra coatings dampen the sound, making the sound warmer with less attack and punch in comparison to clear ones, which produce a brighter sound. Clear ones project well in contrast to coated versions too. The finish also influences which drum the skin fits on to, i.e., whether it fits on toms, snare or kick.
So, how does thickness influence your tone? Well, the layers that make up two-ply drums heads will vibrate against each other, thus reducing the sustain rapidly. Double ply skins are also thicker than a single version, which means the head vibrates at a lower frequency. This, in turn, leads to a low pitch being produced with fewer overtones coming into the mix. In the opposite way, single ply heads allow your drums to sustain for longer at a higher pitch while producing more overtones.
Some manufacturers even produce a hydraulic variety, which are made up of two layers of ply with a layer of oil placed between both. These things make for a really heavy low end and are far easier to tune than the rest thanks to the oil acting as a lubricant. As a consequence, hydraulic ones can be great for beginners as they are easier to set up and tune.
Pre-muffled heads are an excellent option for all you overtone lovers out there. But why are they called pre-muffled? Well, due to their muffling ring, which is built-in to the underside of the polymer material. Just be careful when using one of these things, as your tone can get pretty muddy, pretty quickly if you overuse them and getting the right mix may take some fine tuning. If you’re certain pre-muffled skins are what you need, check out Remo’s pre-muffled Powerstroke series or Evans’ “EC” series, both are pretty killer!