Drum head, drum skin, drum parchment, all mean the same thing! Originally they were made of animal skin (Raw hide) mainly used for percussion instruments. Currently, most of them are made of synthetic material. There are many brands that make drum heads but the ones easily available in our market are Evans, Remo and unbranded ones.
It’s also interesting fact that there isn’t any head termed as ‘the correct one’. The decision of taking the drum head is based on many factors like, personal choice, style of music etc.
The most important thing to know is the difference between the batter head and the resonant head. Batter is the one you play (beat) on and the Resonant is the one you DON’T play on. Once you have understood this, going through the below sub categories will be easier.
Maintenance and Upkeep of Drum Sets
Ideally you should change the drum head when it is visibly damaged or worn off. Else, it will certainly affect the drum sound. It is mandatory to change all the drum heads whenever you are heading for a recording session. Take an hour out to work out your parts and record it, so that you will get an idea of the actual sound recorded versus the one desired or required based on the song. You can then fine tune settings accordingly.
Bass Drum heads are usually the ones which are least changed, unless there is a physical damage or dents due to excessive power playing.
On the other hand, the snare drum which is usually the most used drum, needs constant maintenance by frequently changing the head. You can try out different heads on the same snare drum to get various sounds out of your existing snare drum with different tuning permutations and combinations.
It is advisable to keep the same drum head series/range across the toms for a consistent and similar pitch that can be achieved while tuning.
If the kit is immobile (in a studio or a school) it is advisable to keep it covered to avoid dust entering or settling at the edges in order to get the best and desired sound.
General categories in which drum heads are available across all brand are:
Clear – (Evans EC2 Clear – usually works best for toms)
Coated/Frosted (Evans G2 coated – good for toms)
No. of Ply (Single/Double) (Evans J1 or Remo Ambassador)
Hydraulics (Evans Hydraulics or Remo Black Suede)
Snare (Evans Power Centre or Remo Emperor)
Bass drum (Evans EMAD or Remo Powerstorke)