Replacing your bass drum head is like completely replacing your instrument. Drum heads can influence the tone, sound, and feel of your entire kit. No bass head lasts forever, no matter how reliable or how old it is. They’re doomed to break sooner or later, and if you’ve never picked a replacement before, it can be difficult to find the right one for you on the first try.
Fortunately, in this guide, we break down the whole process. From the number of fold heads to the tone. Hopefully by the time you decide on your next bass head you’ll know exactly what to look out for!
What should you watch out for when buying bass drum heads?
Sound is the most important factor when choosing a bass head for your kit. If you know it, it will complete your setup, if not, it might force you to adopt a different playstyle.
Drum heads, generally speaking, are divided into two categories: striking heads and resonating heads. The punch heads go to the snares and other drums you hit, while the resonances go to the bottom. Resonances resonate in different ways and are thinner than a punch head, which is responsible for the majority of their sound.
All drum heads, whether striking or resonant, produce a warm or bright overall sound. The bright ones are sharper and the hot ones are darker and more robust.
Your choice of sound affects the overall sound, harmonics, and pitch of your drums as you play.
Drum head folds
Drum heads are available in different thickness levels. Some are thicker than others and some skins have multiple layers stacked on top of each other to produce a distinct sound. Manufacturers of drumheads use different materials, and those that use a single layer of material are called single-ply drumheads. Drumheads that have more than a single ply or ply are called double ply skins.
The number of layers in a drum head also contributes to its overall sound. Single-layer heads are generally brighter and more sensitive. They produce more harmonics which, depending on your style, can be both good and bad.
Double-ply drumheads are warmer and have more depth and urgency. They are more durable and produce fewer harmonics. Triple pleats aren’t very popular as they tend to be a bit flat.
Coated or clear
Another trick used by manufacturers to increase the thickness of a drum is to add a coating. Coated bass heads tend to be warmer, muffle overtones, and bounce slightly when playing. Light drumheads are brighter and don’t muffle overtones. They feel sharper, clearer, and urgent.
Portholes are an added addition for drummers who record a lot or want their sound to travel further. A porthole is a small 5 inch hole in the right corner of your bass drum head. It also gives your basshead a bit more attack and makes it brighter.
They also serve as an access port for drum microphones and stage mics during live performances. Getting up close and personal allows mics to pick up a lot more, and this can greatly enhance the audience experience.
What other factors should I consider when buying a bass drum head?
You need to keep an eye on the overall price of the drumhead you buy. There are a variety of options currently available on the market, all at different prices. Be sure to compare and contrast products before committing to a purchase.
Achieve the desired sound
If you are having a hard time choosing a bass drum head, consider choosing a professional product for the genre you are in! If you are a cult drummer, ask around for the bass head that your favorite band uses etc. This will help you determine what you like before deciding what is best for you!