Understanding Drumhead types and differences

Drumheads for drum set, concert and marching instruments typically fall into two categories: Batter and Resonant.

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  • The Batter head is what you actually strike with your sticks, brushes, mallets, beater or hands.
  • The Resonant drumhead is used on the bottom, or opposite, side of the drum from the batter head. It is called “resonant” because the air column inside the drum resonates off the bottom head, producing sustain and tone.
  • Most heads used as a batter or resonant can be interchanged for either side of the drum, EXCEPT "Snare-Side" heads should NOT be used as a batter. MORE INFO below.

The weight or thickness of a drumhead is measured in a unit called a “Mil”. 1-mil = 1/1000”.

BATTER SIDE

  • Batter heads come in a variety of styles, weights, thickness and film types, depending on the desired tone, volume, durability and projection required by the drummer.
  • Batter heads can be 1-ply, 2-ply or have combinations of Mylar Controlled Sound® dots and/or underlay rings (i.e. Powerstroke® 3 and 4) for dampening and tone control. They can also be laminated (i.e. Fiberskyn®) which combines two film types into a single drumhead.
  • Typical thicknesses for batter drumheads are: Thin = 7.5-mil, Medium = 10-mil, Heavy = 14-mil

RESONANT SIDE

  • Resonant heads are typically single-ply of medium to thin weight. The thinner the drumhead, the more it vibrates.                                                                                                                
  • Resonant heads are typically 10-mil, although some prefer thinner 7.5-mil.
  • The industry standard resonant drumhead is the Remo Ambassador® Clear.
  • Bass drums usually have resonant heads such as an Ambassador® or a Powerstroke® 3, which is an Ambassador® weight with a Mylar underlay ring for dampening.

It is important for new drummers to understand the difference between resonant heads for bass & toms and those designed specifically for snare drums.

  • Snare drums require a much thinner resonant or “snare side” drumhead than toms and bass drums. 
  • The standard snare side model for drum set is the Remo Ambassador® Hazy. It is only 3-mil thin, so as to provide sensitivity for the snare wires that run across the resonant head.
  • For those who prefer maximum sensitivity, the snare side Diplomat® Hazy is only 2-mil thin. This is very popular among orchestral players.

 

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