Best Drum Heads Review in 2017
You have your drum set, and you love it. Now, you need to replace some heads. Whether they have worn beyond saving or you just want an upgrade in quality, you have a big choice before you. I can help. I have tried and reviewed hundreds of drum heads to figure out which ones really are the best. For my best drum heads review in 2017, I have selected the five choices that I believe are a cut above the others.
How I Chose
There are so many drums and heads out there that it would be impossible to cover them all in one list. I had to narrow things down, so I made a few important decisions. First, I limited this list to heads that work for drum sets. If you’re looking for a list specific to snares or something else, this isn’t it. Secondly, I formed a few basic criteria to further narrow down the options. I compared general sound quality, tuning range, stylistic range, toughness and cost to determine which heads were of the best overall value. I also compared feedback from professional drummers and consensus from amateur and beginning drummers to find choices that are best for the masses. But, before we get into the list, there are a couple of things you should know about drum heads, as a rule.
As you master your craft, you’ll want heads that are increasingly perfected to the sound you like. Professional-grade heads get extremely expensive very quickly. To try and form some semblance of fair comparison, I wrote this guide with overall value in mind. None of my top five picks are the very best quality of heads on the market, but they are all extremely good, especially for how much they cost. They mostly fall into low or mid-tier price ranges. The main reason I took this route is simple: anyone who needs the most expensive drum heads probably has enough experience to not need my advice.
There are two terms you need to understand when shopping for heads. The first is ply, and the second is finish. For the most part, heads can come in single or double-ply. Much like toilet paper, the number of plies affects how strong and light the head will be. That is where the similarities end. You can’t say that single or double-ply is inherently better. Singles get a lighter, more resonant sound, and they’re usually a little easier to tune. Doubles are definitely tougher, and they usually get the punchier, heavier sounds you’ll hear in rock or metal. If you’re new to drumming and trying to learn the basics, double-ply is probably a better bet because they can take more abuse. Otherwise, the style of music you’re playing will decide which option is better.
Heads can also come in finished or unfinished varieties. Finishes will absorb vibrations, darkening the sound of the head, and in many cases you can get varying finishes that are designed to tweak that darkness to a preference. Once again, your choice of style will mostly determine what kind of finish is best. A word of advice to beginners: never choose a finish because of how it looks. Always let your ears be the final judge.
There are head styles that don’t adhere to these basic trends. Some materials (mostly animal skin varieties) don’t lend themselves to the one and two ply mentality. Instead they’ll be crafted according to the type of skin (or synthetic skin) and thickness. Skin drum heads are less common for most traditional styles of drumming, as they tend to be very resonant and have a soft touch. At the risk of repeating myself, it all comes down to picking the head that sounds best for your music. While I based my top picks on overall value, there ended up being one or two entries for each of these types of heads.
Five Best Drum Heads
Evans G2 heads have been a staple in drum sets for years, and with good reason. Each of the two plies in the design uses a 7 mil Mylar film. The result is a taught head that produces is strong sound without excessive reverberation. It also yields a dense field that is perfect for heavy hitting, and it doesn’t show wear quickly. This leaves the G2 series well suited for punishing music styles like rock or metal.
You can get G2 heads in packs or singly, but they are best suited for tom-toms. Evans makes G2 heads for every drum size, but the snare and bass sounds are not as impressive. Their durability makes them great for long and intense practice sessions, but when it comes time for the show, you’re better off with different heads on those two drums.
Remo Suede Heads
The Remo Suede series has more variety and options than anything else out there. They come in five different weights, every drum size imaginable and an array of finishes. No matter what you want, there is a suede head that does it perfectly. Perhaps most impressively, they all stay in the same price point. I can’t go into too much detail about sound quality, because they cater to everything, but every head sounds great within its niche, always producing clear and consistent sounds. The suede design is also extremely tough and doesn’t wear off or scratch.
Because Remo offers so many weight classes, no single option has as much range as some of the other heads on this list. If you’re a variety drummer, you will either need multiple sets or a different head that is more accommodating (or consider electric options). The choice of material also inflates the price. Suede makes for professional-quality heads, but your wallet will notice the difference.
If this name looks familiar, it’s because these heads have a lot in common with the G2 series mentioned above. The primary and most important difference is that these are single-ply heads. In fact, these are my favorite single-ply heads available today. Evans has found the perfect sweet spot between the light responsiveness of single-ply and the dark resilience of two-ply. They struck that balance by crafting these heads with a thicker-than-average 12 mil film. It produces a beautifully deep and resonant tone with projection that can fill an arena.
Because of the design, G-Plus are only suited for tom-toms. That becomes a two-edged sword as it prevents you from getting substandard heads on your bass or snare, but it makes it a little more of a process to outfit your whole set. It’s also important to note that while these heads are dark for a single ply, they still have a lighter than average sound.
Evans Black Chrome
Another Evans entry?! Before you crucify me for bias, let me note that these are the last Evans heads on my top five list. The Black Chrome series is an undeniable masterpiece of drumming excellence. These are two-ply heads that utilize an uncoated 7 mil clear film over a 7.5 mil black film. It creates a mirror-like finish that is entrancing to behold. But, I would never put something on this list just because it looks good.
If you’ve been frustrated with the lighter entries before, then these are the heads you’ve been waiting for. They have a punch, almost staccato sound. You’ll need absolutely no dampening, and they project like a megaphone. They are also among the toughest heads that Evans makes for drum sets, and in my opinion, they are the best sounding rock heads in their price range. I have yet to come across a drummer, professional or amateur, who didn’t love playing on Black Chromes.
If I didn’t save the best for last, then I certainly held onto the most exotic choice. Fiberskyn is a synthetic film that Remo has created to match the sound and quality of genuine animal skin heads, and they hit this one out of the park. They made a masterwork that embodies the traditional sounds of drumming and fuses it with the best of new technology.
Fiberskyn heads produce a rich, warm tone that can only be matched by high-end heads. The stick response is soft, almost delicate, and enables you to get an amazing array of sounds through technique alone. The patented fiber design grants them an impressive tuning range that comes with surprising ease. Best of all, they sound great on every drum in your set, allowing for a consistency that few other heads can match.
There are no bad heads on this list, and they are all competitively priced in terms of raw bang for your buck. While I can confidently recommend any of them, I do have a favorite, and it is unquestionably the Remo Fiberskyn. They feel too good to ignore, and unless you’re looking for something very specific, they sound better than the other heads here.