Drumheads are one of the most important, if not the single most important part of the way your drum kit sounds. Replacing them can add up and get pretty costly, especially if you own a considerable kit. In this blog, I’ll be sharing three practical tips to help you make the most of your drumheads. And don’t worry, it’s not all about ‘hitting less hard’.

When should I replace my drumheads?

When should I replace my drumheads?

The first thing you should know is when to replace your old drumhead for a new one. Obviously, you’re in need of a new skin if you tear one, but most drum skins are way past their expiration date before they ever tear in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s never a clear-cut and precise moment to pinpoint as to when you should replace them and you should simply do so when they start to lose their edge and original sound. Since constant pressure is applied, drum heads increasingly stretch over time, eventually resulting in a dull sound. The definition of ‘too dull’ comes down to taste and personal preference. You may have also noticed your bass and snare drum heads need replacing before the toms, simply due to the fact that they see more use. That’s also why you’re replacing your batter heads way more often than your resonant drum heads.

When should I replace my drumheads?

Tip 1: Place the shells at the right angle

The easiest way to make your drumheads last longer is to set up your kit the right way, particularly the toms and rack toms. Lots of drummers position their drums at too steep an angle, therefore hitting the heads at a greater angle as well, which reduces their lifespan. It’s wise to make sure that the angle of your drum stick as it strikes the head is as flat as possible. See the illustration below.

When To Replace Drum Heads

Tip 2: Tune your drums regularly

Keeping your drums in tune is arguably just as important as correctly positioning your shells, seeing as less tension on the drumhead can result in more dents, while more dents in turn lead to the vibrations caused by striking the skin to be unequally transferred to the shell. This only makes tuning your shell more difficult, it ultimately results in a bad sound and shortened drumhead lifespan. Replace your drumheads as soon as you spot any dents. Due to the tension rods and the constant beating that drumheads suffer, they slowly stretch out over time, explaining why the sound may differ from session to session. Reason enough to regularly tune your shells! How often is regularly, you ask? It varies from several times per week to several times per month, depending on how much and how often you play. Find more information on how to tune your drum kit in this blog.

When To Replace Drum Heads

Tip 3: Choose the correct drumheads

Drumheads can be divided into roughly two types: single-ply and double-ply. As you probably figured out, single ply drumheads consist of a single layer of material, while double ply refers to two layers of material. Double-ply drumheads are stronger and more resilient than single-ply skins and will last a lot longer. If you pick your drumheads based on lifespan, go for double-ply (or extra-strong single ply). Certain drumheads feature a dot in the centre, which essentially makes for an extra layer of material and thus, an extended lifespan. Bass drum skins can be fitted with special pads to reduce the impact of your bass drum beater. Please note, single-ply and double-ply drumheads differ greatly in terms of sound and despite boasting a longer lifespan, double-plies do not necessarily sound better. Here’s another quick tip: I personally play fills on my snare drum to spare the toms and I generally replace my tom and bass drumheads once a year, depending on the hours of hours it’s seen, my snare’s drumhead is replaced three to six times a year. So, how often do you replace your drumheads and how conscious are you in terms of durability? Let me know in the comments below!

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