A great bass drum head can make or break your drum kit. They have a notable impact on the overall sound of your drums and determine how you pay. There are no shortages of great bass drum heads available on the market today, each one with a unique sound. Since music is subjective, it's not easy to find the best bass drum head in 2021. For a lot of drummers, several bass heads hold that title, and we'll be showing you how to find drum heads that'll evoke that same feeling.
If you’re an experienced drummer, you know exactly what you’re looking for. However, if this is your first replacement, you might want to consult the guide after the drum head review to learn about how to pick drum heads.
Comparing the Best Bass Drum Head Replacements for 2021
Replacing your bass drumhead is akin to replacing your instrument altogether. Drum heads can influence the tone, sound, and feel of your entire kit. No bass head lasts forever no matter how reliable or old. They are bound to break sooner or later, and if you've never picked out a replacement before, finding the right one for you on the very first try can be tricky.
Luckily, in this guide, we break down the entire process. From the number of ply heads to tone. Hopefully, by the time you're picking out your next bass head, you'll know exactly what to look out for!
What To Look Out for When Buying Bass Drum Heads?
The sound is the biggest factor when choosing a bass head for your kit. If you're familiar with it, it'll complement your setup, if not, it could force you into another play style.
Drum heads, generally speaking, are divided into two categories: batter heads, and resonant heads. Batter heads go on snares, and other drums you hit, while resonants go on the bottom. Resonants resonate in different ways and are thinner than a batter head, which is responsible for the majority of their sound.
All drum heads, regardless of whether they're batter heads or resonants, produce an overall tone that is warm or bright. Bright are higher-pitched, and warm are darker and robust.
Your choice of sound affects the overall sound, overtones, and pitch of your drums while you play.
Drum Head Plies
Drum heads come in varying levels of thickness. Some are thicker than others, and some drum heads have several layers stacked on each other to produce a distinct sound. Drum heads manufacturers use different materials, and those that use one layer of material are called single-ply drum heads. Drum heads that have more than a single layer or ply are called double-ply heads.
The number of layers a drum head has also contributes to its overall sound. Single-ply heads are typically brighter and more sensitive. They produce more overtones, which depending on your style, can be both good or a bad thing.
Double-ply drum heads are warmer and have more depth and urgency to them. They are more durable and produce fewer overtones. Triple-plies are not that popular because they tend to come out a bit flat.
Coated or Clear
Another trick that manufacturers use to increase the thickness of a drum is by adding a coating. Coated bass heads tend to be warmer, muffle overtones, and have a slight bounce to them when you play. Clear drum heads are brighter and don't muffle overtones. They feel more sharp, clear, and urgent.
Portholes are an extra add-on for drummers who do a lot of recording or want their sound to travel farther. A porthole is a small 5-inch hole at the right corner of your bass drum head. It also gives your bass head a little more attack and makes it sound brighter.
They also serve as an access port for drum microphones and stage mics during live performances. Getting up close and personal allows the mics to pick up so much more, and it can greatly improve the audience’s experience.
What Other Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Bass Drum Head?
You should keep an eye out for the overall price of the drum head you’re purchasing. There are a variety of options currently available on the market, all of which are priced differently. Take care to compare and contrast products before committing to any purchases.
Achieving Your Desired Sound
If you find it hard picking a bass drum head, consider choosing a professional product for the genre you're into! If you are a worship drummer, ask around for the bass head that your favorite band uses, etc. It will help you work out what you like before you decide what is best for you!
Bass Drum Head FAQ
Q: Do bass drum heads make a difference?
A: Most bass drum heads differ immensely from each other. Variations in coating, materials, and so much more contribute to the sound and can make a bass head sound warmer, or bright.
Q: How long do bass drum heads last?
A: A good set of drum heads will last you anywhere between six months and four years, depending on how you play.
Q: Should I put a blanket on my bass drum head?
A: Over time, every bass drum head loses its sound. Adding a muffling element, whether it's a pillow or blanket, to the bottom of the drum introduces more control of the airflow and resonance.
Q: Can you reuse old bass drum heads?
A: Yes, you can. They won't just sound as good as you want them to. The quality degrades quickly over time, and reusing an old head might make the drum sound flat.
Q: Can you paint your drum head?
A: Yes, you can, though most don't apply paint on their drum heads. They use lightweight stickers because they don't affect the tone of the drum. However, it is possible to paint your drum head if you have the right tools and expertise.
Derek is a professional musician who specializes in percussion and works with the independent WGI group Cap City Percussion. With a Bachelors of Music from Capital University, specializing in Music Industry studies, he consistently finds himself playing and teaching percussion to anyone who has the will to learn. Derek is also a former member of DCI groups Legends (2014-15) and Colts (2016-18); he is also the percussion technician and instructor of the drum line at Olentangy High School. You may find him playing a gig throughout the greater Columbus, Ohio area.