Buyers' guide: single-ply tom batter heads

3rd Feb 2009 | 14:12

5 heads under £14.00, 4 essential buying tips

One you've waded through the drumkit market and finally found your set-of-choice, fitting the right drum heads is the next step. After all, many people believe that it's the "head that maketh the drum."

Here's how to buy single-ply tom batter heads…

4 buying tips

1. Single-ply tom batters are usually of medium weight, generally made from a single 10mm film of Mylar. This is sufficiently strong for the average player of rock or jazz, while retaining a responsive tone, plenty of character and overtones, allowing a wide tuning range without choking or flapping.

2. Single-ply heads have greater resonance than double-ply or reinforced heads, but are not as hardwearing. Today they're so well made they rarely break or pull out, but if you're a heavy hitter you may find they lose their vitality and punch too quickly, in which case you should consider heavier, twin-ply heads.

"For a faintly darker, warmer, less ringy sound, go for a coated head. If you want a slightly livelier head, go for the clear version"

3. Single-ply heads are brighter and more open. Unlike with snare batters, most of which are coated for brush response, tom batters are just as often clear. For a faintly darker, warmer, less ringy sound, go for a coated head. If you want a slightly livelier head, ideal for much of today's music, go for the clear version.

4. Many drummers tension their tom batter heads for feel and the resonant sides for tone and projection. The same single-ply heads can be used as batters and resonant heads on toms and bass drums.

5 single-ply tom batter heads under £14.00

1. Remo Ambassador coated/clear
£12.10 (12")

starsRemo ambassador

Even more so than with snare drums, Ambassadors are the industry standard head for toms. Try coated for the traditional warm sound, or clear for a more contemporary bite. Like Ludwig's 400 snare, there isn't any earthly reason why Ambassadors should sound so good, but drummers keep coming back to them.

2. Evans G1 coated/clear
£13.25/£13 (12")

starsEvans g1

Evans made polyester plastic heads before Remo, but for many years suffered a lower profile. Today Evans is a genuine alternative, always beautifully made and thoughtfully designed. The distinctive pre-formed squared collar moulds to the bearing edge, while G1s produce a nice blend of warmth with moderate attack and good sustain.

3. Ludwig Weathermaster medium coated
£13.50 (12")

starsLudwig weathermaster

Ludwig has produced its own Mylar heads right from the start of the plastic head revolution in 1957. As other drum companies such as Premier and Sonor gave up making their own brand heads, Ludwig soldiered on. There are coated, smooth white and clear versions, which make good alternatives to Remo's Ambassadors.

4. Aquarian Classic clear
£11.29 (12")

starsAquarian classic

Aquarian's answer to the Ambassador Clear is a cleverly engineered head. The Sound Curve collar design helps the head to sit on the bearing edge with no wrinkles, even at low tension, while the triple-locking system ensures the head cannot pull out. Available in glossy black or with a white power dot.

5. Attack Terry Bozzio Signature medium coated
$10 (12")

starsAttack bozzio

Terry's Mylar heads have a different collar from other Attack heads, described as more 'bongo-like'. The coating is also more sparse and tactile. The result is an elastic feel and a warm tone, offering a broader dynamic range.

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