So your snare drum head is pretty beat up and it’s time to replace it? You’ve got a bunch of options to choose from, and each choice is going to give you a different sound. In this snare drum head guide, we’ll discuss your options for materials. It’s always best to choose a quality brand – A Remo, Evans or Aquarian for example – no matter what material you select to grace your drum head. Once you decide to stick to quality products, the exact skin you choose depends on the sound you want to make.
Here are the most common types of materials used on snares along with the musical styles they are used with most often.
Most factory heads are single ply and the most popular are the Evans G1 heads and the Remo Ambassadors. The sound is crisp on contact and the volume in loud. You’ll notice high overtones from a single ply snare drum head and a piercing attack with excellent projection.
Single ply heads are easier to tune for bright tones and more difficult to tune down for lower, more rumbling notes. The cause of this is the thinner, more flexible single ply construction that moves the air within the snare drum more quickly.
Musical Styles: Rock, Metal, Funk
Double Ply or 2 Ply Heads
These are often considered an upgrade because they offer more tuning options, especially on the low end. You don’t get the same sharp overtones, but depending on your style and the musical genre you’re playing, the trade-off might be worth it. Some of the most popular 2 ply heads on the market on the Evans G2 and the Remo Emperor or Pinstripe.
With a double ply head, you’ll notice a slightly dulled attack. Thick 2 ply heads are not as loud and don’t have as much sustain as single ply heads. Again, what you gain on the upside is a more controlled sound that you can tune to your customized preferences.
Musical Styles: Rock, Jazz, R&B, Pop, Country, Praise
For better sound control, some drum head skins are made with a circle of secondary material in the center. This is often called a "dot." The effect is to dampen the sound and produce richer tones with a less crack. Remo Black Dot are among the most popular of this type. Muted heads also last longer than single ply heads.
Musical Styles: Good for use with any genre when piercing attack is NOT required.
Coated Vs. Non-Coated
When selecting the right snare drum heads you’ll also have coated and non-coated (clear) options. Some of the most popular coated snare heads include the Remo Emperor X, the Attack Terry Bozzio and the versatile Evans Genera G1. A coated head will deliver a richer, slightly dampened sound with less attack and volume. Coated heads make it easier to achieve the sound you want, especially if it is lower and fatter.
Non-coated or clear heads are fast, crisp and snappy. They also tend to be louder with better projection.
The right head is the quality snare drum head that makes you a better drummer, given the music you are playing and the way you specifically like to play. Use this guide to choose your next head for your snare drum. With experience you’ll soon know the type, brand and make of the right snare drum head for your signature drumming style.