The search for the perfect drumhead can be endless. At Sweetwater, we carry nearly 1,000 different drumheads in various sizes, each with its distinctive sonic profile. So, how do you begin to narrow down the selection? Well, one of the first criteria for sorting is whether you want a head that is coated or clear since those are the two primary types available.
Deciding which type is right for you depends on many factors, including genre, live or studio application, how you hit the drums, and more. Most likely, you will use a combination of coated and clear drumheads across your kit. So, let’s take a look at the major differences between the two and discuss some applications.
Generally speaking, clear drumheads are brighter than coated heads with a sharper attack and longer resonance. As tom batter heads, clear drumheads deliver a sound that booms and blossoms; and, because of their lively, harmonically complex character, they highlight interval-based top- and bottom-head tunings and sound fantastic when you’re firing off multi-tom fills.
Clear drumheads are considered the standard for resonant tom heads and snare-side heads; and, as such, most drum kits will ship from the factory with clear resonant heads installed, regardless of whether the batter head is coated or clear (the inverse is generally true for kick drums). On kick drums, a clear batter head is ideal for when you want the kick to cut through a dense mix, making it a no-brainer for heavier styles of rock and contemporary pop.
All coated drumheads start their lives as clear drumheads, which is why you’ll often find heads with clear and coated versions. Take for example the Evans G2 14-inch clear drumhead and 14-inch coated drumhead, which, except for the latter’s coating, are the same drumhead. To make a coated drumhead, a clear head is sprayed with a texturized coating whose formula varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Even in appearance, coated drumheads have a vintage vibe; and, with their darker tone and truncated resonance, they’re a great match for revivalist rock, jazz, R&B, classic country, and all forms of Americana. On toms, coated heads are warm and thuddy on the batter side, and, on the resonant side, round and slightly muted. The same holds for kick drums. And, if you avoid burying the beater while playing coated heads, you’ll be rewarded with a fat and focused thump that would make Bernard Purdie proud.
Coated heads are almost exclusively used for snare batter heads with a few exceptions, including the eye-catching Remo Powerstroke 77 Colortone snare heads. For brushwork, coated heads are a must since some texture is required for the brushes to pull and push against.
Selecting between a coated drumhead and a clear drumhead is a great first step, but it’s just the beginning of the journey when it comes to creating a signature tone. We encourage you to experiment on your kit with different combinations of coated and clear heads. After all, a drum kit is a holistic instrument where every component, from the drumheads to the shells and the hardware, dynamically interacts. Need some help on your quest for the ultimate drum sound? Give our Sweetwater Sales Engineers a call at (800) 222-4700. They’ll be happy to chat with you about our vast selection of drumheads and all other things drum related!
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