I’m a big fan of Remo drumheads. I’ve been playing them most of my drumming life. That’s not to say I haven’t tried other drumheads too. On occasion, I’ve tried Aquarian and Evans – both great brands and who make fantastic drumheads. But for some reason I always come back to Remo. My first kit came fitted with Remo Pinstripes which were very, very durable and suited my adolescent technique (hit them hard and make as much noise as possible). I’d love to try them again at some point but for the moment I like playing Remo Emperor drumheads, as well as Remo Ambassador and Diplomat drumheads. (Does anyone know why they chose those names? Something for another blog maybe…)
Old Heads Sound Meh...
Today, I’ve decided to replace the original Sonor ‘white medium’ drumhead (see below) which has been on my Sonor SQ2 snare since it was new, with a Remo Emperor drumhead. The Sonor drumhead is over 10 years old. Curiously, it’s actually made by Remo and I think it’s similar to an Ambassador head. Unfortunately though, due to its age, it’s sounding a bit lifeless. In addition, the powered coating has worn off so brushes don’t sound great. In spite of all this, the head is still in relatively good shape. It doesn’t have any dents and it’s still tuneable.
I’ve chosen a 14″ coated Emperor drumhead as the replacement because of its warmer tone and maximum durability. Remo explain their different product ranges on the box the heads come in (see below). It’s always worth taking these things into consideration when deciding which head to go for. And you don’t have to stick with one kind of head – you can also mix and match. For example, you could replace the top head with a coated Emperor the bottom head with a clear Diplomat, which has a brighter tonal quality.
Changing the Drumhead
First, using a drum key, I unscrew all 10 tension screws. I use the Sonor drum key that came with my drum kit, but the brand isn’t important. Most drums have square-topped tension screws so just use a standard drum key.
With all the screws loosened I remove the rim and lift off the old drumhead. I give the drum a quick inspection. It’s very clean; I can’t see any fluff or crud so there’s no requirement to get the duster out. I carefully run my finger along the the bearing edge to check for any dents (there aren’t any -phew!). Everything’s looking good.
Next, the fun part. I take the new Remo Emperor drumhead out of the box and place it on the drum, pressing down a little to make sure it’s seated properly. Then I reposition the rim and tighten the tension screws in the order explained in the diagram below. I’ll do a blog about tuning a snare drum another time. (Hint: there are a ton of videos on the subject on YouTube).
So, has it made any difference, I hear you say. Absolutely. Here’s the thing: my Sonor SQ2 snare drum is a £900 drum. It should sound amazing, but the old drumhead wasn’t doing it any favours. The Remo 14” coated Emperor completely brought the drum back to life. It sounds fuller and warmer, but it also has great attack. The truth is, drumheads play a huge part in the sound of any drum. If your drums are sounding a bit lifeless then it could well be time to replace the heads and Remo Emperors are a good place to start.