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Resounding Reverberations:

The Strategy of Drumhead Replacement

by Lieutenant Kyron Newbury

As an instrument, drums are often misunderstood. Particularly in corps and church settings, many people think of drums as an instrument that is known to be loud, which is a true statement, but the idea of loud is interesting in and of itself. Something as simple as changing the heads on your drums can make a big difference in the sound as well as the perceived volume.


What Is Perceived Volume?

In the physical world, there are different ways for various sounds to have or project volume and this is what we refer to as perceived volume. This means that there are factors in a sound that make it sound loud or quiet to our ears. A quick example of this is pitch. A very low note played at a loud volume will be perceived more quietly than a high note at a loud volume. We could apply this concept to bass guitar vs. electric guitar, or tuba vs. cornet. There are a lot of ways perceived volume can change.


You Know More Than You Think

Another way that volume can be perceived is when something sounds bad. Believe it or not, even if you are not a drummer, you know what good drums sound like. We have listened to music on TV, radio, and various mediums for most if not all our lives, so we can recognize when something sounds good. Bad sounding drums where there is excessive ringing or even drums that are highly pitched can be perceived more loudly because they stand out more.


When Should You Change Heads?

With all of this in mind, we must consider when it is time to change our drumheads. I would suspect that there are many drum kits across our territory that need some new heads.


Along the side are pictures of what old drumheads can look like. Some heads have a slightly rough white coating on them which changes how they sound. These are simply called “coated heads.” In the case of the photos here, if the coating is in bad shape or flaking off, this is a sign that it is time for a new head. Dents are another issue to look out for as over time, it is possible that the head can become so dented that it loses the ability to produce a good sound. Another thing to look out for would be if the drumhead still has a simple brand logo on it. Companies often put the cheapest drumheads on a set to save manufacturing costs which means the heads that came with your drum set might not be the best quality, even if they are not dented and in good condition. These are called “stock heads.” You can massively upgrade your drum kit simply by investing in new drumheads, particularly if you bought a low-cost drum kit that came with stock heads.


What Does Changing Heads Accomplish?

Let’s swing back to the concept we discussed earlier regarding perceived volume. If your drums sound bad, then they stick out more and will be perceived as sounding louder. Unfortunately, loud drums are not fun to listen to long term. By changing the heads, we get a better sound, and we also bring down the pitch of the drums overall. This will help your drums fit in with your worship team and/or band. This will also help with ear fatigue.


How Much Do New Heads Cost?

Putting new drumheads on your kit can generally cost between $200 to $300. This will give new life to your set and will drastically improve your sound. Not only this, but drumheads tend to last for a long time, so this isn’t something you have to do often. Most heads that are only being played a few times a week can last up to 10 years and still have a great sound.


If you are looking to change the heads on your kit, the two major brands that are worth mentioning would be Remo and Evans. I have experience using both brands throughout my years of drumming and they are great. Lately, I have also been recommending another company called Aquarian. Their heads are made in America and are equal in quality to Remo or Evans but are priced far below their competition.


If you think you may be in need of new drumheads and you have questions or need advice on where to start, you can reach out directly to Music & Arts Ministries (Canada & Bermuda) or you can email me at

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