Largest drum in the world: Ireland Millennium Drum, 15.5’ diameter, 6.25’ thick.

Remo Inc., 28101 Industry Drive, Valencia, CA 91355, Tel: 661-294-5600
REMO sales representative Chris Wakelin ( (661) 294-5682)
R&D department: Louie Cavallaro

Columbus Percussion, 5052 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214; phone (800) 775-7372,  (614) 885-7372
Owner: Jim, experienced drummer
Sales: Casey

Drum tuning website:

Drum playing video samples:

   Because of the humidity and temperature instability of old-style calf and goat skin, modern drumheads are made of Mylar® (polyethylene terephthalate) or Kevlar® (poly para-phenyleneterephthalamide) polyester film which retains its tuning under adverse playing conditions, and current textures emulate the natural skin sound and feel.
   You can get a good idea of what type of sound you will get when comparing drum heads by simply tapping them while unmounted.

   Drumheads are available in three thicknesses: thin (7.5 mil), medium (10 mil) and thick (14 mil, 2 ply). In comparison, Glad Wrap is 2.5 mils thick and nitrile surgical gloves are 15 mils. Remo names are virtually generic--if you go into a drum store and ask for an Ambassador-weight head, whether Remo, Evans, Ludwig, Attack, Aquarian, or whatever, you’ll get their equivalent-thickness head.
   Thin batter (top) heads have more overtones and sound brighter, with longer sustain, and may also be used for less-critical resonant (bottom) heads on toms and bass drums, but a snare-drum resonant head (“snare head”) is much thinner.
   Thick heads dampen (“wet”) the ringing of overtones, like hitting a pad of paper rather than a single sheet, thus making thick heads “darker” (fewer overtones) and less noticeable if out of tune.

Durability vs. Sensitivity
   The thicker the head, the more resistant to denting, but less responsive to light hits. Medium heads, the most often factory-equipped, are a good compromise, offering good sensitivity and durability.
   Durability is better with Kevlar® heads, or with two plies (Remo Emperor), or Remo’s Controlled Sound and Ludwig’s Silver Dot with reinforcement dots in the center.

Coated, Clear, and Textured Heads
   Early smooth plastic heads received a rough-texture spray coat on the heads to accentuate the "swish, swish" sound when brushed, but as interest in brush playing waned, transparent heads became the norm. Recent drummers have rediscovered the slightly muted sound that the coating provides.
   New plastic laminates such as those employed on Remo’s FiberSkyn and Renaissance heads also provide the sound and tactile response of natural calfskin heads.

Tinted Heads
   Blue- and black-tinted heads sound darker than clear heads of equal thickness.

Hydraulic Head
   Two-ply heads encapsulating a thin layer of oil sound very muffled; when played without a resonant head they have the ‘70s "cardboard box thud” sound.

Heads with Dots
   Dots add thickness and durability to batter heads and reduce overtones. On snare drums, they enhance low-end frequencies and produce a "tubby" sound. On toms, they improve "focus," distinguishing each drum and each note clearly.
   Most circular “zero rings” are made of drumhead material and are affixed to the perimeter of the batter head or crimped into the hoop; they work well on all drums but really shine on bass drums. The Remo PowerStroke™3, Evans EQ, Aquarian Super-Kick™, and Pearl ProTone EQ (standard on Export and Export Select) sound great and don’t require pillows or blankets for dampers!

Resonant heads
   The resonant (bottom) heads on toms and kick bass drums tend to be thin to medium (Ambassador) thickness to maximize sensitivity and resonance. Generally speaking, a resonant head adds richness to the sound; without it, the batter head sounds “tinnier.” In small drums, doubling the length of the shell gives roughly the same effect as adding a resonant head to the shorter drum.
Bass drum resonant heads often have a hole for microphone placement and to allow air to escape, giving more "thud;" the larger the hole, the greater the "thud," the smaller the hole, the longer the sustained "boom." A hole diameter larger than 7” is the same as having no resonant head.

Skin Sounds:
Open: Resonant, ringy
Bright: A clear head gives this sound; more stick-attack sound; typical of snares.
Warm: Low pitched, some sustain but no wailing overtones; a coated head sounds warmer than a clear.
Fat: Thick, deep, slap sound produced by hydraulic heads like the REMO pinstripe.

Marching Snares



High Tension

Standard Tension



WHITE MAX (KS-261X-00)*

POWERSTROKE 77 (P7-031X-00)

PINSTRIPE Clear Crimplock (PS-03XX-MP)

FALAM Snare Side (KL-021X-SA)

AMBASSADOR Snare Side (SA-031X-TD)


Concert Band



Concert Snare

Concert Toms

Concert Bass






AMBASSADOR Snare Side (SA-011X-00)



Stage Band Drumset









AMBASSADOR Coated (BA-011X-00)

POWERSTROKE 3 Coated (P3-11XX-C2)

AMBASSADOR Coated (BA-011X-00)




AMBASSADOR Snare Side (SA-011X-00)



To reduce overtones and shorten sustain on a batter head, you can use duct tape in an asterisk (*) pattern on large drumheads, masking tape, taped folded tissues, adhesive-backed foam insulation tape, strips of felt, or rubber furniture glides stuck to the bottom of the batter head.
   Commercial Mylar “zero rings” made to set on batter heads up to 18” provide a punchy, fat sound. Remo offers round, clear Mylar, adhesive patches to be applied under the batter head, either in the center to lower the fundamental pitch, or midway between the center and the edge to reduce ringing. These are not a dealer item and can only be special ordered from Remo by phone or email.
4-3/4” for 12” drumhead: 01-6200-49
5” for 14” drumhead: 01-6200-58
7” for 16” drumhead: 01-6200-69
8” for 18” drumhead: 01-6200-79
10” for 22” drumhead: 01-6200-89

REMO (Weather King) Skin Thicknesses and characteristics:
Single Ply: Crisp stick contact sound, high overtone content, long sustain (“twang”); hard to tune to low pitch because of flexibility; least durable as a batter head but good for a resonant head.
   Two ply: Upgrade for batter heads; better punch at low end. Good for rock, pop, country, funk, soul, R&B, requiring powerful punch at low end. Less volume, shorter sustain, quieter stick rap content, and reduced overtones make them sound deeper. Easier to tune than single ply at lower pitch.
   Diplomat:  Single ply, 7.5 mil (Ludwig “medium”) (Timpani heads are always 7.5 mil)
   Ambassador:  Single ply, 10 mil (Ludwig “thick;” Evans “G1,” Aquarian satin texture coated)
   Emperor:  Two ply, 15 mil (Evans “G2”); coated sounds warm; Emperor       Renaissance has sound and durability of Fiberskyn
   Pinstripes: Two ply; clear, warm
   Powerstroke 3: Single ply
   Powerstroke 4, coated: Two ply, warm, heavy bass response; recommended for 18” Roto Tom
   Fiberskyn: Two ply (Mylar/Tyvek), 13 mil; sounds like old, calfskin, jazz/big band heads—slightly muted, very round and warm, few overtones, pure tone. Used for top and bottom to provide a nice, low-end “oomf.”
   Bahia Bass: This drumhead has the deepest bass sound on any drum--profound bass, overtone-free, and comes in 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, 20” sizes to fit surdo drums, tan tans, floor toms, and pandeiros. It’s made of Dynamax vinyl—black naugahyde with simulated leather texture over 5 mil Mylar film. It is less durable than the Mylar heads if played hard with sticks rather than mallets.
   DX-0918-1V (18”) batter head, Dynamax, vinyl, Bahia Bass, MSRP $39.95

   Tom-Tom: Coated Emperor for the batter head, coated Ambassador for the resonant head.
   Kick Drum: Use a clear Powerstoke 3 (smooth white) head with a flam slam patch for the batter head and an Ebony (black) Powerstroke 3 for the resonant side—no muffling needed for a deep, fat sound. For a warmer tone, use Emperor or clear Ambassador rather than Ebony.
   Snare Drum: Use coated Emperor X on the top, and Ambassador hazy snare on the bottom. Tune batter head to B flat, snare side a perfect fourth lower.  
   Roto Toms: Invented by Remo but widely copied, Roto Toms have open-frame construction with no resonant head or shell, and are made from 6”-14” diameter (16” and 18” have been discontinued); racks holding 6”, 8”, and 10” are the most common. Heads are tuned over an enormous range by rotating the frame. Projection is the same as a shell drum with a resonant head.
Roto Tom Timpani heads (6.4 mil, #TI-0308-00 through TI-0318-00) are fine for mallets, but dimple faster with sticks. For rock, use Pinstripes (7 mil, 2 ply). On certain pitches, Ambassador and Diplomat heads ring and need muffling.
   Buffalo Drums: The Remo 22” buffalo drum is the lowest-pitched hand-held frame drum. It has a 13 mil Fiberskyn head. Its fundamental pitch may be lowered further with Remo flexible Mylar patches stuck to the underside center of the head, or off-center to remove ringing (sustain).
BEARING EDGE: A sharp-angled bearing edge like 45 degrees allows more higher-pitched overtone resonance with harder “cut”. Rounder edges sound softer, mellower. Flatter edges interfere with the vibration (like laying a finger on the edge of the head), creating a “cardboard thud” sound. The bearing edge must be consistent, evenly chamfered, and the shell must be perfectly round. Check the edge by laying that drum edge on a flat surface and shine a light down into the shell and look for leaks. If there are any, have the edge re-cut; a new head won’t help.

   SHELL:  A thin shell with a smooth, unobstructed, interior surface is more resonant than a thick, rough shell.
   Soft woods like maple and mahogany add greater low-frequency resonance without affecting mid or high frequencies, giving it a rich, warm tone. Hard woods like birch and oak reduce low frequencies, making it sound “harder” and “brighter.” Beech responds between the soft and hard woods. Lower-cost drums generally use inexpensive woods, allowing a “punchier” sound which is actually better for recording.
   Synthetic shells like fiberglass are louder than wood and project clearer sound.

   DIMENSIONS: The larger the diameter of the drum, the lower the pitch; the shallower the shell, the less directional the sound. A long (deep) shell focuses the sound and provides more power as it approaches low-frequency resonance. Shallow shells create a shorter burst of tone as the sound arrives at the resonant head quickly, making the drum more articulate, and it also responds better to soft playing.

   HOOPS: Die-cast metal hoops are thick and strong, allowing more even tuning of the head and restricting the vibration of small, thin-shell drums, producing a drier sound.
   Triple-flanged (stamped) hoops are often thin, making tuning difficult, but often permit toms to sound “fatter” or “warmer” than die-cast hoops. Aluminum allows higher pitches than steel, delivering a better “crack” on a snare. Brass hoops make the drum more musical and aids high-pitched overtones.
Wood hoops can be either rigid or flexible, depending upon thickness and material, thus approaching the tuning characteristics of a cast hoop if rigid, or flanged hoops if thin.  However, the rim-shot sound acts like an extension of the shell, brighter and more resonant.

   LUGS: The more lugs, the more even the tuning; fewer lugs lead to fatter sound with more complex overtones. A little Vaseline on the rod threads helps reduce binding and corrosion.     

For more information on drums, contact:

   Set the drum on a flat, preferably carpeted surface with the resonant (bottom) head up. If initially installing a new batter head, finger-tighten first; then with a key, alternate the tightening to the same tension in opposite pairs (diametrically across the head). Tighten only to where a distinct pitch is heard; no further!
   Lightly tap with your finger around the head about 1” from the rim listening for out-of-tune rod tensions; tighten or loosen the rods accordingly until the low pitch is uniform.
   Tune the batter (top) head the same way, except slightly higher in pitch.

Concert Bass Drum
   Seat the head before playing to determine if it really needs any adjustment: Place your open palm in the direct center of each head, pressing into it with firm but short bursts. Adjustments need to be done to both heads equally. If the impact side sounds flabby, tighten it and the resonant side turn. If the impact side sounds tight with a very audible pitch, loosen it and the resonant side turn.
   With the drum turned horizontally and both heads loose, finger tighten each tension rod shaft on the batter (impact) head with thumb and index finger until natural tension occurs. Every turn from here on should only be in halves (180 degrees) or quarters (90 degrees) and executed sequentially in opposite pairs across the head to insure even tension all around the drum. Tighten in this manner until impact side is at “playing tension,” with some “give” as follows:
   Place both thumbs next to each other on the outer hoop with the fingers extended and touching the head. Press the head to flex at least a 1/8” to a ” inward. Any less than 1/8” of flex will tend to make the individual strokes of a 2-mallet roll audible, while single-note attacks may sound too harsh. Contrarily, any more flex than ” will tend to make a 2-mallet roll sound loose and flabby, while single-note attacks may seem to lack fullness or body. Tighten or loosen to achieve this “flex”.
   Now tighten the resonant head as above, single-stroking the drum until you hear a very low, distinct, fundamental pitch like a low “hum”. At this point, loosen, using only quarter turns all around, until the fundamental pitch is not noticeable. This is very important to utilize the drum’s maximum resonance.
   Play 6”-8” from the center to produce the most consistent and fully resonant sound the drum possesses.

MARCUS DE MOWBRAY’S TOUR TIMPS; 330 St. James's Road Studios, London, England  SE1 5JX
   Tour Timps sound virtually identical to conventional timpani, but are more easily assembled, dismantled, transported, stored, and affordable ($1000). They have fast pedal tuning and an easy-to-read tuning gauge. Tour Timps have been made in sizes from 18 inches to 40 inches, and at this writing are currently available as 32", 29", 26" and 23". A pair of them fit in the trunk of an average car. For quiet practice, a thin towel or card inserted into the drum shell substantially reduces the volume of sound without substantially altering quality.
   Tour Timps are more resonant than regular timpani and have a fundamental note one octave lower for richer bass; mallets one or two grades harder than conventional timpani mallets give better definition.
   Optional sound discs can be slid up and down the stand. Closer than 3" from the bottom of the drum, the fundamental tone will be eliminated, the resonance reduced, the response quickened, and a sharper tone will be produced making it remarkably similar to regular copper timpani.
   A Scientific American article describes how a copper timpani filled , and with water made no significant change in tone, corresponding to a 6" deep Tour Timp sealed at the bottom by a sound disc.