Snare drumhead – what kind to choose?
First, the snare drumheads are divided into upper and lower (resonant). Each of them has a different function and we select them so as to obtain the optimal snare tone.
1. Bottom or resonant drumhead.
Its task is to transfer the vibration of snare strings as accurately as possible, which is why resonance tension should be relatively thin and sensitive.
Much depends on kind of the snare strings we have – the quality, thickness, quantity and material of which they are made.
For this reason, the thinner the tension resonant drumhead theoretically the better, but it may turn out that too thin a string will not sound the best – springs may sound too sharp, even unnatural when you put on too thin resonant head. What thickness should be chosen optimally?
The unit for the thickness of the drumhead is the so-called mil (1mil = 1 thousandth of an inch).
Resonant snare drumheads come usually in 2mil, 3mil, and 5mil thickness. If your snare drum is too loud, you can turn it down using a thinner resonant head (2mil), while a thicker head will add more noise (5mil). On the producent’s website you can easily find information about the thickness and sound properties of a given resonant drumhead.
The most versatile resonant head is: Remo Ambassador Clear Snare Side or Evans Hazy300. I personally use Remo Ambassador Clear Snare Side (it provides me bright-balanced sounding).
2. Upper drumhead, i.e. the one we hit.
It is decisive due to the sound of the snare drum.
The best known are 3 companies that manufacture upper and lower (resonant) drumheads: Remo, Evans and Aquarian.
The upper snare drum drumheads are divided into 2 groups, and each of them into two, i.e.
That is one-layer and two-layer strings.
Each of them can be further divided into suppressed and not, so in total we have:
-single-ply with muffling
-double-ply with muffling
Snare Drumheads can also be divided into Clear and Coated (surface of drumhead), but most often we use drumhead with coated surface.
A thinner (single-ply) string provides a more natural sound with less drumhead interference in the character of the instrument.
Not muffling drumhead gives a more open, hum-rich sound. Drumhead attenuation – such as using a hoop inside the drumhead – trims unwanted hums for a cleaner sound (muffling head).
Double-ply drumheads are characterized by a more compressed sound, which often improves the attack and gives a more uniform sound.
There are also various combinations of snare drumheads types and models, e.g. Vintage, Powerstroke etc.
The most popular and universal for me upper drumheads I’ve used for years are:
-Single-Ply Remo Ambassador Coated (the most popular and known as snare drum’s classic)
-Double-Ply Evans HD Dry.
I recommend you these two drumheads and depending on whether you want to “open” your snare more or give it a specific and clean sound, choose between the open Remo Ambassador sound and the compressed Evans HDD sound. But of course find your own best snare drumhead!