What is a resonant head? The short answer is: a resonant head is the bottom head on the drum which helps add tone and reverberation to the drum. But how can we decide what is the best resonant head for us and what qualities should you look for when you are buying one?
Let's dive in.
First of all, let’s understand what a resonant head actually does. As its name suggests, a resonant head is the one that resonates the sound created by the batter drum head. The batter head is the top head where the musician strikes the drum, and the bottom head is the resonant head that 'resonates' from the impact above.
Now let’s look at some of the characteristics of a good resonant head.
The thickness of your drum head really matters when it comes to producing quality sound. The thicker the bottom head, the better resonance you will get since there is more material for the sound to vibrate through.
This means if you are looking for a warmer, full and sustained sound, you will want to opt for a thicker resonant head. These are more appropriate for metal or hard rock where you want booming and sustaining toms.
Conversely, a thinner resonant head will produce a shorter sound that has quicker attack and low resonance. These would be a great choice for RnB or hip hop styles, as the short sustain suits the style more.
The quality of a good resonant head is that it gives its user a good control on the overtones. Overtones are generally created by thick drum heads and can be difficult to deal with during a recording session.
Nonetheless, experienced drum players use thick heads as these provide more options for tuning and sustainable tones. This is the reason you may see this sort of drum head being used in live performances.
Good resonant heads are available with built-in muffling. This means that the set has additional dampening around its edges. The purpose of muffling is to produce a more absorbed and sustained sound.
Another form of dampening used in resonant heads is in the form of a ring that is tightened around the outer edge of the drum. You can make your drum even less noisy by installing a dampening head around it. It is advisable to avoid reconfiguring your instruments as your own as this may result in an instrument malfunction.
Quality resonant heads have an extended lifespan. Usually, the resonant head of your drum is bound to last longer than the batter head. The only point when the resonant head’s wear out takes place is when they have been constantly used for several years. The first indication that your resonant heads have worn out is that the sound of your kit doesn’t remain the same.
When replacing your drum heads, it is advisable to take special caution and advice because this can change the entire configuration of your instrument set.
Resonant heads that come with a built-in vent work better because of the sound absorption. It is a matter of debate between musicians whether or not there should be a vent in the resonant hole. Some drum heads that don’t have a vent end up sounding too shallow or superficial.
Another good sign of good resonant drum heads is these are well compatible with other instruments of your set. Hence it is advisable to retain your existing resonant head even when you are planning to replace the drum set. Good resonant heads can endure long hours of practice and hence these are especially good for rehearsals.
Buying a drum head depends on the type of sound you want to produce and the kind of drummer you are. If you are a heavy hitter, you may need to purchase a double-ply head with built-in muffling.
Let’s look at some resonant heads suitable for your drum.
This resonant bass drum head features midrange and low-end resonant tones and it is available with a pre-cut 5-inch vent. It is built on a single ply of sheet and it is available in 18 inches to 26 inches.
This is a 22-inch white resonant drum head with a single ply of 6.5mil film. It has a fixed, internal overtone control ring. This product also comes with an additional feature of microphone port.
This resonant head features open resonant tones and is constructed on a single sheet. These drums are good for play with toms and are ideal for bass drums. These are available from 6 inches to 40 inches in sizes.
These are single ply, resonant bass drum heads that are equipped with a floating muffling system. Aquarian Drum heads coordinate well with the batter heads and do not require external dampening.
These drum heads are available in black and white colors, and both with and without vent.
These are bass drum heads which are made using a single ply of 10-mil film. They come with an externally mounted adjustable dampening system that allows the player to adjust the attack and the focus. This set comes in black color and it has a good aesthetic look.
Resonant drum heads come in a variety of types depending on the depth of the sound they produce. These drum heads essentially control the rhythm of the beats to create a sustained sound. You can purchase a suitable resonant head in light of the tips mentioned above.
Ben Heckler is a multi-instrumentalist and musician from Portland, Oregon. Currently Ben lives in Barcelona where he teaches drum lessons, writes and records original music for his band Sea Fuzz as well as playing drums for one of the biggest Beatles tribute bands in Europe, The Flaming Shakers.
Ben is constantly creating and composing various types of music, video, and artwork for a multitude of projects that come his way. He hopes to use his platforms to share, help and inspire others to create in their own ways.