When to Change Drum Heads

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Musicians need to maintain their instruments as musical instruments tend to be costly. In addition to this, instruments require proper care and maintenance so that they keep producing the sound that they should.

Like guitars require tuning, drum heads need to be changed to sound good. It’s crucial to know when to change drum heads as the drum head is noticeably the main striking point of the drum set. The quality of the sound produced by a drum is determined by the quality of the drum heads. Whether you use a stick or hit it by hand, eventually, the drums start to weaken. When the drum head gets weaker, it will dent or may break, depending upon how hard you strike it. To make it easier for you to maintain your drum set, we’ve developed a helpful guide that tells you when to change drum heads.

What you need to know about drum heads

When the drum heads are uniformly tight, the tension is evened out on the whole drum. This is when the performance of the drum is at its peak. Over some time, the drum head weakens as you regularly practice and play on it. The weakened drum has a potential danger of breaking during playing or practicing. Before this event transpires, the sound quality of the drums will be poor as the drum head won’t be able to bear the hit of the drum sticks.

When to change drum heads

1)     There is no hard-and-fast rule as to when drum heads should be replaced. There are a variety of factors that come into play. The most crucial factor is how you play the drum. Some drummers are fast and energetic, whereas others are slow and careful. For instance, if you play the drums very often and hit them harder, then the heads will most definitely have to be changed often.

2)     Different drum heads wear out at different rates. The rate at which the drum head will wear out depends upon the drumming style. Many drummers hit the toms harder and more often than the snare. This will cause the tom drum head to wear out faster than the snare. The drummer’s style will determine which drum head will have to be replaced sooner. It isn’t necessary to change all the drum heads at once. They should be replaced only when needed to avoid wastage and expenses.

3)     The subject of when to change drum heads is considered to be a matter of preference for drummers. Some drummers tend to opt for beat-up drum heads because of the drier and deader sounds they offer. They choose this as it’s more appropriate for the particular genre they’re playing for. Other drummers prefer their drum sounds to be as fresh as possible. Therefore, how often a drummer wants to get the drum heads changed relies on their own preference. With time, you’ll be able to figure out what works for you.

4)     The coating of the drum head also matters. If you notice that the coating of the drum has started to wear off, it means that the drum head has been hit too hard or for too long. In this case, it is recommended that you change the drum head.

5)     If you’re trying to create a low-pitched sound but the drum doesn’t deliver the desired pitch because of a distorted sound, then this indicates that the drum head has been stretched out beyond its limits and there’s not much elasticity remaining. Hence, it is time to immediately replace the drum head.

6)     For those performing at events, the size of the venue determines the sound of the drums. The drum heads will be adjusted according to the sound desired by the musicians for that particular venue. Sounds that work for a small venue may not work for a large venue. Keeping this in mind, the drum heads should be replaced depending upon the venue.

7)    Some music instrument experts suggest replacing the bottom drum heads, which aren’t struck, every third time the top heads are replaced.

8)    Lastly, if you are tired of the same sounds and want to try something new, you can change your drums heads as that alters the sound that is produced.

For beginners, who are not sure when to change drum heads,  experts have suggested some rules of thumb:

1)     Replace drum heads before you start recording.

2)     Change drum heads every six months or so if you’re only practicing,

3)     Replace them if you notice any bumps or cracks.

4)     Change the drum heads if you notice they are worn out even before six months


If you wish to continue learning how to drum or make a successful career in it, make sure you learn how to care for your drum sets. The most important thing is knowing when it’s time to change the drum heads as it’s the most crucial part of drum maintenance. If you’re a beginner, you can follow the rules of thumb for now, but over time, you will be able to judge what is the best time to change the drum heads based on your preferences.

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