What Animal Skin Is Used For Drums?


When choosing a drum to buy, one of the most important considerations is the type of drum head. Percussion instruments and hand drums go through different methods of manufacturing. However, when it comes to drum heads, there are mainly two choices available; animal skin or synthetic.

Modern drums commonly feature mylar (plastic) material rather than animal skin. However, looking back at 50 decades ago, calf skin was mainly used for most drum heads like the tom-toms and the snare drum. Others also used goat skin. However, due to cost implications, a shift towards plastic has been the order of the day.

The choice of the material of the drum head to go with is not just about the sound and ethical considerations. There are various things to considered one of them being the durability. At the same time, you should consider the quality and the maintenance of the drum head of your choice.  

What Is The Skin Of A Drum Called?

The skin of a drum is normally referred to as a drum head or drum skin. This is a membrane that is stretched over one end of a drum. In other drums, the membrane is stretched on the upper and the lower side. This is what is hit with a stick to produce sound.

What Materials Are Used To Make A Drum?

There are different parts in a drum and all of them are made of different materials. There are two main parts of a drum which are the shell and the head. The shell is usually made up different types of wood like; birch, maple and polar. The head is made of animal skin or synthetic material.

What Are Drums Used For?

Drums make part of musical instruments. Drums are hit with a drum stick to produce sound that brings steady beat in a song. A collection of different types of drums added together with cymbals make up a drum set or a drum kit. Drums give music a sense of feeling.

What Is The Bass Drum Skin Made Of?

Traditional drums were mainly made of animal skin. This is the origin of the name ‘drum skin’. However, technology has brought great difference in almost every sector of our lives and music hasn’t been left out. Although we still have real animal skin drums today. They are not as many as the synthetic drums are due to their cost.

Bass drums skins found in the market today are made of a certain plastic known as Mylar. Although you can still find a few bass drums made of animal skin, they are very expensive compared to the rest.

How Tight Should Drum Skins Be?

When it comes to tightening a drum, there is no standard rule. There are those who like tuning their drums really tight while others prefer a relatively tightness. Many experts advice drum users to make a personal judgment when it comes to tightening the drum skin. Always choose what you feel works well for your drum.

It is not wise to compare the tightness of your drum with any other drum sets as the threading on the lugs differs. When 1.5 turns may work for one drum, another might require less or even more to create the desire tension.

Do Bottom Drum Heads Matter?

The bottom drums head which is also known as the resonant head matters a lot. The resonant head responds to the hitting of the top head or the ‘batter’. Therefore, the bottom is as important as the top matters. For this reason, on should put into consideration the type of material to put on both sides.

The bottom drum head plays a very important role in controlling a drum’s sustain. This is because; this is the part that sends the air created by the vibration of the drum once the top has been struck. The back and forth of the air is what sustains the vibration of the top head.

How Often Should You Change Bass Drum Heads?

There is no standard rule set of how often the bass drum heads should be changed. There is a recommendation of always changing the drum heads every time you are about to start a new recording. This might not work for everyone. This is because, not everyone uses their drum sets as much and hence, they don’t often wear out.

The other general rule is replacing your drum heads after every six months. Just as the other recommendation, this one also works depending on how often the drum set is used. Therefore, just be alert and watch when your drum heads needs replacement.

Do Drum Heads Come With Both Sides?

Many drum heads come with both sides. The upper side is normally referred to as ‘batter head’ while the bottom side is referred to as ‘resonant head’. The two sides of the drum head might use the same material or you might choose the batter to be thicker than the resonant.

What are the best drum heads for metal?

Metal and all the other subgenres within that umbrella tend to be a bit different in tone as well as the sound. This means, the drums used must also be a bit different. Drum heads for metal should be thicker with a two ply or so to allow hard hitting without the fear of damages.

Why Do Drummers Only Use One Tom?

Removing one tom and preferring to use one tom is a trend that has been there since mid-1960s. This trend was mostly used by jazz players. This is because; one rack tom gives room for the player to place their ride cymbal close to their right hand. Although many drum sets comes with two toms, many people tend to remove one and use just one.

At the same time, it makes it easily portable even when you are travelling for a gig or a recording. A single tom also allows the player to be a position of playing different sounds and tones.

How Tight Should A Snare Drum Head Be?

According to many experienced drummers, the snare-side or the bottom side of a snare drum needs to be tensioned very tight. Although it might seem like you are ruining your drum, better results demand an extremely tight bottom head. This is because of the different sound expected to be produced by a snare drum.

Unlike the toms, a snare drum is expected to release a tight and bright sound and not long sustained resonance. The tightness is also brought about by its need or responding to the bottom head. The resonance should however not be as tight as the batter.

Drum Head Companies

There are different small companies that manufacture drum heads across the world. However, there are several that have been known over the years as the best drum head manufacturers. These include:

  • Remo
  • Imperial drums
  • Evans
  • Kentville Drums
  • Aquarian
  • Attack and
  • Kalfo.

Drum Head Parts

There are two drum head parts of a drum. The upper part which is also known as ‘batter’ is the main head. The lower head is also known as ‘resonance’ and it is equally important as the batter. In most drums, the batter is a bit thicker than the resonance for durability.

 What Is A Drum Wrap?

Drum wraps are drum covers that have been created to recover drums. This means, they cover the body of your drum to protect it from tear as well as giving it a better look. There are many companies dealing with drum wraps and they all use different techniques in creating them.

There are multiple materials being offered as drum wraps while other companies manufacture real drum wraps. The most common materials sold as drum wraps are sparkly diner-chair upholstery vinyl and self-adhesive vehicle/sign vinyl. When choosing the best drum wrap, look at the material used and the thickness to ensure you get top quality product.

Conclusion

In the past, drum heads were purely made from animal skin. Different animal skins were used for this purpose many of which were domestic animals. Animal skin drums are made from hides of cows, goats and other livestock. Apart from these livestock hides, people also made drum heads using the skin of fish or reptiles. However, this is rarely used in the present days.

Although animal skin drum heads are not very common today, you can still find a few. Today, people use goat skin, calf skin and many others especially in making African djembes.

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