Calfskin/Rawhide Drum Heads... anyone use them?

dirtysicks

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I’ve heard of them but never tried them. Came across this video and liked the sound on the snare. I’m sure they cost more but are they durable? How comparable is the life of these heads vs regular Mylar heads? What are the thoughts on this?

 

Prufrock

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I don't have experience with Majetone calf heads, but I do have calf heads on various drums. They provide a completely different sound and feel to mylar heads, even those that seek to imitate calf. Calf heads create a warm, rounded sound, but that doesn't mean they also cannot provide good articulation. Older drums that don't sound right with mylar heads (maybe sound too thin) suddenly become revelatory when a calf head is installed (which makes sense if the drums were designed when calf heads were the only ones available).

The main issues related to calf that most people mention are: 1. they are expensive, and 2. that they can cause tuning issues due to changes in humidity. They can be extremely durable (I have some that are 70 years old that are perfectly usable) assuming that they have not been abused. So calf heads are great if you want a warm, vintage sound, if you don't abuse your drum heads and like to keep them a long time, and if your drums are played in climate controlled environments. If you are a basher who plays back to back gigs in a desert and then a swamp, then they could be more problematic.

PS - I really like calf skins on bass drums!
 

multijd

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You might be interested in Kentville Kangaroo hide heads. They are natural skin with a great sound and are affected a little less by the weather than calf. Also there have been other threads on this topic recently. You might try searching for them for more perspective.
 

TPC

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After decades of using mainly mylar heads, I find calf heads sound too dead. I tried and tried to like them, but (particularly on toms and bass drums) no.

However, I have an old, steel Tama MasterCraft snare that sounded otherworldly with an old calf head on it.

dirtysicks - I bet that snare would sound very good with a thin calf head.
 

Tama CW

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I have calf skin heads on Slingerland bass drums from 1933 and 1958....they sound wonderful. No reason to try anything else. Wish I could get that big and deep sound out of mylar heads.
 

Marquisjohnson22

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After decades of using mainly mylar heads, I find calf heads sound too dead. I tried and tried to like them, but (particularly on toms and bass drums) no.

However, I have an old, steel Tama MasterCraft snare that sounded otherworldly with an old calf head on it.

dirtysicks - I bet that snare would sound very good with a thin calf head.
I definitely don't want to try them on toms/kick because I love the tone from Remo Ebony Emperors and CS Black Dot on the kick too much but I do think one would sound great on this snare.

I have calf skin heads on Slingerland bass drums from 1933 and 1958....they sound wonderful. No reason to try anything else. Wish I could get that big and deep sound out of mylar heads.
I have never tried them at all but I think it would sound too different than the tone I love from the mylar Ebony Emps from Remo.
 

Drumstickdude

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I purchased a Majetone calf head last November, I have it on my 60s slingerland artist snare, though I currently have it defined just a bit while it's not in use. I told him ( James) that it would have to be probably just a bit oversized so I could use it on my 40s Krupa RK so I just said can you make sure the hoop is the same size as a remo classic fit and he did. It just sounds like nothing else once I dial it in to its sweet spot I have it medium tight to quite tight so it sounds like buddy riches snare! The tension / sound changes due to humidity is not nearly as bad as I thought.
 

Castnblast

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I’ve got 25 year old calf heads top and bottom on a 50’s Leedy Ludwig. It’s the only drum I’ve ever used calf heads on and it is pretty sweet with brushes. Of the course the bearing edges are fat and round and I suspect that is part of the reason it works well on that drum. Something about clean, sharp bearing edges and modern drum builds that doesn’t seem to mix well with calf - although I may be totally wrong about that. enlighten me if I am ...
 

TrickRoll

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I have used them on the top of my snare and toms quite a bit. They sound wonderful at high, low, and medium tunings.

These days I use them on my snares for jazz gigs.

Weather is a factor as others have noted. I recently played an outdoor gig next to a lake. It was warm and humid, and by then end of the night the head was almost level with the top of the hoop! Indeed, as I was tightening it throughout the evening.

Calf heads mean keeping your tuning key handy!
 
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kb

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I used a calf head on my snare drum for a while in the '80's. Sounded very good, and excellent for brushes.

But, as I've related before, once I was sight reading a Broadway type show. We were up in a loft over the stage. The head kept getting tighter and tighter, and thinner and thinner sounding, but there was nothing I could do about it....
 


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