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Cleaning drum heads

Phildrummer

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How many of you clean up the heads from time to time? The difference between those 2 pictures is soap and water. In fact if we clean the heads after each session, they stay almost white forever. Don't know if you care. I do.
 

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drumstuff66

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Big difference!

I'll do front bass drum heads every few gigs, but that's it. I do recall cleaning up a few heads on drums i was selling though.

Wonder if some might feel that the dirt and grime is the head's "patina" and don't wanna mess with it?
 

frankmott

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i have used a mr. clean magic eraser to remove unwanted script on new heads

I like the look of a well-worn coated head. Though the OP's example is a bit too worn. I'd be inclined to replace it.
Does the Magic Eraser work on the logo of coated heads? Big logos are a pet-peeve of mine. I remove them from cymbals and non-coated heads -- even front BD heads. Acetone works great. I'll fly a band logo or nothing.
 

TonyVazquez

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I used to clean my heads during
the first month since new out of box.
After that, I let usage take its course.
I get tired of being meticulous about
new drum heads.

Stains are easier to clean, but sticks
will scuff and mark the head like
they're meant to do that.

Clear and smooth heads are easier
to clean right away while they're
still new.
Coated heads can get the mild soap
and water treatment.

I leave the logos off my reso heads;
especially the kick drum reso head,
because the logo interferes with the
artwork for my band logo.

If I'm about to sell an individual drum
I just leave the head as is.

Recently I've been trying to get into
the habit of hitting my toms as
dead-center as possible.
I use the stick marks as a reference
to keep my strikes in the center
of the head, unless I want a rimshot
effect from the toms.
Tom rimshots are rare with me...

...I've heard it being said that a good
drummer is judged by the stick
marks on the center of tom heads
as a sign of aim and focus technique
for good tom sound.
So, I leave the stick marks alone.
That's kinda braggy or showoffy,
but hey you worked hard for your
music therefore you deserve to
show evidence of your dedication.
 

burgundy

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I like the look of a well-worn coated head. Though the OP's example is a bit too worn. I'd be inclined to replace it.
Does the Magic Eraser work on the logo of coated heads? Big logos are a pet-peeve of mine. I remove them from cymbals and non-coated heads -- even front BD heads. Acetone works great. I'll fly a band logo or nothing.
i used it on a coated head to remove a brand name, to be replaced with a ludwig logo. little bit of water and sneek up on it.
 

hsosdrum

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Never cleaned a drumhead in my life; never will (although I might try that Magic Eraser trick and if it works I'll use it to remove the brand logos from my front BD heads). Cymbals are a different story. I like clean cymbals and I cannot lie...
 

wayne

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Touchy subject, but it depends what you are cleaning. A spilled beer and chocolate cake you clean off, but age,smoke,time, sticks, and thats a good thing and brush use,....leave it alone. It has taken a long time to get there
 

1988fxlr

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I’ve cleaned old bass drum resonant heads that I wanted to reuse, otherwise I don’t bother. I do find that when I’m using cymbals that are clean my heads don't start looking dirty
 

JimmyM

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I have tried but been unsuccessful and just made it look ugly. I once tuned my snare not realizing I had a glob of oil on my finger and put a dark mark in front of every lug. Everything I tried made it worse.
 

JDA

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little bit of windex and a paper towel will keep a snare head looking sharp; wouldn't do it to any other drum but a snare ;
 

TonyVazquez

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I have tried but been unsuccessful and just made it look ugly. I once tuned my snare not realizing I had a glob of oil on my finger and put a dark mark in front of every lug. Everything I tried made it worse.
Oil? Try some Palmolive dish soap
and running hot water, gently
workin it off with clean fingers***
it should cut the oil right off.

***Sometimes a wet hand towel might
buff a rough texture into the drum head
leaving a scuff, especially on
smooth drum heads.
But a soft wet sponge may be
a little more gentle.
 

kb

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I just cleaned my 12/14 and 12/15 sets; re-headed the snares tho'...cleaned my most used cymbals too, and bought new clean sticks. I have to use wax on my sticks, which gets gunk all over heads, rims and cymbals

And, I use coated heads and play A LOT of brushes. My heads were absolutely filthy.
 
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DanRH

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I think I’ve cleaned two heads in the last 58 years, so that’s a hard no.
 

JimmyM

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Oil? Try some Palmolive dish soap
and running hot water, gently
workin it off with clean fingers***
it should cut the oil right off.

***Sometimes a wet hand towel might
buff a rough texture into the drum head
leaving a scuff, especially on
smooth drum heads.
But a soft wet sponge may be
a little more gentle.
It actually worked! Thx for the tip!
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I've used the Mr. Clean magic eraser to freshen up the heads a few times where there were cameras involved.

Don't over-do it though, with a bit of elbow grease these things will go through the white coating in less time than you'd think...
 

TonyVazquez

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It actually worked! Thx for the tip!
Glad it worked out for you.

That's how I clean pinstripes, ps3,
and smooth mylar resos and batter
heads if any oil gets on them.
That also goes for vaseline, too.
AND Grease pencils, for those of
you who write your setlist on
the drum head! LOL

I use either one of two
cleaning methods

1. Submerged method:
For drums up to 16" diameter
I place them in a plastic tote bin
(the bin must NOT have holes
or cracks in it, and must not be
brittle or aged)...

...place the bin
in a shower stall or bath tub...

...fill the bin with hot water.
The water should be a hot temperature
that your hands can tolerate for
a few minutes while submerged.
Wear rubber dishwasher gloves...

...squirt a dash of Palmolive dish soap
into the water and whip the water
until it suds.
Let the heads sit in the water for
just 5 to 10 minutes...

...then use a soft sponge to GENTLY
wipe the drum heads wherever they
are stained with oil, while the head
is still under water.
Do NOT scrub the head or else the
sponge will scuff a texture onto
the drum head...

...Remove the heads from the bin,
and rinse with cold water to get
the soap off.
Then gently towel dry the heads.
There should be NO water anywhere
along the rim of the drum head,
Inside and Outside the rim.
Then let the drum heads air-dry.

There should be no more oil stains
on the head.


2. Spot-clean method:
Apply a gob of Palmolive dish soap
onto the oil-stained area.
Let sit for 5 minutes.
Then GENTLY wipe the soap away
with a soft sponge moistened in
hot water.
The oil stain should be gone.
Rinse the head with cold water,
and gently towel dry to make sure
there's no water along the rim.
Let the head air-dry.

If ya got no Palmolive, mild soap
will suffice.
The soap cuts grease, oil, and
Vaseline petroleum jelly.
If the oil is anything like Motor oil,
then hit it with the Palmolive until
the motor oil is gone.

Folks will ask,
"Why spill oil on the head, anyway?"
"Why is the head placed near
any chance of getting oil stains?"

REASONS:
1. Accidents, and Clumsiness Happens.

and

2. We drummers often lubricate our
pedals right in our laps or on the
snare drum as a quick "work bench".
Say it ain't So! lol

and

3. Your own oily skin, and gig sweat,
can leave oil stains and
Finger prints on the drum heads.
Those weird "dots" of dirt and sweat
come from your forehead, arms,
and hands during a show, and that's
when you're at the most greasiest.
 

audiochurch

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Not against trying it, but I just dont have the time. I am blessed to be playing a lot lately, and my drums stay either in my car or in the garage, ready to gig.

But man, my snare/snare head has at least 70+ hours of rock gigs of use. Can definitely use a cleaning.
 

Stickclick

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I used to wipe my heads with a damp sponge but I noticed rust appearing on the rims so I don't use the wet sponge anymore.
 

Tama CW

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When you get drums with 40-60 year old heads on them they are usually awful looking. I'd prefer not to continue to move that grime around into my other clean
heads and cymbals. I've cleaned a couple dozen heads in the past few years. Dawn and the rough side of a greenie pad. I scrub with considerable pressure. And usually get all the black and
brown off the heads so that they are a white/yellow tint. Be careful though because too hard a cleaning or too often and you'll start to flake off any coating on the head.
Takes about 3-5 minutes total.
 
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