The 3 Main Bass Drum Head Combos - What are the differences?

Cauldronics

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There seem to be 3 main bass drum head combinations used by most drummers, and the rest are subcategories of them. There’s Remo, Evans and Aquarian and from those, it’s usually PS3 batter with an ambassador front, EQ3 with Emad front, and Superkick 1 or 2 with a Regulator front.

Of course, the combinations are more widely varied and mixed and matched than that, but for the purpose of discussion I’m keeping it to those combinations. If your head combo falls roughly within the lines, feel free to take part.

Over the years I’ve dabbled in several different head setups but have mostly kept to a PS3 and some kind of medium weight front head with minimal or no dampening. I tried an SK1 for a bit, then an SK2 and didn’t like them. As I remember, they lacked tone somehow. It’s been a long time so if I tried one today I might like it. Who knows.

I’ve tried Evans but never a bass drum head because I never got to liking their tom heads enough.

For anyone who’s spent a good amount of time with at least two of these combos, what can you say are the differences between them and what made you stick with one over the others?

I’m realizing I haven’t spent enough time on some of the classic head combinations to get an idea of what’s good or bad about them.
 

Tornado

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Sometimes things get chosen for you by store availability. My 22" has a clear PS3 Black Dot batter and a black EQ3 reso. I wanted both the rings and a port, and the EQ3 is what Guitar Center had in stock. I use a kickpro pillow in the drum with it oriented "north/south" so that it's just touching both heads. Reso tuned up, batter a bit lower. I couldn't ask for a fuller, punchier, beefier sound.
 

NobleCooleyNut

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I noodled in the past with the Aquarian and Evans combos and have gone back to the Remo P3 coated with CS dot batter with ideally a smooth white P3 resonant side . This is such a great combination and needs little of any additional muffling , yet it doesn’t sound choked or plasticy . It is very versatile as well .
 

Houndog

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Super Kicks don’t have any tone in my opinion .
I think an EMAD batter has more punch than a PS3 ….
Reso heads I have no opinion on .
I’ve had good results with a few different heads there .

I have an EQ4 batter on a 20” that reminds me of PS3 ….
 

Cauldronics

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In the last 5 years I tried the PS3 black dot on a 70’s Imperialstar and it wasn’t a good sound. It was louder and more midrange focused, but not what I was looking for. I think it had much more to do with the drum than the head, though. I’d like to try that head on a drum I like more than that one.
 

Houndog

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In the last 5 years I tried the PS3 black dot on a 70’s Imperialstar and it wasn’t a good sound. It was louder and more midrange focused, but not what I was looking for. I think it had much more to do with the drum than the head, though. I’d like to try that head on a drum I like more than that one.
I’m thinking the black dot might be responsible for all that midrange ???
Heck I could be wrong …I’ve always equated a dot with more attack
 

Seb77

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Unless you are an endorser, imo there is no need to match the brands of batter and reso head. I think we should rather compare batter heads, PS3 vs. Emad etc. if used with the same reso head. Maybe we could discuss reso heads along the same lines, what they do if the batter head stays the same.

I like a PS3 batter for a clean sound, but I also use a bit of padding inside the drum to kill reflections, which also touches the batter. Ported ambassador plus felt strip on the reso side. I have also used single ply heads without built-in muffling plus the same padding which was a bit noisy. On the other hand, something like an EMad or SK, or a more muffled reso head, would be too much muffling within that scheme of using some padding inside the drum.
 

Cauldronics

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I’m thinking the black dot might be responsible for all that midrange ???
Heck I could be wrong …I’ve always equated a dot with more attack
Yeah it was the dot making it go “pock” instead of “thump” but I can think of one or two of my bass drums where that would work.
 

Cauldronics

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Unless you are an endorser, imo there is no need to match the brands of batter and reso head. I think we should rather compare batter heads, PS3 vs. Emad etc. if used with the same reso head. Maybe we could discuss reso heads along the same lines, what they do if the batter head stays the same.

I like a PS3 batter for a clean sound, but I also use a bit of padding inside the drum to kill reflections, which also touches the batter. Ported ambassador plus felt strip on the reso side. I have also used single ply heads without built-in muffling plus the same padding which was a bit noisy. On the other hand, something like an EMad or SK, or a more muffled reso head, would be too much muffling within that scheme of using some padding inside the drum.
That’s why I kept the criteria more open and used the 3 main types as a guideline. I think many of us play mixed brands between heads and among those, there could be a general consensus about what each combination brings. There are also many drummers who do use the same brand front and back.
 

bassanddrum84

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To me emad has more punch then all of them. I agree super kicks don’t really have a lot of tone tho I use them on two different kick drums. Ps3 is amazing on my deeper kicks. I like the power sonic as well I’m currently using that on a 20x20 birch kick sounds killer. As far as front heads I’ve never cared for any one in particular. I just put it on port it and tune it.
 

LRod1707

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I'm using the Superkick III reflector which is 17 mil. It's thicker than the standard SK3. And I use the Regulator for the reso. I love Aquarian and have only used them (with the exception of factory heads) and some Weathermasters for my snares. I think the combo is pretty amazing. My bass drum is 22x18! I like a deep sound with some tone and this combo delivers just that. I've tried other Aquarian combos but nothing has been as pleasing as this one. I don't think I'd try anything else at this point since this combo is pretty much what I've searched for.
 
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1988fxlr

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I don’t have a lot of experience with emads or p3 except on drums that were tuned by other people, where they seemed to overly emphasize a very plasticky attack I don’t care for, but that may well have been intentional.

I have used superkicks with regulators on a few drums. I like them on large bass drums as they give a controlled “modern” sound without being completely flat after the attack, but on my own 22” I found that they perform better at higher tensions than I prefer. My experience with most Aquarian heads is similar. It seems to me that to get tapping tone on an unmounted head that they used to talk about in their advertising that the film is under greater tension in the hoop to start with so you lose the ability to tune super low
 

equipmentdork

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I've used PS3s, EMADs, and SuperKicks as batters. I can tell you that a wide open EMAD/PS3 reso on a 70s 3-ply Slingy produced a wrecking ball sound: deep. punchy, and plenty of tone. Also, I've heard EQ3 reso heads and they are among my favorite because they add a nice ambience to the drums I've heard them on. An EQ3 batter sounds enormous on my mid-90s Pearl Session kick, with the logo head as a reso.


Dan
 

Cauldronics

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Sometimes things get chosen for you by store availability. My 22" has a clear PS3 Black Dot batter and a black EQ3 reso. I wanted both the rings and a port, and the EQ3 is what Guitar Center had in stock. I use a kickpro pillow in the drum with it oriented "north/south" so that it's just touching both heads. Reso tuned up, batter a bit lower. I couldn't ask for a fuller, punchier, beefier sound.
What drum are these on?
 

Tornado

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What drum are these on?
30+ year old 22" Pearl World Series WLX. The Session series predecessor. Birch-Mahogany shell layup, lacquer finish with lacquered interior if that matters.

Edit: It sounds great without the kickpro, but something about that weighted pillow just focuses that bottom end. It sounds like it's mic'd acoustically.
 

Cauldronics

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The replies make me want to try an EQ3 and PS3 w/dot combo. That way I can switch them out on batter and reso, and hear what each does in either role. I can also remove the dot and turn it into a regular PS3 if I want, further changing up the sound or leaving it on the front without the dot making it look weird.
 

Tornado

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The replies make me want to try an EQ3 and PS3 w/dot combo. That way I can switch them out on batter and reso, and hear what each does in either role. I can also remove the dot and turn it into a regular PS3 if I want, further changing up the sound or leaving it on the front without the dot making it look weird.
Actually, you can hear mine right here: https://www.drumforum.org/threads/gig-today.189256/

This was a sound check, the other guitarist/vocalist was checking levels. Never mind the hats bleeding into WAY too hot vocal mics. :). Keep in mind this is outside, unmic'd, burying the beater, with the band playing, and recorded with a cell phone. Obviously this makes for a shorter note on the recording, but I think the bottom end came through really well even against those odds. I've heard a lot of bass drums would be completely lost in that. I would have brought my new 26" Ludwig had I known we would be outside, but I think this more than held its own.
 


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