Your experiences with jazz-like drumheads

mwalk

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My 2004 Gretsch USA MAPLE kits: 12-14-18, and 10-12-14-16-22 came with coated Gretsch Permatones Bstter and Reso The fellow at Forks who sold me these said “I’m kinda giving it some thought myself “
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Ambassadors top & bottom for toms. Usually, top of snare and clear/hazy snare side but I have a few with fiberskyns. The skyntones are very thin. Bass is usually a fiberskin reso and coated emperor for batter as I don't muffle my jazz kits and like a bit firmer boom.....
 

multijd

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Ive been switching to natural skin. Im using Kentville Kangaroo and just purchased a couple of Bovid mule. I primarily used only ambassadors for years. Ive also used fiberskin, calftone and evans uv1. They all have their merits. Natural skin sound the best but of course are affected by the humidity so I have hem on one set and another set has uv1’s which are very durable and sound great. Ambassadors are a good middle of the road head that can do anything, are consistent and sound good. Im currently anti- fiberskin or calftone because they ripple and get pin holes that the brushes snag on. Go top and bottom ambassadors until you’re ready to switch to natural skin.
 
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BennyK

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Remo coated amb.'s or for something a bit novel if they're still available - Evans J1 etched .

The Remos are the most reliably predictable in response to a wide variety of tensions and tuning combos . The Evans aren't as long lasting and a little more pitch-specific .
 

Drumbumcrumb

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First to defend the Calftone - great heads, I use them a lot on toms, bass, and snares. And so everyone knows: EVANS has acknowledged and fixed the delaminating issue.

Amb’s are cool for jazz. I’ve always preferred the slightly less plasticky sound of Aquarian MV or even plain ol’ TC. If you do a side by side with a Coated Amb, the TC or MV sounds more like skin. Less attack, more tone-y. I like to use the same coated heads top/bottom, whether it’s Amb’s, TC, or MV. It’s warm, natural, clean. For a jazz kit, I like that sound. IMHO, clear heads and jazz don’t mix.

Skins - love/hate. They sound amazing, until tomorrow. The tuning for humidity thing gets boring when you’ve been spoiled by plastic heads. Especially on snare, you go from perfect to useless without touching a thing! But there’s no equal to the feel and sound, so it’s your call. I also had to sand my Earthtones, the surface has rough patches that catch brushes. I’d go with Bovid or Stern, both are good people and will communicate with you.

I have a Birch bop kit, it gets Aquarian TC top and bottom. TC on snare. TC bass reso, no hole of course, felt strip only. Forget what the bass batter is, I’d have to look. It may be the stock head, if I can get a nice round sound with a fuzzy beater I don’t worry about the bass batter head too much. For a ‘classic’ bop sound you can’t beat a Birch kit like yours with Ambs or TC/MV type heads. Take your pick. I see a LOT of jazz cats using TC and MV, it’s a natural. The ivory colored MV heads look sweet on some kits, some kits do better with white.
 

JimmySticks

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First to defend the Calftone - great heads, I use them a lot on toms, bass, and snares. And so everyone knows: EVANS has acknowledged and fixed the delaminating issue.

Amb’s are cool for jazz. I’ve always preferred the slightly less plasticky sound of Aquarian MV or even plain ol’ TC. If you do a side by side with a Coated Amb, the TC or MV sounds more like skin. Less attack, more tone-y. I like to use the same coated heads top/bottom, whether it’s Amb’s, TC, or MV. It’s warm, natural, clean. For a jazz kit, I like that sound. IMHO, clear heads and jazz don’t mix.

Skins - love/hate. They sound amazing, until tomorrow. The tuning for humidity thing gets boring when you’ve been spoiled by plastic heads. Especially on snare, you go from perfect to useless without touching a thing! But there’s no equal to the feel and sound, so it’s your call. I also had to sand my Earthtones, the surface has rough patches that catch brushes. I’d go with Bovid or Stern, both are good people and will communicate with you.

I have a Birch bop kit, it gets Aquarian TC top and bottom. TC on snare. TC bass reso, no hole of course, felt strip only. Forget what the bass batter is, I’d have to look. It may be the stock head, if I can get a nice round sound with a fuzzy beater I don’t worry about the bass batter head too much. For a ‘classic’ bop sound you can’t beat a Birch kit like yours with Ambs or TC/MV type heads. Take your pick. I see a LOT of jazz cats using TC and MV, it’s a natural. The ivory colored MV heads look sweet on some kits, some kits do better with white.
Nope, I defended Calftones in post 11, 1st page! :-D
 
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I know this is TOTALLY over the top but I went crazy this summer


I have the following FULL SETS of heads at home (or some 12s and 14....and/or 16 and 18s)


REMO
Coated Ambassadors FULL SET 1/14/16/18
Classic Fiberskyn Diplomat FULL SET 12/14/16
Skyntone Ambassador FULL SET 12/14/16
Renaissance Ambassador FULL SET 12/14/18 bass drum
Suede Ambassador FULL SET
Clear Ambassador 12/14s for bottoms

EVANS
Calftone 56 FULL SET
J1 Etched FULL SET
G1 Coated FULL SET
G1 Clear 12/14s

AQUARIAN
Modern Vintage Has a full set and gigged for a long time on them
Texture Coated (14 only)


I have GIGGED many gigs and a few recordings on everything but the Calftones and the Texture Coated.

I am pretty much a straight jazz drummer

So after all this experimenting here is my conclusion

I will play coated ambassadors top and bottom until I die and my goal is to keep the heads I have on my drums on there forever unless they break.

Just my two cents.

Now. A LOT depends on the DRUMS. Maple, Mahogany, Birch etc..

I am talking about my Slingerlands but bottom line is the coated ambassadors sound great on everything.

On Gretsch Round Badge and USA Custom pretty much any of the heads sound great its all a matter of what you are looking for.


I could go into details but the coated ambassadors are the most open and singing and non rubbery sounding on my Slingerlands.

The calfskin style heads were too DEAD sounding.

THe skyntones a little THIN sounding

I could go on..
Wow! What an arsenal to choose from! I have a modern USA Custom (w/ a 20” kick) and play mostly bebop and hard bop right now. What are your thoughts on the Aquarian Modern Vintage heads? I’ve been wanting to try these but a full set of heads really isn’t cheap these days, so I’d love to have a better understanding before making any investments in a set.
 

Jazzhead

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I brought this up in the other thread but no response...
For Jazz/blues/soft rock what is the difference between Remo coated amb/coated amb and coated amb/clear amb?
 
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JDA

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I brought this up in the other thread but no response...
For Jazz/blues/soft rock what is the difference between Remo coated amb/coated amb and coated amb/clear amb?
you "might" get some "unwanted" volume on a small tom, (rather than your stick attack putting the volume "in"......) with a clear bottom, that a coated bottom restrains; however on a "long tom" (ie floor tom(square size) you may want a clear on the bottom to open it out a little
 
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paulwells73

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I’m also a professional jazz drummer and, like Tom, I went through a phase some years back of trying all of the "jazz head" combinations - Fiberskyn Diplomats and Fiberskyn Ambassadors, Renaissance, Skyntone, Vintage Ambassadors, G1s, J1s, and calfskin. I mostly liked all of them, but always go back to Coated Ambassadors. Always.

If I want a sound closer to my favorite jazz records of the 1960s, I’ll use Coated Ambassadors top AND bottom on the toms, which sounds nice and warm. To me, this is close to the sound of Tony Williams’ drums in the 1960s, which is one of my favorite drum sounds. If I want a slightly more "modern" version of that sound, I’ll put Clear Ambassadors on the tom bottoms. This is similar to Bill Stewart’s sound in the 1990s, which is slightly brighter and more open. He’s another favorite of mine, especially in terms of drum sound.

My 18" bass drums always have Coated Ambassadors front and back, with a small hand towel against the batter head for muffling. This sits on the outside of the drum - never inside - so I can adjust the amount of muffling by hand. Same setup when I use a 20", except I may use a second hand towel to muffle the front head slightly. Snare drum always has Coated Ambassadors on top, with an Ambassador Snare Side on the bottom.
 

Neal Pert

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I agree with Paul utterly, though I'd also say that I've loved the Evans UV1s and presently have them all around on my jazz drums. They sound pretty much the same as Ambassadors but are much more durable. They don't dent and they don't wear out and the brush surface is really nice. Then again, if you're using high tunings and playing jazz, a set of coated ambassadors top and bottom should last decades, at least on the toms and bass drum.

I’m also a professional jazz drummer and, like Tom, I went through a phase some years back of trying all of the "jazz head" combinations - Fiberskyn Diplomats and Fiberskyn Ambassadors, Renaissance, Skyntone, Vintage Ambassadors, G1s, J1s, and calfskin. I mostly liked all of them, but always go back to Coated Ambassadors. Always.

If I want a sound closer to my favorite jazz records of the 1960s, I’ll use Coated Ambassadors top AND bottom on the toms, which sounds nice and warm. To me, this is close to the sound of Tony Williams’ drums in the 1960s, which is one of my favorite drum sounds. If I want a slightly more "modern" version of that sound, I’ll put Clear Ambassadors on the tom bottoms. This is similar to Bill Stewart’s sound in the 1990s, which is slightly brighter and more open. He’s another favorite of mine, especially in terms of drum sound.

My 18" bass drums always have Coated Ambassadors front and back, with a small hand towel against the batter head for muffling. This sits on the outside of the drum - never inside - so I can adjust the amount of muffling by hand. Same setup when I use a 20", except I may use a second hand towel to muffle the front head slightly. Snare drum always has Coated Ambassadors on top, with an Ambassador Snare Side on the bottom.
 


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