In last weeks post, Paul Mabury talked about ways to tune your kit to fit the room that you're playing in. One of the critical points to that lesson is the type of drum heads that you choose. Whether you put clear or coated heads on your drums can make all the difference in the world, so let's talk about which heads give you that warm sound Paul was preaching.
There are three basic types of heads, single ply, double ply and coated. Ply is just another word for layer. It's the same concept as paper towels or toilet paper (though I don't recommend using your drum heads for toilet paper.)
The thinner the head, the more overtones and high-end ring you will hear along with more brightness. These head’s sustain will usually decrease.
Double-ply heads will usually have a deeper and more controlled sound with fewer overtones. They also sound fatter than single-ply's. These heads are stronger as well due to the extra layer.
Coated heads are definitely my personal favorite. It's just plain common sense that if you add more coating to a drum head, some dampening is going to happen. Coated heads tend to give you that warm "earthy" tone more so than the clear heads. These heads will be a bit darker than the above heads and will also stand up to a beating due to that coating.
It's all a matter of taste and there is no right or wrong answer but I lean towards the warm tones. Clear heads equal a brighter tone with more attack. Coated heads equal that warmer/softer tone that Paul was talking about. One thing to also remember is don't crank your heads tight for those small rooms, leave them looser and more dry. What kind of heads do you like to use and why?