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What on earth is the difference between clear and coated heads?
Well, apart from the obvious, what do they do to the sound of your drums? Well, hopefully in terms that make sense to everyone, I will try to explain!
Clear heads are most commonly used for bass drum and tom batters, and resonant heads for all drums. Clear heads give the most open, bright sound when compared to coated heads, so if you’re looking for a bright tone with plenty of volume, then clear heads are for you.
Drummers who play mainly pop, rock, funk tend to lean towards clear heads, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are constricted to these if this is the style you play. It may also be that it could take some time and experimentation to find the heads that work best for your particular drums.
Many heads offered by manufacturers come as coated versions, where a white fine powder coating has been applied to the heads. Coated heads are most often used for snare drums, although can be regularly found on toms and bass drums as well. Many people also use them for bass drum display (front) heads when they prefer the white colour.
Single ply coated heads can give slightly more sustain than clear heads, while double ply heads are often more focussed than their clear counterparts. They make the sound a fair deal warmer, so are often favoured by jazz drummers, and pop and funk drummers, dependent on their preferences.
On a snare drum, the coating reigns in the overtones allowing the drum to resonate and project it’s true tone. Therefore, single ply coated heads are most commonly found as snare batters.
As I mentioned, it can take time to find the right heads for your particular drums, but hopefully the information provided will help you make a more informed choice. Good luck!