But, of all these things, the most important to me is being loud enough to cut through the mix.
The rock drum head has to be able to deliver a HUGE sound to punch through the guitars and bass.
Without this, the your drum heads will falter and your sound will fall flat.
What to look for in a drum head for rock music
Generally, regardless of the genre, you’re essentially looking for three things:
Tone, punch and durability.
Some people may find that there are some other characteristics for a good solid rock sound from a head, but these three seem to be at the top of the list for many seasoned drummers.
Obviously, tone is important for any drummer.
However, your prospective head should present something that goes along with rock, which is generally a pretty vibrant stomping groove.
A nice mid to high snare tone with FAT and ‘wet’ sounding toms with plenty of mids and lows.
Punch is another. A meaty punch brings about some much needed power.
If you’re dealing with any kind of pronounced guitar work, you’re going to need something that cuts through the mix both live and on record.
Durability can be considered a no-brainer of sorts, but it’s very much the single most trait of any drum head.
Its job is to take a beating, independent of genre.
For a rock drum head, you want to be looking for a 2-ply head ideally that’s going to withstand the punishment you give it.
Those things considered, here are what we consider to be the best heads for rock.
Best Snare Heads for Rock
I use this on my 14″ Mapex Black Panther Snare (Maple) and it’s INCREDIBLE.
This head is two-ply with a 5mm outer later and 7.5mm inner layer.
It’s killer feature is the overtone control ring on the underside of the head that works with the small holes dotted around the rim to remove the need for dampening! That’s right, no moon gel required for this head.
This image shows the acoustic qualities of the head.
- 2 ply head (5mm & 7.5mm)
- Overtone control ring
- Small vents help prevent unwanted ‘ring’.
- Available as 13″ and 14″ versions
As a rock drummer, you know that you’re going to give all of your heads a workout each and every time.
This is a perfect drumhead for that reason; it’s probably the thickest drumheads that you can buy.
The thickness in the head allows for a very warm tone that isn’t hampered by its volume and power.
- Features Z-100 coating
- Great for heavier styles
- Two Ply Head with power dot
Best Tom Heads for Rock
Evans is a clear leader in the drum head industry due to sound shaping technology.
This rock tom pack is good for rock drummers who prefer a more classic rock sound, as opposed to a fat low tone.
Instead, the Evans head focuses on power in the middle and high frequencies.
- Sound shaping technology
- Two plies for durability and consistency
- Unique amounts of dampening for each drum head
- Can be coated with a unique translucent appearance
Best Kick Drum Head for Rock
This is a must have head! Since it’s pre-muffled it requires very little attention in terms of EQ.
Out of the box it gives a nice meaty “thump” – a staple of that “rock kick”.
This and the Evans EMAD 2 are the two choices I’d recommend checking out with the Super Kick 2 narrowly winning out!
- 2 ply, medium weight head
- Features unique Safe-T-Loc Hoop and Sound-Curve Collar
- Built-in muffling ring so you don’t need to stuff your kick with towels!
I’ve shared two of my favourite snare heads, my favourite tom heads for rock and a killer kick head.
If you want to learn a little more about snare vs. tom heads, read on.
Snare Heads vs. Tom Heads
While you can get specific snare and tom heads (as the ones I’ve mentioned above) there is a school of thought that a batter head is a batter head.
It’s a lot of marketing hype by drum companies really.
You’re going to be using the same sticks / brushes / mallets on either snare or tom heads.
As long as the head fits your drum, there’s no huge difference between snare and tom heads.
The main reason for the different snare/tom heads is that usually drummers are wanting a snappier, drier sound from their snare and a more resonant, wetter sound from their toms.
Most of this difference will actually come from the shells you play. The type of wood and shell sizes will play a big part of shaping the sound of the drum.
Saying this here are few tips I’ve picked up over the years:
- Muddy tom sound?: Using a snare head can help the drum’s clarity cut through.
- Looking for more snare tone? Using a tom head can help your snare’s warmth
What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!