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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Drumheads

2. General

Drumheads come in several varieties. First there are obviously the sizes, 10” , 12” etc. To deliver a range of sounds , drumheads are built in various ways.

There are one
Layer1) In synthesis and sound design, sounds are often created from two or more basic waveforms or samples layered together. 2) In computing, most operating systems and other software are written in layers, from the lowest level dealing with basic processing functions which is addressed by higher-level layers with specific functions such as sound and graphics.
layer
and two
Layer1) In synthesis and sound design, sounds are often created from two or more basic waveforms or samples layered together. 2) In computing, most operating systems and other software are written in layers, from the lowest level dealing with basic processing functions which is addressed by higher-level layers with specific functions such as sound and graphics.
layer
heads. The strength of the head differs between extremely thin ones and thick ones. You can get transparent or coated heads. Some are oil-filled and some have a built in dampening system.

All this is done in order to shape the sound or
TimbreThe subjective quality of a sound, determined by many factors including harmonic content, transients and envelope.
timbre
, i.e. effect
ResonanceA parameter for boosting the frequencies around the cut-off point of a filter. When shaped by an envelope so that it moves in frequency it creates the characteristic 'wow' sound of a subtractive synthesizer.
resonance
and
AttackThe beginning of a sound. Attack defines the time taken for the sound volume to go from silence to maximum level; a critical consideration when applying processing such as compression, gating, etc.
attack
,
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
and treble as well as
SustainA general term with various specific meanings in music/audio production: 1) In general terms, how well an instrument's sound persists once played. 2) The third part of the ADSR envelope used by many synthesisers, Sustain ('S') determines to what volume a note decays after it is triggered, but before the key is released. (Decay 'D' controls how fast this happens) 3) The piano pedal which removes the dampers from the strings, so that notes will continue to sound even after the keys have been released. This is implemented in MIDI as a specific message with 2 possible values: 127 (pedal down) and 1 (pedal up).
sustain
, to cater for various musical needs.

The size of the drumhead is obviously directly dependant on the size of the drum shell. This is measured in full inch sizes and one inch increments – i.e. 10”,11”,12” …, 16” and so on. The scale ranges from 6” to 26”. The sizes represent the shells they belong to. 10”,12”,13” are typical for mounted toms. 14” is the standard snare size. 16” would in most cases be a Floor tom. With 20” we are starting in the kick drum department. Obviously there will be exceptions but as a general guideline we are not too far off.

Materials

Polyester, Nylon and Mylar are the mostly used materials. They all have being extremely durable in common. They are gauged from rather thick to relatively thin depending on manufacturer, they tare only in rare cases. ( but hey, they do – and they do so just when you don’t need it – at a gig. Always bring a spare for the kick drum and the snare. Take the old ones if you have to.)

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