New vs. Old Drum Heads for Studio Recording


New member
I will be going into the studio to lay down drums for a demo. The producer/engineer would like me to replace every drum head (top and bottom) before recording.

My drum heads are not that old, in good condition, and sound perfect (for me). Part of me feels that having a slightly worn head gives the sound more personality and if it's not broke, why fix it?

I'm wondering what people thought about this.


New member
how old are the heads? i used a set for over 2 years and that was way too long, but if theyre only a couple months then tell him that youll replace them if he buys them.


New member
how old are the heads, exactly?
when you say 'demo,' what do you mean? What will the recording be used for? Will it be mastered and mass-produced?

I'd definitely change the heads if it's a crucial recording session, but if it's just a quick demo, I dunno... can get a little pricey!


New member
That's the rule: New heads and new strings every time you walk into a studio. No exceptions.

Had a friend who recorded six tracks for a major label a few months ago and didn't change his strings until the last track. He was replaced on all but the one track with his new strings.

Being in the studio is about attention to ever small detail, because you can be assured every detail will be captured on tape/hard disk. Change your heads, battery and reso, because that's the rule. If you're still hesitant, change your heads because the producer said so. You want him to call you again, right?


New member
I have to agree with the idea of new heads any time you go into the studio. At least the tops. The studio is unforgiving. Unless your heads are only a week old buy new ones. Think of it as you will have to buy some any way so you now have spares.


New member
Not only do you want to get new heads, you may want to discuss what kind of sound you want with the producer
Live situations require different applications than recording
A properly tuned drum with the correct head is better than a drum loaded with tape and muffling
I will tell you this, most producers will want drier and less ringy sounding heads
Especially the snare
They will probably want to take your resonant bass drum head off and stuff it with blankets

Drummers always have to do the most compromising in the studio
The best way to get as much of your sound your way is to do as much research and preparation beforehand as possible
Talk with the producer and discuss how he plans on capturing the drums

Lastly, it's better to have the best basic sound rather than trying to "condition" the drum sound with a lot of reverbs and studio tricks afterwards
Drums take up a lot of space in the mix
If you're not careful, you can get lost (the bass drum is almost always the first thing to get lost)


New member
kplante069":1mg03h98 said:
I have to agree with the idea of new heads any time you go into the studio. At least the tops.
The studio is unforgiving. Unless your heads are only a week old buy new ones. Think of it as you will have to buy some any way so you now have spares.


New member
If you're recording your first demos etc there's no need to buy new heads really. It depends I think on the sound gear- mics mixing console and the producer. If he can deliver a crisp clear and clean sound, your drums should deliver that sound and only new heads will deliver that sound. If the producer can't or doesn't have good mics, the difference won't be heard that much.


New member
I completely disagree, unless your heads are buggered dont bother

I had G2s on my toms before the Ec2s and they lasted pretty much 3 years without any dings etc and always stayed in tune.


New member
It is generally a lot easier to get a good recorded tone from new, well-tuned heads. They may sound "fine" to you, but if this is a serious project and you want to offer the best sound, go ahead and replace them. Like the others have said, you can always keep the "almost new" heads as spares.

It's really no different than having the guitarists/bassists restring their instruments before going into the studio. You will make life a lot easier on the engineer and your recording session will probably be much smoother.


New member
Regardless of how new your heads are now, you are going to hit each drum MANY times before you actually record a single note. We spent half a day tuning and dialing in drum sounds for my band's CD. That's a lot less time than some drummers/sound engineers spend getting drum sounds. Considering that, new is the way to go. Whether you're doing a demo in someone's garage studio, and you aren't spending any $$ on the project, or you're spending tens of thousands on this, you still want it to be the best it can be, and the investment in new heads will be worth it. Also, to put it another way......New heads are cheap compared to the cost of the studio time it takes to make up for the sound of old heads.