We are always more than happy to give personalised advice about which heads to choose, either via email or over the phone, but here's a handy infographic about Code's snare drum heads that might help you to make your decision...
UK-based Code have spent the past few years developing their range of heads and accessories, and are quickly becoming popular.
They've had amazing reviews in Rhythm magazine this year, and have performed well against the long-established head companies in sound tests by Drummers Review.
Code have plenty of endorsees singing their praises, but what about regular players like you...?
Here's what Dave's Drums customer, Paddy (who drums with covers band DV8), has to say about his switch to Code.
"Since my switch to Code drum heads I have not played anything else.
"I previously only played Evans G2, and thought I would not switch to anything else ever again.
However after reading reviews and speaking to a few fellow drummers, I decided to try them out.
"As well as very good value for the money, the playability of these heads is second to none.
I currently play the Code TRS [smooth white] on my my snare, Code Law [surface donut dot] on my toms and the Code Blast on my bass drum.
"Easy to tune and look great under stage lights, they always sound alive!!
Sound engineers where we have played always comment on how good they sound.
"I'm a Code convert. Get some, try them, you'll love them!!"
Here's a breakdown of costings you can expect for Code heads for your kit, based on the types of head Paddy uses:
Code TRS 14" snare head: £15.99
Code Law 10"/12"/14" tom heads: £30.50
Code Blast clear 22" bass drum head: £29.99
Add an Enigma display head for £18.99
You may have noticed that we've been short of (or sold out of) a number of lines of Code heads in the past couple of months.
Code products have become exceptionally popular recently, and we've sold out because
(a) we sell more Code products than any other retailer in the UK and
(b) because the suppliers have now run out of some lines!
The great news is that the first shipment to allow us to restock has finally landed in the UK (albeit several weeks later than scheduled!)
We are hoping (by the end of next week) to have stocks of 14" Zero snare heads, 22" clear Blast bass drum batter heads, all sizes of Reso Ring and all sizes of Law tom heads.
The other thing worth noting is that as of 1st September 2018, prices across the Code range will be increasing.
Code are raising their prices for various reasons, including exchange rates & slight changes in specs (increased production costs).
We will be keeping our prices as they are until our current stocks are sold out, but these are limited, so we'd recommend you order soon to get your heads and accessories at current prices!
And don't forget to join our mailing list for £5 off orders over £50!
We get a LOT of kits through the door at Dave’s Drums but some are just a bit different.
And this was definitely one of those kits!
Where do I start?
Well, pretty much the first thing that came to mind when the kit arrived was just the sheer size of it - the number of drums was more than a little daunting for anyone.
So, first off, a quick run down of what I was looking at:
- two 24” x 14” bass drums with tom mounts
- 8”, 10”, 13”, 14”, 15” and 16” single headed concert toms
- an 18” double headed floor tom plus mounting hardware.
My first task is always to determine the overall condition of a kit - trying to see through the dirt and assess what is good and salvageable and what is going to need more extensive restoration or even replacement.
On this kit, the larger drums were in fairly good condition - the typical scuffs, scrapes and war-wounds from a life of playing, but nothing too scary.
A couple of the smaller toms had the wrong mounting brackets, and a few drums were missing lug screws and washers. The only other missing parts were some of the internal dampers on some of the toms.
My next job was a quick check to see what heads were needed. I’d had a sound profile outlined by the owner, who had sensibly opted for single ply clear Evans G1s on the single headed toms, a G2 batter over G1 resonant for the 18” floor and EMAD clear bass drum batters with smooth white ported EQ3 resonants. All of these were in stock with the supplier, but here we hit the first hurdle.
With this age of kit, I’m always a bit paranoid about sizes - are they going to fit standard heads? So I whipped the old (very battered) heads off and checked for fit using spare heads I had lying around the workshop. All good apart from the 10” tom. A quick measurement brought it up as 9.5” rather than 10” - it was a (very uncommon) Pre-International 10” tom and Evans don’t make a head for it!!!
I could get a Remo Ambassador (Pre-International) clear head new, but these are only available by special order, with a very long lead time from the States. Discussing the problem with the owner, it was decided to press on with the restoration, even on the 10” tom, and wait for the head.
For the next few days it was mainly leg work, stripping each drum down to it’s component parts and cleaning or replacing parts as I went. Luckily I have a fairly good stock of old Premier bits, so I was able to replace with good condition vintage parts where the originals were too badly corroded or broken.
Some before and after photos
Most bits were small and easy to replace - bolts, washers, wingnuts and the like. The only big parts to need replacing were the tom mount on one bass drum (which had a casting crack) and three of the tom brackets (which weren’t original). The bass drum bracket I happened to have in stock (I even surprised myself!), but I only had one spare tom bracket.
Out of the blue I got a phone call from the owner. He’d located and purchased a pair of concert toms on eBay (10” and 12”) - in a slightly “dubious” brown wrap, but they looked like perfect matches for the kit shell-wise. They just need to be re-wrapped and restored.
This is one job I definitely don’t do. As anyone who has visited my workshop can vouch for, I’ve got loads of spares, bits and Boxes of Drummy Delights, but what I don’t have is a lot of room, and re-wrapping just needs space. So I stripped off the parts and the shells were made ready for a trip to deepest darkest Wales and Leigh at Cariad Drums.
Looking over the drums, there was a crack in the ply of the 10” tom, but the 12” looked good. It seemed that it should be an easy fix on the 10” tom, but before I got started, I did my usual paranoid check on sizes. Lo and behold, the 10” drum was a 9.5” (despite the seller on eBay being asked specifically to check!). So the plan was now keep going on the original 10” black drum, order some Remo Pre-International heads and just get the 12” re-wrapped.
On the up-side, the two brown concert toms had correct tom mounts so I could use the mount from the cracked 10” on another drum, leaving me just one short (easily found on eBay as it happens). I was also able to replace a few less-than-perfect lugs on other drums using this one as a source for parts.
Multiple hours of cleaning later, I now had this magnificent beast back on its feet.
I am still waiting on the custom order Pre-Int Remo heads to arrive, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s now looking rather lovely. All of the drums are back to their original spec, with correct tom mounting brackets and all of their lugs looking great. The only things missing are three of the internal dampers on the 8”, 10” and 12” drums (moved onto the larger drums where they are more useful), and the kit is back and ready for many years playing…
“I can feel it coming in the air tonight…duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh! Bam! Bam!”
At Dave’s Drums, we mostly deal in second hand and reconditioned gear, but our biggest exception to this is the CODE range of heads and accessories. I feel very fortunate to have a good direct supply from a great new company.
So...why CODE heads?
Well first up, the CODE team had the faith in Dave's Drums to give us an account when we were first starting out, which in this industry is a rare thing.
Secondly, they are a new and evolving company too, and are constantly bringing out new and improved heads.
Finally the price which is just fantastic - where else can you get a 22” pre damped ebony bass drum head for £16 including postage?
CODE now have a very comprehensive range of heads which I attempt to keep in stock at Dave’s Drums Towers!
First up we have the “Honour” range, now renamed “DNA Clear”, a single ply clear drumhead, great as a light batter head or as a resonant head. Equivalent to an Evans G1 or Remo Ambassador weight head.
The next range is “DNA Coated” - basically the same head, but with a white coating added, perfect as a jazzy open sounding tom head or as a snare batter head. On the subject of coated heads, I know there has been a lot of chat on forums about coating coming off certain other brands of head, I’ve never had a problem with any CODE heads shedding coating and have never had any complaints from people I’ve sold too, the coating seems to be nicely uniform and very durable.
Third range is the “Law” series of heads, a single ply clear head with a black top dot. I’ve found these heads to be very easy to use, they look awesome, tune up well and the centre dot slightly damps the head giving a very funky retro look and sound. You will find these heads on a lot of Dave’s drums kits, as they just look so cool.
Next up are the double ply heads. Originally called “Hacker”, these have been reworked and rebranded as the “Generator” series. A twin ply head with a bonded outer edge similar in sound and construction to the classic Remo Pinstripe head, they give a warm dense tone (great for rock) and have the distinctive rainbow “oil slick” look of most double ply heads (in fact this type are often mistakenly referred to as oil filled heads - this 'oily' effect is actually light splitting between the layers of the heads. If you think about it, oil is not rainbow coloured, what you are seeing on an oil spill is the same thing, light being split and bouncing about on the film of oil. Weirdly enough, the only true oil filled head I know of is the Evans Hydraulic range and they don’t get the rainbow shimmer effect, the oil just clumps together in little patches, and they sound like you’ve put a wet towel over your drums - but I digress!)
"Enigma" bass drum heads are single ply, designed as bass drum resonant heads, with an inner damping ring for a controlled thump. We stock only the black, although I can get white as a special order.
Lastly we have the specialist “Zero” and “Genetic” snare heads, only available in 13” and 14” sizes. These are a reverse dot coated single ply batter and thin clear snare side heads respectively. "Genetic" heads are available normal and heavy weight heads.
I’ve been massively impressed with CODE heads, and whilst I personally find they have slightly less tone than the US made Remo or Evans equivalent they are way better than the Far Eastern Remo or Evans factory heads you get fitted as stock heads to most kits, and at a fraction of the price.
We recently re-headed a kit top and bottom for a customer and the price difference for them in using CODE rather than the Remo heads they had been using was over £120 (the kit was 8", 10", 12", 14" plus 14" snare and a 22" kick). Our customer said he couldn't hear any difference.
You can browse and buy from our CODE range here, or contact me if you'd like a quote for re-heading and tuning your kit!
So...overall specs on the kit...
Most of the kit is a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute Nouveau, in blue-purple fade. All of the shells have single point quick release Nouveau lugs, and have the upgraded maple hoops.
The maple shells give a great warmth to the drum sound with a rounded attack that is enhanced with the addition of the wood hoops. They end up sounding larger than they are which is a big bonus - all the tone, but less volume and easier to carry.
The first two toms are 8” x 7” and 10” x 7.5” mounted just above the snare. Position-wise I have, for a long time, set the kit up with the double pedal and positioned the two first toms as if there was a second bass drum (even when the kit is mounted from stands rather than the rack these are on a double tom stand).
The third rack tom is a 12” x 8” and is mounted to the left of the hi hat.
The two floor toms are 13” x 14” and 14” x 14”, the 13” being a very unusual drum deeper than its diameter, only done on this series and only for a brief time.
All toms have Evans G2 clear batter heads and G1 clear resonant heads, with e-rings on the 10”, 12”, 13” and 14”.
I have been asked why I use e-rings rather than moon gel, damped heads or just tuning them open. Well, firstly the band I am in is playing mostly 80’s songs so that wet, slappy sound is what I’m after - if I was doing more modern stuff then they’d probably come off.
Secondly I am really pushing the floor toms to be a bit lower pitched than they would comfortably be so the rings help them sound less flabby. I’ve always loved small drums for the ease of transport, but they need help to sound rocky!
Lastly they do help quieten down the kit a bit - I play a lot of pub venues and always carry mics for bigger gigs, so generally speaking quieter is better.
The main kick is a 20” x 18” (considered extra deep when I bought it!) It is fitted with an Evans EMAD clear batter with a Remo double Falam Slam patch (which I need to replace!), Sonitus kicker and resonant black front head with a custom graphic from the awesome Glenn Grey (pictured below).
The reso has a small port fitted, but more for access than anything else, as the drum is internally mic’d with a May system Shure Beta 52 with a shell-mounted non-drill XLR fitting.
Having pre-damped heads AND a kicker is more to reduce onstage volume than tone control, as I always mic the kick.
My second kick is only used for big gigs as a special effect, and I’ll blog about that in a separate geek blog!
My next blog will be the snares...
So, you're thinking of buying your first drum kit. Maybe you have had some lessons or just fancy trying a bit of drumming. What should you look for in your first drum kit? Acoustic or electric? How many drums should there be? Or cymbals?
Over to Dave for a quick run-down...
The first thing to look at when buying any drum set is the player, most drumkits will be adjustable to fit even very small players so often it is a better idea to buy a full-sized kit which will then grow with the player, rather than a “kids” kit - these are not usually good value for money and they will quickly be grown out of.
If the player is on the small side, look out for “fusion” style kits with 20” diameter bass drums as they will be easier to play whilst still retaining sound, performance and (if a child) the player can grow with them.
Next it is worth considering what the kit is for - are they playing purely for fun or will the kit be used for structured practice with an aim of taking formal grades?
If they are looking to take grades then the kit will need to be a “five piece” kit (you only count the drums), consisting of a bass drum, snare drum and three tom drums, usually two mounted toms on the bass drum and one floor tom either mounted from a cymbal stand or free standing on it’s own legs.
It is also very useful to have a full cymbal set consisting of a pair of hi hats, crash cymbal and ride or crash/ride cymbal. Quite often cheaper sets only come with two of the three (although there is a strong argument for getting people going with a basic set and upgrading cymbals to a full set later).
It is worth noting as well that where most cheaper kits sound fine, especially if you put better drumheads on them (which is a cheap and easy upgrade), the cymbals that come with most starter kits are usually the weakest part of a set, so most people will end up upgrading them at some point.
The final thing to look out for is the hardware on the kit, the metalwork and stands that hold everything together, the better quality they are and the sturdier, then the less likely you are to have problems with them and get a return on your investment should you ever need to sell them, either if the player gives up or hopefully moves on to a better kit in the future.
Hopefully that was a useful introduction, but please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like any further advice.
Drummer, drum geek, reluctant blogger and eater of cheese!