The Drums- Taking Off a Drum Head

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 28,813
    Professional drummer Wes Crawford demonstrates how to take off a drum head.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Hi! I am Wes Crawford. I freelance in performance and recording in the Washington D.

    C. Baltimore area. I teach drum lessons at Goucher College privately and I tour on record with Shahin & Sepehr on the Higher Octave Narada Label and additionally I toured for 11 years with a Jazz, R&B singer, entertainer named Jane L. Powell. Anyway, today we are going to talk about changing a drumhead. We work on learning the drum so often and so hard, that a lot of times we neglect things like taking care of our instrument and the first thing you need to do is change your drumheads every once in a while. As you can see this head has had better days, it's a little bit pitted and has a lot of marks on it from being hit, it's a very good head, and still does not sound, but every once in a while we do need to change our heads even if they are not played upon, just because from stretching for so long, they loose a little bit of their life. So, we are going to start off with taking the old head off. I reach into my pocket and pull out a drum key. The drum key probably came with your set and most of them look very similar to this, although there are some pretty fancy ones out there now. I always keep one in my pocket, with my keys, it doesnt take up a lot of room and you are as working, gigging, practicing, jamming drummer you are always going to need a drum key at some point. First thing we do, it lays very nicely over the lug screws here on the drum and we will just loosen them, and what I am doing, even though this isn't as important when we take the head off, but what I am doing is actually loosening crossway, so were loosening the head evenly. If for some reason you are going to put this head back on, this can help keep it in shape better. At this point we have all of the lugs loosened, so that we can finger loosen them, we can just put our finger around the edge and more quickly get them to the point where they leave the receptacle. It doesnt matter what order we do this in at this point, and as you can see we can just lift the rim right off. Dont bother taking all of this lug screws out, and notice there is usually, with a decent drum, it has a little washer, you dont want to loose these. All you need to do is set it down somewhere and I rest it on the floor, so that it won't get lost, the other pieces won't fall out and we just lift the drumhead right off. We can discard it. Some people like to make O rings out of these to muffle the drum and all you need to do is just cut a donut shape, may be about an inch or less wide and cut it out of this material. It's basically the same material that you would pay up to $10 for these little rings and you can lay them on your snare drum to muffle later, just a good little recycling tip. Dirt and lint can collect across the bearing edge and this can actually affect the sound, so this is important. Another thing you might want to do, if it's been a while, lift your drum up and carefully shake it, make sure there is no dirt or lint inside. We will put it back on the basket or the cradle, from the snare drum stand and take a rag, wipe off the rim, the metal rim. This area between the lug screws can get dirty. So, it's a good chance to clean places on your drum that could get dirty and you dont get a chance to do very often, and thats the basic process for taking off the snare drumhead, works equally with the toms, the bass drum is going to work very similarly, usually, but they might have T handles, T rods to actually unscrew it. It's almost like having a drum key already attached to the lug screw, and they will look more like that, or you might have lug screws that look just like this on your base drum, but the same principles apply.