From £17.50 to £72.60 Re­spond­ing to cus­tomer re­quests Remo fi­nally man­ages to mass pro­duce full-toned and dy­namic coloured heads

Rhythm - - NEW GEAR - Words: Ge­off Ni­cholls

Coloured drum heads? Why not? In the 1920/30s era of calf vel­lums, the Lud­wig and Slinger­land fac­to­ries em­ployed highly-skilled artists who for 12 dol­lars would ac­tu­ally oil-paint idyl­lic pas­toral scenes on your front bass drum skin! With the ad­vent of plas­tic af­ter the late 1950s heads were coated white, largely to re­as­sure cau­tious drum­mers that they were not that dif­fer­ent from nat­u­ral cream-coloured an­i­mal skins.

Once plas­tic was ac­cepted widely then trans­par­ent/clear heads be­came pop­u­lar also – just the My­lar film with­out a coat­ing, of­fer­ing a touch more sus­tain. But it was in­evitable that bright colours would even­tu­ally be tried. Remo’s first foray came in 1967 with the Sparkl­tones. These were sprayed un­der­neath the top ply with sparkles in five colours: green, blue, red, sil­ver, yel­low/gold. Remo’s UK author­ity Jeff Daven­port tells Rhythm that, “As a re­sult they were quite thick and limited ini­tially to the march­ing com­mu­nity.”

Then in 1974 Evans made a splash with its oil-damped Hy­draulic heads with their patented UV coloured coat­ing. Ini­tially favoured by Steve Gadd, the Hy­draulics have en­joyed a long, if mar­ginal, pop­u­lar­ity, with their black, red and blue colours. More re­cently, Evans has added Black Chrome heads to its ros­ter.

To­day, Remo’s Starfire heads, in re­flec­tive chrome or gold, are cho­sen for front kick heads, or for res­o­nant heads gen­er­ally, par­tic­u­larly as the 12 mil thick lam­i­nate has a con­trolled sus­tain. Nicko McBrain is a fa­mous fan.


So we ar­rive at the new ColorTones. These are avail­able in six colours – Translu­cent Red, Blue, Green, Yel­low, Or­ange and Smoke. And so far in three types: Em­peror, Pow­er­stroke-77 (P77) and Pow­er­stroke-3 (P3).

The big ad­vance is in the way the colour is achieved. Jeff Daven­port ex­plains that the so-called Skyn­deep imag­ing tech­nique is, “a kind of sub­li­ma­tion process where the ink is printed within the plas­tic rather than be­ing lay­ered on top. The colour­ing is done at the Remo fac­tory”.

Remo has ac­tu­ally em­ployed Skyn­deep since 2007, par­tic­u­larly on world per­cus­sion heads, but Jeff re­veals that cus­tomer re­quests were be­hind the rein­tro­duc­tion of coloured drum kit heads. Par­tic­u­larly – and un­sur­pris­ingly – from own­ers of all types of Per­spex/acrylic kits. “There has al­ways been de­mand for coloured heads in a pop­u­lar, mu­si­cal open-sound­ing drum head,” he ex­plains. “To do it suc­cess­fully for the mass mar­ket us­ing DuPont My­lar has been the dif­fi­culty to over­come – they’re not easy to mass man­u­fac­ture!”

“Color Tone is a sig­nif­i­cant de velo pment be­cause with Skyn­dee p imag­ing Remo can no w make coloured vers ions of its esta blished clear heads with­out chang­ing the sound ”

For snare drums there are 13" and 14" Pow­er­stroke-77 heads, which con­sist of twin 7-mil plies (hence the 77) with an ad­di­tional 5 mil CS dot on top and a 7-mil perime­ter un­der­ly­ing dam­per ring. For toms there are twin ply Em­per­ors in sizes from 8" to 18". On the Em­peror and the P77 it is just the top ply that is coloured – the bot­tom ply is reg­u­lar clear film. And for your bass drum, the Pow­er­stroke-3 is a sin­gle ply of 10 milMy­lar with a 10 mil perime­ter un­der­lay as usual, avail­able in di­am­e­ters from 18" to 26".

Hands On

ColorTone is a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment be­cause with the Skyn­deep imag­ing Remo can now make coloured ver­sions of its es­tab­lished clear heads with­out chang­ing the sound. And also, be­cause of the imag­ing tech­nol­ogy there is no coat­ing to wear off. So the colour should stay con­sis­tent and the heads should play and wear just like nor­mal clear heads.

Cer­tainly the bass drum Pow­er­stroke-3 bat­ter – once I’ve got over the new look – sounds like a nor­mal Clear P-3. The Em­peror bat­ters, with their twin 7-ply con­struc­tion have that fa­mil­iar blippy-plas­tic tone with the stroke slightly soft­ened and thick­ened, but plenty of res­o­nance and vol­ume.

At present there’s just the P-77 snare bat­ter, which again suits harder hit­ters. Mount­ing a P-77 on my nas­ti­est snare – a 14"x7" steel job – the re­sult is fear­some. The twin ply, perime­ter-damped and cen­tre re­in­forced P-77 con­trols the ex­cess ring of the steel shell, but has lots of bite and power. Def­i­nitely a rock­ing head, not for subtly stroking jazzers.

It’s in­ter­est­ing that Remo has launched the se­ries with three heavy­weight models. It would be good to hear anAm­bas­sador ColorTone to as­sess if the colour­ing does af­fect the sound, even in the slight­est. We must await fur­ther models for 2019. What’s for sure is the ColorTones are much live­lier than the oil-damped Evans Hy­draulics and as such they should please a hun­gry al­ter­na­tive mar­ket.

Of course, if you have a Plex­i­glas/acrylic kit then the ColorTones are per­fect. You can match the colours or go for con­trast. But coloured heads can look good with any drum fin­ish, par­tic­u­larly those drums with block colours. When I put Red Em­per­ors on my Jade Green Yamaha toms it looked pretty cool.

SIX VI­BRANT COLOURS ColorTones come in six translu­cent colours - Or­ange, Yel­low, Red, Green, Blue and Smoke

POW­ER­STROKE 77 SNARE BAT­TER One for the heavy hit­ters, the only snare bat­ter so far has twin plies with perime­ter damp­ing and a cen­tre 5 mil CS dot SKYN­DEEP IMAG­ING TECH­NOL­OGY Remo has fi­nally per­fected the ap­pli­ca­tion of Skyn­deep imag­ing tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce coloured ver­sions of stan­dard kit favourites POW­ER­STROKE 3 BASS DRUM HEADS Remo’s in­dus­try stan­dard P-3 gets the ColorTone treat­ment and is avail­able as a bat­ter or with a ready-cut front port­hole

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