Product Comparison: Which Marching Bass Head is right for me?

When it comes to finding the right heads to fit your needs or the sound you are looking for there are a ton of options. This stands true for marching bass drum heads as well. Whether you are starting to plan for future use or need something for the ongoing indoor season we hope this product breakdown and comparison will help you find what you are looking for.

Head Types

There are two basic types of marching bass drum heads that you will want to consider when looking to get a fresh set of heads. One type of head has no muffling attached and the other type has some type of muffling pre-installed or strips of muffling that you can adjust to your liking. If you already have muffling installed inside to the shell of the drum, you can use any type of drum head but you would likely want to consider the type without any muffling installed. If you don’t have any internal muffling installed inside the drum you will definitely want to consider purchasing one of the heads that allow for pre-installed muffling on the actual drum head. There are many different options that you could go with either way.

Muffling Approaches

Why would I need to muffle the the sound of the drum? This is an important aspect of marching bass drums as they serve a dual purpose within the battery percussion section. Because bass drums offer both tonal and rhythmic colors to the sound, having the heads muffled in one way or another will allow for the drums to be articulate while still having a good tonal presence. There are three typically ways that are used to muffle the sound of the marching bass drum.

  1. Muffling Pre-Installed on the Head – There are some heads that have strips of muffling pre-installed on the head or strips of muffling that allow you to change the sound to your liking. This is what you might see on the Remo Power Max or Evans MX Series of marching bass heads. This is a great option because of the ease of use.
  2. Add Muffling to the Head – In this scenario you would purchase heads and add some type of foam to the head to act as muffling. The advantage of using this method is that it allows you to place the muffling where you would like. It can help you get a more articulate sound depending on where you attach the muffling around the center playing area. Yamaha makes foam that is great for this purpose as well as other drum manufacturers.
  3. Add Muffling to the Shell – This method tends to be more popular by top-end groups that want the maximum control out of their sound. Here you would purchase muffling from somewhere like which has pre-cut strips of foam depending on the size of the drum. The biggest advantage here is that once you install the foam it is there forever minus touching up some glue from time to time. This method is certainly more time consuming in general but can pay off in a big way if it is done correctly.

Brands and Types of Heads

There are two brands of heads that are most popular within the marching percussion world and those are Evans and Remo. While they do have similar offerings the chart below is a good way to compare and contrast the heads from each company.

Brand          Thickness/Ply Muffling Sound Quality Durability
Evans MS1 White Single Ply/ 10-mil No Muffling Included  Warm, wide array of dampening options Good
Evans MX1 White/Black Single Ply/10-mil Dampening System – Movable Strips Warm, Focused Low End Good
Evans MX2 White/Black Two Ply/7.5 mil each Dampening System – Movable Strips Increased Attack, Articulation, Reduced Sustain Best
Remo Ambassador Smooth White/Ebony Single Ply/10-mil No Muffling Included Full Sound/Tone, Articulate and Clear Projection Good
Remo Emperor Smooth White Two Ply/7.5 mil each No Muffling Included Bright Tone, Attack and Projection Best
Remo Power Max Smooth White/Ebony Single Ply/10-mil Installed Muffling Optimum Tone Control, great for outdoor use Good
Remo Power Max Smooth Black Suede Single Ply/10-mil Installed Muffling Focused Attack, Focused Sustain Good
Remo Power Max 2 Smooth White/Ebony Two Ply/7 mil each Installed Muffling Excellent Low-End and Increased Attack Best

What Head Should I Choose?

Ultimately you may want to consult with your staff and design team on the option that will work best for you. When it comes to Black or White that is often a personal preference or design choice based on your show and their is no difference in the quality of sound between the two options. If you have a smaller band you may want to opt for the 2 ply heads out side to get more articulation and less sustain, as this can help balance out the sound. The trends in drum heads is an ever changing model, so try not to follow the trend but find something that works with your sound, the size of your bass line, and your budget.

Of course if you ever have more specific questions or need more details or pricing feel free to give us a call at (317) 813-2070 or email us at One of our trained specialists can work with you to find the best option for your group.

Overture by Black Swamp Percussion: Reshaping the Vision of Budget and Quality

Band directors and percussion directors are always looking for budget friendly accessories that hold up to the constant use that happens in middle school and high school programs. The new Overture by Black Swamp Percussion instrument line is a start of that vision from one of the most reputable companies in concert percussion instruments. Long known for their top quality instruments such as snare drums, tambourine, triangles and more, Black Swamp recently released a new series of instrument that will bridge the gap and give their same great quality instruments at a budget friendly price. For now, the Overture series includes a tambourine, castanet machine and woodblocks.

We take a look in todays blog, what each instrument has to offer from this new series.

TDOV – Tambourine

The Overture Series Tambourine (TDOV) has actually been in the Black Swamp line-up for a while and has quickly become a favorite among middle school directors.  The textured brass jingles give this tambourine a bright sound and combined with the Remo Renaissance Head that gives a pure tone when struck. The increased durability of the synthetic head also allows for the purchaser to know they are getting a tambourine with durability and longevity of use. The ply shell and double-row of jingles allow this tambourine to be played in a professional manner and get a professional sound at an economical price. Includes a protective bag and wax.

OV-CM – Castanet Machine

The Overture Series Castanet Machine is a new model of castanets from Black Swamp and adds a dedicated castanet machine to their already high quality professional castanet line-up. The fiber castanets used give excellent projection through an ensemble without being overbearing or to high in pitch. User friendly design with no elastic or rope to control the tension on the castanets. The tension adjustment is done with a knob and is the same design that is used on the Black Swamp pro level castanets and castanet machine. The base of the castanet machine is made of ply wood with a threaded insert for attaching to a cymbal stand or rubber feet if you prefer to place it on a trap table when played.

OV-WB – Woodblocks

The Overture Series Woodblocks will be a great addition to any band room with their excellent sound and focused tone. Unlike the other Black Swamp woodblocks that are made of maple, the Overture series woodblocks are made from rubberwood. These woodblocks have the same great design with strict standards on the lumber that is used and designed in a way to give the perfect sweet spot when played. Available in 3 different sizes, you can rest assured that you can find the sound you are looking for.

We are proud to carry these quality products in store and online. If you have any questions or looking for some other suggestions on products from Black Swamp Percussion be sure to contact us by phone or email.

(317) 813-2070

Get Ready for Some Controversy: Concert Bass Drum Tuning

As with many things in percussion, tuning drums is a very personal thing that is often guided by preferences picked up in past performance and teaching experiences. This has never been more true than in how a group will tune their concert bass drum and this is often overlooked when preparing for the upcoming season. We thought we would offer a few good ways to tune your concert bass drums in this week’s blog. Before we dive into the various tuning methods we suggest you try, let’s talk about the many things that will affect how you might ultimately find your preferred sound.

What sort of things will affect the sound of my drum?


The diameter and depth of your drum will definitely play a large role in ultimately finding the sound that you prefer. If you have a 32″ x 16″ drum you can’t expect it to have the same full, deep sound that a 40″ x 22″ drum will have. However, you can still find a nice low sound that will work best for you drum. When it comes to the depth and diameter of your drum, it is important to keep your expectations relative to those measurements. When looking for a good fundamental tone, the diameter will ultimately set the limits on what you can do.

Shell Type

The three most popular wood for concert bass drum shells are Mahogany, Maple, and Kapur. Kapur wood is most often used in entry-level drums but shares many characteristics with Mahogany and is very durable. Maple is very popular in mid to high end concert bass drums. Maple is well known for having a balanced volume and warm sound. Mahogany is by far the most popular choice of wood for a concert bass drum shell. The softness of Mahogany allows for the warm, low tones that are so characteristic of these drums.

Head Choice

Again there are many different directions you could go with head choice. You may want to consider using a thicker head on the batter side and a thinner head on your resonant side, as this gives you increased durability and overtone control. Some good combinations for this would be something like you see below:

Batter Head                                                   Resonant Head

                        Remo Emperor Renaissance                 Remo Ambassador Renaissance

Evans Strata 1400 w/Power Dot          Evans Strata 1000

What are some good ways to tune my drum?

While there are many different ways to approach we want to focus on three of the more popular methods used for tuning your concert bass drum for the indoor percussion season. Each will have their advantages or disadvantages but it is important to keep in mind the size and make of your drum when trying on of these tuning methods. We suggest no matter what method you use, tune it up close and have a student play it while you stand back listen for the overall sound. We also suggest not using any sort of towel or dampening method in the initial process, but rather get a feel for the natural sound of the drum first.

Both Heads Same Pitch

This approach for tuning is exactly like it sounds. Tune both sides of the drum to the same pitch. We suggest trying to get the drum to either C, C#, D, Eb and see which one you feel works best for you and your set-up. This method is particular great for giving maximum resonance and long decay and is particularly great for larger 40″ drums or 36″ drums that are 22″+ inches in depth. It is worth noting this tuning method will sound best when played in the center of the drum as well.

Batter Head Lower

Another popular method for tuning the concert bass drum is tuning the batter head lower than the resonant head. With this tuning approach, you want to tune the batter head to it lowest possible pure tone, meaning that when struck you don’t hear any rattling of the head or paper like sounds. After find this pitch, you will want to tune the resonant head anywhere from a Major 2nd to Major 3rd interval above the batter head. This will produce a low fundamental tone when struck but will have a faster decay and less sustain. Tuning with this method is great for 36″ drums especially if you are using thinner heads on both sides such as the Ambassador Fiberskyn Heads.

Resonant Head Lower

This is a less popular option but is the exact opposite of tuning the previous method and you will tune the resonant head to it’s lowest pure tone and then tune the batter head a Major 2nd to Major 3rd interval above the resonant head. This will give a more punchy, short sound while give a low tone because of the reverse tuning. We would suggest you try this type of tuning method for smaller 36″ or 32″ drums, especially if using a thicker head on the batter side.

Which is the best for me?

Ultimately you may need to dedicate some time during rehearsal to finding out what tuning method will work best for you and your equipment. Of course there are other things to keep in mind like the type of music you are playing, how often the drum is played, and your performance venues. We suggest picking one method and going with that for a week to see how it fits in with your overall sound, especially if it is something different than what you normally do. That will give you and your staff time to determine if it is working out for you.

Lastly, keep in mind that if you aren’t getting the sound you desire and haven’t changed heads in a while it may be time to explore some new options. Give us a call and we can help find the right heads for your drum. Happy tuning!

Indiana Percussion Association 2023 Season Preview

Welcome back to the Chops blog.  The Indoor Percussion Association (IPA) season is about to begin, and we’re proud to once again be the presenting sponsor for the Indiana Percussion Association!  Indoor Percussion continues to grow in popularity within the state and across around the world.  We’re lucky to have one of the best and largest indoor percussion circuits in the country, and we’re proud to support the efforts of IPA and all of the participating groups. Along with local IPA contests, there’s also a national WGI regional, hosted by Franklin Central, where you can see performances by ensembles from all over the Midwest.

Following up on a successful year for indoor percussion here in Indiana at both IPA and WGI this year is sure to be one of the best ever! With the new Regional A class and some groups returning to the marching idiom after a few years in concert class we can’t wait to see everyone get their season underway.

Here’s a schedule of remaining contests to help you find a show near you!

Veritas 2023 Pearl/Adams Sale List – Reserve Now

Chops Percussion will be selling all of the Pearl/Adams gear used by Veritas Percussion during the 2023 WGI season. This is a HUGE opportunity to save on gear that has only been used for a few months. If you’re looking to upgrade your battery percussion or your front ensemble gear, this is the time to do just that.

In order to reserve an item we must have a PO from your school, check or credit card payment. We will arrange delivery to you in the final weeks of April/May 2023. Keep an eye on the list to see what is still available and give us a call to get more information!

To check out the currently available gear, click here!