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.

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