SLAM drum heads have been out for a few years now, offering drummers budget priced options for skins. They still use the same materials and construction methods from the major brands, secured to the rim using a collar lock system. I got to try some full fat, 2ply variants – Clear Hydra (0.188mm & 0.188mm) and Double Clear Singlet (0.175mm & 0.188mm) as a 22” Fusion Pack (10”, 12”, 14”, 22” and 14” snare).
The SLAM Clear Hydra is a take on the tradition Hydraulic heads of old going with a 2 ply head with oil filling between the two films. Doing the usual tap off the drum yielded a strong resonant note and on the drum I was really pleased with the response and tone of this head. I actually found that the heads sat well at a variety of tensions but I really liked them a little lower. The 10” made my drum sound larger than it was. The heads didn’t flap too much when slacked off so this was unexpected for such a thick head, but welcomed. If you’re not into double ply heads, you’ll think ‘this is too much but for me’, but I like fat sounding drums so I was into them. I did find the bass drum head was the only one that needed higher tension to start working but then it sounded too thin for me. Overall though, a great formula.
DOUBLE CLEAR SINGLET
The Double Clear Singlet is a similar approach to the Hydraulic but is more traditional in that there are 2 plies of film but no oil and the plies aren’t stuck together. As with the Hydra, I gave these heads a tap of the drum and there was really no note at all. The fact that there’s two plys next to each other almost dampen one other. The smaller drums responded well as they tend to like slightly higher tensions and the heads responded well with a very focused note and tone without the need for dampening. I couldn’t get the floor tom to ‘wake up’ as such unless I upped the tension but not all players like tighter floor toms. The bass drum had real attack at low tension but not a stack of body. Under a mic, the bass drum would be great but acoustically, it just lacked the real balls-out tone a little. It’s a really short sound though, so some players will really like that.
WHITE PIMPLE SNARE HEAD
It’s worth mentioning the snare head that comes with every drum pack that follows the tradition of a single ply coated head with a reverse under centre dot. I tried this head straight up on my 14x5” 70s Aluminium Ludwig Acrolite and was really happy with the results. There’s a massive tuning range that delivered super wide, fat tones down low and a great crack up top. There’s a nice, manageable amount of ring and even though I played around with dampening, I actually felt the head operated better without it. I also tried the head on a bigger 14x7” Yamaha Oak Custom and discovered another great range of sounds. The head performed in the same manner as on the Ludwig with great low-end and bite. The variation of sound was really just the tone of the drum. It was really good. I preferred to leave the head a little lower actually as it could just handle it. I’m planning on leaving it on there.
SLAM drum heads offer some great sounds and follow the formula of the major brands with all the standard options you’d ever want. I did have some slight hit and miss stuff with these heads at times as mentioned and something I had to be mindful of was to be sure the head was centred and seated properly on the shell before tensioning because it could easily pull to one side. This is slightly old-school in some ways – it’s not a massive issue but something to remember. Really though, for the price, drummers should check them out because everyone’s drums respond differently to drum heads and you can easily explore tone options without having to really break the bank and that’s always a great thing. Besides, just because it’s not a Ferarri, doesn’t mean it can’t be great.
Hits and Misses
Value for money with great tone and feel
Included snare head rocks
Bass drum heads sounded a little thin
Some care needed to seat the heads properly
Higher tension needed for double clear singlet