Heads, sticks, brushes, and mallets are all items that you will need to replace from time to time. If you are a hard-hitting rock drummer, and you're quite active, you will go through sticks pretty fast. An active rock drummer will also go through heads relatively quickly. For this kind of player, top heads on tom-toms will probably need to be changed about every three or four months, snare drumheads may need to be changed even more frequently. Extremely active professionals, such as touring drummers, change their heads as much as two or three times a week.
Of course, these are guys who have endorsements and drum techs, so it's no sweat off of their back. You do not need to change your heads this often. Obviously, if you're playing at softer volumes or if you are not very active, your heads will last longer. Jazz drummers may even use the same tom-tom heads for years, though this may be more out of laziness.
No matter what style of music you play, you shouldn't be breaking heads often. Every rock drummer has broken a few snare drumheads, some have even pounded through their bass drumhead cracks, tearing heads on a regular basis should in your playing and setup isn't right. You will know when the snare drumhead needs changing when the white batter starts to flake off and you see a translucent spot in the middle of the drumhead. For jazz players, you will know it's time to change your snare head when it starts to blacken or when the coating loses its sandpapery feel, playing with brushes causes this to happen.
You will know when tom-tom heads need replacing by the look as well as the sound of the head. As the head deteriorates, you may start to see dents or scrapes. With double-ply heads, such as the Remo Pinstripe, the tone of the drum will become noticeably affected, too. If your once- lovely sounding tom-tom becomes dead or muffled, it may be because the head has suffered one too many fills. Drumsticks usually wear in three places.
If you use wooden-tipped sticks, the tip will eventually start to splinter. This happens more with jazz drummers. Rock drummers who use wooden tips don't usually have this problem because their sticks get chewed up in other areas long before the tip begins to splinter. For rock players and other hard-hitters, the shafts of their sticks begin to peel in the areas where the stick comes into contact with the edges of crash cymbals and where you play rim shot backbeats on the snare drum. One way drummers can extend the life of their sticks is to wrap a little black electrical tape around the Areas of the stick that are vulnerable, do not put tape on the tip, though.
Most importantly, as you see your sticks deteriorate, throw them out and buy new ones. Splintered tips don't sound as crisp and articulate on cymbals, and sticks that are severely peeling can actually become dangerous projectiles. If a stick breaks, a sharp sliver of wood could hit you in the face. This rarely happens, but it's something to be aware of. Brushes usually have a long lifespan.
The best way to ensure this is to buy telescoping brushes, since this will protect them during transport. If the tips of the bristles become bent or tangled, or if some of them fall out, you need to buy a new pair. Mallets should also have a long lifespan. Replace them only when the felt beater starts to deteriorate and fall off. When this occurs, you will see the plastic or wooden core poking through.
Eric is using Remo drum heads on all of his new and Used Drums, including his Bongo Drums and Conga Drums. Eric is also an active member of Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.