how to measure drum heads 1

How to measure drum heads

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Updated on 01/10/2021

Do you know how to measure drum heads and the drum sizes to find the perfect fit?

No? Then this will help!

Imagine the following:

You have found vintage drums on eBay and to your surprise the seller doesn’t know anything about this very important thing:

The correct size of the drums and the heads.

Nonetheless, you click on “Buy it now” and make the purchase.
A few days later your (new) old drum kit arrives at your home.

Yeah!

But:
The drum heads haven’t been replaced for decades and trying to tune them even worsens the overall sound.

FXXK!

So the question is:

How to measure the drum sizes and make your music instrument sound great again?

A good question!
Let’s see how to handle it.

Common drum sizes

Here are the most common drum head sizes to keep in mind, when measuring your drums. Even if you don’t find the exact width of your toms or snare drum you can round up or down to the following sizes:

  • 6″ / 8″ / 10″ / 12″ / 14″ / 16″ / 18″ / 20″ / 22″

Okay,
now let’s continue to find out the sizes.

How to measure drum heads

There are (at least) 3 methods – I know – which make it easy to find out your drum shells’ sizes and which head sizes you need for your drums.

All you need is a simple drum key and a tape measure.

how to measure drum heads
How to measure drum heads

1. The measuring tape method:

The first method is the most obvious.
All you need is a simple drum key like this one and a measuring tape.

pearl drum key
Pearl drum key

Steps:

  1. Remove the lugs, hoops and then the old heads using your drum key.
  2. Measure the distance from edge to edge and find out the exact diameter (width) of the drum shell.

2. The old but still valuable method

Yes.

It sounds ridiculous.

This is the easiest way when measuring the size of any drum head / shell.

You don’t even need a measuring tape!

Every time you replace heads, just keep the old ones and use it as a template for the new one.
Whenever you don’t know the size of a particular tom tom or snare size, just get it out and put it onto the bearing edge to see if it’s the right size. If it fits the bearing edge there’s a good chance that you found the correct size.

Of course this works for snare, tom toms and also floor toms and bass drum.

I know, it’s easy, but I thought it’s worth mentioning.

3. The mathematical approach on how to find out the size of drum skins

There’s another a bit more complicated method on how to measure drum heads.
I found it on Remo’s support website.

It’s more useful in case of older and uneven shells.

Steps:

  1. Take a string and wrap it around the drum shell you want to know the size of
  2. Mark the overlapping points
  3. Lay the string out straight for best measurement of the marked distance
  4. Divide it by 3.14 and get the diameter of the object.

Most popular head manufacturers

If you are looking for new heads you will finally notice at least 3 drum manufacturers:

  • Remo
  • Aquarian
  • Evans

All of them build state-of-the-art products for drummers including heads for snare, tom toms, bass drum and for any other percussion instruments too.

Final thoughts

In a pretty rare case that you really don’t know the sizes of your drum set parts, then these 3 methods can be very helpful.

Have you ever tried one of them on your snare, tom toms or kick drum?
Did you ever have problems on how to find out the sizes of your shells and heads?

Please let me know and leave a comment.

Thanks in advance and talk soon!
Keno


Have you ever measured your drum heads? Do you want to know how it works? Here are 3 (very) simple methods which help you find the sizes of your drum shells and drum heads.

Total Time: P00DT00H10M

Loosen drum lugs & hoops of your drum

First you need to loosen the drum lugs using the drum key. When finished you can put the drum hoop away and take of the old drum head.

Measure from edge to edge to find the correct diameter (width) of your drum.

There are a few different ways to measure the width of your drum shell now. For the easiest and most obvious one you need a tape measure. Measure from edge to edge of the drum shell and try to find the exact middle to measure the diameter of the drum.

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