Marching Snare Drum Heads…Kevlar or Mylar?

by Tom on May 4, 2007

Marching season is right around the corner and as schools and individuals prepare to purchase new marching snare drum heads for their Marching Snare Drums, the age old question of Kevlar versus Mylar will once again become a topic of debate. While there may be some aspects of the discussion that are of a “personal opinion” nature, there are also several aspects that are factual and may help a person make a better decision on what will work best for your situation.

A Mylar drum head will provide a more natural and realistic feel with far more “give” to allow the player a more comfortable playing experience. Mylar Marching Snare Side Drum Heads such as the Remo Clear Mylar Snare Side Drum Head or the Evans MS3 Snare Side Drum Head provide a natural response and overall tonality not found in the Kevlar style counterparts. Yes, even the bottom head (which by the way is equally as important to change as frequently if not more than the top head) will affect the playability and tonality of the Snare Drum…no matter how much you like to crank it up. Just as this is based on fact, there are also a few bits of knowledge that are useful when choosing to use Mylar for your bottom head.

Mylar does require more upkeep and attention than Kevlar. Because Mylar stretches far more than Kevlar (what do you expect from a material that can stop a bullet!), that stretching will cause the drum head to dip or go out of tune more frequently. This requires more time to tune and keep all of the drums in the line in tune with each other. The other aspect of Mylar versus Kevlar debate is certainly the overall cost factor. For every one Kevlar style bottom head, you could purchase three Mylar style heads. Budgets the way they are these days, this can be a tremendous savings to an overall program…but it comes with a different type of “price”, which is the time and effort needed to keep the drums tuned up. The greatest benefit in using Kevlar can be summed up in those words made famous by Ron Popeil…you can Set It and Forget It!

Either Kevlar or Mylar bottom heads can be used with whatever style Marching Snare Drum top head you are using. No matter what your top head of choice is…Remo Black Max Snare Drum Head, Remo White Max Snare Drum Head, Evans MX White Snare Drum Head, or any of the other choices available….you can use whatever bottom head you want for the sound desired. Kevlar doesn’t have to be matched with Kevlar and Mylar doesn’t have to go with Mylar. Mix and match whatever heads you want to achieve your desired sound or for your particular playing situation. My preference in teaching the Villanova Drumline is the Evans MX White Top with a Mylar style bottom head. We use 13″ Pearl Championship Drums and marched 6 snares last year, so this combination worked very well for overall tone and projection.

No matter what choices you make, you can be sure that someone else will choose another option, which doesn’t make one right or wrong. The most important thing is to be sure you understand your particular needs and desired sound. I can promise that there is a drum head combination that will help you accomplish your goal…a great sounding snare line. Well, maybe a few more hours in the woodshed would help too!

Update 06/05/2007:
Due to popular demand, Evans has created a new type of marching snare drum head that combines the durability of Kevlar with the sound of Mylar. Evans Hybrid Grey Marching Snare Drum Head, Evans Hybrid White Marching Snare Drum Head and Evans Hybrid Snare Side Marching Drum Head.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat May 4, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Hey,
Great article. Check out this similar debate:

The Great Debate…Mylar vs. Kevlar

Steve Weiss Music May 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Pearl put out an article on tuning marching snare drum heads, and they talk a little bit about Kevlar vs Mylar drum heads. You can download the PDF here: Marching Percussion Tuning Techniques.

Robert July 18, 2007 at 9:24 am

BTW, none of the heads on the market except for Remo’s Falam II and CyberMax heads actually uses Kevlar…

Most use Aramid and are woven differently than Kevlar along with some sort of mylar blended in to soften the feel of the head

Kris September 23, 2007 at 7:14 pm

wow I remember the days when the only debate was if we were going to use Clear or Ebony pinstripes.

Oppenheimer May 22, 2010 at 11:36 pm

EVERY Kevlar HAS/IS Aramid. But not all aramid is Kevlar, since Kevlar is just a brand. Aramid is a big family…

Sean Mireau September 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I have tried the Evans Hybrid Snare Side Marching Drum Heads and unfortunately, in my opinion, they still don’t have the sound of mylar.

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