Forest King Series Wooden Drumheads
by Nick Amoroso
Earthy percussive sounds for your everyday drumset.
If you’re looking for new percussive sounds for low-volume gigs, then you might appreciate what the Forest King line of wooden drumheads from Index Drums has to offer.
We received a set of Forest King heads for a bop kit with 12″ and 14″ toms (top and bottom), a 14″ snare (top only), and an 18″ bass drum (front and back). The snare batter is the 125 model, which denotes its 125mm thickness. The rest of the heads are 100 models. All of the heads are made from three plies of luan mahogany.
The heads were easy to mount on the drums; just replace your normal heads with them as you would any drumhead. I found that I needed longer tension rods for the bass drum to accommodate for the fact that the Index head doesn’t stretch to conform to the curvature of the bearing edge. The bass drum resonant side head has a hexagonal port for miking purposes, but it can be ordered without a port. Ports are available on 18″ to 24″ heads.
With the Forest series heads mounted, my drums took on a different tone that I wasn’t used to hearing. When I kept them loose I was able to get a nice slap between the head and the bearing edge, which added an appealing percussive texture. I could get an earthy, musical timbre out of the drums by tuning up the heads a bit and hitting them with my hands. Using mallets on the toms produced a round, warm, and full tone that was almost bell-like. Rods, broomsticks, and brushes brought out a dark, slappy “thwack” that I’d never experienced with Mylar or calfskin heads. The bass drum, when set up with no muffling and hit with a square felt beater, sounded big and warm with pleasing, round overtones. Using a vintage-style lamb’s wool beater made the drum sound even rounder and warmer.
When I outfitted my 6.5×14 wood snare with the Forest series batter head, I had a blast playing a train beat with plastic brushes. All of that awesome midrange “honk” you get when you hit a regular snare with a brush is there—and then some. Even playing the Index-outfitted snare with my fingers sounded cool. It was easy to get a lot of earthy, out-of-the-ordinary tones.
The only implements that weren’t quite at home on the Index heads were regular drumsticks. They produced a lot of attack but not nearly as much tone as when using softer mallets or multi-rods. Although the manufacturer says that sticks are relatively safe to use on the wood heads, the company advises against hard-hitting playing. My advice is to use a light touch with whatever implements you strike them with, and the heads will likely last for a long time. Likewise, I don’t recommend using anything denser than a felt beater on the bass drum head.
Obviously, these Index Forest series wooden drumheads serve a niche market and aren’t meant to replace Mylar drumheads for everyday use. But if you’re looking for different percussive voices, they’re worth your time. Prices range from $18 for an 8″ model to $40 for a 24″ ported bass drum head.