George Lawrence and Gabriel Harris test drive the new Remo Classic Fit drum heads at the Meinl showroom in Nashville TN.
The Remo Classic Fit Drumheads feature a slightly narrower flesh hoop and step design to address oversized drums made prior to the mid 60s. They are also ideal for older vintage drums that are out of round with thick overlapping drum coverings. None of the drum companies has specifically addressed this issue in the past. There have been vintage or simulated "calf skin" heads from all three of the major head companies, but none that were wide enough to fit over the drums made prior to the mid sixties - Gretsch Round Badge Jasper shells in particular. Those Gretsch shells were 1/16" shy of the stated diameter; a 14" drum's shell is actually 13 and 15/16", which is at least 1/16th wider than modern shells. There were vintage drums from other brands that presented the same problem - a lot of Slingerlands were hard to fit with a modern head. A lot of old drums are just plain out of round making it hard to put a head on. I've wrestled with many old out of round drums. On my early sixties Round Badge Gretsch drums I had to take a block of 2x4 wood, place it on top of the hoop of the head and knock it down over the wrap with a hammer. I called it my Gretsch Round Badge head mounting tool. :-) After I opened my first drum shop in the eighties I got wise to how to cut the wrap down a half inch or so to allow room for the hoop. But it seems a shame to have to do that to vintage drums. We hate to alter them in any way. Remo has now solved this problem with their new head line: Classic Fit heads, which come in coated ambassador (medium weight), clear ambassador, hazy snare side ambassador, and Fiberskyn diplomat (thin weight). Sizes are 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18 in everything but the hazy snare sides which are available in 13" and 14". There are bass drum sizes on the drawing board.
What do they sound like? They sound no different at all from the regular versions of ambassadors, diplomats and Fyberskins. The only cosmetic and structural differences are the logo, which is the old Remo "crown" logo, the hoop, which is much narrower to allow it to fit over those old shells, and a little bit different shaped collar that accommodates those shells wonderfully. Gabriel Harris and I slapped some of these heads on his old Gretsch kit, and they slipped right on, with plenty of play between the head's hoop and the outer shell. They fit right into the counter-hoop and tuned up very nicely. Check out the video above. Kudos to Remo for doing something that we vintage guys have been waiting on for a long time.
These heads are available to order in the Not So Modern Drummer online store.