Updated: Jul 23, 2021
FINDING THE RIGHT REPLACEMENT TIMPANI HEADS
Timpani heads can be a bit of a hassle, but there are several methods to figuring out exactly what size(s) you need.
METHOD ONE: MEASURING HEADS
Fitting timpani heads is not as simple as fitting snare, bass, or tom heads. Timpani heads extend beyond the edge of the bowl, so you'll need a head that's larger than the diameter of the actual drum.
The easiest and most accurate way of buying a head that fits correctly is to remove and measure the OUTSIDE DIAMETER of your old head (from outer edge to outer edge).
Don't have the old heads? Things get a little more convoluted, but we'll help you through method two or three.
METHOD TWO: KNOWING THE BRAND/MODEL AND USING HANDY CHARTS
It's immensely helpful to know the brand (and hopefully model) of your drums. You'll most likely have timpani made by Ludwig, Adams, or Yamaha, but you may have something else entirely! You can usually find the brand and model somewhere on the base of the instrument.
Don't know what kind of timpani you have, or couldn't find them in the charts? Move on to method three.
METHOD THREE: FIGURING OUT COLLARS
REGULAR COLLARS (HEADS 1" LARGER THAN DRUM)
Regular Collar drums have just a bit of space - almost imperceptible from far away - between the edge of the bowl (bearing edge) and the metal hoop that pulls on the head to create tension (counter-hoop). When ordering heads for these drums, it's a good rule of thumb to order a head 1" larger than the bowl size.
A 27" head will likely fit on an old 26" regular collar drum.
Exception: on 23" drums, you may need a 24.25" head.
Ludwig and Slingerland timpani manufactured before 1978 were made with regular collars.
EXTENDED COLLARS (HEADS 2" LARGER THAN DRUM)
Extended drums have a very visible gap between the bearing edge and the counter-hoop - you can see the head is extended out over the bowl. Heads for these drums are typically 2" larger than the bowl size.
A 25" head should fit on a 23" extended collar timpani.
We hope you've found this blog post helpful. If you have any questions, or if you've decided you'd prefer to have us take care of your timpani repairs and head replacement for you or your school, give us a call. 203-416-6359. We offer pickup and delivery and quick turnaround times!