Evans created a buzz in the drumming world last year with their release of the UV1 drumhead. Made from a single ply of coated 10-mil Mylar polyester, a UV1 is described as having an open sound similar to a coated Ambassador but “with a durability and longevity never before seen in a drumhead.” Other raves describe them as having “unmatched durability, consistency, strength, and sound,” and that they’re “the most versatile and durable series of 10-mil drumheads you’ll ever put on your drums.” These are strong statements! Does the UV1 live up to its hype?
We were sent a 14”, 10”, 14”, and a just-released UV1 EMAD 20” bass drum head with removable dampening rings. Most drumhead coatings are sprayed on with a gun and air-dried, but UV1 coating is silkscreened and then cured with high-intensity ultraviolet light. UV curing has been around for over 50 years and is widely used in other industries due to shorter production time, reduced waste, and an extremely even application. UV-coatings are also said to have more resilience and longevity.
SNARE AND TOM HEADS
I’m not normally a big fan of single-ply drum heads, since I favor lower, more “thuddy” tunings on my toms. In lower registers, single-ply heads are usually too flexible, and, in general, compared to 2-ply and thicker heads, the sound is often very open and ringy. Depending on the size of the drum, I virtually always have to apply multiple gels to minimize the overtones. Given this, I expected my feelings toward the UV1s to be an appreciation of their durability but a dislike of their sound. Boy, I was wrong. As far as any overtones, I needed to apply only half a drumdot™ gel dampener on the high rack tom and one full dot on the snare and middle rack tom. All drums sounded great, with a pure, rounded tone, were super responsive, but could also withstand hard hits at lower tuning ranges without being “flappy.”
Check out this video comparing the UV1 with a coated Remo Ambassador, and with three different 2-ply clear Aquarian heads:
You can hear that the UV1 sounds very similar to the Ambassador. But, the Ambassador has marks on it from the very first hit, whereas the UV1 has virtually none… AND, that UV1 head had been on my tom for almost a year!
A very happy discovery on the floor tom was the application of a Big Fat Snare Drum™ donut dampener, which sounded unreal with the UV1: an awesome, fat, growling, low attack. I love it!
BASS DRUM HEAD
Similarly, the EMAD kick head sound, particularly with the narrow dampening ring, was punchy, present, and full of attack, with tons of low end. Absolutely fantastic, and it’s still on my kit.
Hear the UV1 EMAD bass drum head with and without dampening rings, and in comparison with several 2-ply heads:
Finally, just as everyone says, the most amazing thing about the Evans UV1 is its durability, which is nothing short of jaw-dropping. No joke, I have had UV1s on my snare and toms for almost a year, and they show virtually no signs of wear and sound as good as they did new. I’m not kidding: there are hardly any marks (and I practice two to three hours a day some weeks), and the few marks that are there require getting up close in bright light to see. Just for contrast, I compared the UV1 on my 10” tom with a brand new coated Remo Ambassador (see above video). Literally, there was a mark on the Ambassador from the very first hit. Enough said.
UV1 drumheads from Evans are amazing, and live up to the industry hype. They’re a general purpose head that will work for a variety of styles and tunings, while lasting two to three times longer. Get some. You’ll thank me a year from now, when they’re still on your kit!
For more info on the Evans UV1: http://uv1.evansdrumheads.com
UV1 snare head in a groove played on a full kit, as well as UV1 tom heads during some fills starting at 1:26:
JJ Jones is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She has played with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, comedian Margaret Cho, Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, and LA’s riot-pop band WASI, among many others. She is the founder of EmpowerDrumming.com, a drumming education and coaching resource for women.