Great news: Team DGR is growing once again! Please welcome new Drum Gear Review contributor, Josh V. Josh is a very thorough product tester with an excellent eye for detail. For his first piece, he put together this great review of Eccentric Systems’ Flatheadz hoops. Read, enjoy and let us know what you think!
Flatheadz Drum Hoops Review
Seemingly since the drum was invented, drummers have been trying to make drum tuning faster and easier. One tried-and-true method has always been starting with uniform lug tension. Past inventions such as Tama’s Tension Watch or those torque wrench-style drum keys attempted to make this process easier. The newest invention along these lines is Eccentric Systems’ (producer of the excellent Quick Torque Cam) Flatheadz drum hoops. The concept of these hoops is so simple it might be brilliant – print tiny measuring lines, a gauge or ruler if you will, right on the hoop itself, on the inside of each lug position. Instead of measuring tension using an external device, with these hoops you can (in theory) just eyeball the desired level of tension for each lug.
I tested a pair of 10-lug Flatheadz hoops on a 14” DW maple snare. To help measure how closely the Flatheadz gauges could get my drum in tune, I decided to use Overtone Labs’ Tune-Bot. The Tune-Bot seemed like a good way to test the usefulness of the Flatheadz design – would it quickly and easily get a drum close to being in tune?
Each Flatheadz gauge has 10 measuring lines, but I found that the first usable line for the batter head was eight from the top. At 10 and nine lines, the head was too loose to be playable. Getting each lug to the eighth line was a very simple and quick process, and after eyeballing each lug, getting each as close to the eighth line as possible, I broke out the Tune-Bot. The results were excellent: all 10 lugs measured between 235-245 Hz in pitch. This is obviously very close to being perfectly in tune, and a very good start toward fine-tuning the drum. Depending on how I tuned the bottom head, the batter head at eight lines generally provided a warm, medium snare tone, so I found this setting very useful.
I next tried tuning the drum one line tighter, at line seven. Adjusting the drumhead from one line to another on the gauge was a quick and painless process. At the seventh line, the batter head was now very tight, definitely on the higher end of the snare drum pitch spectrum. Once again, the Tune-Bot measurements were very satisfactory: all 10 lugs measured between 354-362 Hz, very close to being perfectly in tune.
At the seventh line, the head was already fairly tight, but I tried going one step further. While I was able to get the batter head to the sixth line of the gauge, I found this level of head tension to be unplayable. Even probably for Chad Sexton.
When using the Flatheadz hoop on the bottom head of my snare, I again found that eight was the first usable measuring line on the gauge. In this case, given the thinness of the bottom snare head, eight lines was only barely usable, as several tension rods were very close to being loose at this point. Using the Tune-Bot, I tested the head, and the results were again excellent: all 10 lugs measured between 310-316 Hz. It would be no problem to quickly fine-tune the head from there.
I also tested the bottom head at line seven, and again got great results: all 10 lugs came in between 390-393 Hz. Unlike the batter head, the bottom head at line seven was not particularly tight, and the sound produced was still of a good medium frequency.
Overall, the bottom head, given its thin nature, provided more flexibility in using the Flatheadz gauges. I could easily get the bottom head as tight as line five, meaning lines eight through five were usable, although line five provided an extremely high-pitched sound. Any tighter than line five did not seem possible.
On the batter head of my snare, the Flatheadz hoops really only had two usable settings – lines eight and seven. Meaning most of the 10 measuring lines would never be used. This limitation is understandable, given that the measuring lines on the gauge are already tiny and very close to each other. The addition of any finer lines would probably be impossible to use. But for drummers who would not be happy with the sounds provided by the eighth or seventh lines, the Flatheadz hoops might be problematic.
However I still think it could be a good guide for quickly getting the drum close to where you want it. And at least for me, I found the eighth and seventh lines to be among the sounds I would most want to use on this particular drum.
The Flatheadz drum hoops do exactly what they advertise – they allow you to quickly and easily get a drumhead close to being in tune. They take the guesswork and the use of external devices out of getting a drumhead to a baseline of relatively equal tension. When using these hoops as your starter, you can get a drum perfectly in tune in just minutes with relative ease. And, changing pitch is very easy as well. When it comes to getting uniform tension in a hurry, these hoops do the job.
Eccentric Systems advertises that Flatheadz are available in all sizes and types, and in various finishes.