Well, I didn’t have the stopwatch running, but it definitely seemed like the heads tuned up more quickly than normal. A simple finger-tightening followed by a half turn on each lug had the drums singing with a full, round voice, and almost no weird overtones. I went around and tap tuned at each lug to dial everything in just a bit, and it only took a few minutes to get the whole kit sounding just right. A pretty nice experience actually.
Sure enough, the heads sounded and felt great at both high and low tunings, but after some experimentation, one thing did jump out at me. I cranked the coated G1s up nice and high, and they gave me a pretty remarkable sweetness that I hadn’t heard from these drums before. When I tried to get them back down low, however, I couldn’t really get my 14" floor tom to sound like it had before. There was a very strange, overtone-laden decay that just wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried.
Upon further inspection, I could see that a part of the collar was no longer in contact with the bearing edge. Now, this only happened on the floor tom – and only this floor tom – but when I looked closer, it seemed like the playing surface of the head may have in fact been a little bit too large for the shell. I removed the rim and tried to reposition the head, and got the same result. Even so, it still tuned well enough, and it sounded fine despite the issue. I couldn’t replicate the problem with a different drum or a different head, so I have to assume it was simply some inconsistency between the two.
Next, I switched the coated G1s over to my vintage bop kit for what I figured would be the real test of the Level360 collar. It’s a jumble of ’60s-era refurbished shells that definitely skew a little wider than most of the modern drums I’ve seen. In the past, I’ve had a fair amount of trouble finding a comfortable tuning for both of the toms on this kit, so I was eager to see how these wider collars would handle a set of tricky tubs.
Paydirt! I got the same easy tuning and warm, round tone that I’d seen with the modern kit, but with plenty of the dark, woody body I’d always wanted to hear from these half-century old shells. They went from low to high and back again with no problem (none of the same issue I saw on the other floor tom), and sang clearly at every stop. While other heads had fit on the shell too snugly and limited the available tuning range, the updated G1s were a perfect fit.
All this held true for the snare drums I tried as well. The heads sat comfortably with a little extra wiggle room on the modern models I tried, but fit like a glove on the 1950’s WFL Marching snare I called up off the bench. On each drum, I received a crisp response with plenty of room for the shell’s character to shine through.
As I mentioned before, Evans also sent over a pair of clear G1s. Tuned up high or low they performed as expected; loads of tone with just a bit more brightness and attack than their coated siblings. The real joy, though, was getting to take advantage of the view.
After so much experimenting with the coated heads, I was excited to get an unobstructed view of exactly where the head was making contact with the edge of the shell. I slapped them on the toms of my modern maple kit first, and snuggled up for a close look.
With the clear G1s in place, I could see the sharp-cut bearing edges supporting the flat part of the head about a millimeter or two away from the collar. I realized that the concept here was much like that of a Gong drum, but on a much smaller scale. The head should always sit flat because on most drums, none of the curved collar was close enough to the edge to affect the overall fit. It was certainly closer on the wider shelled vintage drums, but the added space afforded by the Level360 collar was still apparent.
At face value, these Level360 enhanced G1 drumheads have the same rich, open clarity that helped make Evans such a respected brand in the first place. Beyond that, however, this almost unseen innovation has a huge impact on the function and tunability of these already versatile heads. While I did notice one inconsistency with a specific tom, it could easily be attributed to a minor defect on either end. That aside, the heads were tremendously satisfying, and it’s clear that Evans has developed a very successful solution to a problem that has plagued drummers since the advent of acoustic heads. Hats … or, I suppose, heads off.
Features Evans new Level360 collar expands the playable surface to allow added room for level seating, offering easier tuning and increased range. The new collar is currently in place on all 6"—16" Evans heads.
Model/Size & List Price
D’Addario & Co.