Code Nicko McBrain Signature Drum Heads

Code Nicko McBrain Signature Drum Heads

Like I’m sure many people were, I was rather surprised to see Nicko McBrain’s big move to Code Heads earlier this year. However, I then saw the video released at the time and it kind of made a bit more sense. 

If you do some research, or if you’re just old enough to remember like me, Nicko always used to use [clear] Ludwig silver dot rocker heads and these new heads are quite reminiscent of those, at least in appearance.

Nicko’s new heads are for snares and toms; there’s nothing for the kick drum. The snare head is a more traditional single-ply coated affair with a reverse dot, whilst the tom heads are chrome dot heads.

Snare head

This head features a thicker single ply for increased strength as it’s designed for medium to heavy use. Not really a surprise there. Code says it produces a bright sound with great projection and sensitivity, and I found that to be true. It has a reverse donut/dot for added durability and tone control and features Code’s Grip-Tight rim Technology.

I think sometimes when you try something different, especially something like a drum head, it can feel strange or put you out of your comfort zone. I was thinking this might be the case here for me, but it wasn’t. There was a genuine sense of familiarity and immediately feeling comfortable with this head. It didn’t really feel like I’d put something completely new on the drum. Sound-wise, it was bright, easy to tune and made the drum sound great.

 The head is available in 13 and 14” sizes.

Tom heads 

The tom heads are also designed for medium to heavy use. They feature single 10 mils ply film with a surface chrome donut dot. The dot itself is 7 mils thick and constructed from two plies of chrome and clear PET film for added durability. They’re designed to provide a bright and punchy sound to cut through and project, and are available in 6,8,10,12,13,14,15,16 and 18” sizes.

Now, the previous heads I had on my toms were coated and so obviously produced a different kind of sound. It’s a sound I like and it makes those drums sound full and rich.

Clearly, I wasn’t expecting that type of sound with these heads, given what they are, but when I swapped them over, I was struck by how open and – ok, I’ll say it – bright and punchy they were. I’m not going to try and get all poetic about it, these are the best words I can think of using here. Louder would be the only other word I’d use. 

Code aren’t the first company to put a dot on their heads and they’re not the first to use a donut dot either. However, what I noticed about these heads against other dotted heads I’ve used is that these were more open sounding and, again, brighter. There’s definitely a cleaner tonal difference between these heads and the more traditional/historic sound of clear dotted heads which I could hear.

This was the first time I’ve tried any heads from Code and I was pleasantly surprised. While I didn’t exactly have any preconceptions about how they would sound and play, I was just surprised at how good they sounded. That’s not meant in a negative way either; I just simply did not know.

I have used the same [A N Other brand] head on the snare I used for the review for a long time because I like it even if it is a little worn now. I know how it sounds and I’ve kept it on there as I like it. and it’s comfortable. The Code snare head sounded to me almost like it gave the drum a slightly different sound, and maybe even a bit more life.

The tom heads were the bigger surprise though. I know how dotted heads generally sound on my drums and to my ear, and while I do like that sound, it’s not something I would want to hear all the time. The sound is more controlled and maybe a little more mid-range tonally. 

These heads though, seemed to have a brighter more vibrant edge to them with a bit more resonance than I might have expected from that type of head, and I quite liked it. I’ll go as far to say that I might go out and buy some bottom heads and go outfit one of my kits in full in the near future.

David Bateman

November 2023

By | 2023-11-04T21:10:31+00:00 November 2nd, 2023|Categories: Reviews|Comments Off on Code Nicko McBrain Signature Drum Heads