I am a keen drum player and have had my first drum skin crack. It was on a medium snare drum. The drum has been played for about 20 mins a day for the past 4 years. I got the drum secondhand and am not sure how old it was when I first got it. The drum still functions perfectly well with only a tiny variation in sound. I only use this drumkit to practice and therefore the sound isn't particularly important.

I would like to know three things:

  • Are the skins meant to crack?
  • Is it worth replacing?
  • How much would it cost to replace?

If needed, I can give more information on the drum.

(This question has also been posted on music fans as I am not quite sure which site this is more appropriate for)

5 Answers 5


I would add a different aspect to the existing answers. While, yes, drum heads crack eventually (I have yet to experience that), you might want to pay some attention to the reasons that lead there.

What I mean is (note that I have no clue about your playing level but considering the question I would conclude it is not too high):

  1. Technique. The drum is to be hit with the flattest part of the stick head. The fullest sound is produced when the stick is almost flat with the drum. The angle of the stick at the point of impact should be minimal and as close to 90 degrees as possible. Hitting the skin at a sharp angle usually produces dents in the skin, eventually leading to cracks. This sometimes happens when a snare is kept too low and playing it resembles chopping wood rather than playing a drum. The snare is usually kept at the belt level (at the hips, approximately) so that your hands are resting comfortably at the point of impact.

  2. Strength. Pure physical strength is not so important when playing drums. Meaning, it should be used to a minimum to get the desired sound. The strength of a stroke is produced by technique, the initial distance of the stick from the head, and the speed of it's movement. Also, pay attention not to transfer the energy of the hit back onto your hands and wrists. Try to let the stick do the work, your hands just help it get there. You can find a lot of material on proper technique online.

  3. Tension. The skins need to be correctly tuned and equally stretched on all sides. There are generally two ways of tightening the drum head - star and clockwise. The tension should be maintained so that there are no loose screws, resulting in unbalanced tension on the drum head, which can result in tears and cracks.

Keeping these things in mind might make your new skins last you a lifetime. Having said that, drum heads are fairly cheap and expendable, compared to a drum itself. They are in the $10-$20 range, I believe, depending on the size. You can also choose different types, thicker or thinner, coated or clear. This affects the sound but the thicker ones would also be more durable, I assume.


Drum heads don't last for ever. Cracking is a standard failure mode.

It may SOUND ok, but does it 'bounce' the same way when practicing rolls etc.? If so, carry on if you like. If you go on playing, the worst that is going to happen is that it cracks more. No biggie.

No point in telling US the details of your drum. You need to tell the music shop where you hope to buy a replacement head. They'll tell you the price. We don't even know what country you're in!

(If this is your 'practice' drum, where do you do your real playing? Isn't there a teacher or a more experienced drummer there who can advise you?)


Drum heads stretch and degrade over time. Sometimes they crack. Sometimes they tear. Sometimes all the material in then batter head wears off. Replacing drumheads is normal and how often depends on how they’re used. You can get drumheads from just about any music store or online - you can see the prices for yourself. Be sure to match the headsize with the drumsize and grab a percussion key if you don’t already own one. If you’re in school, ask your music teacher for advice on how to change it. Otherwise look for videos by reputable drummers / companies. Drum tuning is it’s own wonderful art form.


Do you mean the drum head or the drum shell?

Because if it's the drum shell, I think it's time for you to get a new drum.

And if you mean the drum head, yes it's normal for drum heads to crack. You just have to buy a drum key (a screwdriver to take the rim off), detach the rim from the drum, switch out drum heads, and put the rim back on.

  • 1
    I think it says "skin" three times in the question.
    – ojs
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 9:30

No, it's not what's intended. A few things might have happened here, which you did not, or could not, mention.

UV radiation: If your drum is placed 'near' a window, so it will receive direct sunlight all day and all year long, you certainly introduce damage to the chemical bonds and structures. With mechanical stress (tension, playing etc.) you will transform them into micro cracks and finally visible cracks.

Bad mount: If for some reason there was some inhomogenity along the drums ridge when mounting the skin, you may have got a pinch-through situation, which will version over time, i.e. with the number of vibration cycles.

Quality issue: Though manufacturers spend a lot of effort into quality management, a certain fraction of products delivered will come with built-in problems: some may have gone undetected, some may be close to but still within specification limits (a very long list at the manufactureres place). Perhaps you just had bad luck.

And many more.

If you don't mind the sound variation, keep using it to practice.

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