DIY: bass drum head art

Updated July 20, 2017

When a band is on stage, the largest, most noticeable instrument is the drum set, which, as such, is prominently placed in the middle. The bass drum, typically the largest drum of a set, is unlike the other drums. It sits on its side, so the bass drum head is visible to the audience. It is no surprise that drummers want to personalise their drum sets by adding artwork to their bass drum heads. Whether they display their band's logo or some psychedelic graphic design, creating a custom bass drum head is so simple and inexpensive even a drummer can do it.

Measure the size of your bass drum head, using the measuring tape. Most bass drum heads average from 56 to 61 cm (22 to 24 inches) in diameter. Bass drums often have a hole cut into the drum head for sound purposes and recording microphones. If this is true of your bass drum, measure the size of the hole and its distance from the top, bottom and sides of the drum. Write down these measurements. as they will be needed in later steps.

Choose the image, artwork, design or logo you want to display on your bass drum head. If the artwork is not on your computer already, scan or transfer the artwork to your computer. If your drum head has a hole in it, keep the location of the hole in mind when selecting artwork. Try to select an image or a design that will not be marred by the placement of the hole. Another factor to keep in mind when choosing graphics is the shape and size of the drum head. Pick an image that is large, so it will not be subject to distortion when it is enlarged. Also, remember the circular shape of the drum head means any artwork you choose must look right when placed in a circular frame.

Open your image editing program on your computer. Create a new, blank file that is the size of your bass drum head. For example, if your bass drum head is 61 cm (24 inches) in diameter, you want your image to measure 61 by 61 cm (24 by 24 inches).

Draw the outline of a circle with the shape tool, the same diameter as your bass drum head. Since the blank canvas you are working on is the same size as the drum head, the circle should touch the edges of the canvas on each side. Keep the outline thin so it does not subtract from the diameter of the image. If your bass drum has a hole in it, create a solid circle using the shape tool, the same diameter as the hole in your bass drum. Place that circle in the same location as the hole on your bass drum head. These circles are your guides.

Open your artwork file in the image editing program. Select the file; then copy and paste the artwork into the new image file with the circles. Resize the image if necessary, so it fills the entire circle outline. Align the artwork, moving it to the position in which you want it on your bass drum head. If you are using an image program that works in layers, place your artwork on a layer below the circle outline and solid circle. This should eliminate the corners of the artwork, leaving only what is inside the circle visible. If your image program does not work this way, remove the corners of the image, leaving only what is inside the circle visible, any way you can. Make any other alterations to the image at this time.

Save the final draft of your custom bass drum head artwork as a .jpg file on your computer. Close your image editing program; then locate the saved .jpg file on your hard drive. Copy the artwork file to a CD or a flash drive.

Take the CD or flash drive containing the artwork file to the nearest print shop. Give the file to the print shop employee and specify the type of paper and size on which you want the image printed. If you are not sure what to pick, tell the employee what you are doing so he can help you make the right printing choices. Printing an oversized image varies in price depending on where you go. Average printing costs run from £13 to £26, at 2011 prices. Generally, you can pick up your printed artwork the following day.

Remove the drum head from the bass drum. This is to prevent any damage to the actual drum, as well as allow you to use the drum head to size the new drum head artwork. Clean the bass drum head's surface.

Cut the printed image out to fit your bass drum with an X-acto knife or sharp scissors. The image is printed on a square paper, so you must cut it in the shape of your bass drum. You may also have to cut out the circle for the hole if your bass drum has a hole. Use care when cutting the image out, as it is better to cut too little than too much. Once your image is cut out, make sure it fits on your bass drum by measuring it to your existing bass drum head. Make any corrections if necessary.

Spray your bass drum head with spray adhesive. Place the artwork onto the bass drum head carefully. Line up the edges and the hole appropriately. Smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles.

Leave the bass drum alone, giving the adhesive time to set. Disrupting the artwork could cause wrinkles and ruin the artwork. Once the artwork has dried and is secure, enjoy your custom bass drum head artwork.


Do not rush. Take your time and do it right the first time so there are no mistakes. This process will have no adverse effect on the sound or tone of your bass drum, since the paper artwork and the spray adhesive is only applied to the outer drum head. The drum head that is struck by the pedal is responsible for tone. As for any concerns about dulling the sound of your bass drum, the spray adhesive and artwork paper should not affect that either. If you can hear a difference in the sound level and do not already have a hole in your bass drum head, adding a hole will fix the sound issue. Most likely, though, you will notice no change whatsoever in the tone and volume of your bass head. Before you adhere the image to the actual drum head, compare the two pieces to make sure they are the same size. When selecting an image, choose one you will like for a long time. While your custom bass drum head artwork is not permanent, frequent changes are expensive and may alter the state of the actual drum head. Apply a thin coat of spray adhesive. Thicker coats can lead to longer dry times and may seep through the image.


Use spray adhesive in a well-ventilated area. Follow the directions on the can.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Image, design or logo
  • Image editing software
  • Measuring tape
  • Craft knife or sharp scissors
  • Spray adhesive
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Emma Jansen has been a writer since 2005. Her work can be found regularly on and creative websites. Jansen studied English at San Jose State University.