The thickness of skin, no matter what type of rawhide, can make a big difference in the sound of a drum. As the thickness of a drumhead increases, the tones tend to be more muted with a decreased overtone potential and lower volume. When choosing a skin for your drum, the bearing edge or playing surface diameter will help determine the thickness you want.
After over 20 years of experimenting with different skin types and thicknesses, we recommend the following:
For Machos in the 6.75″ to 7.25″ range: .6mm-1mm
For Hembras in the 8″to 9″ range: 1.2mm-1.5mm
For Quintos in the 10.5″ to 11″ range: 1.3mm-1.6mm
For Congas in the 11″ to 11.75″ range: 1.6mm-2mm
For Tumbas in the 12″ to 13″ range: 2mm+
For Super Tumbas over 13″: 2.2mm+
For Requintos or Rumba Quintos thickness can vary. A thicker head will give a drier Rumba type sound. A thinner skin will have more of a bell quality that’s great for a full conga setup.
All of that said, the most important factor in choosing a skin is knowing what type of sound you are looking for. Individual preferences vary all over the map.
Remember, a thinner skin will tend to be louder, brighter and have more overtones. A thicker skin will tend to soak up overtones and have very smooth and warm open tones.