One of the most essential drums in a percussionist’s arsenal is the snare, since it has a significant effect on the sound of your music. However, finding the perfect drums can be a challenge since there are so many options on the market today. You’ll find drums of different sizes made out of various materials, and it can quickly get complicated.
It doesn’t help that the drum you use for jazz might not be the same as the one you use for rock, funk, the studio, or a stage. There is also a wide range of prices for snares, so it might be hard to decide on a budget. With all these things combined, it’s no wonder that people can research for weeks to find the right drum for their needs.
That’s precisely why we want to share the 10 best snare drums available and what makes them unique. We’ll go over the features that make each of them worthy of your money and even talk about what the different components of a snare drums do to create the best music. First, though, take a look at our product comparison chart to see what your top options are.
Best Snare Drum Reviews
Pacific Drums & Percussion Snare Drum
Drummers who are looking for the best snare drums will find one of the top options from Pacific Drums & Percussion. This is a good snare that features a classic look that many people will enjoy using for practice, performances, and more. The drum has maple wood hoops for the most exceptional sound and claw hooks to keep the sound stable at all times.
The lugs of the drum are dual turret and come in a set of eight, which match well with the copper snare wires for exceptional audio quality. This is also an easy-to-maintain drum that you can keep clean and covered when it’s not in use. It weighs about five pounds, so transporting and storing it is as simple as can be.
Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum
The Ludwig Black Magic is from the same brand that makes the Black Beauty and is a drum built to offer crisp, tight projection with an eight-inch depth on a 14-inch snare that promises sonic elements to add to the attack. It has a beautiful design that consists of a beaded black nickel over a brass shell along with matching tube lugs and die-cast hoops. It comes from a company that is well-known for offering quality musical equipment that has been around since the 1920s.
This Black Magic snare has a sound that is unique that couples with high quality construction to ensure a playing spectrum that beats out other models. If you are someone looking for the classic sound from Ludwig, this is a great snare to add to your kit.
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14 x 5.5 Snare Drum
As one of the 10 best snare drums on our list, this is a budget option that comes at a great price for a beginner to the drums. This model has an all-birch shell and comes with a large number of lugs so you can ensure you get the most precise tuning possible. It comes in several colors, including raven black, pure white, natural wood, honey amber, and cranberry red.
This model comes with a high-gloss lacquer finish that offers an aesthetically pleasing appearance, while also making it less likely to ding or scratch the drum. It has been updated since the last model to offer more rounded bearing edges for easier head to shell contact.
Griffin Poplar Wood Snare Drum
As one of the top snares you can find on the market, this poplar wood snare has a durable shell and is created of a three-ply construction to match all sorts of music styles. It has a high-gloss black wrap finish to offer a stunning aesthetic, whether on stage or during practice in your own home. It has a white coating on the top head, while the bottom is clear.
The drum throw on this good snare offers a quiet and smooth operation for fluid movements. It allows you to easily loosen, tighten, or mute your snares to reach your desired preferences. It also comes with eight tuning lugs for a high-quality sound and stability when compared to snares with only six lugs.
Pearl SK-900 Snare Drum Kit with Backpack Case
Someone who is looking for a snare that offers all the accessories you need to start will likely appreciate this kit from Pearl. It comes with everything you need, including the steel snare, a drum key, drumsticks, a backpack, a snare stand, and a practice pad. It offers all of the bang you want for a reasonable price when you’re just getting started.
This quality snare is ideal for beginners but might not offer all the extras that a professional or more experienced user would want. However, it’s an extremely great package for someone who wants to get started without making multiple purchases or worrying that something will be missing that is needed at a later date.
PDP by DW 7 x 13 Black Wax Maple Snare Drum
This drum by PCP is a part of the concept series and offers a matte black finish over a 10-ply maple shell. It offers a silky smooth finish due to a wax-based, hand-applied sealant to keep the drum in great shape over long periods of time. While the drum offers an understated look, it can deliver when it comes to sound.
This drum comes in several sizes, but the most popular is the 7 x 13-inch size for a higher tuning rate that offers a mixture of body, depth, and pop. The tension rods are fitted with brass inserts, quality tuning sequence heads, and drop-style throw offs. Perfect for a beginner or someone more experienced with a snare drum, it’s well worth looking at.
Ludwig LW6514SL Snare Drum
This drum by Ludwig comes from the same people who put out the wildly popular Black Beauty, which means you can be sure it will have the quality you want in a snare. As one of the best snares on our list, this comes from the new SupraLite Series and offers a steel shell, solid tube lugs, brass snare wires, and triple-flanged hoops for the top performance.
This device looks great and performs just as well, making it ideal for both beginners and those who have been banging on snares for years. It features 10 lugs, which is more than many of the other models on this list and will improve performance and help you get the sound you want.
Pearl S1330B 13 x 3 Inches Black Steel Piccolo Snare Drum
If you want to beat on the drums like John Bonham, the Pearl S1330B Piccolo Snare Drum offers a great way to start. It’s considered one of the best beginner snares and comes without or without drumsticks, depending on your specific needs. As a piccolo snare, it’s smaller than most and has a cracking sound when you use it with amplified pitch and tighter sounds.
Piccolo drums are popular because they offer high levels of projection and an intense attack. Most are used as secondary snares, but they can also work well as a primary snare for some musical uses. This one measures in at 13 x 13 inches and comes with either steel, maple, or brass shells.
Pearl CC1450S/C Snare Drum
You might expect a limited collaboration between Pearl and Casey Cooper to have a huge price tag, but this is one case where you would be wrong. While this is a limited option for drummers who want something unique, it doesn’t have a huge price associated with it. These snare drums are easy to notice since they include a special graphic that shows off pinstripes and flames around the shell. This snare drum was created to offer excellence and is sure to make your entire drum kit sound great, whether you are practicing or performing on stage.
The shell of this snare drum is made of a combination of poplar and maple to offer the perks of both types of wood. As one of the best drums on our list, you can expect nothing but the best from this edition. Beyond the beauty of the snare, it also includes CL bridge lugs, which are augmented by the use of sharp red gaskets.
Ludwig LM400 Smooth Chrome Plated Aluminum 5 x 14 Inches Snare Drum
Created by the same company that came out with the Black Beauty, this is a piece to a drum kit that can go the extra mile. This item has been used in all sorts of music, from jazz to heavy metal, to offer recordings that people love the world over. Whether you do most of your drumming in the studio or on a stage, it will offer the performance you expect.
This chrome-plated aluminum option is made in the United States for your peace of mind. The material options allow it to create crisp cutting sound, while also offering up a full resonant tone and crack when you need it. If you’re someone who is looking for the absolute top-of-the-line option, you won’t be unhappy with this offering from Ludwig.
Choosing the Best Snare Drum to Meet Your Needs
Regardless of what you’re looking for in snare drums, the process of selecting the option with the right sound and feel for you can be a challenge. However, a snare drum may be the most important drum to have in your kit when it comes to outstanding performance. It’s the drum that creates the beat behind great songs, and many drummers would consider it the heart of the sound from a drum set.
This also means that you need to consider various factors when you choose snare drums. This is a matter of using your ears to gauge sound and being aware of the type of music you want to make with your drum set. If you went to throw out beats like John Bonham, knowing what makes the top sound is crucial.
Depending on the type of snares you’re looking at, the prices can range from fairly inexpensive to extremely expensive, which is why choosing the right drum is so important. Below, we’ll share some of the most important factors to consider when looking for a snares drum to pump out the greatest sound.
Size of the Drum
Different snares are made with unique shell sizes, which is what actually determines the sound that it will put out. A rock drum is going to be around 14 inches in diameter and have a depth of five to six inches. These drums also tend to be made of maple or steel and will have metal hoops.
On the other hand, marching snare drums have more tension on the head, which is what results in a snappy sound that is distinct from other types. This kind of drum is typically made of a light aluminum material.
There are also other types of snares, like the piccolo and orchestral models. The former tends to be made of steel or wood and is created with a thin depth for a dry and very snappy sound. The latter are mostly made out of wood, of a medium depth, and capable of muffling sounds.
Materials Used to Make a Drum
We talked a bit above about how a snare can be made using many different materials to create a unique sound. A snare can be made of metal, wood, bronze, aluminum, or brass. These can also come in both hammered and un-hammered versions, which also has an effect on the sound the drum will make.
If you are looking for a drum with great bass, a wooden snare is a good choice. A bronze, steel, or brass drum tends to do better with any higher sound you want to create. A hammered snare is best for dark tones, while the un-hammered models do best to create brighter tones.
Considering the Drum Shell
The shell of the drum gives it most of its appearance but also affects the sound the snare makes. Most of the time, the shell will be made of a single or mixed wood, such as:
However, your drum may also be made of a metal such as steel, aluminum, brass, or bronze. In some cases, a drum will be created using unique materials such as acrylic, carbon fiber, titanium, or even glass. There are also drum kits made out of more unique types of woods from around the globe.
In most cases, a wood shell is made of multiple thin slices of wood that are stuck together using compression and heat, but sometimes they may be manufactured of a single thick piece of wood for a unique sound. There are also drum creators who use segments of wood that are glued together to make the shell.
If you have a drum in mind already, such as the Tama S L P, listening to recordings using that drum will offer an insight into the sound it creates. These can be found on places like YouTube as well as on drum manufacturer websites. While there is more to composition than just creating the perfect sound, it makes the foundation of a great drum.
What to Know About Rims and Hoops
While there are exceptions, most drum kits are made using die-cast and triple-flange hoops made of metal for the one snare. Other than aesthetics, there isn’t a huge difference between the two options. Die-cast models tend to feel sturdier and offer loud rimshots, while triple-flange hoops allow longer ringing, create more overtones, and have better snare sensitivity.
Some people will also choose a drum with a wood hoop, which offers warmer sounds and can provide a larger spectrum of overtones. While these will not offer extra loud sound during rimshots, they can create a sound that is unique and less often heard. It’s a matter of preference which drum you want to choose for the sound you are interested in.
Basics of Tension Rods and Lugs
One of the other things that can greatly affect sound is the design of the lug, although modern advancements have made this less of a priority. A tube lug creates less metal-on-shell contact than long or split lugs, which offers a different sound with an improved sustain. However, there are many types of split lug designs, and these often make up one of the most recognizable visual aspects of a company’s drums.
You can also tension the head of a drum using things like rope systems, but this is fairly uncommon. Most drum makers use tension rods, which are standardized among most companies. However, some do use a different thread counter than others, which can make it challenging to find replacements.
What Snare Wires Bring to the Table
Snare wires are fragile strands that offer the sound you expect from a snare when you strike it. Your drum will likely use coiled wire to offer a snappy sound that is bright and sensitive across all dynamic levels. They are also known for muffling the sustain less than other wire designs might.
For concert and orchestra drum models, cables of imitation gut wires are typically used for a darker sound and less sustain. Marching drums use a synthetic wire made out of plastic and sometimes incorporate a second strainer to contact the batter head. This results in extreme response and a sound that is drier than other models.
Those who are looking to upgrade their existing kit can look at aftermarket wires with thirty to forty strands to get a wider sound from your snare.
The Important of a Snare Strainer
A snare strainer is part of the drum that holds snares against the head and allows you to adjust the wire tension. There are many different designs for strainers, but all allow you to engage and disengage wires, allow fine adjustments, and include a butt plate that anchors the snares onto the shell on the opposite side of the strainer.
How Snare Beds Affect Sound
Snare beds are bent or contoured cuts made on the snare side of the shell, which lets wires lay flat against the drum head. If these were not present, snares would sound bad as they would be uncontrollable and buzzy. On some beds, especially for older drums, the cut is deeper than on others. Every manufacturer will do things in a unique way, but every snare drum should have a bed.
What to Know about Drum Heads
There are countless numbers and types of drum heads, but having a few tips can help you choose the right option for your durability and musical needs. Most users get great sound out of double or single-ply batter heads, but others may appreciate muffled models, so there’s less need for dampening. It’s a matter of preference, and you should go with what works best for the music you plan to make.
Going with Muffling or Avoiding It
The level of muffling, or the lack of it, will have a huge impact on how your drum sounds in the end. There are some players who don’t use it at all, while others add in all the muffling possible. Most drummers will do well going with something in between, at least until you gain a preference for extremely muffling or the lack of it in your music.
At this point, you’ve looked at many of the best snare drums on the market, and you have an idea of what kind of sound they offer. For most people, one of these options is going to offer you what you need to rock out, walk in a marching band, or play percussion in an orchestra. If your ultimate drum isn’t listed here, you can use the information above to pick one out that meets your needs.
Choosing the right drum doesn’t have to be difficult, whether you’re a professional or someone looking to get into a new hobby. As long as you’re aware of the components of the drum and what kind of music you prefer making, you can make a decision with ease. So, get out there and find the snare drum of your dreams and start making your music really come alive.