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Orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, and other ensembles frequently employ snare drums. It’s one of the most important parts of a drum set, which is a collection of percussion instruments meant to be played by a seated drummer and used in a variety of musical genres.
Snare Drums, the basis of your kit. The classic marching band sound, fancy fills, and big beat drops. Snare drums are truly the basis of your kit. Finding the right snare drum can be a challenge, though. In this list, we’ll go over different types of snare drums for different budgets.
Different Types of Snare Drums
Snare drums come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit a variety of purposes. Each one has its own individual sound, feel, and look. Here are some of the most frequent snare drum types you’ll encounter:
Drum Kit Snare Drum
The most popular snare technique among modern drummers, with applications ranging from funk to death metal. They’re meant to be used as part of a drum set, as the name implies. Drum kit snares are typically 14″ in diameter, with depths varying from 5″ to 8″.
Concert Snare Drum
Often employed in a percussive/orchestral setting, and comparable to the above. Different drum heads, snare wires, and tuning are examples of this.
Marching Snare Drum
Marching snare drums are generally smaller than symphonic or drum kit snares, reaching up to 12 inches in certain cases. They have a comparable diameter, which is about 14 inches. They’re generally seen in marching groups, as the name implies.
Soprano Snare Drum
Snare drums that are in between a snare drum kit and a piccolo snare, but with smaller diameters. This gives them a higher pitch while also giving them a fuller, more colorful dynamic.
Piccolo Snare Drum
These are similar to drum kit snares, but with a considerably shorter depth — as little as 3″. This gives them a brighter assault and a higher pitch. They’re most commonly seen as a part of a drum kit, just like drum kit snars.
Pipe Band Snare Drum
The pipe band snare has a distinct sound, with a higher pitch and a quick strike. They’re similar to marching snare drums, but they generally have an extra set of snare wires, which gives them their distinct sound, which is easily recognizable as pipe music.
Snare Drum Materials
It goes without saying that the material used to construct a snare drum has a significant impact on its sound. Wood and metal are the two major types of materials used in snare drums. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular materials:
- Mahogany is prized for its deep warmth and resonance in the bass and low-mid ranges. Mahogany is linked with a classic sound since it used to be the gold standard for shells.
- The Birch has an excellent low-end response and a prominent, crystal-clear treble, making it ideal for projection. There’s a lot of assault here, which is ideal for more aggressive approaches.
- Maple has a somewhat more balanced sound than Birch, but it still has a good bass response. Its clear, balanced tone makes it extremely adaptable.
- Beech is a hard wood with a balanced tone comparable to Maple, but with a modest mid-boost and an emphasized low-end. It’s perfect for a big snare sound.
- Brass is the most used metal snare material since it was the first. There’s a lot of top-end emphasis, but there’s also a lot of bass and low-mid warmth.
- Copper has a darker, more rounded tone with a warmer response in the bass and mids and less focus on the top-end. frequently encountered in orchestral groups.
- Steel is known for its higher treble and enhanced mids than aluminum. Steel also has more sustain and presence. In general, it is also reasonably priced.
- Aluminum has a crisp, dry tone with a bright treble response. It’s great at cutting through almost any mix, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
There are multiple other options other than wood or metal, but personally, I would go with metal or wood. Either way, a few options are:
- Acrylic has a dry, punchy, and projecting style and sound. It is notably used by Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.
- Carbon Fiber has a distinctive look that gives the U-shape EQ curve. It emphasizes treble and bass.
- Stone is very strong. The shells are manufactured very thin, resulting in a lower pitch and better sensitivity and resonance.
- Glass has sound characteristics that are quite similar to stone (aka low pitch and high sensitivity).
- Hemp produces a drier, warmer sound comparable to more classic wood drums.
Snare Drum Sizes
Snare drum diameters span from 6 to 8 inches, through the more popular 10, 12, 13, and 14-inch sizes, and up to 15 and 16-inch drums.
Snares of other sizes are more difficult to come by, but there are custom drums out there that can manufacture just about any size drum you can think of for a charge. Depths vary from 3 to 10 inches, with the center of the spectrum being the most frequent.
As a general rule, the smaller the drum’s diameter, the higher the pitch. The 15-inch diameter snare will sound deep and thick, but the 10 inch diameter snare will sound thinner and crisper. In addition, the larger a snare becomes, the more body it has, albeit this has minimal effect on the pitch.
With this in mind, you may combine measurements to create the drum’s sound. You could, for example, combine a high-pitched 12 inch diameter with a bigger 7 inch depth to provide a cutting assault while recovering some of the lost body owing to the tiny diameter.
That isn’t to imply that a large drum can’t be tuned to the pitch of a smaller one. A decent drum should be able to play in a variety of tunings while still sounding fantastic. It’s merely that applying the same tuning tension to a smaller drum would result in a much higher pitch-in other words, the tuning is interpreted by the drum’s size.
Now that you understand the different types, materials, and sizes of snare drums, and how they affect the sound. Let’s get some recommendations going.
Best Snare Drums Below $300
Pearl Modern Utility Snare Drum
The Pearl Modern Utility snare drums were designed for the working drummer who wants to extend their arsenal without breaking the bank. They’re simple and durable, and they sound great.
There are five wood drums available in the Pearl Modern Utility range, and the 6.5-inch x 14-inch maple snare drum is one of them. For optimum tuning stability and resonance, this snare includes a robust 1.6mm triple-flanged hoop, an easy-to-use throw-off, and CL bridge lugs.
I highly recommend this option for a beginner drummer who is looking for something that will last a long time and progress with their playing.
- Affordable, best for beginner, progresses with playing
- Cheap hardware
On the list of best metal snare drums, the Black Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum from DW Design Series comes at the lowest price point, but still offers the pronounced crack and ping that make metal snares special.
However, because they are mass-produced and not custom-made, they are extremely affordably priced. In spite of this, you’ll still receive all the DW bells and whistles you’ve come to expect.
An all-brass, 1mm-bead reinforced shell with True-Pitch tuning, MAG throw off and REMO DW heads grace this 6.5″ x 14″ drum. There is a lot of definition to the hit with the Design Series Snare. You may find the DW Design Series snare drum to be the perfect choice if you want to create a big impact and sound with your music.
- Awesome sound, great treble tones
- Cheaper quality than other options, custom made (quality varies)
SJC Custom Drums Pathfinder Series Snare Drum
In addition to SJC’s high quality hardware, the SJC Pathfinder 6.5″ x 14″ snare drum features a smooth-action throw off and strainer, as well as ultra-stable shield lugs. There’s lots of aesthetic appeal to the SJC Pathfinder snare with its smooth finish in three colors and flat black hardware.
Sound-wise, the 7-ply maple and mahogany construction of the SJC Pathfinder Snare has an enticing tonal character that is suitable for today’s music (any genre). This drum is a little pricier than the other on the “Under $300” list but its high quality hardware really is worth it.
- High quality, last a lifetime, visually appealing
- Most expensive option under $300
PDP Concept Maple Snare Drum
Premium European maple is used to construct the PDP Concept Maple 5-inches x 14-inches snare drum . No matter what you’re playing, the PDP Concept Maple snare is made for it. It can handle power rock, pop, or low-key folk.
In addition to DW-inspired gear such as MAG throw off, True-Pitch tension rods and heavy-duty triple flanged hoops, this snare comes at a reasonable price. In addition, it’s available in a variety of eye-catching stains and satin finishes that make it stand out on stage. Check it out this is an awesome option.
- Really flexible, stylish
- Not great for rimshots
Snare Drums Below $400
Gretsch Drums Grand Prix Aluminum Snare Drum
The Gretsch Drums Grand Prix 6.5-inch x 14-inch aluminum snare drum brings out the most in its metal, emitting an airy, dry tone with a crisp, forceful punch.
And yes, it is the Gretsch that makes the infamous hollow-body guitar (so you know it’s high quality). The matte aluminum shell is noncorrosive and constructed to last, making these snares perfect for touring drummers. The Grand Prix snare plays excellently in high, medium, and low tunings, retaining sensitivity and expressiveness across the range.
The Grand Prix snare is the only one on this list with a double-flagged hoop, which has the focused and aggressive qualities of a die-cast hoop without the extra mass and stiffness.
- Gretsch quality, aggressive to play, built to last
- Expensive for the stiffness
Ludwig Black Magic Snare Drum
The Ludwig Black Beauty is one of the most coveted snare drums of all time, having a distinctive sound that can be heard on numerous great recordings. The Ludwig Black Magic 6.5-inch x 14-inch snare drum bears tribute to the Black Beauty — but at a fraction of the price.
The Ludwig Black Magic snare features a sharp attack, lots of body, and an outstanding dynamic range thanks to its thin welded shell rather than the heavier handspun shell of the Black Beauty. The Ludwig Black Magic has vintage-inspired chrome hardware and dependable contemporary performance.
If you’ve always desired the Black Beauty but are put off by the price, consider the Ludwig Black Magic snare. If you’re looking for a snare with a wider tuning range (and larger options) the Ludwig Black Magic comes in a 5.5-inch x 14-inch shell size as well.
- Ludwig quality, lots of tuning options, affordable
- Virtually none!
TAMA SLP Fat Spruce Snare Drum
These snare drums by TAMA Sound Lab Project (SLP) are available in a variety of shell materials, amount of plies, hoop types, and finishes. It comes in a few different options such as the 6.5-inch x 14-inch SLP Fat Spruce or the 6.5″ x 14″ SLP.
Its resonant, warm tone is enhanced by TAMA’s 8-lug die-cast hoop, which gives the SLP Fat Spruce snare a huge, beefy sound that shines in roots rock and jazz, as well as blues and soul. Super-sensitive Hi-Carbon Snappy Snare SLP Fat Spruce from TAMA allows for dynamic playing techniques such as ghost notes, accents or buzz rolls.
- Many options, awesome for accents, resonant
Pork Pie Percussion Custom Patina Brass Snare Drum
There’s nothing quite like the appearance and sound of the Pork Pie Percussion USA Custom Patina Brass 6.5″x14″ Snare Drum . For this price point the Pork Pie is truly a special kit on this list. Applied to classic R&B and vintage-flavored indie rock, the Pork Pie Custom Patina Brass’s low tuning produces a warm, concentrated, earthy sound.
If you’re unsure with this description, the Pork Pie kit has a classic sound. You get a pleasant ping and a commanding crack when you tune it higher. When it comes to studio recordings, drummers love this snare because it’s so flexible and recordable.
Pork Pie Custom Patina Brass is also available in a 14-inch x 8-inch size if you’re looking for a deeper tone.
- Truly special sound, flexible, easy to record
- Only good for certain genres, specific sound
Yamaha Tour Custom Snare Drum
The Tour Custom snare drum is inspired by Yamaha’s Maple Custom Absolute series (one of their higher end sets). That being said, the Yamaha Tour Custom 14″ x 6.5″ top of the line snare drum finished in maple.
The Yamaha Tour Custom snare is energetic and projective thanks to its 6-ply design and thin, shell reinforced by Yamaha’s unique diagonal seam. Because of this, it can handle heavy touring schedules and lots of hard playing.
There’s a beautiful, ringing sustain thanks to the Yamaha Tour Custom’s 45 degree bearing edge. Dyna-Hoops have a slightly rounded edge for rimshots and cross-sticking.
- Awesome for rimshots, energetic sound, loud
- Unique, won’t be everyone’s “cup of tea”
Snare Drums Below $600
Mapex Sledgehammer Hammered Brass Snare Drum
The Sledgehammer 14″ x 6.5″ snare drum from Mapex’s Black Panther line is a complete stunner. The Mapex Black Panther line is top of line but won’t break the bank. In addition to its eye-catching appearance, the Mapex Sledgehammer has a hammered brass shell with heavy-duty brushed metal fasteners.
Hammered brass snare drums provide a woody, powerful sound that pairs well with pre-dampened snare drum heads such as the Evans Genera HD Dry or Remo Powerstroke 77. Its Mapex Sonic Saver Hoops tighten up overtones while maintaining natural harmonics, resulting in a powerful sound .
- Affordable, high quality, powerful
- Large footprint
Gretsch Drums USA Custom Black Copper Snare Drum
As the name suggests, the Gretsch Drums USA Custom Black Copper Snare Drum measures 14 inches by 5 inches and is finished in black copper.
When playing in different styles and genres, it is a great choice because of its outstanding performance throughout a wide range of tunings. Overtones are kept to a minimum with the die-cast hoop, which is ready for rim shots.
With a powder-coated black finish and vintage-style Gretsch lugs and throw off, the USA Custom Black Copper has a beautiful appearance. A 14-inch by 6-inch variant is also available.
- Gretsch quality, multiple options
Sonor SQ1 Snare Drum
Snare drums take a lot of time and thought to design, and the SQ1 from Sonor truly displays that. If split in half vertically, Sonor’s Cross Lamination tension-free technique produces a flawlessly spherical European Birch shell on the SQ1.
Sonor’s Optimum Shell measurement technique, which slightly reduces the shells so that standard-size drumheads may float freely on them, produces a purer tone over a wider variety of tunings.
The SQ1 snare also has the Dual Glide System strainer with a fast release by Dunnett. If this is all over your head, when it comes to performance, it’s smooth and reliable.
- Awesome design, last a lifetime, awesome tone, reliable
- Reviews vary saying the hardware isn’t the best
Countless rock and roll drummers, including John Bonham (from Led Zeppelin), swear by the renowned Ludwig Supraphonic LM402 14-inch x 6-1/2-inch snare drum . The chrome-plated, seamless beaded shell of the Supraphonic LM402 creates a monster sound with a razor-sharp assault and a ton of projection.
With its ability to cut through dense fields of distorted guitars, it is a popular recording tool for sound engineers, regardless of genre or style. This famous snare drum features an easy-to-use throw off, perfect tuning stability, and beautiful Imperial lugs.
- Classic snare, used by the best, stylish, loud
- Almost too loud to play in a mellow setting, also it’s huge!
Ddrum Dios Bamboo Snare Drum
It’s the only grass snare drum on my list (yes, bamboo is a grass, in case you didn’t know… I didn’t). Bamboo is an excellent shell material since it is both environmentally friendly and extremely durable.
The Dios bamboo snare drum is a standout performer on stage and in the studio thanks to Ddrum’s top-notch hardware kit, which includes die-cast hoops, double-sided bullet tube lugs, and a strong throw off.
The contemporary brass Dios badge and ten traditional double-sided bullet tube lugs offer an equal stretch across the heads and a timeless appearance. Satin finishes bring highlight the inherent beauty of this extraordinary shell material (again, bamboo). After tuning up, a snare from Ddrum produces a great sound.
- Made from bamboo, strong, durable, top quality hardware
Not much to look at, some people don’t please bamboo
Snare Drums Under $1000
A&F Drum Company Raw Steel Snare Drum
A&F Drum Company’s master craftsmen are presently making some of the most unique and fascinating drums available today. The firm creates their kits based on old-world designs and manufacturing techniques. Their tones are unlike anything else on the contemporary market right now.
This snare drum is finished with patinated steel shell and fittings, single-flange brass hoop. For raw and emotional performances, the A&F Raw Steel Snare offers a sound that’s just as unique as its appearance. Among A&F’s drums is the Raw Steel snare.
When it comes to drummers, the A&F Drum Company Raw Steel Snare Drum may be just the thing! I’ll be completely transparent, if I was to purchase any snare on this list, this would be the one. I know… it’s the most expensive, and therefore won’t be for everyone but let me just tell you, there’s nothing else like this snare.
- Vintage, older design, raw sound (meaning it’s perfect for live performances)
- Most expensive!
Rogers Dyna-Sonic Snare Drum
With the original feel intact — including the ultra-cool beavertail drumstick hangers — this second-generation Rogers Dyna-Sonic drum has been brought back to life in exquisite historical accuracy. While laying down sticks on the Rogers Dyna-Sonic 14″x6.5″ snare drum, you’re going back in time but this time with a contemporary twist.
This is a completely modern drum with a magnificent sound and a stylish appearance. The patented snare rail, housed in a pocket metal, is retained in the new-school Dyna-Sonic snare, as is the original’s internal snare wires.
There is a new degree of sensitivity and control over snare tension and height thanks to this new design. Listen to it for yourself and decide for yourself!
- Historical kit with modern sound, stylish kit, sensitive
- Another expensive one!
Craviotto Heritage Maple Snare Drum
If you’re looking for a high-quality maple snare drum , go no further than the Craviotto Heritage 14″ x 6″ Maple Snare Drum. Snare drum from Craviotto with a steam-bent maple shell that features a 45-degree bearing edge. The Craviotto Heritage maple snare has a beautiful natural finish and a distinctive red inlay.
- Beautiful, impeccable sound, maple is high quality
- Expensive, seriously… a lot of money!
Answer: Snares drums can cost anywhere from $100 dollar to easily over $1000. It simply depends on the quality of the drum.
Answer: Orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, and other ensembles frequently employ snare drums. It’s one of the most important parts of a drum set, which is a collection of percussion instruments meant to be played by a seated drummer and used in a variety of musical genres.
Answer: Snares are probably one of the harder parts of the drum to play. Because of its tenor and sound quality it is often overlooked but it is one of the most essential parts of the kit.
Answer: Around 1300, the first comparable drum to the snare drum was invented in Medieval Europe. The Tabor was the name given to this area. The Tabor was a double-headed drum with only one snare drum strand running across the bottom. In the 1400s, the Tabor began to gain in popularity.
So… What Should You Do?
I would tell any consumer that they should purchase based on their personal experience and budget. I really mean it too… I know in our modern day, it’s easy to look at reviews and purchase based on someone else’s experience.
Let me put it this way though: every drummer is different. You don’t see John Bonham, Neil Peart, or Buddy Rich playing the same kit, nor would they.
We all know that each drummer has a different experience on their kit. There are some drummers that swear by their Pearl Modern Utility Snare Drum or some that love their Gretsch. On the other hand, there are many drummers that are versatile, and can shred just about anything put in front of them.
I’m not saying you should fit into a category, but rather the opposite, buy with yourself in mind. Go to your local music store, or Guitar Center, and bang it out, literally. Play every option they have, and test out all their snares. By the end of the day, you’ll be thankful that you had that experience, even if you didn’t find “the one”.
If I was to purchase anything off this list it would be A&F Drum Company Raw Steel Snare Drum. It has an impeccable classic look while producing a completely modern sound. It is really unlike anything else on this list (although it is the most expensive).
Now go out there and buy yourself a snare!