Snare drums are the most versatile and dynamic instruments in the drum kit. The sheer range of their possible behavior gives you a lot of room to express the emotion of your song. Their highly sensitive nature allows you to create sophisticated rhythms and music. You can create different sounds with different kind of strokes. The acoustics depend heavily on the material, quality, construction and tension of the snare drums. This is why you need a comprehensive guide to buying the right snare drums. We dug into the market and got our hands dirty. The result is this comprehensive list of the 10 best snare drums for 2017. From decadent Ludwigs to budget sets for the basement bands, this list has something for everyone.
- 1 Complete Guide to the 10 Best Snare Drums
- 1.1 Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty Snare Drum 6.5×14
- 1.2 Mapex MPX 14 inch x 5.5 inch all maple snare drum in natural finish with chrome hardware
- 1.3 Ludwig LM402 Smooth Chrome Plated Aluminum 6.5 x 14 Inches Snare Drum with Imperial Lugs and Supra-Phonic Strainer
- 1.4 Tama S.L.P. Big Black Steel Snare Drum 14 x 8 in
- 1.5 Pearl S1330B 13 x 3 Inches Black Steel Piccolo Snare Drum
- 1.6 Pork Pie Little Squealer Snare Drum – 13″ x 7″
- 1.7 Pork Pie Snare Drum Black Nickel Plated Snare Drum with Chrome Tube Lugs
- 1.8 Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga Snare Drum 14 x 6 in
- 1.9 Mapex Steel Piccolo Snare Drum 13X3.5
- 1.10 GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Snare Drum Kit
All You Need To Know About Snare Drums
Snare drums are very important to a drum kit because they can change the overall tone of the kit. In fact many professional drummers have their signature snare drums and drum tactics which color their songs in a particular way. They also have snare drums that anneal into the song and support it in a more subtle way.
To select the best snare drums for you, it is important to understand the parts of snare drums which actively mold their sound:
Snare Wires: Snare wires are what lend the character to a snare drum. These lie at the base or the snare side of the drums and make contact with this side whenever the drum is struck. Based on the materials and number of strands of snare drums, you can alter the sound of the snare drums. You can even change the nature of the snare drums you own by upgrading them with aftermarket wires.
Shell: The shell of the snare drum contributes to the sound. It also affects the durability and quality of the drum. Most of the varieties are made out of wood: maple, bubinga, birch, mahogany, poplar etc.. More modern snare drums also involve durable materials like steel, carbon fiber, acrylic, titanium etc. Generally wooden shell is created by sticking multiple layers into a cylindrical shape.
Rims/Hoops: Rimshots get you the accentuated snare drum backbeat. This stroke is used in multiple music genres and gives them their own individual flavor. So the rim material and construction is very important. There are two major types of rims: die cast ad triple flange. The triple flange design gives you more overtones so the rimshot rings longer. These are more sensitive and open-sounding than die-cast hoops.. Based on the genre of songs and personal playing style, you may pick either. You also have wood hoops which have a warm tone but they might dent with continuous use.
Head: The snare drum has two heads. The snare wires are in touch with the bottom head. The upper head is called the batter head where you strike with the drumstick. These are usually made of plastic. Single and double ply-coated batter heads are common in the market. There are many variants of coatings and head constructions to choose amongst.
Tension rods: The tension of the heads is adjusted by tension rods. These adjustments change the tonal character and pitch of the snare drums. The tension rods are standard and can be easily switched out.
Strainer: The strainer arrangement holds the snare wires down to the snare side. It allows you to manage the snare tension. The strainer basically consists of a lever that engages or disengages the snare wires from the snare head. The sound of the snare drums changes accordingly. You even get spare strainers that can be fitted on to your drums.
Types of snare drums: There are four major types of snare drums. These are the marching snare, the kit snare, the tarol snare and piccolo snare. The marching snare is usually the biggest in height. The kit snare is sized moderately between marching snare and piccolo snare. Marching snares are usually built to be tougher.
Drumset snare drums: Snare drums for drum set are usually 14 inches and 5-6.5” in height. These cover enough range for all the sounds you expect out of the snare drums. You can muffle your snare drums with gaff tape, RTOM Moongel, Drum Magnetic etc.. This is a personal choice. Some people prefer the muffled sound over regular snare drums’ sound.
Mounting: Mount the snare drums somewhere to bring them to hand level. You can choose between basket-style and 3-leg stands. Once positioned to your satisfaction, its best to maintain the same distance and level for consistent performance.
How to choose the best snare drums?
The snare drums are so dependent on their key components that each one may sound different from the next. So your choice in them is subjective. We selected the 10 best snare drums that seem to resonate with most drummers. You can take your pick based on:
Sound: You can switch between warm sound, open sound or a more precise sound based simply on the rims. The batter head can be tightened or loosened. The snares can be tightened and tuned. The material and construction could be different. Once you find the sound that agrees with you, the settings can be saved.
Budget: Some of the established brands that sell snare drums make pricey sets. These have the poppiest sound with the sparkle. But then the moderate and low-priced could have exactly the sound you are looking for. The best snare drums here vary across the price range from low to moderately high.
Durability: The best snare drums are built to survive some major abuse. The continuous strokes on the head and the rim are bound to wear them out. So we selected the ones that can stand the test of time.
Size: Although your first priority is sound, size is an important consideration while transporting and storing your drum kit. Size also affects the sound of the snare drums. Big snares give you longer overtones while the smaller ones make for a more precise beat.
Complete Guide to the 10 Best Snare Drums
|1. Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty Snare Drum 6.5×14||Smooth brass shell with classic lugs and Supra-Phonic Snares||$$$||5.0|
|2. Mapex MPX 14 inch x 5.5 inch all maple snare drum in natural finish with chrome hardware||Remo heads batter and snare make for easy tuning||$$$||4.9|
|3. Ludwig LM402 Smooth Chrome Plated Aluminum 6.5 x 14 Inches Snare Drum with Imperial Lugs and Supra-Phonic Strainer||Chrome plated seamless aluminum shells produce a bright crisp cutting sound||$$$||4.9|
|4. Tama S.L.P. Big Black Steel Snare Drum 14 x 8 in||Steel Mighty Hoops are triple-flanged and 2.3mm thick||$$$||4.9|
|5. Pearl S1330B 13 x 3 Inches Black Steel Piccolo Snare Drum||Compact and affordable with plenty of snap||$$$||4.8|
|6. Pork Pie Little Squealer Snare Drum – 13″ x 7″||Cast hourglass lugs, and 2.3mm heavy-duty hoops||$$$||4.8|
|7. Pork Pie Snare Drum Black Nickel Plated Snare Drum with Chrome Tube Lugs||Retro-style tube lugs||$$$||4.6|
|8. Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga Snare Drum 14 x 6 in||12-ply, 10mm Bubinga shell provides an extraordinarily punchy sound||$$$||4.6|
|9. Mapex Steel Piccolo Snare Drum 13X3.5||All steel chrome for a great attack Remo heads||$$||4.6|
|10. GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Snare Drum Kit||14 inch metal-shelled snare drum and a double-braced stand||$$||4.4|
Ludwig is no beginner when it comes to snare drums. They make some of the choicest snare drums at half the price of the high-end ones. The Supraphonic snare drums bring you some excellent value on money. You will not need special lugs and fancy hoops. A batter head change can bring the sound to the perfect pitch and tone for playing and recording. If you are wondering whether this pricey drum will be any better than snare drums half its price, then the answer is yes. These rap up right to the top of the best snare drums list. And here’s a list of the best drum machines to complete your studio.
Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty snare drum is hugely popular in the drummer circuits. Appearance-wise it is definitely a beauty. The smooth shell is made of machine-drawn brass and flawlessly finished. It is all a single piece instead of multiple panels. The rest of the hardware is chrome. The result is a warm sound with just the right amount of metallic tinge. It has an antique black anodized finish that is sure to draw some eyes on the stage. This is a 6.5” x 14” snare which can play a whole range of snare expressions.
This snare drum has a P-85 throw-off that smoothens down the tuning to provide the accurate tonal control that sophisticated drummers require. The beats delivered ring true without bad overtones. The rimshots come with gusto. The Black Beauty appreciates subtle and small strokes too. This is the sole reason why they form a part of the most famous recordings. The sound quality is worth every penny because the Black Beauty snare drums respond to your imagination than your touch.
- Expensive finish
- Single brass-sheet shell
- Sensitive and sharp
- Great poppy sound
- Does not require a lot of customization
- Big bang for bucks
The Mapex MPX snare drum is such excellent value for money that we were stunned when we first heard them. This comes within a very conservative budget. But talent-wise it is double its print rate. A little bit of tuning gets it off on the right track. It is live play and recording quality drums. It deserves high praise as one of the best snare drums.
The Mapex MPX snare drum has an authentic maple shell which gives it a sharp attack. Its glossy finish gives it a nice presence on the stage. This drum uses triple-flanged rim finished with chrome plating. The lugs are also plated in chrome for the striking look and durability. Chinese Remo drumheads adorn both faces of the shell. 20-strand snare wires are included in the pack. The drum is 5.5” x 14” in dimension. This can easily produce the whole range of sounds expected from the snare drums.
The Remo heads on this maple snare drum sound about okay if you tighten it a little. They produce a nice open sound and make for a punchy audio. But most professional drummers will switch them out for a coated head. But these drums are extremely responsive. The strokes produce tight resonant overtones. The snare mounts need to be tuned to perfection before you start. The lugs are smooth and regular. The sound is full, rich and poppy. The snare wire does its job in bringing the oomph out.
- Nice full-bodied, rich and poppy sound
- Sharp rim shots with triple-flanged hoops
- Glossy maple finish
- Excellent value for money
- Does not come out tuned
John Bonham, one of the legendary drummers of rock and drummer of Led Zeppelin, took a fancy to the Ludwig LM402. His fast-paced groovy drumming is colored by the LM402 snare drums in all Led Zeppelin songs. This drum is touted as a unique instrument. Although it’s not otherworldly expensive or anything, no other snare drum has been able to copy its sound. LM402’s special skills bring it a special place in any best snare drums list.
Like famous instruments go, the Ludwig LM402 also invokes the skeptics’ comments. Is it famous only because of the celebrity endorsement? Well, no. The LM402 snare drums have a distinctive sound. The clarity and power of their ring is usually sold at double the price. These are classics and surprisingly reasonably-priced classics at that. Their nice even sound can handle most genres of music and drumming styles. Their popularity stems from their wide-range usability.
This snare drum uses a seamless chrome-plated aluminum shell. It uses P-85 throw-off. This seems to be the only issue with this Ludwig snare. The P-85 in these are not smooth to turn. They get stuck occasionally. Most professional drummers switch to P-86 once they get the LM402. Imperial lugs are used for tuning in these drums. With most snare drums, you feel the need to switch out the heads. But LM402 is perfect as it arrives. With a little tuning, it can cover the crackle of all major types of snare drums. This drum is not wanting in the versatility department.
- Highly versatile
- Reasonably-priced for a classic
- Sounds perfect with the original heads
- Seamless aluminum build
- P-85 throw-offs get stuck
Tama S.L.P Big Black Steel snare drum looks dangerously like the music it should play, deep and dark. This black beauty is primed for rock, heavy metal and other loud raucous genres. Its premium construction and convenient design does not demand an outrageous price. The punch of its ‘wet’ backbeat can bring depth to the audio. This is such a pleasure to play that we launched it right to our best snare drums list.
The Tama Big Black Steel snare drum is built to stand to the rigors of time. This black beast has a 1mm-thick steel shell. Its matte black expanse is interrupted only by a brass label with the S.L.P. name. The rest of the hardware is glossy black which gives it the snazzy look onstage. It uses triple-flanged Steel Mighty hoops to play resounding rimshots. The rim is sensitive to feathery touches as it is to accents. This is a 10-lug design.
This snare drum carries Evans drumhead. It is already a top-notch effect and doesn’t need to be switched unless you are specific about your drumheads. The 20-strand snappy snare wires are not held by strings but Mylar straps. These provide much more precise and smooth tuning. Because of its 8” x 14”size, it might look like a marching drum, but it is really a drum for the acoustic drum set. It is fairly aggressive-sounding too. So you should take your music genre into account while buying it.
- Amazing sound for the price
- Loud and wet sound for metal and other loud genres
- Glossy/matte black color combo
- Durable steel shell and hardware
- Wet, aggressive sound is not suitable for all genres
Pearl S1330B Piccolo snare drum is a firebrand instrument. The snappy crackle of this small snare drum gets so much attention, be it while playing live or in a recording. Even though a piccolo snare, this drum is versatile in its use. Hip Hop, funk, reggae, ska, electro etc.. are a smooth play on this drum. The fact that it’s affordable in spite of all its USPs, makes it one of the best snare drums. We also have an alternative for the snare drums, check out the best electronic drum sets.
The Pearl S1330B Piccolo snare drum is a 13” x 3” drum. It is much more portable and compact than a kit snare drum. For a piccolo, it is pretty well-formed. This is a steel drum finished in black lacquer. It is also available in maple or steel shell. Each has a different sound signature but the same exciting performance. The precise attack allows drummers to use it as both primary and secondary snares.
This snare drum performs consistently with different types of music. The poppy sound makes the rimshots sound that much surer. The snare voice stands out of the band noise as a signature style. If you want its sound to blend in or be quieter, you need to muffle it. The throw-off is highly usable and fluid in its movement. At its price, we are yet to see a snare with the same pitch.
- Very poppy, sparkly sound
- Versatile across genres
- Highly affordable
- Excellent rimshots
- Durable body
The ebony-colored Pork Pie Little Squealer snare drum is a piece of art. The vented design makes for a fantastically warm sound. The classy tone of the wood-itself suggests the high-profile nature of the Squealer. And then there’s its cult following amongst the drummers. Altogether, it has enough street cred to be on the best snare drums list.
The Pork Pie Squealer snare drum sports a maple shell. This is available in different colors but we are partial to the black ebony satin. The 8-ply hard shell has a personal sound signature and is also quite gritty in the face of regular use. It has 12 bullet-hole vents to give it the unique sound. Both edges are secured with 2.3mm hoops. The rest of the hardware on the drum is colored black.
This snare drum uses brass snare wires. Its cast hourglass lugs can withstand the test of use and time. When it arrives, it’s tuned for the middle range. You can tune it to your personal tastes and genre. It is also a well-rounded performer.
- 12 bullet hole vents
- Bass snare wires
The Pork Pie BoB snare drum, as this is fondly called, is one of the most underrated drums. Compared to the Ludwigs and Pearls, the Pork Pie is an underdog brand. The BoB drums were available at throwaway prices and that actually helped with their popularity. People expected a decent snare drum and they ended up with this beauty. It is unparalleled in sound at its price point. But its physical quality could be better. Nevertheless its audio acumen deserves a place in the best snare drums list.
The Pork Pie Bob snare drum has an all-brass shell. This is 6.5” x 14” in dimension. This helps it expand its sound in all genres. The rest of the hardware is done in nickel chrome-plated finish. The 2.3mm hoops are up for some poppy rimshots. Its retro–style chrome-plated brass tube lugs run across the height of its body. The P-85 throw-off on this drum is smooth and does not need to be replaced.
This snare drum comes with a pretty good drumhead. It comes close to the drumhead choices that most professional drummers prefer. The Bob has a large tuning range, from hiphop to fatback. It is also quite cheap for such musical prowess.
- Wide range of tight sound
- Smooth tuning
- Sound with good body, crack and resonance
- Build quality can be better
The Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga snare drums is one of their 4 wooden varieties, the other being maple. Each of these has their own lush sound signatures. The G-Bubinga is the beauty of the group, looks and audio-wise. This edges towards the moderately high price range. But additional costs are low because you won’t need to switch out the drumheads. We marched with it straight to our best snare drums list.
The Tama S.L.P G-Bubinga snare drum obviously sports a Bubinga shell. This is a 6” x 14” snare. The 10mm shell is up for some rough handling. The quilted Bubinga design is an eye-catcher. The lugs and embellishments are black nickel finish. The triple-flange Steel Mighty hoop makes for a snappy rimshots. The Star Classic lugs are smooth and responsive. The base has a 20-strand Starclassic carbon steel snappy snares.
The G-Bubinga snare drums are great for pop, R&B, country and rock genres. They sound natural with the stock drumheads: Evans G1 coated batter and 300 on the snare side. The drum sounds slightly dry compared to the poppy Pearl Piccolo. Tama G-Bubinga has a more mature and tighter sound. There’s no lack of punch in the sound though.
- Punchy, mature sound
- Quite the looker
- Starclassic lugs and snares
- Responsive and Sensitive
Mapex Steel Piccolo snare drum is a great little concert snare. We were surprised at its tangy sound for such an affordable price. Its all-steel finish hides the ability to work with church music to reggae tones. The steel build and the bang-on sparkly sound is exactly what we looks for in our best snare drums line-up.
The Mapex Steel piccolo snare drum uses a 1mm stainless steel shell. This gives the sound a metallic twist´. Some drummers just like the character this brings to the overall tone of drum set. The snare head is fitted with a 20-strand snare wire. The drumheads are Remo heads. They are of decent quality. A little tuning will fit it right into your musical regime. A drum key is supplied with the pack for easy tuning.
This snare drum is 3.5” x 13” and portable. It is shipped all tuned and shiny. The snare release is quite fluid and can be adjusted easily enough. The build quality is much better than expected of the price. The stroke attack is swift and solid.
- Stainless steel sturdy build
- Swift attack and great tone
- Remo stock heads
- Wire anchor cannot be tightened too hard
A starter set might be what sets you off on the drummer path. The GP Percussion SK22 snare drum kit has everything needed to start playing and practising the snare drums. It’s incredibly useful to the novices who are just getting into the drumming domain. The fact that all the accessories are included makes it an even better investment. Plus the fact it is available so cheaply makes it worth the best snare drums list. And if you want to complete your studio set, get the best studio subwoofers here.
The GP Percussion SK22 snare drum kit is a wholesome set of snare drum and accessories. The drum itself has a metal shell. This is not made of premium materials. It is definitely reliable though. This is a 5.5” x 14” in dimensions. So it is capable of the range of percussive sounds. The 10 lugs allow you to tune the sound to your liking. A rubber pad is conveniently shipped with it. This is a practice pad which muffles the sound when you are playing at home. If you are buying this for the kids, the SK22 will be less of a nuisance.
This snare drum comes with a padded soft sturdy bag. The bag has a shoulder strap so that you can carry the snare drum around in it. It also has a handle in case that’s how you intend to carry it. It has pockets in the front to store the drums and the stand. This drum key provided with this is useful for tuning the drum to serve your audio tastes. The drum is mounted on a double brace stand. So you don’t have to buy a custom stand separately. The stand has rubber stubs to make contact with the floor. Wooden drum sticks are also part of the package.
- Comes with rubber pad for muffling
- Stand, bag and drum sticks included
- Tuning key included
- Stand might be a little short for some people