Best Snare Drums to Get in 2020: How to Decide on the Type, Brand, Size, and Material?

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Tama S.L.P. G-Maple Snare Drum - 6 Inches X 14 Inches
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Belonging to the best wood snare drums.
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Ludwig 8x14 Black Magic Snare Drum
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Collector’s items.
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Pacific Drums & Percussion Snare Drum, Natural, inch (PDSX0614CLWH)
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Sounds excellent with brushes.
Product
DW Design Series Black Nickel over Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 Inch
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DW Heads by REMO;

Tama S.L.P. G-Maple is the best snare drum for touring, sound recording, performing, or gigging. With a standard size of 6”x 14”, maple shell of 11 mm, and ply Kona Mappa Burl lacquer cover, this snare has an exceptional mixture of tone, sensitivity, and look.

Tama S.L.P. G-Maple Snare Drum - 6 Inches X 14 Inches
4 Reviews
Tama S.L.P. G-Maple Snare Drum - 6 Inches X 14 Inches
  • Mappa Burl Snare with Evans G1 Coated Heads
  • Maple

S.L.P. G-Maple, belonging to the best wood snare drums, is well built, and its flanged hoops of 2.3 mm together with the low mass lugs provide the snare with a natural resonance. A vivid sound at an enhanced volume put this professional snare drum on the top of this list, and Tama, a well known Japanese brand, definitely deserves to fit your snare drum kit.

However, to make it more transparent, let me take you through the review of several other good snare drums.

What Is the Best Snare Drum in Terms of Shell and Genre?

The snare drum is the center of your performing universe; its tone sometimes dominates the whole sound of your drum kit. So often, professional drummers prefer to have a couple (or even more!) of these drums.

There are several types of snare drums:

  • Marching (used in marching ensembles);
  • Concert (used in an orchestra);
  • Pipe band (used to play pipe music);
  • Piccolo (smaller depth, used in drum kits);
  • Soprano (small diameter, used in drum kits);
  • Drum kit (most popular, used for the variety of styles).

After you consider how much you are ready to pay for the drum of your dream, be specific about the style you will perform and, consequently, the sound you need to get.

The material of this drum (wood, acrylic, metal) and its sizes define the kind and volume of its sound. The higher the quality of the spare parts, the better the shell material and its structure, the higher is the price.

Let us look through several best snare drums you can buy concerning your budget, genre, and drumming level.

The Best Brass Snare Drum: Ludwig 8×14 Black Magic Snare Drum

An 8”x 14” size and nickel-over-brass black shell, Black Magic is an upgraded iconic Black Beaty series. Ludwig was the first to implement the black-nickel over brass technology a bit less than 100 years ago, and since then, this concept has been set as a certain standard for other brands. The brass shell makes a warm sound. A classical drum from one of the industry leaders, Black Magic, is undoubtedly one of the best brass snare drums.

Die-cast hoops bring some new vibes to the drum, its tube lugs complete the collector’s look, and robust sound can fit various playing needs. Many famous drummers prefer to record with Ludwig’s Black Magic without being its endorsers because this drum brings a lot of projection and is, at the same time, very responsive.

Modern players tend to perform more aggressively, which makes Black Magic a suitable and, nonetheless, a more affordable option when compared to Black Beaty. Despite the loud sound it provides, its punch quality makes it the best sounding snare drum in our list. With these characteristics, Ludwig’s Black Magic inevitably gets the title of the best rock snare drum on this list.

Ludwig 8x14 Black Magic Snare Drum
22 Reviews
Ludwig 8x14 Black Magic Snare Drum
  • Built to focus on tight, crisp projection, the 8" depth on this 14" model ads full-bodied sonic elements to its powerful attack.
  • Beaded Black Nickel over Brass Shell w/ Matching Die Cast Hoops and Tube-Lugs.

PROS:
  • Can be used for different styles, especially rock;
  • Collector’s items;
  • Sounds perfect on touring as well as in a recording studio;
  • Has an increased volume due to die-cast hoops;
  • Possesses significant shell resonance due to tube-style lugs.
CONS:
  • Does not come cheap;
  • Is not as gorgeous as the previous Black Beaty series.

The Best Wood Snare Drum: Pacific Drums & Percussion Snare Drums

Pacific Drums

Available in two sizes (6” x 14” and 7” x 14”), this natural wood drum with steel hooks demonstrates the fantastic quality. This PDP model has only eight lugs, which considerably quickens the tuning process and delivers a more open sound.

You can tune the drum quite high, however, without making it play like a pipe or a marching drum. Also, you can easily tune the drum fat and everything down to the low. Brushes give the same effect.

The strainer of the Pacific Drums & Percussion is magnetic, which allows certain flexibility and comfort with engaging and disengaging it. This feature is especially useful when you have to take off the snare while playing.

Among the disadvantages, I need to mention that wooden drums with wooden rims are not suitable for those who hit hard or tune the head super tightly. Earlier PDP drums had a warm sound when cross-sticking, while this model does not provide it.

Pacific Drums & Percussion Snare Drum, Natural, inch (PDSX0614CLWH)
20 Reviews
Pacific Drums & Percussion Snare Drum, Natural, inch (PDSX0614CLWH)
  • All-maple wood hoops are fitted using low-profile, chrome plated steel claw hooks
  • Produces warm, dark backbeats for specific musical applications

PROS:
  • Eight lugs (not ten) are tuned faster and sound more open;
  • Has a more dynamic and tuning range;
  • Sounds excellent with brushes;
  • Has a flexible magnetic strainer;
  • Expensive.
CONS:
  • No mild cross-sticking sound the previous model had;
  • Not suitable for heavy-hitters.

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14×5.5 Snare Drum: The Best Snare Drum for Jazz

Yamaha Stage Custom BirchHaving introduced the Stage Custom Series in 1995, Yamaha sets another standard of the sound and credit. 6 mm birch shell, steel hardware, triple-flange hoops make this Raven Black snare drum a classic one in the high-class kits.

Six-ply construction of the Yamaha drum reproduces the vibrations from the impact surface, while the bearing edge of 45 degrees ensures resonance with high overtones. These effects shift all expectations and make this drum the best for jazz music.

Stage Custom Birch Drum is featured with patented lugs, lacquer finishing, and Remo heads altogether result in a reserved and simultaneously fashionable look. However, these lugs can sometimes come loose.

It is a good option for intermediate drummers who would like to improve their sounding. Also, this snare might join your kit as the second or even the third one.

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Raven Black
229 Reviews
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Raven Black
  • All-Birch shell
  • Ten Lugs for More Precise Tuning

PROS:
  • Possesses patented lugs;
  • Its 45-degree bearing edge generates overtones;
  • Has the B-Type side throw-off;
  • Cheap;
  • Perfect for jazz music.
CONS:
  • Does not have an internal muffler;
  • Lugs may come loose.

Pearl Joey Jordison JJ1365N 13-inch Snare Drum: Possibly the Best Snare for Hard Beats

Pearl Joey JordisonThis 6.5” x 13” Piccolo with a 1 mm steel shell is among the best metal snare drums, supports many music styles, and is an artistic series drum. It was designed for Joey Jordison – the drummer of Slipknot, an American heavy metal band. In a pretty aggressive manner of drumming, Pearl JJ deserves to be called the best snare for hard beats. All the fans can enjoy the drum their idol played.

The strainer of Pearl JJ drum is pulled vertically, which boasts a whole string to head connection and results in good snare response. The 1 mm thick shell does not warp and delivers a fantastic sound. Stylish masters bridge, black SuperHoops, branded heads make it quite a fashionable item.

The snare has the size of a classic snare drum but acts like a piccolo, producing low sounds. Along with that, it lacks high tuning. Overall, it could be recommended for the metal band beginners.

Pearl JJ1365N 13-inch Snare Drum
2 Reviews
Pearl JJ1365N 13-inch Snare Drum
  • Super hoop II
  • SR017B Strainer

PROS:
  • Fits many music styles;
  • Especially suitable for electric grooves and hip-hop;
  • Has speed and versatility;
  • Perfect for the fans of J. Jordison;
  • The strain is pulled vertically.
CONS:
  • Too specific, personalized item;
  • Does not feature high tuning.

DW Design Series Black Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum: Most Featured DW

DW Design Snare Drum

Sizing 6.5” x 14” DW Design Series produce definitely sharp attack: classic and robust sound. This snare is full of features and well built, which makes it very popular among the studio and touring drummers.

Exclusively powerful sound with commanding tones of DW Design Series gains popularity. The drum’s stable and high-quality sound makes it reliable and durable in jazz, country, rock, and more genres.

The main hardware features are specially worked out snare strainer MAG Throw-Off and a True-Pitch Tuning system, used for years and giving drummers broader tuning options. Despite a one mm bronze shell, the DW Design Series Black Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum is a little bit heavy. Whether due to its brass weight or remarkable DW hardware, the drum feels exceptionally stable.

Nickel-plated finish in black color, together with the chrome hardware and branded heads, makes a remarkable fit. A DW head by Remo allows you to start playing right after unpacking.

DW Design Series Black Nickel over Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 Inch
24 Reviews

PROS:
  • DW’s True-Pitch Tuning technology;
  • DW Heads by REMO;
  • Snair strainer MAG Throw-Off;
  • Mid-price;
  • Versatile sound.
CONS:
  • Only two sizes in the series;
  • The bottom head tuning may be tricky at the beginning.

Hammered Brass Snare Drum: Best Rock Snare Drum

Hammered Brass Snare DrumHaving the size of 6.5” x 14”, 1.2 mm Polished Hammered Brass shell design delivers a warm tone that seems to be the natural combination of steel and wood due to the gray metal balanced by the darker brass. Chrome hardware, die-cast hoops, 20 strand wire with an adjustable throw-off emphasize the exciting look of this item and its features.

Heads by Remo Ambassador make the sound of this drum focused and powerful, with overtones reduced by the hammered design. This Gretsch snare from Full Range Series is very sturdy and exceptionally reliable, sounds fantastic, making a good match, especially for jazz music.

Though the Hammered Brass Snare was produced in the 2010s, it still feels premium and would contribute to any kit successfully with its catchy sound and look.

Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14' Hammered Brass Snare Drum
8 Reviews
Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14" Hammered Brass Snare Drum
  • 6.5x14" Snare Drum
  • 1.2mm Polished Hammered Brass shell with Bolt-on Silver Series round badge & Chrome hardware

PROS:
  • Combines the warm look of steel and wood;
  • Heads by REMO;
  • Adjustable Throw-Offs;
  • Easily tunable and versatile;
  • Good deal for its price.
CONS:
  • Not cheap.

How to Define the Best Jazz and Metal Snare Drum and Have It Tuned Immediately

There are quite a few factors you have to take into consideration when choosing the best snare drums for jazz and metal. In this section, we’ll provide you with guidelines that will make your choice a lot easier.

Snare drum for jazz

The energy and flow of jazz would demand specific properties from your performance and, consequently, your instrument. Perfect jazz snare usually feature the 6”x14” size. They should better be made of wood, which promises to resonate and deliver a warm sounding instead of resistance and loudness. When tuning your jazz snare, you need to get it prepared for proper jazz tones, avoiding cracking sounds.

Following our review, the most appropriate snare for your jazz drum kit is Stage Custom Birch 14×5.5 Snare, Raven Black by Yamaha – with its vibrance and harmonics.

Snare drum for metal

When choosing the top-rated snare drums for metal, you will need a loud, responsive, reliable, and gorgeous item. Metal snares would fit the metal style better; the most commonly used are brass and steel ones. The metal snare drum top needs to be durable to survive numerous aggressive punches during the rock performance. Thus, metal snare heads must be resistant. The deeper the snare is, the lower the overall tone can be. A 14” in diameter and 8” deep snare is quite an option.

Looking through the models that we considered above, it is evident that Ludwig 8×14 Black Magic Snare meets not only the technical requirements but also has a gorgeous look with its black finish.

Five quick steps to have your snare drum tuned immediately:

  1. Remove the wire and begin to tighten the resonant head (the one with a snare). Do not take off the hoop and mind the tension as the down head is thin.
  2. Turn the tension rocks clockwise – a quarter each time – with the two-key method of tuning the opposite lugs.
  3. Hit near each tension rock to check whether you have evenly tuned the whole surface of the head.
  4. Switch to the batter head and do the same, except for the tone, as the top head should sound lower.
  5. Return the wires carefully, centering it across the width and height. Put the wires close to the butt end, so that the wires will be moved to the center. And, finally, play the drum!

Drummers Often Ask

Snare Drums

Here is a list of questions that we get asked on a regular basis:

What is the most recorded snare drum?

According to Blueprint Studios’ Facebook, the Ludwig Supraphonic 402 6.5” x 14” is the drum recorded most in history. One could hear it on the records of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Beatles. However, this information is objective, as actual data cannot be traced 100% sure.

Which heads work best for vintage snare drums?

Vintage snares vary from item to item and, thus, their sizes differ too. You will have to check the shell diameter of your vintage snare to get the proper heads. Remo Coated Ambassadors became a standard for many; however, there are other head brands that could work best for your drum.

How do I get the best snare drum sound?

The sounds of snare drums will differ depending on the drum material and size, sometimes on the shell surface also. So we can speak about the sound which is the best for your style, genre you perform, and for the particular drum.

Does a Universal (One Best) Snare Drum Exist?

Yes and no. Sure, Tama S.L.P. G-Maple – the leader of the reviewed snare drums in this article – tends to cover a lot of drumming needs. But there will be almost as many best snares as there are drums and performers. Your best drum will depend on the style you play, your taste, and your personal preferences. It is great to have so many various snares to express our individuality and share the art of playing drums.

What is the best snare drum brand for you? Have you ever played a vintage snare drum? How many snare drums do you have in your kit? How long does it take you to tune your snare drum? Leave your thoughts in the comments box.

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