When I was a child, I begged my parents to buy me a drum kit. I eventually got my wish after years of groveling. I set up the kit in my bedroom (okay, my mom set it all up) and sat down on my throne, preparing to bash out my own rendition of Led Zeppelin’s seminal anthem, Moby Dick. I whacked the snare drum as hard as I could. And it made a horrible rattling sound. It’s broken, I thought. My mother promptly returned the kit to the store the next day and got her money back. Silly me - it wasn’t broken at all.
A snare drum simply sounds different from the other elements of a drum kit. With the distinctive rattle (or snare), the snare drum forms the body of most beats in popular music. But how do you know whether you're buying a good snare drum? There are so many options available; it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best snare drums in 2021 to point you in the right direction!
Want to know more? Check out the rest of the article below.
When choosing the right snare drum for your kit, you need to understand a few things about what makes a snare drum better than others. If you’re not careful, you could easily wind up spending a lot of money on a drum that doesn’t do what you want.
To help you make your purchase, we have provided this handy buying guide. Within this guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to consider, as well as how much you should expect to pay for a popular snare drum. We’ve even provided a nifty FAQ for your viewing pleasure.
Read on for more information.
What is a Snare Drum?
Let’s begin with the basics. A snare drum is a percussion instrument that is made up of a round frame with two heads - top and bottom. The snare is a collection of metal wires attached to either or both of the heads, usually the bottom. These wires can be tightened or loosened to change the general sound of the drum. Tight wires give you a quick and bright attack. Loose wires make the snare drum sound like a high-pitched tom.
Things to Consider When Buying A Snare Drum
There are lots of things you should consider before investing in a new snare drum. These include:
Without a doubt, one thing that changes the drum sound above all others is the type of material used in the design. There are lots of materials to choose from.
For example, wood is one of the most popular types of snare drums, but these come in many of their own varieties as well.
Birch: Birch snare drums lend themselves to projection thanks to a great low-end response and clear treble. There is plenty of attack, which is perfect for aggressive players.
Maple: Maple drums are more well-rounded than their Birch counterparts, but still provide plenty of bass. The balanced sound makes them one of the most versatile snare drums around.
Beech: These types of snare drums offer a balanced tone but with an added mid-boost. Great for a fat snare sound.
Mahogany: Mahogany snares are rich, warm, and resonant in the low and mid frequencies. They were also the most popular shells for years. As such, they are associated with a desirable vintage sound.
Poplar: Poplar snares are becoming more popular in recent times. The sound is reminiscent of the Mahogany alternative, but they swap some bass for top-end.
If you don’t like wood snare drums, you may also be interested in the metal variety. These include:
Brass: This is the early known metal snare drum. It comes with an accentuated top-end without sacrificing too much bass and mid warmth.
Aluminum: These types of snare drums are dry and sharp. They offer a great treble response and cut through any mix with relative ease.
Steel: Steel snare drums give boosted mids and plenty of treble. They also offer lots of sustain and a fantastic overall presence. They are not the most expensive snare drums either.
Copper: Copper snare drums give you a more round sound. They do not emphasize the top-end too much, instead offering plenty of bass and mids. You are most likely going to find these drums in orchestral ensembles.
Bronze: These types of snare drum shells are less common than other materials. In fact, bronze is often used for cymbals. You may notice a boost in the low-end that is coupled with plenty of warm mids.
There are plenty of other materials used to make snare drums, but they are less popular and more niche. Some snare drums are innovative and experimental in their construction. However, some materials simply don’t catch on with the masses and develop a cut following among certain drum aficionados. Therefore, those types of drums are only made by a few companies. Some examples of experiment snare drum materials include:
Acrylic: Acrylic snare drums were made famous by the legendary John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. These types of snares are very dry and punchy. They also project their sound very well.
Carbon Fibre: These snare drums have a distinct appearance which offers a U-shape EQ curve. Basically, these snare drums give you plenty of treble and bass.
Stone: Stone snare drums often come with very thin shells. This gives a lower pitch and greatly improves resonance and sensitivity.
Glass: Glass snare drums are basically the same as stone drums in terms of properties
Hemp: That’s right - you can even find hemp snare drums. They actually sound quite similar to traditional wood snare drums, much drier and warmer than metal.
Generally speaking, the more unique your drum material, the more money you will have to spend. This is because alternative material snare drums are not as widely produced as wood or metal drums. As such, the manufacturing process is a lot less cost-effective. You will also be paying for the right to a drum that is much more exclusive. As a result, the sound is harder to replicate and is only available to a few people.
We recommend reading customer reviews before purchasing any snare drum. This is the best way to make sure you get a drum that gives you the exact sound you are looking for.
Snare Drum Price Range
Like with most other instruments, you certainly get what you pay for when it comes to snare drums. If you only have a limited budget, you can find certain snare drums for under $100, sometimes even cheaper. However, if you want true quality and craftsmanship, you can easily end up spending over $500.
Typically, the most popular snare drums will cost you somewhere between $300 to $500.
Best Snare Drum FAQ
Q: What are drum heads made from?
A: Interestingly, the materials used to make drums have changed a lot over the last 100 years. Until the 1950s, drum heads were usually made from animal skin. However, as time and technology move forward, most drum heads are made from polyester or Mylar plastics.
Q: Should I buy drums for my children?
A: Yes. Instruments are a great way to teach discipline and improve concentration in your children. Your neighbors may not appreciate all the banging, but studies have shown that learning a musical instrument as a child has lots of positive effects on development.
Derek is a professional musician who specializes in percussion and works with the independent WGI group Cap City Percussion. With a Bachelors of Music from Capital University, specializing in Music Industry studies, he consistently finds himself playing and teaching percussion to anyone who has the will to learn. Derek is also a former member of DCI groups Legends (2014-15) and Colts (2016-18); he is also the percussion technician and instructor of the drum line at Olentangy High School. You may find him playing a gig throughout the greater Columbus, Ohio area.