Home Music & Audio Best Snare Drums [Buying Guide] in 2020

Best Snare Drums [Buying Guide] in 2020

by Jonathan Logtenberg
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Ludwig 8x14 Black Magic Snare Drum
PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7x13
MAPEX Snare Drum, Hammered Brass, inch (BPBR465HZN)
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Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum
Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum
Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series
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Ludwig 8x14 Black Magic Snare Drum
Title
Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum
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PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7x13
Title
Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum
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MAPEX Snare Drum, Hammered Brass, inch (BPBR465HZN)
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Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series
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A drum kit without a snare drum is no drum kit at all. There are few instruments that are as widely used as the snare drum. It has been around for a long time and serves as the central hub of any drummer’s kit. So, what is a snare drum? If you are into music, the question above will sound funny. Truth is, even someone who is remotely interested in music know the snare drum. Anyone who has seen a percussion set before must have seen a snare drum. After all, what is a percussion set without a snare drum?

Back to the funny question: what is a snare drum? Well, the snare drum is that small percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick or a mallet. The instrument has a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin, which contributes significantly to its distinct sound.

Before we proceed to discuss the sound of the snare drum and how it influences modern music, it will be helpful to take a little trip down memory lane. What is the history behind the snare drum? How long has it been in existence and how influential was it in the past? The snare drum has been around since the 1300s. It essentially originated from the tabor, a little drum that was first used to accompany the flute. Over the years, the drum evolved into various forms such as the kit snare, marching snare, tarol snare and piccolo snare.

In the earliest days, the drum was mostly for military use. As it continued to evolve, it became popular as an orchestral fixture. There are reports of unsuccessful attempts by the Germans to give it another sound in the 1900s but this is a story for another day. The introduction of the snare strainer in 1924 was a notable milestone. By 1957, we had what we know today as the modern snare drum. 

The snare drum is one of the most important percussion instruments and is used in all kinds of bands. Also referred to as field drum or side drum, you will find them in concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, orchestras and more. It is the centerpiece of creating a complete drum set, the collection of percussion instruments you find in all kinds of musical performances, arranged to be played by a seated drummer.

The sound of the snare drum is unique. Many of the greatest songs performed by man rely heavily on this sound. In an important musical performance, you will want to have an excellent snare drum as its unique sound can either complement the performance or distract the audience by being irritating and dull. Though the snare drum has been around for a long while and manufacturers have had enough time to perfect their acts, it can still be difficult to buy one. Indeed, there are quality options on the market but how do you choose one from the lot?

When you purchase an entire drum set, you will get a factory snare that will be okay. If, however, you are a real drummer and want the best, you will have to shop for the best snare drums, which can be a major challenge. At Surf n’ Buy, we are particular about making the online shopping experience easier and better for our readers. We always want you to have the best and have you covered even when it comes to buying a snare drum.

If you are interested in getting the best snare drum, you will have to spend several hours comparing so many different models. To help make that easy for you, we have done the bulk of the research you will need to do and have identified the very best snare drums out there. We will also discuss some other important information that will help you buy and use your snare drum in the best possible way.

Are you ready to buy the best snare drums? Here are the three best options to consider right now:

Top 3 Snare Drums

1. Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum

FEATURES

The first important thing to know about this snare drum is that it is made by one of the biggest and most recognized manufacturers in the industry. It is also worthy to note here that Ludwig pioneered the black-nickel over brass shell concept that has been embraced by several other manufacturers. It The Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum is one of their all-time best when you consider such factors as design, performance, and quality. This is a sensational drum by all standard and it is highly recommended for percussionists of all levels.

In terms of design quality, there are very few drums that can be compared to this snare. It is clearly built to focus on tight, crisp projection. The 8 inches of shell depth on this 14 inches snare drum help to deliver the tight, crisp projection with a huge full-bodied attack. It is also accentuated with matching tube lugs and die-cast hoops that help to make the classic tone as distinctive as possible.

Every experienced drummer does not only consider the build quality of a snare drum. The priority is usually on the quality and uniqueness of the sound it can deliver and high expectations are always placed on Ludwig drums. Indeed, Ludwig drums are known for their astonishing sounds and this snare drum doesn’t disappoint at all. It takes the signature sound and quality to a whole new playing spectrum. There are four different models of the Black Magic Snare Drums that will satisfy any playing situation.

Like the dream snare drum it is, this Black Magic beauty from Ludwig is astonishing to play. The sound is bright and open yet full-bodied and warm. It fits every tuning range, all the way from low to high. There is a lot of vintage depth when tuned low, and it pops when tuned up high. The warm round metallic tone has been imitated by some other manufacturers but there are no known duplicates to the Black Magic Snare drums.

Looking at the construction quality of this instrument and the unique sound it produces, you will think it will be one of the most expensive options. Truth is that the Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum is an affordable instrument. The price is just unbelievable and what you will get is an incredible value for your money. For the price, it is undoubtedly the best snare drum out there. 

PROS

  • The quality of construction of this snare drum is exceptional. It is built to focus on tight, crisp projection with the 8-inches shell depth adding full-bodied sonic elements to its powerful attack.
  • Drums from the manufacturer are known for their unique sounds but the Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum takes the signature sound to a whole new playing spectrum.
  • This wonderful snare drum features 10 beautiful looking tube lugs and matching die-cast hoops that help to deliver the highly regarded classic tone.
  • This is a very versatile snare drum. It is a fantastic, well-balanced snare drum that sounds great across most musical genres.
  • The Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum is also a very affordable drum. The offer is remarkable and will let an experienced drummer who is on a budget to upgrade to a reliably fantastic snare drum without breaking the bank.

CONS

  • Though the quality is great and many drummers are happy with it, few people feel it is not a premium model and therefore not the right choice for big bands and famous performers.
  • The distinctive sound may not suit all tastes and it may not be deep enough for some applications.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum is a special option for drummers looking to upgrade to a fantastic snare drum but are on a budget. It is a well-built drum that sounds great and can stand the test of time. Thanks to the 8 inches of shell depth, it offers a lot of weight and attack. It is an astonishingly affordable drum that sounds bright and open yet full-bodied and warm. The distinctive sound of this snare drum is nothing short of sensational. It is also respected as a versatile snare drum that will provide fantastic sound for different music genres: it will definitely improve any drum set. Looking at the quality of this instrument and the price, it is definitely one of the most valuable snare drums on the market.

2. Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13

FEATURES

This snare drum belongs to a family of snare drums that are specially made to offer true value for the money. There is something spectacular about All-maple Black Wax Snare drums. They all feature MAG Throw-Offs™, True-Pitch Tuning™, Remo heads and more. They derive their unique name from a hand-applied wax sealer that protects its maple exterior and provides an earthy matte finish. The drums are available in about six different sizes and this particular one is the 7 x 13 inches model.

The Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is an exceptionally built snare drum that represents real value for money. It has a 10 ply maple shell which is strong enough for an instrument in its class. This shell and the unique 7 x 13 inches size gives this snare drum a higher tuning range and a cool mix of depth, body and pop.

In terms of aesthetic, there are few snare drums in this class that look better than this. Though it is a budget snare drum, it looks rich and powerful and will fit perfectly even in drum set that has premium models. The matter-black finish over the shell gives it a simple yet classic look that will appeal to drummers and audience alike. The hand-applied wax-based sealer gives it a smooth finish and a deceivingly understated look.

In terms of sound, this is an excellent choice for a drummer hoping to add a new drum into a drum kit. It has all the peculiar features if the PDP Concept Series Black Wax Snares: the True Pitch tensions rods fitted in brass inserts; the DW/Remo Tuning Sequence heads; and the DW Mag drop-style Throw-Offs all contribute to making the instrument a great snare drum. It also features 16 Split Dual-Turret Lugs. It will be a perfect complement to a 7-piece PDP Concept Maple drum kit that comes with a snare drum you are not comfortable with. It will not require any help to sound decent.

If you want a quality snare drum but happen to be on a budget, this is an instrument of choice. In spite of the good quality and impressive sound, the Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is very affordable. It is the most affordable snare drum in this list and will make a valuable purchase, especially when you want to have different snare drums in your collection. 

PROS

  • The quality of construction is one of the most remarkable things about this instrument. The 10 plies of maples brilliantly combine with the unique 7 x 13 size to give the instrument a cool mix of depth, body and pop.
  • For an instrument in its class, this is a good looking snare drum. The matte black finish and the hand-applied wax-based sealer help to improve the aesthetic appeal, elevating the overall appearance of the drum.
  • The size of the instrument is just right and will appeal to most drummers. It will easily fit into any style of drum set up without an issue.
  • The sound quality of the instrument is incredibly appealing. It doesn’t sound anything like most instruments you will get in this price range.
  • The Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is extremely affordable. The price is simply unbelievable when you consider the number of unique features it offers. It gives the ardent drummer who is on a budget the opportunity to grab a good snare drum to complete the setup. 

CONS

  • The Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is clearly not in the same league as premium snares. It is a budget option and doesn’t offer a real upgrade. 
  • The sound is good but not as bright as some experienced drummers will want.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

By all standards, the PDP Concept series Black Wax snares are great drums. The Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is an excellent choice for drummers who need to improve their snare drums collection but are on a tight budget. From the way it is designed to the performance it delivers, this is a wonderful snare drum. The maple shell is beautifully finished and there is an abundance of unique features to make it sound great. The price is another incredible thing about the instrument. Overall, the quality is impeccable, the sound is outstanding, and the price is unbelievable. It is a good idea to grab it if you want to improve your snares collection. 

3. Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches

FEATURES

If you want the very best in snare drums and don not mind spending the cash, this is an excellent option to consider. Designed by one of the industry leaders, the Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches snare drum is the sort of snare drum you want to have when you perform in a big stage where sound quality matters a lot and you want your performance to be perfect. It is perfectly built with the right materials and has the right features to produce superior sound at all times. 

The Gorgeous Mapex black panter snare drum can be described as a heavy-duty snare drum that is made for big occasions. It is constructed from a 12 mm hammered brass shell that will cut through the heaviest walls of sound. It is 14 inches in diameter and 6.5 inches deep. The brass shell does not only deliver exceptional sound quality but guarantees durability too. In terms of aesthetic, it is also an appealing snare drum. It features 10 beautiful tube lugs and Mapex’s Sonic Saver hoops all in a matching brass finish to complement the drum.

The major reason you will want to spend a reasonable amount of money to buy a snare drum is to get the best sound quality. That is exactly what you get with this drum. It has a distinctly bright and focused pitch that will hammer through the heaviest walls of sound as well as a well-rounded tone that is generally appealing. It sounds fantastic across a range of tuning ranges and is particularly more impressive when tuned up high. It features cylinder drive strainer with piston style throw-off.

This snare drum is an awesome instrument you will enjoy playing. It is pretty loud in a good way. It also has a sharp attack and will provide excellent and aggressive rim shots you will find satisfying. Thanks to the quality hammered brass shell, it will produce a good level of low frequencies as well as high frequencies. The distinct sound is most suitable for rock and metal but can also be good for pop and blues. In fact, it has enough dynamics and responsiveness and will be great when handled by an experienced player for different genres of music.

Though the Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches is the most expensive instrument on this list, it is still a reasonable option to buy. Considering the quality of the drum and the sound quality it offers, the price is perfectly reasonable. 

PROS

  • The build quality of the high-end professional Black Panther snare is spot on: this particular Sledgehammer model is crafted from 1.2 mm hammered brass shell that produces excellent sound quality and guarantees durability.
  • The Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches is aesthetically appealing. The matching 10 tube lugs and Sonic Saver hoops complement the beautifully finished brass shell to make it a beautiful snare drum.
  • This snare produces a distinctly bright and focused pitch as well as well-rounded tone. It is also a loud snare drum that will enhance your performance.
  • It offers huge power and sharp attack. It also provides excellent and aggressive rim shots that will enhance your playing experience.

CONS

  • The Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches can be expensive for some people. It is a high-end professional snare drum and can be beyond the reach of beginner drummers.
  • This snare drum is not suitable for all music styles and the distinct sound might not appeal to everyone.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches is a fantastic snare drum that will make an excellent addition to your collection. It is a premium instrument with excellent built quality and several features that improve sound quality and durability. It is also a loud snare drum with a bright and focused pitch that will hammer through the heaviest walls of sound. It also has a distinct rounded tone and will produce a good level of high frequencies and low frequencies, thanks to the high-quality hammered brass shell. It is also a good looking instrument that will fit in any standard quality drum set up. Though it is not a cheap snare drum, it is still reasonably priced and will be a valuable addition to your premium collection.

Types of Snare Drums

Snare drums are of different types. Though they are similar in many ways, these drums are modified for different applications. They sound, feel, and in some instances, appear different. You should be able to distinguish them. Here are the major types of snare drums:

  • Drum Set Snare Drum – These are the snare drums that are designed to be used as part of a standard drum kit. They are the commonest types of snares and have a diameter of 14 inches and depth ranging from 5 – 8 inches.
  • Concert/Orchestral Snare Drum – These are the snare drums that are most suitable for percussive/orchestra use. They mostly feature wooden shells and metal cable snares.
  • Marching Snare Drum – These are high tension drums that are mostly deeper than drum set or orchestral snare drums: they can be as much as 12 inches. These snare drums are typically used in marching ensembles.
  • Pipe Band Snare Drum – They are specifically fantastic for pipe music and are designed for that. They normally have an additional set of snare wires, are higher in pitch, and have very short attack. Their sounds are very unique.
  • Field Snare Drum – These drums are also great for concert/orchestral usage. They normally feature larger diameter and much greater depth. Their sounds are very similar to the sound of military drums of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Piccolo Snare Drum – These are unique snare drums that feature shells that are shallower than the other models. The depth can be anything between 3 – 4.5 inches. They have higher pitch and are mostly used in drum kits.
  • Soprano/Popcorn Snare Drum – These drums are somewhere between piccolo and drum set drums. Their diameters can be anything between 10 – 12 inches while their depths are usually between 5 – 7 inches deep. They produce high-pitched sounds but with full, colorful dynamic.
  • Mini/Micro Snare Drum – These are the smallest and highest-pitched snare drums. Their diameter can be as small as 6 inches and depth is usually very little too. While some have a traditional two-head design, others have just one head and use a fanned snare that contacts the underside of the batter head.

What Sound Does The Snare Drum Make?

The snare drum makes a sharp staccato sound when it is struck with a drum stick. The snare drum can also be played with other kinds of beaters including brushes, rute and hand. The distinctive sound of the snare drum is normally due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin.

When the top head is struck, the bottom head vibrates, stimulating the snares and producing the cracking sound. The snare drum is the centerpiece of a standard drum set and its unique sound is important in most genres of music. The sound also plays prominent roles in marching bands, parades, drum corps, drumlines and more.


How to Tune a Snare Drum

To get the best sound from a snail drum, you have to tune it correctly. This is not a very difficult process but involves different steps you have to take correctly. Here are the practical steps to take when you want to tune your snare drum.

Tuning the Resonant Head (Bottom)

  • Turn the snare drum and press the edges of the bottom with your thumbs to confirm if it needs tuning.
  • Unlock the snare wires (these are the thin metal wires running across the bottom side of your snare drum).
  • Use a drum key to tighten all the nuts around the top of the snare drum. You can use your fingers to get this done. Make sure the nuts are as tight as possible.
  • Use a drum key to tighten the top-most bolt of the snare drum to half a turn. You should just move it 180 –degrees in a clockwise direction. Test the head again with your thumb to know how it feels. If it is too tight, turn it just a quarter in the anticlockwise direction.
  • Use the drum key to tighten the bottom-most bolt in the same degree you did the topmost bolt (This should be 180 or 90-degrees).
  • Continue working around the drum head, tightening the bolts in opposite pairs.
  • Test the snare drum thoroughly to see that tension is even across the bottom head before replacing the snare wires.

Tuning the Batter Head (Top)

  • Loosen all the rods on the top head of the snare drum almost completely
  • If you are tuning a new skin, let it stretch by using your hand to press into the snare lightly and pushing into the drum.
  • Use your hand to tighten all the tension rod until they can’t turn again: tighten the bolts in opposing pairs
  • Use a drum key to tighten each pair of rods half a turn. You must also use the same system of opposing pairs for uniformity.
  • Test the drum by hitting with a drum stick right in front of each rod. Tighten or loosen each rod a bit, depending on the sound you get.
  • Play the snare drum to test its overall sound and determine if you need to do more.
  • Put the snares back on, ensuring that the wires are evenly applied in a straight line through the middle of the drum.
  • Do not be afraid to experiment with your snare drum until you get the type of tone you want.

What to Consider When Buying A Snare Drum

Like all musical instruments, snares are not all made equal. There are so many models of snare drums from different manufacturers and finding the right one can be difficult. There are factors you need to consider, however, if you want to buy the right snare drum. Here are the most important of these factors:

Area of Application

As you can tell from the different types of snare drums discussed above, there are different snare drums for different applications. You need to understand the kind of snare drums that are suitable for what you want to use it for and buy that. Buy a piccolo snare drum when you need one and buy a marching snare drum when you need one.

Size

Size is another important thing to consider when buying a snare drum. You want to look at the diameter of the instrument and the depth. The size determines the sound of the instrument as well as its suitable area of application.

Shell Material

There are different materials used for making the shells of snare drums and you need to know what the particular model you want to buy is made from. The material affects the sound of the instrument as well as its durability. Confirm the material used for the shell and decide if it is okay with you.

Important Features

There are some important features that influence the quality and sound of a snare drum. The hoops, the lugs and other features are important and you need to consider their quality and helpfulness in the snare drum you hope to buy.

Brand

There are so many producers of drums in the world and quality of instruments duffer significantly. It is better that you buy snare drums that are produced by some of the best manufacturers in the industry. Buy recognized brands always.


Conclusion

Snare drums are among the most popular and widely used musical instruments in the world. They form the centerpiece of every drum set and feature in other forms of musical performances. Buying snare drums can be a little difficult since there are so many models on the market. To make things easier for you, we have identified and reviewed the best available options on the market right now.

If you want a quality snare drum but are on a budget, the Pacific PDP By DW Black Wax Maple Snare Drum 7 x 13 is a good choice to consider. If you have a little more money, you will be better off with the Ludwig 8 x 14 Black Magic Snare Drum. If you want a high-end professional snare drum and have enough money, the Mapex BPBR465HZN Black Panther Series 14 x 6.5 Inches snare drum will be an exceptional addition to your collection.

At Surf n’ Buy, we believe that online shopping should be easy and fruitful. That is exactly why we have reviewed the best snare drums and discuss some other topics about the instrument we know you will find helpful. We sincerely hope this piece makes your journey with the snare drum smoother.

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