Top 10 Best Snare Drums of 2019 to Redefine Your Music
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If you ask any drummer what the most integral element of their sound is, you'll find it difficult to get an answer apart from the snare drum. It's the cornerstone of every drummer's style - the tone, warmth, and reverb of the snare are ingredients to the perfect drum sound recipe. Ask Ringo Starr what part of his kit he treasures the most and it's likely to be the snare drum. The snare is pivotal to the beat and rhythm - the two driving forces behind each one of your favorite jazz, heavy metal, pop, and even rap.
The snare drum has evolved from a single-gut snare called the ‘tabor’ to many other variants today. Early versions of the instrument were made of wood and a stretched membrane, but modern-day snare drums are manufactured using a wide array of materials that include types of wood and metal such as maple, birch, oak; stainless steel, aluminium, and brass. More advanced, premium snare drums are often constructed using bamboo and rosewood, making them sound peculiar.
It can be a tough task to decide which snare drum to buy next. With your signature sound at stake, there are so many factors to consider. Price, the quality of materials, availability, and the kind of music you want to play are all important things to keep in mind.
Are you a beginner and need a simple jack-of-all-trades kind of snare to get the job done, while you decide on the path of your budding drumming career? Are you a regular Vic Firth that knows everything about their kit and the exact sound and build to go for? Then, this article is for you.
We have taken it upon ourselves to wade through the mosh pit of reviews and many options to bring you a comprehensive guide on the best snare drums to buy in 2019 when you need to upgrade your current snare.
Top 10 Best Snare Drums – Comparative Table
Mendini by Cecilio
Comes with a stand, cover, and drumsticks
Solid build quality
Ludwig Black Beauty
6.5" x 14" P85 Supraphonic strainer Black chrome finish over brass shell Smooth shell with Imperial lugs Triple-flanged hoops
Solid brass shell
Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum
6.5" Depth x 14" Diameter polished steel snare drum Strong, durable 2.3m triple-flanged hoops Beaded steel shell
Solid build quality
MAPEX MPML4800BMB MPX Series Maple Snare Drum
6.5 mm maple shell
Transparent black finish
Solid and sturdy build quality
Gretsch Drums Renown Series Snare Drum Cherry Burst
7-ply maple shell
30-degree bearing edges
Strong and robust build quality
Pearl 14” Brass Snare Drum
1mm beaded brass shell, plated with black nickel
Sturdy build quality
SJC Custom Drums Josh Dun Crowd Yellow Badge Snare Drum
Trench-yellow Josh Dun signature badge 1.0mm steel shell 1.6mm triple-flanged hoops Shield Lugs Size: 6.5" x 14"
Robust build quality
Ludwig 4x14” Carl Palmer VENUS Signature Green Brass Snare Drum
1.3mm brass shell 45 bearing edges die cast hoops
Solid build quality
DW Design Series Black Nickel over Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5”
6.5" x 14" (depth x diameter)
1mm, bead-reinforced, all-brass shell
MAG throw off
DW heads by REMO
String build quality
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5” , Natural Wood Snare Drum
Triple Flange Hoop, Steel, 1.5mm thick
Comes with 10 Lugs
Remo UT Clear drumheads
Available in five gloss lacquer finishes
Strong and robust build qualit
If you're a beginner or a teacher wanting to set up a drum class and have a limited budget, then the Mendini by Cecilio Student is the snare for you. The best part is you get drumsticks along with the instrument. You always need an extra pair of those! It's designed to deliver great value that’s at a wallet-friendly price. There's a general misunderstanding that the lesser the price, the more you spend later to fix the wear and tear, but that's not the case with this snare drum.
Unlike a lot of other snare drums in the same price category - the Mendini includes a stand, cover, and sticks. You'll be able to safely transport it when you land your first gig or set it up at home as a practice snare. These accessories and the many advantages the Mendini has to offer, gives it an edge over other snares.
The drum isn't overly attractive and is considered by many to be a bare-bones snare drum. It features a basic metal construction but includes a double-braced stand that is sturdy and doesn't rattle when you strike the drum head hard. The size is in line with most snare drums at 14", so you aren't missing out.
The Mendini is extremely durable and produces a sharp, clear, and bright sound. It will sound and perform better the more you play it, tune and set it up correctly. It may be a drum designed for students still learning their paradiddles, more experienced drummers will still be able to get value out of the purchase. In this case, it isn't the quality of the equipment but how you use it.
We liked the fact that the Mendini by Cecilio Student has added extras geared towards a beginner drummer yet still provides a quality drum with an extremely attractive price. It looks and sounds good even though it isn't constructed from premium materials. There were no shortcuts when the Cecilio team designed and built this robust snare drum and it will be a welcome addition to any drummer's kit. You'll find the Mendini by Cecilio Student on Amazon for less than $100.
2. Ludwig Black Beauty
Now for the veteran drummers out there, you've tried many similar instruments before and are probably looking for the best snare drum money can buy, you could consider options such as the Ludwig Black Beauty.
If you're a seasoned drummer who understands how to get the best value out of a snare and you're thinking of buying one - The Ludwig Black Beauty is our pick. The brand’s products are trusted by drummers all over the world for delivering amazing quality and durability. The Black Beauty has garnered a lot of acclaim across comments sections of various online discussion forums. Who wouldn't want to play the same snare used by drummers of Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Cream?
The Black Beauty is aptly named. It comes with an antique black brass finish and is part of the Ludwig Supraphonic range. The Supraphonic snare drum features a metal shell that produces an extremely clear, bright, and responsive sound which makes it suitable for any genre - be it rock, jazz or even pop. It also comes in a size of 6.5" x 14" - which is slightly bigger than other snares in its category.
There are a small number of snares that offer the same range and tuning options that you get with the Black Beauty. Professional drummers praise the instrument for its sensitivity, allowing the soft strokes to come through clearly, as well as the loud and hard strikes of the drum. From a pro’s perspective, the drum’s abilities remain unmatched.
While the Black Beauty is quite expensive, it’s worth the price considering it is a premium snare. The antique black chrome finish and imperial lugs add great aesthetic value to its design, making the drum one of the most classic and timeless looking ones we have ever seen. Considering the many advantages it has to offer, the Ludwig LB417 Black Beauty 6.5" x 14" Smooth Brass is totally worth the price.
3. Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum
While many seasoned drummers might opt for a premium snare drum, there are ways to get a great sounding and beautiful snare drum at an affordable price. Our solution: The newest addition to the Ludwig Supralite series is a seriously stunning snare drum. Comprising a chrome finish, 1.5mm beaded steel shell, 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, and brass wires, Ludwig is a brand trusted by professional drummers around the world and its latest invention lives up to the reputation.
Besides it slick chrome finish, the snare sounds great too. It packs a serious punch and can hold its own when your snare-hitting sounds like a canon. You’ll get a clear and deep sound coming out of this snare drum. And, if you play jazz and need a snare that is ultra-responsive and versatile, you’re covered.
Just like the Ludwig Aerolite Series of the 60s, this drum has a sturdy and reliable build. With an all-chrome build, one might expect the sound to be somewhat “tinny” or light but its capabilities might take you by surprise. The Supralite snare drum has a highly dynamic range of tone.
The chrome over brass tube lugs is easy to tune and ensure that your snare drum stays tuned and consistent across many styles. The 1.5mm, beaded steel shell produces a responsive, full, and dynamic sound. One might relegate this product to the section of Piccolo snared drums but we know that this instrument surpasses the abilities of similar competitor products significantly.
4. MAPEX MPML4800BMB MPX Series Maple Snare Drum
The all-black Mapex MPX Series Maple snare drum is a budget-friendly option when searching for a quality instrument with a glossy finish and a crackling sound. Featuring a 100% 5.1mm Maple shell, chrome-plated triple-flanged hoops, chrome-plated lugs, and Remo drumheads, this snare drum also comes with a very reliable 20-strand snare wire configuration.
If you choose to invest in this cost effective snare drum, you’ll be purchasing a flashy snare that packs a loud punch. This snare is a jack of all trades – playing it will produce a rich, full, and warm tone. The drum is perfect at hitting the high notes perfectly as well as taking the fatter sounds in its stride.
The inclusion of Remo drumheads makes this snare even more appealing, pushing the natural crisp and warm tone of the snare to levels that wouldn’t be possible with a generic instrument of its kind, which is a big plus.
The chrome-plated lugs and triple-flanged hoops should make it easy to tune the snare to your liking and have it stay that way – no matter how hard or soft you hit the drum, but that is often not the case with this Mapex piece.
The tonal range is not very dynamic and can often create a rattling and buzzing sound, which isn’t exactly what you want in a snare drum. As such, more seasoned drummers might want to give this snare a miss. It’s definitely aimed at an intermediate drummer. The MPX brand isn’t a flashy brand of drums, nor a mainstream popular brand, but you won’t regret giving this snare a try.
5. Gretsch Drums Renown Series Snare Drum Cherry Burst
There are few drum bands as well known and trusted by drummers of all styles than Gretsch. Their drums are used in many different genre of music and are praised for their rich and versatile sound. Any drummer who knows his stuff is aware that Gretsch drums are do-it-all instruments that get any job done, regardless of price or age.
This Renown Series snare drum comprises of a 7-play Maple construction, 30-degree beating edge, 302 double-flanged hoops, and a beautiful classic cherry burst lacquer finish. Included in the box are Coated USA Ambassador Batter Remo drumheads that resonate like no other – there’s a reason “ambassador” is included in the title of these drumheads. The inclusion of 302 hoops produce the same quality and richness of die cast hoops, but have increased resonance, thanks to the 302 hoops being lighter weight. Overall, this is a light drum that still packs a punchy and warm sound.
The beautiful cherry burst finish gives a feel of playing in a 50s cover band or paying tribute to the legends of 70s rock. The 7-ply maple construction allows for an extremely dynamic tuning range which is accompanied by the 30-degree bearing edge. The latter allows softer strikes of the drum while still producing a warm tone.
The Renown Series 5” is smaller than a lot of the other snare drums on this list, the only real downside being a reduction in volume output and a fuller dynamic range. But these shortcomings won’t hinder your style at all, as any Gretsch model is extremely well-designed to deliver the best value for its price. The Gretsch Drums Renown Series Snare Drum, has a sleek 5 Inches X 14 Inches dimension and produces impressive sound.
6. Pearl 14” Brass Snare Drum
If you’re looking for a loud snare drum that is the best to play metal with – you can’t go wrong with the Pearl 14” Brass Snare Drum. This snare is our favourite for any sub-genre of rock or metal, since it is loud and sustaining, something that will stay in tune no matter how hard you hit it.
Pearl is known for making high quality drums trusted by the drummers of all your favorite bands such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Led Zeppelin, which speaks volumes about the brand’s quality.
Featuring the Pearl click-lock strainer system, a 1.5mm beaded brass shell, SuperHoop 2, and a Remo drumhead, striking this snare drum produces a loud and punchy sound. The tone stays warm no matter the conditions, thanks to the brass shell. This snare boasts of incredible resonance, making it a responsive drum that sustains volume and renders a dynamic tone.
The click-lock strainer system prevents the snare lever from slipping, which ensures the tuning is kept in place throughout your drumming session. SuperHoop 2 aids in providing a rich and dynamic tone as well as increasing the already-great tuning stability. The snare provides all of these qualities while still being a quiet shell, making it perfect for the recording studio.
One of the only drawbacks of this drum is its bare bones finish. We’re used to seeing flashy, pearly-white drums that shine, but that isn’t the case here. The snare is slightly expensive, but has garnered significant acclaim for its price and build quality. You can probably overlook the price aspect since the experience the drum offers makes it worth the money.
However you can pick up the Pearl 14” Premium Sensitone Brass snare drum for a price that’s a lot cheaper than the Black Beauty.
7. SJC Custom Drums Josh Dun Crowd Yellow Badge Snare Drum
The SJC Custom Drums Josh Dun Yellowbadge snare is an interesting addition to our list of top snare drums of 2019.It’s a collaboration snare involving SJC and Josh Dun, the renowned “21 Pilots” drummer. SJC is known for their custom built drums. The brand doesn’t collaborate on a custom drum with just anyone; the drum has to be designed to their standards in its build quality as well as aesthetic qualities.
This beautiful black snare features 1.6mm triple-flanged hoops, shield lugs, and a 1mm rolled steel shell.
This snare is touted as one of the most responsibly crafted music instruments by professional craftsman from around the world. The 1.6mm triple-flanged hoops ensure your rim shots crack through the noise with full clarity. The gorgeous shield lugs assist the drum’s tuning stability, ensuring the snare produces a rich tone and stays in tune through rigorous playing.
The 1mm rolled steel packs a deep, full, and resonating sound that balances out the high ends with the lows. The premium craftsmanship allows the drum to sound full and clear while not rattling at all. This makes it a good choice for a studio snare – you won’t find a lot of other snare drums that can produce this sound under $300. Tune this drum however you want for any situation and you won’t be disappointed.
High on aesthetics and inclusive of a Yellowbadge of approval, the SJC Custom Drums Josh Dun Crowd Yellow Badge Snare Drum is a music wonder.
8. Ludwig 4x14” Carl Palmer VENUS Signature Green Brass Snare Drum
Another signature snare drum on our list – the Ludwig Carl Palmer Venus Green Bass snare drum is a beast. It’s constructed to be striking, in its appearance as well as sound. It’s one of the smallest snare drums on our list but that doesn’t detract at all from the amazing sound you get when playing it.
The first aspect of this snare drum that you’ll notice is the one of a kind green lacquer finish and brass plated lugs. The brass plated tube lugs have separate-tension, allowing them to keep the drum in tune throughout your live gig.
Some of the other aspects featured on this snare are the die cast hoops - while they get the job done – they make this small drum a little heavier and chunkier than others on this list. Noted for its 1.3mm beaded brass shell construction, each model is hand-signed by the legend himself – Carl Palmer.
Thanks to the brass shell and sturdy construction, this Ludwig construction outperforms a lot of others of its kind that might be considered a piccolo drum. The Carl Palmer signature series snare falls into the category of “Power-Piccolo’s” – small snare drums that pack a punch well above their weight. This is meant literally and figuratively.
This custom snare delivers a loud sound with crystal clear clarity with a beautifully contrasted green and brass design. The biggest drawback being the generic drumhead, one would think that including a premium Remo would have made this snare pop even more than it already does.
9. DW Design Series Black Nickel over Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5”
No list of favorite drums is complete without a DW drum thrown in the mix. DW has a history of making beautifully and resiliently designed drums that grab the listeners’ eyes and ears. It appears that DW has spared no expense or taken any shortcuts in the design and manufacturing of this beautiful snare.
We might be pointing out the obvious here but this DW snare borrows design cues from the Ludwig Black Beauty – considered by many to be the best drum money can buy. This snare features 2.3mm triple-flanged chrome hoops and a 1mm beaded shell with a black nickel finish. Signature dual-rod DW turrets are included on this snare as well as the DW signature mag throw-off & true pitch tuning system.
Striking this snare produces a lively, warm sound that is versatile and sonically dynamic enough for any tuning or genre. The sturdy build ensures that the drum lasts for years to come.
The triple-flanged chrome hoops and true pitch tuning system not only look great but they also make tuning the snare easy while staying in tune through any length of playing. The only downside is the chunky hardware that can make the snare feel somewhat heavy at times. That being said, this DW instrument is best suited for an ensemble performance and not suitable for a standalone performance like that of a marching band.
While this DW snare drum produces an ultra-responsive tone and clarity, the warm tones are dampened by the generic drumhead included in this snare. Including a premium snare head is such a simple yet vital design aspect for the more seasoned drummers to get the best value for their money.
You’ll find the DW Design Black Nickel Over Brass snare drum is quite economical and worth being considered.
10. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Natural Wood
Last on our list, but certainly not the least is the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Natural Wood snare drum. Yamaha have been trusted as entry level instruments for beginners that need a solid instrument to experiment and grow with. Always robust and reliable, Yamaha instruments are a great choice at a wallet-friendly price. We think this snare follows that trend.
Aesthetically, the lacquer birch shell is made from 100% natural wood which produces a lively warm resonance. For the technical side of things, the drum features 10 lugs, 45-degree bearing edges, 1.5mm triple-flanged steel hoops, and B-type side throw-off. It also includes a Remo drumhead.
The lacquer finish is glossy and classic. There isn’t anything particularly interesting about the ten lugs except that they will keep the snare precisely in tune for as long as you need it to. The 45-degree bearing edges are an interesting addition to this snare; they provide maximum resonance and provide clean high overtones.
For a beginner snare drum, the Yamaha is very quiet and doesn’t produce any unwanted frequencies that a lot of beginner instruments do. This makes it a strong choice if you intend on using this snare to record in a studio. What makes things even better is that the Yamaha snare drum is extremely versatile across all styles of playing.
However, being a cheaper snare obviously comes with certain drawbacks. The one that we can think of is that upon rigorous playing, the lugs tend to come loose from time to time. This doesn’t happen often, but frequent enough that you’ll notice it.
Best snare drum size
While snare drums come in many sizes depending on the depth and sound you want, the most common snare size is 14″x 5″ or 5.5″. This size makes tuning easy and playing every kind of music you like. You’ll notice most of the drums on the list are this size.
Difference between the snare drum and other drums:
The snare drum produces a striking, staccato sound unlike the kick drum that often times sounds like a canon, the toms that sound like bongo drums, and the cymbals which technically aren’t a drum. It’s one of the smallest drums in your drum kit.
What are snare drum heads made of:
Snare drumheads are made of many types, each dramatically changing the tone and volume. Some are more sensitive than others, the most common type of drumhead is the Single-Ply Coated drumhead but there are others including Single-Ply with Muffling, Double-Ply, Double-Ply with Muffling, and even Calf-Like Options.
How to clean a snare drum:
There isn’t any one-way to clean a drumhead. A combination of a small amount of water and a wet cloth will do the trick. If you really want to clean the head and get rid of the stick marks, a solution of window cleaner, small amount of water, and a tissue will get the job done. Use what is at your disposal!
How to dampen/muffle a snare drum:
Dampening or muffling a drum is done in a few ways. This is done to reduce harsh vibrations and overtones when you strike the drum. Many snare drums come with a built-in muffling system but sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. Pillows, duct tape, and dampening gels all help to reduce the harshness of your drum.
Different parts of the snare drum:
The snare drum is made up of a shell, rims and hoops, lugs and tension rods, snare wires, strainers, snare heads. There are minor differences between a marching band, orchestral, and piccolo snare drum - to name a few. However, they are constructed in a near identical fashion.
How heavy are marching band snare drums:
Marching band snare drums are heavier than most kit drums. They range from 15lbs to 28lbs. It depends on your age and where in the marching band you’re playing.
How tight snare drums should be tuned:
The snare drum produces a short and precise sound. The tighter the snare drum is tuned, the better it’s going to sound on its own, in a drum set, or even a marching band. This may seem obvious, but the tighter the tuning, the better. Feel free to play around when deciding on your personal sound. But you don’t want your snare drum going out of tune right in the middle of your solo would you?
There's something for everyone when searching out new instruments and this is certainly the case for these ten very different snare drums. There’s something for every style of drumming, every aesthetic, and every wallet size. At the end of the day all of the snare drums on our list are both going to get the job done.
We hope that all the information we have given you helps you make the right decision according to your needs and budget. Choosing a new piece of equipment is a very personal decision for musicians and hopefully you have a better understanding of what to look for and what's available to fit your sound. Given the right budget, we’d buy the Ludwig Black Beauty any day of the week.