15 Best Snare Drums for 2022 Reviewed
The snare drum is at the heart of the percussion kit, creating the essential beat in many iconic songs. The snare is the drum played and heard most frequently and the equipment that will most define your sound. It's why a lot of professional drummers own more than one.
There are many things to consider before you buy a snare, whether this is your first purchase or an addition to other snare drums.
Budget is a crucial consideration, plus the sound you are looking for and the styles you want to play.
There is a range of materials to choose from, including wood and metal through to acrylic shells. And, of course, size does matter too.
Let our review of the 15 Best Snare Drums guide you to the right purchase.
The Zikit Pro-Kit Sonor AQ2 Snare Drum is constructed from three integral plies of Chinese maple sandwiched on either side with two plies of Canadian maple to give a rich and warm tone.
Producing well-balanced mid and high-range frequencies, the Sonor AQ2 Snare Drum features an innovative device: the Zikit Pro Kit. It allows you to adjust the drum diameter, providing a 3-in-1 option by turning the crank as you play.
The Zikit Pro-Kit Sonor AQ2 Snare Drum offers a good sustain with no dampening and is a stylish drum with great flexibility for both studio and live sessions.
- Diameter change mechanism – The perfect add-on for professional drummers that changes your snare drum diameter. It is effortless to fit and remove, offering limitless performance by changing the drum's pitch.
- Easy tuning – You can tune this snare drum with the system engaged; you don’t have to revert it to the original 14” to tune the drum.
- Flexibility for studio sessions and live play – A good sustain with no dampening, plus its unique diameter change feature makes the Sonor AQ2 snare a versatile choice for multiple settings.
- Adjusting where you play – If you use the diameter change mechanism and make it smaller during a session, it can impact sound if you hit around the side of the drum rather than the new drum center. It takes a bit of practice!
- Price – The unique Zikit Pro-Kit pushes the price of this drum. A beginner might not need the change mechanism or relish the price tag.
The Sonor AQ2 Snare Drum is a unique product with the Zikit Pro Kit, which can also be purchased separately and added to an existing snare drum.
The sound is warm and variable to suit different music styles, studio sessions, and live gigs.
The Tama S.L.P G-Maple 14x6 Snare Drum is built on a thicker foundation of 11mm, 13-ply Maple/Mapp Burl shell.
This snare from Tama also features hi-carbon snare wires, and Evans G1 coated batter, with every aspect of the design contributing to a superior and excellent tone.
- Good volume and increased sensitivity – The Tama S.L.P G-Maple’s shell offers increased volume and sensitivity.
- Natural resonance and excellent tone – 2.3mm flanged hoops and separate low-mass lugs provide a quality resonance, while 20-strand hi-carbon snare wires enhance the drum’s natural punchy tone.
- Good looks – The Mappa Burl outer ply makes this one good-looking drum partnered with shimmering black nickel hardware; this is one snare that will look beautiful on stage.
- The Evans head disappoints – Compared to the rest of the materials incorporated into this snare drum, the Evans head is a little inferior and may need switching out.
- Heightened overtone – If you are a drummer who doesn’t want loads of tone, you may need to tone down or eliminate the overtone with Remo rings.
The Tama S.L.P G-Maple is best suited to players who want a lot of tonal range, and its competitive price point gives it a broad appeal.
This snare’s heightened tone makes it a good choice for gigs and stylish enough for live music sessions.
The Pearl Sensitone Heritage Alloy Snare Drum 14x5 is part of the Pearl Sensitone Heritage range. It's a classic snare drum styling with a wide variety of shell choices and sizing.
The Pearl Sensitone has always been a top choice for drummers across various musical genres with a reputation for providing the ultimate snare tone.
Pearl has reintroduced this versatile drum to offer a slightly different take on the classic snare sound but still with that supreme volume and rich tone.
- Additional metal options – Choose between brass, bronze, stainless steel, steel, and aluminum to create a slightly different vibe to the usual snare tone.
- Exceptional versatility – The 1mm beaded shell offers the classic, timeless tone you would expect from Pearl but with enough flexibility to make it a suitable choice for any music genre.
- Variable tuning options – Tune this snare high, medium, or low for ultimate playability.
- Stock drum heads – This is the one drawback with Pearl stock drumheads, which you are bound to want to change out for your own personal and probably better-quality favorite.
- Confusing advertising – Pearl’s online advertising doesn’t always clarify which series a snare belongs to, the Sensitone Snares or the Sensitone Elite Snares. Make sure you are getting the right drum for the price you are paying.
You can’t go wrong with a Pearl Snare, and the Pearl Sensitone Heritage Alloy offers the best of the old and the new combined.
The Pearl Sensitone Heritage Alloy Snare has a universal appeal and is suitable for all types of music genres.
The Powertone Steel Shell Snare Drum 14x5 is from the classic Rogers stable, producers of iconic snare drums during the golden age of music in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Rogers Powertone Steel Shell Snare Drum is from the distinguished PowerTone series. It combines vintage looks and styling with a crisp and sweet sound created by the all-Maple multi-ply shells and meaty 2.3mm chrome reinforcement hoops.
- High luster chrome hardware – The classic snare drum finish delights collectors who crave that vintage mid-20th-century vibe; this is one visually breath-taking snare.
- Iconic bright sound – Indulge yourself in the ultimate maple-infused crackle, a classic sweet and bright sound that is so retro.
- Maple all the way – Maple reinforcement hoops and the all-Maple multi-ply shells create the pure, rich tone for which Rogers snares are famous.
- Volume levels – 1.0mm shells deliver volume and power, which won’t suit players outside of the studio limited by their practice environment.
- Lacking contemporary features – The Rogers Powertone Steel Snare is a pretty traditional drum. If you want a fusion of classic with some diverse and modern technology, then this probably isn’t the drum for you.
A true all-around workhorse, the Rogers Powertone Steel Shell Snare Drum delivers warmth, power, and projection to complement any musical style.
A name to rely on, this drum is perfect for live music events, but the Rogers Powertone is not all about power — it also offers a dynamic sensitivity for the most subtle and quiet of notes.
The DW Collectors Bell features heavy-gauge brass alloy and offers a distinctively and instantly recognizable brass sound.
This brand-name drum with a classic brass tone offers more body and depth at low mid-range frequencies than comparable snares and plenty of tuneful high-end crack.
- Heavy-duty shell – This shell differs from the standard black nickel over brass, offering a hefty shell at nearly 3mm and with no crimps and folds. With no disruption to the airflow, it produces a solid definition.
- Exceptional turning – The True Pitch 50 tension rods offer almost three times the actual threading, allowing turning at a granular level.
- Supreme low definition – This Collector's Bell keeps sound quality throughout the range right down to low definition, outstripping many of its competitors with a superior tone at the lower levels.
- Mediocre stock heads – The stock heads lack durability and may need upgrading.
- Heavy and heavyweight – This snare weighs in at about 20lbs and is a monster of a drum, not suited to beginners or hobbyists.
This heavyweight drum for heavyweight players delivers all the quality features you would expect from DW.
The 14x5.5 DW Collectors Bell Brass is a serious snare for live gigs and studio sessions.
Noble and Cooley have a long and illustrious history of quality drum manufacture, reflected in the construction of the Solid Ply Tulip Snare Drum.
Hand-picked Tulipwood is chosen for grain and consistency to form a solid shell with no multiple plies, offering that timeless and classy snare vibration.
- Solid ply shell creates warmth and bite – The tulipwood single ply shell vibrates more freely than the standard multi-ply construction seen on most other snares, offering a warm tone and bite and a traditional sound.
- Easy tight tensioning – Noble and Cooley fit their own patented cam action snare wires, facilitating tight tensioning without choking the bottom. It vibrates beautifully at medium and loose tensions with easy tuning.
- Simple brass throw-off for slick disengagement – The brass throw-off is smooth and simple, allowing the wires to be disengaged or engaged quickly and easily.
- Old-fashioned tone – This drum has the tone and personality of an old-style military marching snare, so it does not always suit modern music genres.
- Price – You won’t get much change after paying for this high-priced item.
Expect to pay top dollar for a top-drawer drum—this Solid Ply Tulip Snare Drum from Noble and Cooley will break the bank. But, it offers some serious options for committed amateurs looking for an upgrade or professional players.
The traditional tone won’t suit everyone’s musical tastes, but this maker's quality is exceptional and can be relied upon to deliver.
‘The Maple’ from Canopus is the king of snares with an 8-ply shell configuration offering the ultimate projection.
The shell construction enables maximum sound production tempered with a delicate and precise bearing edge to produce a quality and sophisticated tone.
- Highly resonant – You'll get the whole range of tuning options. It's responsive and meaty at lower ranges and pure scream when you turn up the crank.
- Balanced openness and tunability – 8 premium brass-plated single point lugs create the ultimate balance, with the Canopus die-cast hoops just taming the sharp edges of the overtones for a perfect response.
- Sensitive feel – The standard equipped vintage snare wires provide a sensitive feel despite the power.
- Challenging for new drummers – The Maple from Canopus is excellent for experienced drummers but provides too much challenge for novices or beginners.
‘The Maple’ Snare Drum from Canopus is a quality piece of kit that offers everything a professional or serious amateur drummer needs and at a great price point.
A versatile drum that does it all, it is suitable for studio sessions and with plenty of bang for live music and large gigs.
The Tama Star Reserve Series uses research and knowledge gained from the production of the Starclassic series and ramps it up with new manufacturing techniques to increase tone.
The Tama Star Reserve Hand Hammered Aluminum Snare features a hand-hammered aluminum shell. It produces a sharp, dry sound with a truly sparkling treble response, thoroughly debunking what you might expect from a traditional aluminum snare.
- Exceptional tonal quality – The redesigned components on this snare offer superior tonal quality without detracting from the design aesthetic.
- Innovative sound – The meticulously hand-hammered aluminum shell provides crisp, warm tones with a unique sound simply not found in any other model, producing both sensitivity and control.
- Versatile – Versatile in terms of music genre and suitable for a range of players, it offers rich, low frequencies alongside powerful highs without the need to tune the drum up in pitch.
- Price – The price tag is hefty.
- Not suitable for novices – The range and performance are best for experienced drummers rather than learners.
The Tama Star Reserve Hand-Hammered Aluminum Snare Drum is perfect for multiple playing environments and will cut through any mix to complement all music genres.
While ideal for both the seasoned drummer and those new to aluminum snares, the advanced features and price tag mean this is probably not a drum for beginners.
The PDP Concept Select offers a beefy 3mm cast steel shell, something to get snare drummers excited about, plus its projection is off the scale.
Enjoy world-class tones with a visually provocative and eye-catching style. This drum delivers a superior aesthetic for those who care about looks and sound.
- Above-average sound quality and response – Crafted by professionals with decades of expertise in manufacturing snares, it delivers a bright, dynamic attack with excellent response.
- Choice of materials - The PDP Concept Select comes in black nickel over rolled steel, birch, and maple with either black or chrome hardware.
- Quality detailing – The shell carries a unique laser-engraved Art Deco insignia.
- Price – This is not a cheap drum, but many players maintain it is worth the money. It does provide good value once you get over the initial outlay.
- Inferior black wax finish – This finish is a bit of a step down in aesthetics compared to the others available.
The PDP Concept Select Snare Drum offers a professional sound that is super easy on the wallet.
Many aspiring new names on the professional drummer scene play the PDP Concept Select Snare Drum. It is beautifully suited to all music genres at home, live, or in the studio because of its impressive tuning range.
The Pearl Stavecraft Thai in Oak offers a full-bodied volume and sharp sonic focus for the rock drummer.
This drum is the perfect fusion of solid, traditional artistry with industry-leading hardware. It's the ideal addition to any player’s percussion soundscape.
- Exceptional shell strength – The 25mm thick shell comprises two layers of solid Thai oak perfectly beveled into shape with an added stave of exotic Makha wood inserted into the central Dado channel, increasing overall shell strength by 50%.
- Ideal for the heavy player – The sharp sonic focus and piercing volume are ideal for the heavy-handed player.
- Exceptional accentuated tone – The Remo USA CS Black Dot batter head accentuates the drum's tone and reveals the inner beauty of its staved shell.
- Not suitable for lightweight players – This is best for heavy players and rock genres.
- Price tag – While not the most expensive around, it is pricey enough to take it out of the budgetary range of hobbyists.
If rock and heavy drumming is your thing, then the Pearl Stavecraft Thai Oak is the perfect drum for you.
This snare offers exceptional durability and a combination of tone and volume, plus a blend of traditional drum-making techniques with contemporary features, certainly the best of all worlds.
Australian Blackwood is known for its exceptional hardness. If durability and volume are at the top of your wish list, then the Dunnett Classic Dreamtime Jarrah will not disappoint.
This beautiful drum is a collector’s piece. It features an elegant natural finish complemented by chrome hardware and fitted with Dunnett Badges to complete the look.
- Exceptional durability – The choice of Australian blackwood makes this snare drum from Dunnett incredibly robust.
- Impressive and extreme volume – A deep 14x7 inch shell offers massive volume capabilities, ideal for the heavy drummer.
- Stylish and classic aesthetics – The natural wood finish looks stunning combined with the chrome hardware.
- Limited playability – This Dunnett snare is only suitable for music genres that include heavy, high-volume drumming.
- Cost – This is one expensive snare drum.
The Dunnett Classic Dreamtime Jarrah is a serious drum with an even more serious price tag.
However, it is as beautiful to look at as it is to play and makes a truly classic addition to any percussion line-up.
The Ludwig Acrolite Snare Drum 14x6.5 Classic is as welcome on stage as it is in the studio.
Previously a popular choice for students and learners, the Ludwig Acrolite has come of age and is now used by professionals for studio sessions and gigs.
- Durability – This snare drum offers exceptional durability and longevity due to its solid, seamless aluminum shell.
- Unique, stylish finish – The brushed aluminum finish is a classic look with bowtie lugs and the iconic blue/olive Ludwig badge.
- Universal appeal and playability – This snare drum is easy to tune and easy to play, making it a popular choice with professionals and amateurs who like to gig.
- Slightly muted sound – The sound output wouldn’t support a large music venue or genre that demands a heavy volume.
- A tendency to overtighten – This snare has eight lugs, not ten, so it can be easy to over-tighten.
This is one versatile snare drum, but its quieter tone lends it to smaller gigs or studio sessions rather than large arenas.
The price point is more competitive than other drums from this maker, but overall the quality of the Ludwig Acrolite is excellent.
The Gretsch USA Solid Aluminum Snare Drum not only looks the part but maintains that great Gretsch sound.
Big players in American drum making, Gretsch are a popular choice with both amateurs and professionals and have featured in the percussion kits of some famous names.
- Exceptional tonal properties – The Gretsch Solid Aluminum Snare has a cast 3mm reinforced shell, which ups the dry attack and minimizes the overtones.
- A beautiful aesthetic – This snare drum is finished with the classic center Gretsch knurling pattern and is not plated, just presented with a light coat of lacquer and the iconic round badge.
- Sensitive and robust response – The 42-strand snare wires offer a full-bodied response, particularly at lower volumes.
- Micro-sensitive throw-off can be troublesome – The Micro-Sensitive throw-off doesn’t always apply the same tension each time and can come undone during play.
- Price – The price range is middling, and it is a snare that won’t suit some players who could do better for a smaller spend.
The Gretsch USA Solid Aluminum Snare Drum is a reliable choice at a reasonable price.
Plus, there is reassurance about having a Gretsch snare drum with the backing of years of experience and expertise.
Solid, handmade, and unique are just some of the words that come to mind when describing a Keplinger drum.
The Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum oozes all Gregg Keplinger’s drumming talent and percussive style honed on the road with different bands. Gregg Keplinger’s vision was a customized snare with a hefty metal shell and percussion with an industrial character, and he delivers it here.
- Playability - The Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum is made by players for players.
- Sensible and practical – As a versatile player, Keplinger appreciates the need for practicality, which thoroughly infuses all the design elements of this stainless-steel snare drum.
- Beefy and powerful sound – A Keplinger snare makes no apologies for its full-on and rich tone.
- Price – There is plenty of competition from more commercial and mainstream drum manufacturers for this budget.
- Playability and suitability – The Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum is for a particular category of player, not the home-based hobbyist or occasional amateur.
The Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum is a no-nonsense beefy piece of kit. Designed by a player for players, this is a serious drum for those with an equally serious budget.
The Canopus Zelkova is the flagship of Canopus Drums, and some call it the definitive snare drum.
This snare drum has eccentricity in spades, fashioned from the stump of a piece of 200-year-old Japanese Zelkova wood. The wood is even seasoned for three years to lower the moisture content.
- Resonant and sonorous – The Canopus Zelkova achieves this unique output from its crafting, following the traditional techniques used for the barrel-shaped Taiko drums from Japan.
- Thick, sweet, and rich sound – The sound from the Canopus Zelkova is unique to this snare drum, with distinct tonal qualities not found anywhere else.
- Minimal brass hardware – The overall mass of hardware is lower, so eight lugs as opposed to ten allow larger sections of the shell to vibrate freely.
- Perfect tuning – The die-cast rims keep this drum perfectly in tune even during extended playing sessions.
- The sound isn’t to everyone’s taste – No doubt about it, the Canopus Zelkova is unique and not for players who want a more mainstream snare sound.
- Price – This is one of the most expensive snare drums out there.
If you have a deep pocket and want something truly unique, the Canopus Zelkova is the snare drum for you.
Craftsmanship and quality are indisputable, but this wouldn’t be the snare drum for most players, not least because of the price tag.
How Many Types of Snare Are There?
Snare drums come in various types, and there are three distinct categories:
The clue is in the name. These are marching drums beloved by bands and parade groups. Marching snares produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares and are also the biggest of the snare drum categories.
The sound that everyone remembers growing up with comes from the traditional kit snare. The output will vary depending on the wood and the metal on the body, so there are many different options available depending on the music genre you play.
Piccolo and Popcorn Snares
Piccolo snares are smaller and shallower and usually treated as an accessory to a larger snare. They create a higher pitch and a faster response, producing a sound with less body and bass.
Popcorn or soprano snares are similar to the piccolo but feature non-standard shell dimensions with the shallowest sizes.
What to Consider When Buying a Snare Drum
Snare drums are available in various materials, including wood, aluminum, bronze, steel, and brass. Metals can be hammered or not hammered.
Different metals create different sounds. Brass, steel, and bronze offer a high-end response, whereas a wood snare offers better bass. Some metals are more versatile too, which could influence your choice if you want to play a variety of music genres.
The snare size determines the sound it will make, and different sized drums are available. Snare drums can vary in both diameter and depth, ranging from 6” up to 13” and beyond.
Most music genres suggest their own specific snare size. For instance, a rock snare is usually 14” in diameter with a decent depth of around 5” or 6”.
Piccolo snares feature a thin depth for a snappy, dry sound.
Muffled or Unmuffled
Muffling changes the sound as well. Some snare drums have an integrated muffled tone, perhaps based on the material of the head; something like calfskin offers a generous muffling effect.
There are add-ons like drum rings, drum gum, even business cards or electrical tape, which you can temporarily use to muffle or unmuffle the sound. These control the tone and allow for flexibility in play. The unmuffled tone will sound quite raw in comparison.
The budget is usually about affordability, but it would be wrong to think that the most expensive snare drum is the best.
The right choice will depend upon your experience, the music genres you want to play, and the desired sound.
Some snares are seriously expensive, so always do your research carefully as a cheaper drum could still be the best option.
What Parts Make a Snare Drum?
The shell is the main structure of the snare, usually made from metal or wood. You can fit the shell with rims or hoops to create overtones. Usually, the hoops match the shell in terms of material, but there is a fashion to mix it up to create a unique sound.
Tension Rods and Lugs
Tension rods and lugs control how much metal is in contact with the shell and thus influence how the drum sounds.
The strainer is a mechanism for adjusting the wire tension.
Snare wires are crucial to providing that distinctive snare sound. The wires interact with the snare and can vary in type and number to influence the drum sound.
Snare wires are stretched on the bottom of the drumhead to vibrate when striking the drum.
How Much Should I Expect to Spend on a Snare Drum?
Snare drum prices typically range from $500 to $1,000, although you can pay more for snares with unique specifications or limited editions.
The price will depend upon the brand, the sound you are trying to create, and your playing level.
Most snare drums are very durable if looked after, so expect this particular drum to be a real investment.