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10 Best Snare Drums for 2019 Reviewed

The snare is the centerpiece of creating a complete drum kit. After all, what is a percussion set without a snare drum? Many of the greatest songs rely heavily on the snare drum, and it has actually been around for over 600 years. It started as a tabor in the medieval ages as just a wood tube with an animal skin covering on one end. Over time, it evolved into the snare drum you know today.

Here at DCP, we know a little thing or two about drum sets. That's why we've set out to create the ultimate buyer's guide of our top 10 snare drum sets. We start off by reviewing 10 snare drums and then breaking down the factors to consider when looking to buy.

The type of snare you end up buying depends on your needs. As you look at this list, consider your budget, what sound you want to create, your build preference, and other factors. This guide is built through the experience of our DCP staff, research, reviews, and more to create a comprehensive review and guide.

A Quick Overview

Our choices for the top 10 snare drums for 2019 bring you the best of the best in a wide range of categories. For the beginners, the Pearl Modern Utility is an excellent entry level kit. For the pros, the Hendrix Archetype is unbeatable. Besides playing level though, we’ve reviewed snares across a range of brands to find you the best choices for different sounds, craftsmanship and more.

With this general overview in mind, let’s dive into the full review of the 10 best snares from DCP for 2019.

1 Best for Entry Level Kits: Pearl Modern Utility Steel Snare Drum

Pros

  • Well built, sturdy design
  • Affordable price
  • Durable build

Cons

  • Better suited for entry level kit use
  • Doesn’t produce the same deep sounds as wood

First on the list is a no-frills snare drum with a sleek steel design. The Pearl Modern Utility in steel creates a great sound that operates well as an added or primary snare. It works well with entry-level sets or as a way to upgrade performance. The affordable price really helps make this drum useful for utilitarian purposes.

Product specs:

  • Blasted satin texture coating
  • CL Arch Lugs
  • SR700 Snare Strainer
  • 1 mm beaded steel shell
  • Untamed and open throaty tone
  • 14” x 6.5” steel model
  • 6 mm hoops
  • CL65 Hoops

Why We Love It: The Pearl Modern Utility definitely works well for entry-level drum kits, especially in terms of price. If you are just starting to explore drumming, consider this one as you kick off that new set.

The Pearl Modern Utility is available online through the Drum Center of Portland. We offer free shipping, so check out this great quality snare drum.

2 Best for Long Time Drummers: Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga Snare Drum 14 x 6.5 Gloss

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Durable finish
  • 3 position swing lever for 3 different snare sounds
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • High price
  • No internal muffler

The Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga has been in circulation for around 20 years. Even if you aren’t familiar with it, you have definitely heard it in many songs from well-known bands and musicians over the past two decades. The Stave creates a tone, focus, attack, and clarity of sound many drummers look to create. It is definitely a great addition to any kit.

Product specs:

  • Available in mirror gloss or satin finish
  • Features S-Hoops
  • HD Solid Aluminum Distance Adjustable Chrome Lugs
  • Dual Adjustable Wires
  • Tight Screw Tension Rods

Why We Love It: The Hendrix Archetype Stave delivers a classic sound heard in many of the great rock ’n roll songs of the past two decades. Built to last and with only high-quality materials, the Stave has been the preferred choice of many professional drummers.

This well-known product is available online through DCP. It produces such a great sound and is definitely worth checking out. It is a bit pricy, so we recommend it for people who have been around drum kits for a while and are willing to make the commitment. Any drum is a commitment of sorts, but durable ones like the Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga are worth that investment.

3 Best for Snappy Sounds: Tama Starphonic Aluminum Snare Drum 6x14

Pros

  • Strong brand reputation
  • Durable design and high quality
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not new user friendly
  • Could be pricey for some people

The Tama Starphonic Aluminum produces a snappy and upbeat sound through the Line Drive Snare Strainer as well as the Super Sensitive Hi-Carbon snare wires. When struck, the wires reverberate against the bottom of the drumhead to create various sounds. The snare uses a Freedom Lug, linear-drive strainer, and a detachable butt plate. All around, this creates an extremely drummer-friendly option. It lets you focus on the music without the hardware getting in the way. You can even change out the head without having to loosen the tension rod. All of these factors create snappy sounds. It is perfect for experienced drummers looking to up their snare game.

Product specs:

  • 5 mm bearing edge
  • 2 mm beaded shell
  • 6” x 14”
  • Matte Natural Cordia

Why We Love It: Overall, the Tama Starphonic brings a strong sound with a sleek design. The Matte Natural Cordia is key in that design. You’ll be able to see why this comes from “the strongest name in drums” and why it is in such high demand.

Our verdict? It looks great and sounds great. Check it out online or come into DCP to test it out for yourself.

4 Best for Mid-Range Sound: A&F Maple Club Snare 14 x 5 10 Lug Charcoal Grey

Pros

  • Strong brand reputation
  • Durable design and high quality
  • Creates a low, mid-range tone

Cons

  • Not carried in every location
  • Could be pricey for some budgets

The A&F Maple Club comes from a small boutique drum company out of Austin, Texas. The design has a reverse baseball bat bearing edge. It is also created with a patented raw brass hardware finish. The aesthetic is very clean, round, natural, and woody. The company itself is well-known for its high-quality products.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 5”
  • 10 lugs
  • Maple build
  • Baseball bearing edge design

Why We Love It: The A&F Maple Club produces a great mid-range sound, which is why we highly recommend it for that purpose. The woody base is wonderful for creating this distinct sound.

This boutique snare is new to DCP but has already made such a hit. We’re excited to carry this product, and we want you to come in and hear it for yourself! The boutique company doesn’t carry products in every music store, so it is a privilege to have the A&F Maple Club on our shelves.

5 Best Hand-Crafted Snare from the UK: British Drum Company Merlin Snare Drum 14 x 6.5

Pros

  • Dual wood shell
  • Created from sonically superior materials
  • 5-star review in Rhythm magazine
  • High-quality design
  • Brand reputation
  • Versatile sound

Cons

  • High price point

This hand-crafted snare from the United Kingdom is highly rated and has even been given an award from the Music Industry Association. The British Drum Company promises the Merlin is one that can do it all. It is comprised of alternating horizontal and vertical veneers and is a combination of two hardwoods. The maple creates warmth while the birch creates brightness. The ability to create both warm and bright sounds is part of what makes this option such a strong choice.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 6.5”
  • 20 ply maple/birch with tulip veneer shell
  • Maple pinstripes over natural tulip finish
  • Brass wires
  • Palladium fittings

Why We Love It: The recognition alone for the Merlin is a great reason to come check it out. The 5-star review from Rhythm magazine, the award from Music Industry Association, and overall dynamic design create a great snare drum. The shell is created with a black tulip veneer finish with a double pinstripe maple. Use the Merlin to create a crisp and funky sound that you can’t find anywhere else.

Curious to see just what the British Drum Company Merlin can do? Check it out at the DCP today or online!

6 Best for Classic Design: Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum 14 x 6

Pros

  • Aluminum shell
  • Versatile sound
  • Consistent and durable

Cons

  • High price point
  • Better for professional use, not entry level drummers

The Noble and Cooley Alloy is an industry classic with a cast aluminum shell. It creates a dense and focused sound using lower tunings in a wood shell. It is very versatile between the studio or the stage, making it a must-have for the professional drummer’s arsenal.

If you constantly move between the stage and the recording studio, consider the Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic. It has a traditional design you won’t find with other snares.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 6”
  • Aluminum shell design
  • 45-degree bearing edges
  • Die-cast hoops

Why We Love It: This drum is not created from rolled sheet metal, which makes it different from other metal drums. The result is a much denser and thicker sound. At the same time, looser tunings give a sound similar to a wood shell.

It really is versatile! It is great to see how this drum can move between loud bands and the light sensitivity of a jazz set. It is highly sought-after for recording and performing drummers.

To hear this sought-after sound for yourself, come into DCP today or

7 Best for Deep Sounds: Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass Snare Drum 14” x 6.5”

Pros

  • P88 Throwoff
  • Versatile sound
  • Consistent and durable
  • Reputable company

Cons

  • Mid-price range
  • Brass can show wear and tear sooner

The Supraphonic Raw Brass from Ludwig is in high demand and for good reason. The classic product is known as the “Black Beauty” and has graced the shelves of many studios around the world.

The Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass lives up to that iconic status. It has a brass shell that makes it durable and able to produce a variety of sounds. The overall design is engineered to produce deeper snare sounds than any other on the market today.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 6.5”
  • Seamless brass shell
  • 9 mm triple flanged hoops
  • 10 imperial lugs

Why We Love It: As the winner of the Metal Snare Drum at the 2018 Drummies! Gear Awards, this snare has earned its legendary status. The sound and quality are great, and it is a better choice for deeper sounds.

Curious to hear it in action? Order online or see it at DCP in person today!

8 Best in Class for an Ageless Look: Schagerl Antares Snare Drum 14 x 8 Brass, Custom Dark

Pros

  • Bold design
  • Great for conventional playing
  • Reputable company
  • Works with orchestral playing

Cons

  • High price
  • Slightly larger than standard snares can be inconvenient

The name here is a cool story on its own, on top of the great sound. It is named for the brightest start in the Scorpius constellation, Antares. It is also named for the Greek God, Ares. Both origins are bold, just like this snare drum. The heavy brass tube lugs are part of making this bold design. The Antares is akin to Grecian armor, battle worn and laden with subtle ageless elegance.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 8”
  • 7 mm Yellow Brass Tube Lugs
  • 3 mm triple-flanged
  • Raw finished brass
  • Modified TrickDrums multistep strainer

Why We Love It: It has a unique shape as it is undersized on top and bottom, creating a tympani effect. This results in great resonance. It has a finished brass covered in lacquer for a beautiful look. This is great in comparison with unfinished brass options that tend to show wear and tear as well as spots sooner.

Come into DCP today to see the Schagerl Antares in person or view the product in our online store.

9 Best Choice on a Budget: Canopus ‘The Maple’ Snare Drum 14 x 6.5 Natural Oil w/ Cast Hoops

Pros

  • Great price point
  • Great for experienced drummers
  • Highly resonant

Cons

  • Not great for new drummers

If you’ve been keeping up with DCP, you’ll know that we’ve showcased Canopus before as a staff favorite for several reasons. The 8-ply shell design creates maximum projection and will really do it all. It has a great balance between tunability and openness through the brass plated single point lugs. It hits the overtones very well. It has really great snare wires as well.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 6.5”
  • 8 ply shell design
  • Die-cast hoops
  • Maple design
  • Vintage snare wire

Why We Love It: This drum lives up to its name of “The Maple” due to the natural brilliance and the good sound projection. It creates a controlled, high-pitched overtone while the vintage snare wires also give a sensitive feel. The shell construction has been crafted for the best sound production that has a precise bearing edge.

This popular drum is available online and in store. Talk to the staff at DCP today to see why this is a staff favorite. Once you hear the great sound from Canopus’s “The Maple,” you will understand what makes this a popular choice for drummers of all musical styles. Plus, the price is great for a professional sound at an affordable rate.

10 Best Stainless Steel Choice: Dunnett Classic Stainless Steel Snare Drum 14 x 6.5

Pros

  • Great for experienced drummers
  • Highly resonant
  • Versatile sound for a stainless-steel drum

Cons

  • Unfinished nature will show spots and marks
  • Aging shows on the shell

The Dunnett Classic redefined metal snares over 25 years ago. It revolutionized the industry by proving a stainless-steel shell can be just as rich and warm as a wooden one. It transfers energy very well. The Dunnett Classic is handmade with care and high-quality materials. It creates a timeless tone through the 2.3 double-flanged hoops.

Product specs:

  • 14” x 6.5”
  • Stainless steel
  • Boutique, high-end drum
  • R4 Strainer
  • GW triple flanged hoops
  • Polished finish
  • Tube lugs

Why We Love It: The versatile sound between snappy metal snare and warm wood makes the Dunnett Classic Stainless Steel a standout. It does show aging, but it will still last a while. It is handmade with high-quality materials. Your drum kit would look great with this vintage design.

The retro design is a great aesthetic for any set, so check it out online or in the store to see what we mean.

 

How They Stack Up: Top 10 Snares Comparisons

Snare Drum

Material Design

Size

Price Range

Pearl Modern Utility Steel Snare Drum Steel snare 14” x 6.5” $180 – $315
Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga Snare Drum Wood 14” x 6.5” $800 - $1400
Tama Starphonic Aluminum Snare Drum Aluminum 6” x 14” $500 - $800
A&F Maple Club Snare Maple 14” x 5” $1000+
British Drum Company Merlin Snare Drum Maple and birch 14” x 6.5” $700 – $1100
Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum Cast aluminum 14” x 6” $810 - $1350
Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass Snare Drum Brass 14” x 6.5” $700 - $1000+
Schagerl Antares Snare Drum Brass 14” x 8” $1800+
Canopus ‘The Maple’ Snare Drum Maple 14” x 6.5” $587 - $840
Dunnett Classic Stainless-Steel Snare Drum Stainless steel 14” x 6.5” $795+

 

Buyer’s Guide to Everything About Snare Drums

No matter what you are looking for in a snare drum, the process of choosing the right one can be tough. There are just so many options! As a drummer, you also recognize how important the snare drum is in terms of the drum kit and performance. It is the heart of the percussion when creating the perfect beat behind great songs. Producing quality music stems from the drum, which in turn stems from the work of the snare drum.

So, what do you need to think about when choosing a snare drum? The answer? Use your ears, think about what sound you are trying to create, and follow this guide.

Depending on the snare, you could be looking at a hefty investment, so it is essential to know you are making the right choice.  If in doubt, reach out to the experts at Drum Center of Portsmouth to learn about snares and how to pick the right one for your style, ability, and overall sound.

 

What to Consider When Buying a Snare Drum

So, with all the lingo here, what exactly do you need to consider when buying a snare drum? From size to build, there’s a lot more to snare drums than meets the eye. Since it is a central piece of the drum kit, you’ll want to know the details before making a commitment.

 

Size

Snares are made of different shell sizes, which will determine what the sound ends up being. Shell sizes are made for specific genres.

For example, the “rock” snare will be around 14” in diameter and have a 5” or 6” depth. Rock snares will be made of steel or maple and have metal hoops.

Marching snares have higher tension on the head, producing a snappier sound and will be made of light aluminum.

Piccolo snares are either wood or steel and created with thin depth for a super snappy and dry sound.

Orchestral snares will be made of wood with medium depth and have calfskin head for generous muffling.

 

Material

As mentioned above, snares are made of a variety of materials. Snares can be made of wood, metal, aluminum, bronze, brass, hammered, and not hammered. Each material is pivotal in creating certain sounds.

Wood snares create better bass. Steel, brass, and bronze create high-end responses. A hammered snare has a dark tone and non-hammered snares create bright tones.

As mentioned in the reviews, some materials are designed to be more versatile with the sounds they create. This isn’t true for every snare, so definitely test it out first.

 

Unmuffled or Muffled

When it comes to controlling tone, moon gels are essential. Controlling the tone through moon gel allows for flexibility on your end. To create a subtle sound with the snare, you can use moon gels to muffle the sound. You can also use drum rings, drum gum, business cards, or electrical tape. With an unmuffled sound, you create a raw sound.

 

Budget

When looking at snare drums, consider what your budget is going to be. The worst feeling is finding the perfect snare drum and then realizing it is hopelessly out of your budget range.

If you enter with a clear idea of what you are willing to spend, you will be able to narrow your choices to what you can afford. The budget can be crafted based on your drumming experience, desired sound, and other factors.

 

How Do I Know I’m Ready to Buy a Snare Drum?

Buying a snare drum is making an investment in the overall drum kit you are building. Still questioning whether you are ready to buy one? The experts at Drum Center of Portsmouth can help in answering this question.

You’ll know you are ready after you do the appropriate research, weigh your options, and go in store to test out products. How are you doing so far? Let DCP help answer this question and stop in today.

 

What Parts Make a Snare Drum?

As mentioned earlier, the snare drum has been around for over 600 years. It started as the tabor and later evolved into what we know and use today. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the snare drum had a lot of innovations. This is where the developments really began to match what we use today. The snare is essential to musical arrangements, which is why it has successfully evolved over 600 years.

Those parts tend to be consistent across snare designs and consist of parts like the shell, tension rods, lugs, snare wires, and snare strainer:

  • The Shell: One of the main parts of the snare is the shell, which is created from wood, bronze, aluminum, or steel. It also uses rims/hoops to create overtones and limit the drum ring. Typically, the rims/hoops material matches the shell material, but that is a personal preference. Some designs, including the ones on this list, mix shell materials and types to create unique sounds.
  • Tension Rods and Lugs: Snares also use tension rods and lugs. This design influences the sound of the drum and seeks to control how much metal is in direct contact with the shell.
  • The Strainer: The snare strainer holds the snare to provide a way to adjust the wire tension.
  • The Snare Wires: Snare wires are fragile strands that help give the snare its characteristic sound. The wires interact with the snare to create a bright sound. The wires are the defining feature of a snare drum and help to create the crisp sound. Coiled wire is stretched across the drumhead on the bottom so that when struck, it will vibrate crisply against the bottom drumhead.

 

How Much Should I Expect to Spend?

It is hard to predict exactly what to spend on the snare. It depends on what level you are at, what you are looking for, and what sound you are trying to create. It typically ranges between $500 – 1000 with some pricier snares going over $1000. They are designed to be durable, so expect this investment to last.

 

Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that there are snare drums for every sound, genre, skill level, and need. Figuring out what is right for you means deciding what direction your drumming is headed. What genre are you going for? What sound are you creating? How committed are you to drumming? How can the right snare drum make that all come true?

If you aren’t positive on how to answer these questions, you can rely on the team at Drum Center of Portsmouth. We carry these products online and in the store, so you can check out our products and figure out the best snare for you. Check it out today!

The Ultimate Guide to Snare Drums

There are many ways to set up your snare drum. You can have a warm wooden sound as a result of using birch to build a set. Alternatively, you can attain a higher pitch and metallic timbre from an all-metal snare drum. There are the sharp, staccato bursts that come from a piccolo snare. Then, there is the machine gun explosion of a rim shot performed on a Yamaha Free Floating marching snare.

No matter the type of sound you are seeking, you will find it at Drum Center of Portsmouth. The following are the three different snare drum types and their sounds in the DCP collection. This guide will break down each type to help you choose a snare for your set.

Marching Snare

This is the type of snare drum that marching bands use. These drums can endure higher tensions and produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares. The newest models feature free-floating devices. These allow you to attach the rim to the opposite rim. The result is a drum tightened to the highest possible level.

This is important due to most snare heads being made of Kevlar now. These will endure no matter how heavy you play. They will last through changes in temperature and humidity. The marching snare is the biggest of the snare drums available.

There are also similar drums like a pipe band snare or a field drum. A pipe band is similar to a traditional marching band snare. However, it has an extra snare added to the head. This gives it a crisper sound. Mostly these drums are useful for marching bands. On occasion, set drummers will use one to create a sound effect like a gunshot going off.

Kit Snare

Most musicians grew up with a traditional wooden shell drum. This probably had a head over one end with a snare held tight. The sound produced would have been a high-pitched rasping sound. This is the distinct drum sound we all grew up hearing in most traditional music.

There are many different types of wood that make the drum heads.

  • Maple - The most common is maple. Maple produces the typical kit snare sound. Birch presents a much brighter sound.
  • Mahogany - This is the most vintage wood used for making kits. Beech and poplar are both softer woods. These give a warmer sound. They are similar to birch but not quite as powerful.
  • Oak - Lastly, there is oak. Oak is the loudest of drum materials. It can last on the negative register the longest. This means it takes a bit longer for those deep bass sounds to wear away.

There are many ways to change up the sound. However, the biggest difference comes from the metal on the body. Metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and bronze offer different sounds.

Aluminum is the closest to the traditional wooden snare sound.

Brass creates a bright cracking sound with mellow overtones in the follow-up tones.

Copper bodies offer a warmer but darker tone. It also is cleaner than copper sounding snares.

Finally, there is steel. This is the material of choice for drummers in rock bands. Some say steel produces the ugliest of all the snare sounds. However, that’s what makes it perfect for rock and heavy metal music.

Piccolo and Popcorn/Soprano Snares

Piccolo snares are smaller than a traditional snare due to their shell being much shallower. Most piccolo snares act as an accessory for kit applications. The depth of most piccolo snares isn’t much deeper than 4” to 4.5”. The small shell size tends to bring about a higher pitch and a faster response than a traditional 5” drum. This leads to a sound with less body and bass.

Soprano/popcorn snares are similar than the piccolo snare. They feature non-standard shell dimensions. The typical soprano snare runs between 5” to 7” deep with a diameter of around 10” to 12”. These drums generally have a high pitched sound with slightly more body to the sound than what a piccolo could make. Usually, the snares come in the shallowest sizes.

Different Snares for Different Needs

Ultimately the snares that you choose to purchase will depend on the specific sound that you desire out of your kit. You might also just need it to replace a drum you already use. There isn’t one drum sound that will work for every application. That’s why it is important to look at all drum types before settling on the one you think will best suit your needs.

Rock drummers may be looking for a steel snare to provide a dirty muddled thunderclap sound. Jazz drummers may want the bright warmth of a wooden drum or a piccolo snare. This is why it is so important to try out the drums you have an interest in. Even one drum sound can change the way you sound as a whole.

Style Impacts Sound

It also helps to know the style of drumming you wish to play. This will help you decide upon the type of drum set to settle on. Gretsch and Slingerland are historically great drums for a jazz setting. Premier and Pearl make excellent marching band drums. The options available are truly staggering. It is easy to see why so many different drums need looking after.

Which to Choose?

Deciding upon a snare drum is a task that can be extremely difficult. There are many different ways to convey the same style of note. The entire process can make it hard to differentiate between the top picks.

However, it is safe to say you know a good sound when you hear it. The previous sounds described are among the many available to choose from. Picking a sound and making it into a signature sound is one of the ways that the team at DCP can help you out when looking at new snare drums.

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