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Finding the Best Solid Ply Snare Drum

There are SO many ways to make a snare drum. Over the years we’ve seen some pretty innovative shell materials, producing a wide variety of sounds. From plied maple to solid cement, the options are seemingly endless. One of the earliest forms of shell making is the solid-ply method, which remains a popular choice to this day. There is something inherently organic to the tone of a well made solid-ply snare drum that is hard to replicate in a drum that’s made using plies or staves.

Many people associate solid-ply drums with one or two manufacturers - maybe Noble & Cooley or Craviotto. At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we carry dozens of solid ply snare drums from over 10 different drum makers. In our latest shootout, we compare 9 solid-ply snare drums from 9 different manufacturers.

A&F Steam Bent Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5

The A&F Steam Bent Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 is innovative, gorgeous, and completely handcrafted from scratch in Austin, Texas. This snare has a very low pitch with great sensitivity and a dry, woody tone. It comes built with A&F's raw brass hoops, 10 lugs, no reinforcement rings, 45 degree bearing edges, and a whole lot of sass!

Noble And Cooley Solid Ply Cherry Snare Drum 14x7

This deep, crispy 14x7 Noble & Cooley SS Cherry Snare produces a rich, projective midrange and balance without favoring the bass or treble frequencies. The tone is focused and clean, and projects with decent volume. This drum is a prime example of Noble & Cooley's mastery of the steam bent solid shell. It features a clear oil satin finish, low mass cast brass single "nodal point" lugs, low mass cast brass strainer / butt, chrome triple-flanged hoops, and the classic oval badge.

Dunnett Classic MonoPly Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5

Without a doubt, the Dunnett Classic MonoPly was among the best sounding solid snare drums in our shootout. There is nothing particularly flashy about this snare, but the sum of its parts seems to add up to something greater. Solid features like Tube lugs, Hypervent, R4 Strainer and Dunnett flanged steel hoops make this snare a no-brainer as your next workhorse.

DW Collectors Super Solid 3/8" Snare Drum 14x5.5

This beefy 5.5x14 DW Super Solid snare drum is not unlike a sensitive shotgun. The engineers at DW USA found a way to greatly increase the density of this 3/8th inch thick maple shell by utilizing a proprietary molecular compression process. The shells are formed into cylinders, and a reinforcement hoop is integrated, resulting in a truly unique one-piece shell. This snare does it all with orchestral sensitivity, and startling projection.


Gretsch USA Solid Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5

Gretsch Maple single-ply wood snare drums are USA made in their Ridgeland, SC facility and include 30-degree bearing edges, die-cast hoops, 42-strand snare wires and coated Permatone batter head with underside dot. All models are available in either Lightning or Dunnett throw-off and butt plate. The shells are finished in clear Nitro Cellulose gloss lacquer and is available in any color from the USA palette. That Great Gretsch Sound is alive in this dynamic, thick sounding snare drum.

Longo Solid Ply Cherry Snare Drum 14x4.5

Since its inception, Longo Custom Drums has specialized in the manufacturing of solid shell snare drums. Passed down from generations of family craftsmen, Longo Custom Drums has fine-tuned the are of steaming and bending solid pieces of wood in order to highlight each wood species' unique qualities. Longo solid shells resonate as one entity, lending to each drum's overall natural dynamic response and character. This understated Cherry snare drum has some serious mojo.

Tama Star Reserve Solid Maple Snare Drum 14x5

This 1st model of the STAR Reserve snare series was developed to attain unparalleled sensitivity and response for drummers. The 8mm solid maple shell with a slightly sharper Starclassic bearing edge and 8-lug Brass Sound Arc hoops to create an ultra- sensitive, clear and bright tone. It also features Tama’s STAR Tube Lugs with lug nuts for articulate tuning. Super sensitive Hi-Carbon Snare Wires for concert models complete the package, featuring a thin brass plate and softer hi-carbon coils that respond to even the softest touch on the edge of the batter head.

Unix Solid Ply Mahogany Snare Drum 14x8

The only 8 inch snare drum in the bunch and the high tuning was to die for!  Unix has always been known for quality stave built snare drums, and his recent venture into solid-ply drums is top-quality. This particular drum was made from dense African Mahogany, which projected rich, dark tones.


Craviotto Solid Ply Maple Snare Drum 14x7 w/Walnut Hoops

What would a single ply snare drum showcase be without Craviotto?  We had a lovely 14x7 Solid-Ply Maple with Wood Hoops in our used inventory that was begging to be played.  This drum has a crispy dry tone with great sensitivity. Get it for a great discounted price at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

What’s the Best Solid-Ply Snare Drum for You?

Hopefully, our shootout has helped you discern some of the differences between manufacturers.  Got questions? Give any one of us a call at (603)319-8109 and we will walk you through the process of choosing the right instrument for YOUR needs!

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