In addition to being a private violin teacher and having a degree in music from USC, Alecia started writing music-related articles and product reviews six years ago and has enjoyed this experience greatly. She likes to learn new instruments and write new compositions in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners can enjoy really good music.
Last updated: September 16, 2023
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How do you make sure your music makes an impression on your audience? You have to think of every single aspect of your performance. And if you’re a drummer that means each piece of your drum set must be in top condition. Now, do you have the best snare drum possible as part of your kit? A snare drum has a unique sound that can either complement your performance or distract your audience by being irritating or dull. Simply adding a new snare drum to your existing kit can serve as an instant upgrade in sound.
We surveyed the market and found a few snare drums manufactured by trusted brands such as our Editor’s Choice, the DW Design Series that impressed in many ways. Because each musician has unique needs, we compiled a list of drums of different sizes so you can pick one that fits your setup and music style. We rated these based on important characteristics such as the quality of the lugs and hoops. The shell is of course also important when it comes to producing the right sound, so you’ll find detailed information on that too.
Everything our experts—experienced musicians and drum tutors—found you will be able to browse through in our easy to understand reviews below. If you’re new to the music industry or compiling your first drum kit you can use our buying guide to help you gauge which one will be best for you. We discuss important features so you can understand the market better and make informed decisions when you buy. If you’re in a rush, simply glance through our comparison table which will quickly show you which one is most appropriate for your use.
This one reached the top of our list because it impresses in so many categories. First of all, it comes at a very affordable price but it still delivers in terms of performance. The tone is beautiful: in short, it’s a perfect balance!
The standard size is something many are used to playing on. The skilled design results in sound that can work for many applications, whether you perform live or simply practice at home. And yes, this one is easy to tune, making it practical even for newbies and students. Tunability also means you can change the sound to suit the size and type of room you’re playing in.
Of course we love the exterior where the nickel covered brass shell should match any drum set you want to match it with.
Even the weight is a plus in most scenarios as 12lb isn’t too heavy to carry around.
If you prefer a deeper drum, this will of course not be your number one option, but the 6.5” depth suits many pro players’ requirements. Some players also prefer wood to metal, but this metal unit is worth a try.
It will even last you long thanks to a shell that’s bead reinforced, so this can be a long term investment. You can swap out the head if need be.
Let’s start with the look because you want your instruments to make you look professional, right? This one does just that thanks to the ultra striking exterior comprising of metal and brass components. The classic look will add some character whether you’re using this on stage, in a studio or even in a marching band.
The design makes this one super light, which turns it into a wise option if you plan on traveling with your gear. At 5 lbs. it’s also sensible to use this for children or teens who have to set up their own kits and carry it to class often.
Just note that this is one of the more expensive items on our list. You get what you pay for, which is great quality and sound, but if playing drums is only a temporary hobby, this one may be a bit too expensive. For pros, this is an ideal option though.
Because of the height you can tune it to suit various styles as you can get both low or high tones. Users comment on its exceptional throw off that has a vintage appeal to it.
When it’s time for tuning you’ll appreciate the rubber gaskets incorporated into the screws. These make it easy to manage and set the tension.
Some units come out with imperfect rims, but that’s something you can solve by replacing them.
Here’s another brass snare drum that’s loved for its versatility. We picked it because of the quality sound it produces but also the attractive design. The ‘Black Magic’ approach is classy enough whether you’re looking for the best jazz snare drum or one for your rock band.
The chrome hardware does require some maintenance to stay in pristine condition, but as long as you look after them they’ll look and work exceptionally well for years to come.
The shell itself is durable too as it’s a beaded design.
When it comes to sound the triple-flanged hoop is a winning choice because it makes for great rim shot sounds. Just keep an eye on your hoops and make sure you replace them if they pull out of form as this design sometimes tends to do.
This is another design of the classic 14” x 6.5” size, making it tunable for various genres of music.
It’s an added bonus to purchase from a leading, well known brand as you know you’ll always get the support and parts you need. This is an impressive buy and we appreciate that Ludwig didn’t escalate the price on this one, coming in at under $300. That makes it a practical option for students, newbies and parents buying gear for their kids to try out. You can get a pro quality set at a decent price.
If a wooden snare is what you’re after, give this one a try, made by trusted brand Yamaha. Purchasing from a well-known manufacturer means you’re assured of getting replacement parts and Yamaha is known for quality.
This is one of the shallower units on our list, so know that you won’t get as many different frequencies from it. Still, as it’s made of Birch wood you may just fall in love with the tone. On the exterior the lacquer finish makes it easy to clean and it’s durable.
This model offers you 10 different lugs which makes for exceptional tuning abilities. The more lugs the easier it is to get the tension right across the head. Just remember that this also limits the vibration of the shell, though this isn’t a deal breaker for everyone.
It’s a winning option thanks to the low price too. At well under $200 you can try this out if you’re shopping on a budget. But don’t think this is only for newbies—pros can also find this one valuable and because it’s relatively light it’s easy to transport to a performance or studio.
One improvement the brand can consider is giving it more rebound. But it’s still a valuable buy especially for rock bands. You’ll have no problem getting loud sounds from this one.
This snare drum shot onto our list, not because it’s the best one around, but because the manufacturer gives you everything you need to start playing. That makes it great value for money, turning this into a wise option for students and new players. With the stick, practice pad and stand a new student has everything he or she needs to get started & all of it comes at an astoundingly low price. And don’t worry; Mendini is well known in the industry so you’re still getting a quality set.
The rubber pad has a secondary application apart from serving as a practice option: it fits onto the snare’s head perfectly so you can muffle the sound when practicing at home. You can improve your skill without bothering the neighbors.
This unit is slightly heavier than some we reviewed above but still manageable if you need to transport it for practice sessions.
The set is designed for students but is of a standard size so the stand can adjust for most adults’ comfortable use. You can even set it up in its highest position to use while standing up. It’s a sturdy stand that won’t easily fall over and you’ll even be able to use it with heavier snares of other kits.
The bag isn’t the best quality, but as long as you look after your gear, it will serve you well.
Add some spice to your performance with this Pearl Igniter snare drum that not only sounds good but looks fabulous, too. The exterior design incorporates flames placed on a black background: that’s how your rock band’s instruments can create visual stimulation along with your sound. What your gear looks like can set the tone for the rest of your performance.
Once you start playing you’ll appreciate the poplar and maple wood which provides exceptional tone. Players love it for the warm tones. This drum also projects the sound so you can play in large spaces and each shot will be heard clearly.
When it’s time to pack up and go you’ll appreciate the relatively light design which is easy to transport & set up elsewhere.
This unit was designed in collaboration with Casey Cooper and for his fans the included poster is a valuable extra.
What attracts one to this buy is that you get Pearl’s well known quality for a surprisingly low price. If you’re creating a starter kit this one purchase can upgrade your set instantly.
It’s pretty shallow which limits the range of tones you can get, but that’s to be expected from such a light, compact design.
Important to note: you’ll also find special offers from some merchants that include a set of sticks, making for even greater value for money.
This snare drum has a classic look not only because of its maple wood design, but also because Pearl decided to cover it in a matte finish. That’s in contrast to many other units on this list that seem flashy thanks to shiny exteriors. If you want your drum set to communicate a classic feel or match your traditional band’s atmosphere this is an excellent option. The color also easily blends in with other designs, so you can upgrade your current set without spoiling the aesthetics.
And you won’t be disappointed by the sound this one produces either. That’s thanks to quality CL lugs and the warm tones that are synonymous with maple wood shells. With a high number of lugs, it’s easy to adjust the tone and tension. Even your rim shots will be clear thanks to the triple-flange hoop design.
Because you’re buying from Pearl you’re assured of quality as this brand has been a market leader for a long time.
It’s well-priced even though it’s such a respected brand, so this is the ideal option to incorporate professional instruments into your performance.
Pearl does sell drum stands too, so you can purchase one that will definitely fit your new snare drum, although you have to purchase it separately.
Here you have the tallest snare drum on our list, making it the best marching snare drum on our list. Marching bands often prefer taller units, some even much deeper than this one.
With this model from Ludwig you get the promise of the well-known brand’s quality as well as the sleek look of the polished steel. This one presents and sounds well. And yes it will last you a long time thanks to the beaded shell.
It’s mostly designed for great mid tones and they’ll sound bright when coming from this snare. Your rim shots will also be clear thanks to the triple-flanged hoops.
Granted, this one is slightly heavier than many others on our list, but that’s something marching band members are used to, right?
One thing you may want to do is replace the heads at some stage. What you get upon purchase is not a top of the range head, so you can upgrade it if necessary.
The chromed exterior will require some maintenance to keep it looking new and pristine, so make sure you know how to look after the chromed lugs and shell. The mirror polished look is part of this one’s charm, so don’t lose it: clean it regularly. There are many lugs to keep clean, but remember they’re worth it since they make it easy to manage the head’s tension.
Once again: a stunning design available at a low price.
You’ll find piccolo snare drums in many settings because their fast response time makes them favorites as the best concert snare drum options or even for R&B or hip hop. Some users also love how it can enhance a pop song. If a drummer enjoys the high pitch and how quickly it responds, this is ideal and it’s all thanks to the shallow design. Many users describe it as having a ‘crack’ sound which may be what your performance needs?
Of course, you don’t have much range of tone with this one, but if you know the high pitch is what you’re after, this Pearl model is a wise investment. Many players also use this as a backup or as an additional piece to expand their sets. Pearl is known for quality products so you’ll easily find replacement parts for years to come. You’ll pay a little extra for the unique design and the brand name, but it’s worth it.
The black exterior is easy to match with other designs so you can upgrade your set and you won’t spoil your current look.
This small unit still comes with eight lugs so you can easily tune the tone to perfection.
Thanks to its small design this one is super light, making it easy to transport to gigs or practice sessions. It also won’t take up much space if you simply want a quality unit to practice on in your room.
The Mendini Student Snare Drum Set is designed for beginners. It includes a 14-inch x 5.5-inch snare drum, stand, drumsticks, and a rubber practice pad. This set offers a foundational tool for new drummers in school bands or personal practice.
The Mendini set provides a robust sound for its price. Its snare response is clear, making it easy for learners to discern strokes. The rubber pad ensures quiet practice, and the stand is adequately stable for beginners.
This set is perfect for those starting their drumming journey, particularly for school bands and private lessons. Its compact nature is also ideal for small spaces.
Mendini stands out for its value for money, balancing affordability and decent performance. The included practice pad is a notable advantage over some competitors.
While suitable for beginners, seasoned drummers might desire better sound depth. The hardware might seem light, and advancing drummers could feel the need for an upgrade.
What makes it stand out?
Clear snare response
Includes a practice pad
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Might lack depth for seasoned players
Hardware could be sturdier
Possible need for an upgrade with skill progression
Things to Consider
Shopping for the best sounding snare drum is not simple task. Firstly, you have to know how to identify a quality piece of equipment, but that’s not all. The best snare drum head for rock will be vastly different from the best concert snare drum. You need to understand the industry a bit better to make the perfect decision and get value for money. Let’s run through important aspects to help you make a good investment.
Reasons to get an awesome snare drum
Firstly, let’s discuss why you can’t ignore this aspect: if you plan on making impressive music, you need an awesome snare drum:
You need the right type that suits your music genre as different types produce different sounds.
Only quality units will produce clear rim shots.
A durable unit is better value for money as you won’t have to replace the heads as often.
An awesome snare drum that also looks impressive will make you seem and feel more professional.
If you want to record your playing, only quality instruments will produce music worth capturing (and it will require less editing before it sounds like a winning track).
Because snare drums help set tempo and energy of a song its quality is vital to the overall effect you want to create.
Ready to pick yours? We’ll help you.
Features to consider when choosing a snare drum
We’re going to help you become an expert shopper overnight by listing and discussing the most important features about snare drums. Understand each aspect so you know which type and quality will best suit your desired outcome.
When purchasing the best snare drum for the money your budget allows, you’ll consider two aspects when it comes to size: the diameter as well as depth—how tall it is. You can usually pick any 14” drum for most applications, but if you’re shopping for a unique scenario such as joining the local marching band you must consider how deep it is. A marching snare drum can be up to 12” high such as the Ludwig Supralite showcased above. But shopping for your local rock band or even an orchestra only requires around 6 inches. If you’re starting out and want a drum that’s easy to tune, the standard 14” x 5.5” is an ideal one to start with.
There isn’t necessarily a ‘best’ material for snare drums—simply a best option based on your goal with your snare drums. These drums can be made of various kinds of wood, fiber glass, metal or synthetic materials. Some manufacturers even offer hybrids, combining various materials to give you the best effect from different types.
Each material will produce a different kind of tone, such as fiberglass that tends to result in bright sounds, while metal ones—copper or steel—can give you a balanced number of frequencies across the board. Wood drum sets like the Pearl Modern Utility model are popular not only for their warm tones, but also the beautiful aesthetics.
When walking through a music store you’ll notice snare drums with different hoops around the top. This isn’t only for aesthetics as the designs impact sound and durability of your drum.
The names of the metal hoops refer to the bends the metal makes in the specific design type:
A triple-flange is common and can help you get the perfect rimshot, but know that this design tends to bend easier than others and they don’t tune very easily. They are loved though because they add stability and a heavier unit can improve resonance.
A double-flange or die cast hoop is easier to tune than the one above and can help you create exceptional rim clicks because the design projects the sound. But if you want resonance, this may not be the one for you.
For resonance you can try the single-flange. They even look great if the manufacturer uses small claws for a minimalistic approach. Be careful though because you’re likely to break more sticks with this one.
Inward-flange is also a triple design but with a different angle. On a large drum you’ll appreciate how it can help control the tone of the drum and it produces a dry audio experience.
You’ll even find wood hoops that do tend to break easier after a few rimshots, but they make for easy tuning and your rimshots will give you a full sound.
As with many characteristics when it comes to musical instruments, the number of lugs could be a matter of personal preference. Lugs are important as they affect the tension of the drum head.
If you have more lugs it’s easier to create an equal amount of tension across the unit.
But having many lugs also means your shell has many holes drilled through it and it won’t vibrate as freely as with a drum design using only four or eight lugs. Vibration is an important aspect of the sound marching snare drums and other types should make, so this is an important consideration before you buy.
Overall dimensions and weight
We already discussed size in part but remember to match dimensions and weight to your application. A snare drum can weigh as little as 8lb, or even as much as 20lb. If you’re looking for the best marching snare drum, you have to find a balance between weight and quality as you don’t want a heavy unit weighing you down and affecting your playing. Also, if you’re shopping for a traveling band a lighter design makes for easier transport. A light fiberglass unit may be better than a heavy steel one. Simply remember to make sure it still sounds exceptional. It’s all about finding the perfect balance.
The leading manufacturers understand what is important for the modern musician – and who doesn’t like a bargain? Keep an eye out for products with accessories included, such as our budget pick, the Mendini Student Snare Drum Set. This can save you money and a trip to the music store as you’ll get multiple items at once.
With a new snare drum, you have a good chance to get a practice pad or new drumsticks. Ideally, you should also look for snare drums that come with a stand. That will mean you can be sure of the drum matching the stand’s size, making for an easy setup.
Luckily for you, you’ll find snare drums in many different price categories, as can be seen from the ones featured above where our Budget Pick, the Mendini Student Snare Drum Set, makes for the ideal investment for today’s students. The good news is also that you can try a relatively low priced unit and with expert tuning or simply by replacing the head, you can give it an instant upgrade for basic practice that will be more than sufficient.
But do think of the long-term implications. If you’re purchasing one that you one day want to perform with, you must ensure it will produce appropriate sound, not to mention the high quality you need if you want to record your playing for professional purposes. That’s when a pricier unit, such as the Ludwig LB417BT makes sense to buy. To prevent buying a second set you may have to spend a little more right from the start.
Snare drum maintenance and care
Maintenance is key if you want your drum to sound as good on day one as it sounds 100 days later.
With drums, regular care is non-negotiable, as you need this to make your drum sound exceptional every time. The snare has various parts that can stretch or contract—such as the head—and tuning it will affect the sound it produces. For this, you’ll need to carry a drum key with you.
From time to time, the head will need complete replacement. This gives you the ideal opportunity to clean the entire unit. Tightening screws, cleaning away dust from the inside, and cleaning or replacing rusted parts—such as lug springs—will take some time but will improve the overall sound, making it worth the effort.
The sound you produce will relate not only to the drum but your own playing. Know that as you become a better player, your sound will improve. To complement that you can learn to tighten lugs so that there’s even tension across the entire head. Also, try out different types of snare wires to find one that produces the sound you want.
When shopping for a student drum set, you’re bound to get budget options, so the price is the first difference. They’re cheaper because of lower quality materials used, and size will also play a role: a student may require a smaller set, especially if they’re still children. With pro drums you’ll get high-end materials producing better sound, as well as components you’ll easily find replacements for.
Shopping for drumsticks means you have to look at various characteristics:
Weight, shape, and applications represented by a number & letter on the stick
The tip can be nylon or wood
The length: a longer stick will give you more reach
Type of material: usually wood or polyurethane
Your perfect stick will relate to personal preference but know that some sticks are designed for certain scenarios. A marching stick will have a different number-letter marking than one meant for orchestra use.
Roll them on a flat surface and if one tends to wobble it means it’s not 100% straight. Also take a practice pad with when you shop to gauge if it feels comfortable and makes the right sound you prefer.
Now it’s up to you to pick the best drum for your application. But we will suggest you have a look at the DW Design Series Snare Drum that scored a 9.8 on our list. It’s an impressive combination of quality sound, practical size and striking aesthetics, all coming your way at an acceptable price.
Or perhaps the Ludwig LB417BT that scored 9.7 is more appropriate for your tastes? This is a favorite for those who want a lightweight, quality snare, and as a bonus, it’s easy to tune, thanks to the unique gaskets in the lugs. And the color scheme is impressive, right?
The Ludwig Black Magic snare also deserves a mention as one of the best snare drum options. Both looks and sound impressed our team of experts. It’s also much cheaper than the abovementioned unit in second place, so it scored an impressive 9.5.
What will your budget allow? What look are you after? Our list caters to all, so it’s time to upgrade your set and pursue your drumming dreams!