What’s a complete percussion set without a snare drum? We’ve heard some great songs (perhaps many considered classic) without one, but it’s quite a rarity. The snare is one of the centerpieces of a complete drum kit, so today we spent some time researching the best snare drums in the music instrument world. Which type of snare you need really depends on a few of your needs, such as what sound you’re exactly looking for, your budget, what build you prefer and more. We narrowed down the search to only the 10 best snares and also provide some sample sounds for you to hear what you’ll exactly be getting with the choices. We used a combination of research, experience, scouting for reviews and more to complete the guide.
How to choose your snare drum
- Your budget – When it comes to learning to play drums, it can get a bit costly if you’re building a set from scratch. Of course budget is rated number one in terms of priority when shopping for a snare, especially if you’re looking to calculate what you’ll be spending later on other pieces as well. It’s an investment — albeit an important one, especially if you plan on (or have been) drumming for quite a while.
- How do you want it to sound? Warm? Flat? High? These are all pretty subjective terms, so the definition may depend on the person. But to us, one of the most important (and obvious) parts of buying a snare is the sound it’s going to give you when you play or record — that’s how signature sounds of entire songs and artists are made. It’s all in the ear — what type of pop you want to conquer those treble frequencies and carry your song(s) to the finish line.
- The finish – This is the material your snare drum is made of. Some popular makes include wood, metal, steel and more. This is based on preference (it also affects sound which you can leave up to the demos). Some enjoy the wooden finish for a warmer, more relaxed sound, while others want a steel drum to pound away on. We prefer all finishes because it really depends on what feel you’re trying to attain (and it depends on our mood). We’ve heard of many artists grabbing quite a few snares with different finishes so they have options to adapt to certain songs they’re writing.
- Size – Small, medium-sized or large? How big of a surface-area do you want to be able to hit with your sticks? Shopping for drum heads in general can get a bit tricky. Bigger isn’t always better, however. Smaller snares have a more distinct, higher pitched/tighter sound while larger snares give you more room to work with but with a longer tone. Again, subjective terms, so we highly recommend sticking with checking out the sample demos to see what you want as opposed to using size or material to decide which snare drum you buy. Many of these models also come in multiple sizes if you want to adjust.
The 10 best snare drums in the market
The following is our list of the top 10 best snare drums in the market. Now before we begin, we want to warn you that there are many snare drums out there. This is what we were able to constrain our best 10 to. We list some other alternatives with different specs by the brands in the descriptions if we saw fit, but we are confident this list gives you a little bit of everything. Price points, sizes, material and more — all common factors to keep in mind when choosing drums.
If you have any recommendations, questions or comments, please feel free to let us know — we’re open!
Pork Pie Little Squealer
If you haven’t heard of Pork Pie Drums, their snares are extremely popular all over the net. This is one of the highest rated snare models out there. It was tough choosing a #1 and if we could, we’d tell you this list isn’t any particular order. However, if you are looking for an immediate model to grab, check this out. The pictured 13″ x 7″ Black Ebony model (we link you to it) is one of the more popular little squealer models. The build is especially premium with a rock maple shell, vents, brass snare wires and hand sanded hardware.
The sound is pretty warm as heard in the video and you can tune it to your liking if you want to adjust the tuning significantly. There are many who say it’s one of the best snares in the market, period. If you want an immediate answer, we’d grab the Pork Pie Little Squealer and not look back.
PDP Maple Snare Drum
Read reviews\prices: US | UK | Video Demo
Here’s a prestige maple snare drum to take a look at. Pacific Drums and Percussion is a brand that brings us solid builds with a reputation to back it up. This model gives us an average 5.5″ x 14″ size, an all ample shell with maple hoops and some brass tube lugs, and an extremely solid construction to round it all out. The sound is smooth and almost as warm as the previous snare listed but for those of us with an ear can hear the difference.
Instead of letting the wooden build entice you, be sure to compare and contrast the sounds (as we feel it’s the most important part of snare buying). It’s around the same price point as the Little Squealer, so if you’re looking for a wooden drum instead, grab the PDP Maple!
Gretsch Drums Artist Series Mark Shulman
Check reviews\pricing: US | UK | Video Demo
This is bit higher up when it comes to price point as compared to the previous two snares, but let’s take a look at the specs. It’s 6″ x 13″, made of maple shell with a double bubinga inlay (high quality wood), and a smooth glossy finish. But what about the sound? This model is made after a man named “Mark Schulman” who tours with way too many artists to name here, but we digress.
Besides the flashy name, check out the video demo to see what we’re talking about when it comes to sound. If you have some extra cash, want a better build and more unique sounding snare, check this one out for sure. Be sure to check out the other snares from Gretsch Drums Artist Series because they’re high quality as well. This Gretsch Mark Shulman is just one of the more popular snare drums.
Pearl S1330B Piccolo
Check prices\reviews: US | UK | Video Demo
Here’s a pick as the best snare drum worth looking for that is very easy on the wallet as compared to the previous snare models listed. We all know Pearl, and this particular drum is a bit smaller than the others as well. With the smaller, condensed size (hence the piccolo label), you’re getting a very dry and “crack” sound. It’s a bit more high-pitched as compared to others, which isn’t a bad thing — we like the adjective “tighter sound” as you can hear from the video posted above.
Even if you don’t think you’ll be using it as your main snare drum in your set, it’s still a great, budget-friendly snare to keep it in your arsenal if you feel like switching up the sound of your drums from time to time. The Pearl S1330B is an excellent snare with great reviews, not to mention created by one of the best drum brands in the market.
Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty
Read reviews\pricing: US | UK | Video Demo
The more we researched the best snare drums around the net, the more we saw this name pop up and became intrigued. Although priced (quite a bit) higher than the snare models listed previously, this thing is a beast and tagged at that number for a reason. Ludwig Snares are premium. Their Black Beauty model here provides availability in numerous sizes (most popular being 6.5″ x 14″ and 5″ x 14″ — take your pick), a brass construction, nickel-plated finish, and a warm, metallic tone you can hear for yourself in the video — a sound in our opinion.
This best snare post from 2010 praised the Ludwig Black Beauty numerous times. If you have the cash, we recommend taking this baby into serious consideration as the snare of your choice.
Pearl MCX Masters Series
Read reviews\price: US | Video Demo
Here’s another super high-quality pick as the best snare to take a look at, not to mention it’s made by our beloved Pearl. Their MCX Series of snares are up there when it comes to comparing to Ludwig’s Supraphonic line. You’re getting 6 ply Maple shell construction, high-gloss lacquer finishes, die-cast hoops and more.
Besides the high-quality build, the sound is superb. Check out the video to see what we’re talking about. If you love Pearl and have the cash, this MCX Masters Series is a great choice to keep into consideration.
Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga
Check pricing\reviews: US | UK | Video Demo
Tama Drums is a solid brand and a bit more popular with advanced drummers. The G-Bubinga is arguably one of the best snares they’ve ever made. You’ve got a price-point that isn’t nearly a Ludwig snare but around the middle. This particular model is 6″ x 14″ – 12 ply, 10mm shell (made of Bubinga — a high quality make of wood), giving us an overall solid wooden construction. Suggest styles say it’s for pop, R&B and rock, but we could see it for anything, really. It all depends on the person.
If you want one of the highest quality wooden-made snares out there with a smooth sound, we say go for it. Check out the demo up top first to see for yourself. This is one of the best snare drums if you’re into the unique build and sound — the Tama SLP G-Bubinga is very warm.
Spaun Acrylic Vented Snare
Check price\reviews: US | Video Demo
We hadn’t heard of this snare before researching around the internet and music world, but it came back highly reputable so we wanted to give it a closer look. It’s stated to have a good “cracky”, “tight” and “poppy” sound. Acrylic drums aren’t nearly as popular as wooden or steel-made snare drums, but this is something worth looking at considered Dennis Chambers used it with Santana. The price-point is relatively in the middle, so if you find your ear being keen to the sound, we say take a look at this one.
It looks pretty sweet in our opinion as well and the Spaun Acrylic Vented Snare may be something that compliments your set or can change it up at times if you want to tinker with a different sound every now and then.
Tama Stewart Copeland
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Another Tama snare here, but this time matched up with a name most of you may or may not be familiar with — Mr. Stewart Copeland! It’s labeled with his name because you get what he used with the Police and many other songs of that time period. This one is 5″ x 14″ so relatively average and in the middle for size. It’s made of a die-cast batter hoop and “triple-flanged bottom hoop” matched with a brass shell (1.5mm — about .5 more than a normal shell). The overall build is made up of different types of metal.
Check out the video demo to see what they’re talking about — even though it’s a bit of a marketing strategy, we wouldn’t mind grabbing a snare that was used in the Police. Be sure to listen to their discography if you haven’t yet to see what we mean. This Tama Stewart Copeland snare has a very unique sound.
Griffin Snare Drums
Check prices\reviews: US
These are by far the some of the best budget-friendly snares in the market in our opinion. We can’t list an exact model here because numerous of their snares are rated very highly among users and they offer many options depending on the drummer. a 1-year warranty (the brand states, at least). Their snares are also pretty average when it comes to size, the construction is pretty solid considering the price (nowhere near a Ludwig but you can figure why).
Most are priced at under a Benjamin, so if you’re looking to get a snare drum that works quite fine while keeping it wallet-friendly, browse around.