5 Best Snare Drums In 2018 – Buyers Guide And Reviews

No drum set is complete without a snare, but choosing the best snare drums can be difficult due to the sheer amount available to buy. We’ve created a handy guide so the next time you go shopping for one, you’ll know what sort of questions to ask before you open your wallet.

If you're interested in a complete drum set but not quite sure where to start, check out our choice of some wicked beginner drum sets here!​

At A Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Snare Drums On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best snare drums 

Size
  • Like all drum shells, snares come in different sizes, usually measured in inches. Smaller snares have a tighter sound with more emphasis on higher frequencies. Larger snares are more common in drum sets geared primarily towards rock, metal and other hard genres, whereas smaller snares are more a feature of jazz and fusion sets. Of course, there are no concrete rules so feel free to experiment.
Finish
  • The type of material used will also play an important factor in the tone of your snare. Whether you go for wood, metal or veneers will give the sound a very different feel.
Budget
  • This may be your primary concern, and you will have to organise the rest of your decision around this if money is tight. However, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t one of the rich kids, you can still get decent quality even towards the low end of the scale.

Useful Info

If you're having trouble with that pesky snare buzz and rattle, check out this interesting article on how to eliminate buzz.

5 Best Snare Drums

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

1. Pork Pie Little Squealer 13” x 7”

Pork Pie Little Squealer Snare Drum - 13' x 7', Black Ebony Satin

An extremely popular snare at the moment, and with good reason. It’s easily one of the best snare drums you can buy right now.

  • Highly adaptable to any style of music, it sounds good both tuned tight and loose
  • Beautiful design not only makes it look good, but gives it a satisfying warm tone
  • The drum heads that it comes with are decent, although swapping them out for your preferred brand after they start to wear out will help you get a unique sound
  • Tuning rods can become loose with heavy rimshot playing
  • If you’re looking for a bright tone then the Little Squealer might not be the perfect fit for you
  • The price, while not the highest compared to other high quality snares, can be intimidating to newer drummers

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty 6.5” x 14” (Editor's Choice)

Ludwig LB417 Black Beauty 6.5' x 14' Smooth Brass Snare Drum with Imperial Lugs

If you’re ready to try out a top of the range, premium snare drum, then this is the one to go for. Only for the most serious of musicians, it’s been a staple of recording studios and big name artists.

  • Unwanted overtones are dismissed easily by this snare, which helps to get the perfect recording or even for live shows
  • Capable of clear and powerful rimshots, and can just as easily deliver articulate sound with controlled, sensitive playing
  • Very easy to tune
  • If there’s one real problem with this snare, it’s that the price is going to be an issue for hobbyists, amateurs and non-professional musicians
  • The metallic construction defines the tone in many ways, and if you need something warmer a wooden shell would be more appropriate
  • Swapping out the heads and batters for custom ones can improve the sound quality even further, and should be done so to tease out the absolute best of this snare

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Pearl MCX Masters Series 14” x 6.5”

Pearl MCX Masters Series Snare Drum 14 x 6.5 in. Natural

A slightly more affordable option than the Ludwig Supraphonic, this snare is capable of competing in terms of quality, and has a maple construction with die-cast hoops that give it a very good sound.

  • Good projection with a warm sound in the center of the drum
  • Die cast hoops and maple shell add to the strength of side sticks
  • Sensitive across the entire surface
  • Can be a little tricky to get the tuning just right to get a full range of sensitivity and projection
  • Swapping out the heads can also be a problem point when trying to perfectly align your new batters
  • Although the tone is very pleasing, the maple construction can be out performed by other woods.

Let's take a look at this product...

4. TAMA S.L.P. Series G-Bubinga 14” x 6”

Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga Snare Drum - 6' x 14'

The 12-ply, 10mm Bubinga shell makes this snare stand out immediately, and it sounds phenomenal. The hardware is cleverly designed to make it easy to tune and replace heads.

  • The snare heads can be removed without losing wire tension
  • Sensitivity is very strong, making the sticks rebound with very little work
  • Rimshots have a powerful crack
  • It comes with low end Evans heads which need to be changed in order to get the most from this snare, ideally something that can work well with the dry sound
  • Damaging the lacquer can become a point of paranoia as it’s really nice looking, but it shows up scratches very quickly if not taken care of
  • Although it can be used well in many styles of playing, it’s true strength is jazz/fusion, being a little weak for metal and hard rock

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Griffin Snare Drum 14" x 5.5" (Budget Choice)

Griffin Snare Drum | Poplar Wood Shell 14' x 5.5' with Black PVC Glossy Finish|Percussion Musical Instrument with Drummers Key for Students & Professionals|8 Tuning Lugs & Snare Strainer

So far we’ve looked at some mid and high end snare drums, so we wanted to round out the list by including a budget friendly option that still performs better than the average snare that comes with an entry level drum set.

  • Great quality considering the low price point
  • Has a 1 year warranty
  • Drum key is included if you don’t already have one
  • Hardware is a let down, with some of the components needing upgrading
  • The glossy black finish looks cheap, even compared to other drum shells with the same aesthetic
  • For those who have progressed past the beginner stages, this snare will seem lacking compared to higher end models, and is best used primarily as a backup in case of an emergency whilst playing live

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best snare drums?

The ultimate decision when choosing the best snare drums from this list will depend a little on whether you want a warmer wood based shell or metal.

The Ludwig Supraphonic Black Beauty is easily one of the best, but it’s hefty price might put you off. For a cheaper alternative that doesn’t sacrifice any quality, the TAMA SLP Bubinga will be an excellent choice, especially if you want a dry tone.

Going down again in terms of budget, the Pork Pie Little Squealer has a very solid reputation amongst drummers, and is definitely a good choice for live gigs.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure the snare you choose has the right size and tone for your style of music. Even the most expensive high quality snare can sound out of place without necessarily sounding bad.

Featured image source: Celeste LindellCC BY 2.0

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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