Do you know what gives a song that distinctive pop? The snare! It’s what ties everything together and makes a song whole. If you buy a drum set, it usually comes with a factory snare that is okay – but nothing a real drummer wants to be involved with. Plus: the snare drum is involved in almost every groove and pattern that you’ll ever play. So a bad snare will continuously annoy you, while the best snare drum for your needs will make each rhythm sound even more pleasing to your ear.
This is why I’ll show you what to look for in a snare drum and give you my take on which model currently for the best snare drum on the market in 2017. This way you will be cracking rim shots, drum fills and everything else much more passionately!
Best Snare Drum At One Glance
- Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
- MAPEX MPML4800BMB MPX Series
- Mapex MPX All Maple
- Pearl VPX Snare Drum
- GP Percussion SK22 Kit
- 1 Best Snare Drum At One Glance
- 2 What to Look For in a Snare
- 3 Shell Rigidity
- 4 Shell Material
- 5 Shell Thickness
- 6 5 Snare Drums Competing
- 7 1. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14 x 5.5
- 8 2. Mapex MPX Maple 14 x 8 Black
- 9 3. Mapex MPX Maple 14 x 5.5 Natural
- 10 4. Pearl VPX 14 x 5.5
- 11 5. GP Percussion SK22
- 12 Best Snare Drum 2017
- 13 Best Budget Snare
- 14 Questions, Comments, or a “Snare to Share”?
What to Look For in a Snare
Looking through a music instrument catalogue can be a confusing affair. Every brand claims to have the best model and that you can’t go wrong by purchasing theirs.
This is where it gets tricky. Is it worth it or not to spend a couple hundred extra dollars? It really depends. As with everything, you are talking about an investment.
Knowing a few things will help you figure out which choice is best for you. There are just a few features that you need to be on the look out for. Specifically, these are: rigidity, shell material, and construction.
The rigidity of your shell determines the way it projects sound.
You are looking for it to be dense and hard. When you are tightening the snare’s hardware, you don’t want the shell to cave in around the edge.
A good method when comparing wooden and metal shells is to put them on the floor and push down on them and notice how much they bend. Oftentimes, wooden shells actually are more rigid and stronger than their metal counterparts.
Once again, you are back to the question of wood versus metal.
This might be where catalogue confusion can hit you. Some manufacturers will talk about rare woods and unique alloys for the best sound. The truth is, the sound is not particularly determined by what the shell is made of. What’s more important is the rigidity, the roundness, and how well everything else is crafted.
For these things you are going to probably want a denser wood or metal, but don’t be fooled by anything having “unique sound qualities” from being made from a certain material. Some may have improved structural integrity versus others, but again, a particular material is not always “better” than another.
Now this is an important piece to the puzzle, because the way the shell is constructed will determine how your sound resonates and projects.
And you are going to want to balance this with the first two features. When thinking about wood shells, you want to find an equilibrium between minimal thickness with the right rigidity.
For example, let’s say you are comparing between 1/4 inch and a 5/16 inch shell. You may get a little more rigidity out of the latter, but that will be at the expense of sensitivity.
For this same reason, this is why you may want to avoid shells with reinforcing rings along the inside edges because you lose that sensitivity. Instead, opt for a shell that the manufacturer has twisted before gluing the edges. This increases structural integrity without dulling the sound.
As a general rule for wooden snares, I recommend looking for 1/4 inch thick shells without reinforcing rings
Side note: also look for the amount of glue on the snare and checke whether the insides have been finished to be protect from weather effects. Usually the more glue, the more dampening occurs. Likewise, you want to make sure your investment is protected from humidity and other environmental influences.
5 Snare Drums Competing
Each of these has unique qualities that make them stand out as excellent choices to match a wide variety of drum sets and persona needs. Not only that, they are all affordable and would make a great addition to any drum set.
Try to look out for snares with manufacturer’s warranties. High quality companies like Yamaha and Pearl have some pretty good protection plans that can make sure your investment in sound doesn’t get thrown in the trash can. Now that you know what to look for in a snare drum, check out these top picks!
1. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14 x 5.5
Yamaha has received significant acclaim for its Yamaha Stage series and this redesigned snare is living up to this reputation. Yamaha has made some significant upgrades to these shells with thicker ply and more rounded edges (remember, rigidity and material). The hardware is all made of high quality and it is ideal for all skill levels.
- Snare: 14″ x 5-1/2″
- 6 mm Birch shell
- Construction: 6-Ply
- Bearing edge: 45
- Steel Carbon with a Lacquer finish
- Triple-flange hoops
- Patented Lungs
- Throw-off: Side
- Remo drumheads
- High quality sound at a very reasonable price
- Warm sound and long-lasting sustain
- Solid construction ready for long-term use
- Nor particularly sensitive, needs a good pounding to really wake it up.
- Uses a YESS mounting system which can be frustrating to match with other kits
See it in Action:
2. Mapex MPX Maple 14 x 8 Black
The black finish on the Mapex MPX 14 x 8″ is seriously cool. Their newest release comes with a wide variety of options for whatever your needs are. They have eight new models available with steel, maple, or birch shells. They have adjustable, high-qaulity hardware and Remo heads with great sound.
- 100% 5.1mm birch shell
- Chrome-plated triple-flanged hoops
- Chrome-plated lugs
- 20-strand snare wire
- Remo drumheads
- Gloss finish
- Excellent sound—clear and projects well
- Useful for a range of different sounds and styles
- Great price for the size
- Snare throw, the lever you adjust for tenor or snare effect, is a little flimsy and can be a problem down the line
- Not well-suited for long gigs. Need to be tuned up somewhat frequently.
See it in Action:
3. Mapex MPX Maple 14 x 5.5 Natural
The Mapex MPX 14 x 5.5″ snare is an excellent multipurpose snare. The natural all maple finish gives it a classic look and the size is suitable for all playing styles. It can be used as a concert snare standalone and can also be great in a kit.
- All maple shell delivers a warm and full sound
- The 14 inch x 5.5 inch size is suitable for all playing styles
- 2.3mm hoops provide solid rim shots and is easy on the hands
- Remo heads batter and snare make for easy tuning
- Limited Life Time Warranty on the shell
- Has a lot of pop to it
- Well-suited for beginners and amateurs who want an affordable drum with good sound
- Reliable and durable
- Drum is little thin and bottom lugs head can be dirtied easily
- Requires frequent adjustment to get the right sound
See it in Action:
4. Pearl VPX 14 x 5.5
Pearl is renowned for their quality and the VPX Snare features a 14″ x 5.5″ birch-ply shell for great power and snare crispness. Its Duo-Motion snare strainer provides sensitivity along with smooth switching action, and can convert from a side lever to front-facing “Gladstone” action. This is a solid overall drum that can handle some serious use.
- Snare Size: 14″ x 5.5 in.
- Multi-ply Birch
- Hardware Material: Steel
- Hoop Type: Proprietary
- Lugs: One-piece dual-sided
- Throw-Off: Duo-Motion convertible
- Snares: Steel Carbon
- Heads: Branded
- Finish Type: Wrap
- Hardware holds up even against some serious rimshots
- One of the best snares for the value
- Very crisp and snappy sound that works across genres
- The stock head is not great, many opt for something else
- Be sure to check the rigidity ensuring it works for your needs
- Snares are a little unsteady, might be good to change them as well
See it in Action:
5. GP Percussion SK22
The name really describes it. The GP Percussion SK22 is perfect for students and has everything you need to start playing. This kit features a 14 inch metal-shelled snare drum and a double-braced stand. It also features a rubber practice pad to mute the drum’s sound while your student practices at home!
The kit also includes wooden drum sticks and a drum key for tuning. And to top it all off, everything fits in the included padded, nylon backpack with shoulder straps and carry handle.
- 10 lug 5.5″x14″
- double brace stand
- bag and drum key
- practice pad & drumsticks
- Middle of the road rigidity best suited for beginner needs
- Great price and sound, can be used on gigs
- Very portable
- Ideal for beginners who don’t know how to properly handle equipment yet
- Designed for students, but doesn’t have instruction on how to set up and use
- On the heavier side which can be difficult for young drummers
See it in Action:
Best Snare Drum 2017
For the price, sound, and quality, it is hard to beat the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch.
It is well-suited for a range of different styles and holds up to some seriously long jam sessions. It also functions well as a standalone snare, and also as part of a set. It is a great looking drum that you will be able to get solid use of.
Best Budget Snare
The GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Snare kit is such a great value.
It has widespread functionality, bright sound, and can suffer the abuse that new drummers might throw at it. It is a great option for those trying to upgrade a prepackaged set or for those just looking for brighter sound at a good price. Plus it, comes with great accessories that make it super portable and perfect to carry to and from school band practice.
Let me know in the comments below! We reply 100% of the time!
(This article is a guest post by Diego over from The Musician Lab – a space to learn and get involved with music for musicians of all levels. Diego has had a passion for music since he was 12 years old and enjoy jamming and teaching.)