Snare Drum Upgrade--Advice Please

double bass man

Junior Member
Years ago I bought my first & only -cheap 12"-snare drum. I want to now to upgrade to a decent one. Your knowledge most welcome.

a) My interests are jazz (small group)
b) Solid wood or laminated? If laminated how any lamination's?
c) 14" head?--Does depth of snare matter?
d) What price would you expect to pay for a S/H one?
e) Is a solid wood hoop likely to go out of true?

Many thanks.
 

VitalTransformation

Silver Member
Years ago I bought my first & only -cheap 12"-snare drum. I want to now to upgrade to a decent one. Your knowledge most welcome.

a) My interests are jazz (small group)
b) Solid wood or laminated? If laminated how any lamination's?
c) 14" head?--Does depth of snare matter?
d) What price would you expect to pay for a S/H one?
e) Is a solid wood hoop likely to go out of true?

Many thanks.
Solid wood if you can afford a nice one. Many say a cheap solid shell will often be inferior to a good ply shell.

Thinner shells are usually the choice for modern jazz. Fewer plies with re-rings are popular for a vintage tone.

14" will be a boon for brush playing.

What do you mean by S/H?

Wood hoops don't really detune any more than any other hoop in my experience. I would definitely recommend wood hoops for jazz and acoustic music.
 

Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
My advice would be to get a Ludwig Supra-Phonic snare drum (model LM400). It's 14 inches in diameter, 5 inches deep, with a chrome-plated aluminum shell and 10 lugs. You can play ANY style of music with this snare! It's also readily available and fairly cheap; you can get one secondhand for around $200 USD.
You may also want to consider another Ludwig snare drum, called the Acrolite. It's the same size as the supra-Phonic (14x5), but has 8 lugs instead of 10, and sells for about $100 USD.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
What's your price range if you don't mind me asking?

If you're looking 2nd hand it's another vote for the 400 or Acrolite. Purely for versatility and all round great sound. Metal snares are a lot more consistent sound wise so you can get an idea what you're getting without buying it first and being disappointed.

Depth wise anything between 5" and 7" will cover all bases.

Buying a good wood snare is a little trickier and I'd always recommend going to play a few first.

If a good solid shell snare is in your price range get it, an old Slingerland Radioking or a Craviotto is worth the investment. A good steambent shell has a really pleasing tone to the ear and it's even nicer when you own it.

For a good ply snare check out the Mapex Black Panther Equinox. That's on my radar, I've heard some great thing about it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Another vote for a solid shell snare. But I'd recommend having a great metal snare in addition.

One good wooden solid steambent shell snare like a Craviotto, and one good metal snare...G2G
 
I would have recommended the supra as well, but there might be one thing to think about when buying a used one.

The older ludwig strainers aren't known for being the most impressive piece of craftsmanship on earth, and a worn out mechanism can be pain in the a....

Jazz in particular calls for disengaged wires from time to time, and therefore I need a fully functional snare strainer. Of course it's not a big deal to change the whole thing, so if one likes the supra soundwise, it's always an option.
 
Most second hand 14" snares with a medium depth should be good if you spend above $100-150. If you can try it in person, that's great because crashtest makes a good point about the strainer. If you have to fiddle with the snare knob all the time after using the throw-off, that might be annoying because you probably want to have a snare with some tone and sensitivity for silent strokes and buzz rolls.

So, if you're looking for a solid, non-vintage snare, I'd look for SLPs, Sensitones, Renowns or whatever is available locally. If you can post a link to your local craigslist, people can probalby recommend good deals.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I own & play several wood (ply) & metal snares. Wood provides a warmth (less high frequency overtones, more mid-to-low frequency overtones) that, IMO, suits club-style jazz. Wood snare drums are also not as loud. However, wood snare drums don't "cut" through the mix of the other instruments like a metal drum does.

Of the wood ply snares, the shells range from 4mm thick to over 10mm thick. The thicker shells are louder and have a sharp, crisp pop compared to a thinner shell.

Regarding type of wood, the softer the wood, the warmer and less cutting its sound is. Poplar was widely used in the 1950s and 60s. Then came birch, then maple, then bubinga; each increasing in hardness, and thus in brightness & sharpness of sonics.

As for rims, die-cast reduce overtones slightly and thus provide a more focused sound. Triple flange rims let the drum ring. I've not tried wood hoops, but they increase the diameter of the drum, so make sure your snare stand can hold it.

The throw-off and butt should be easy to operate and allow for plenty of slack to get the amount of buzz you want, and to allow for easy tuning. I really like the Tama "linear drive" strainer & butt (MLS50A/MLS50B), but it's not as quick of a release as the flip style found on other makes/models.

The diameter affects the pitch. A 14" will have a lower fundamental note than a 12". This lower tone won't sound as "thin" in the mix.

I have found that the shell depth affects volume/loudness more than tone. A shallow drum (2"–3") will sound more like splat than a musical note. In the 5"–6" range the drum will have a good balance of body, loudness and cut. A deep snare (8"+) won't give you a "tom-plus-snare" sound unless you tune it very low & loose. Even then, it's not like a tom with snare wires, and with a loose resonant head the wires buzz sympathetically from any other drum or instrument (e.g., bass).

If you wonder about the number of lugs (8 vs. 10) this excellent video will answer your questions (all their videos on snares are very informative).

I've bought used drums & cymbals from reverb.com and have had great luck, but my purchases have been from drummers or drum shops. They typically know more about the condition and value of what they sell.

Regarding older Slingerland and Ludwig drums, if they are in good-to-great condition they will cost as much or more than a new snare. This is a testament to the desirability of their sound.

If you're looking to produce a sound that was made in the 1960s (e.g., Joe Morello) then you may want a snare that is similar in design to what was used back in the day. If you're looking to produce a sound that is unique to you and your band, then you have many more options to choose from. Good luck!

eye candy for the boys



 
Last edited:

Ronzo

Junior Member
I recently upgraded the snare that came with my kit to a Pearl Chad Smith signature series and have been happy with it.
Paid about $175 usd used but it near perfect shape.
Then I ended up winning a Yamaha Tour Custom in chocolate satin at a drum clinic.
It sounds even better but maybe that is because I won it!!!
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Lots of good choices. Depends on your price range.

Tama makes an amazing wood ply snare great for jazz for $199.

Pearl has a brass snare around $250 new. It's 13" which still works well for jazz. I use one myself on some gigs.

My main gigging snare for jazz right now is a Sonor Prolite. Thin wood ply shell with re-rings. Can be found for $500 used in mint condition. A month ago there was one on eBay and a different one on Reverb, both around $450. German made thin shell with re-rings. Also a 13" which I'm just digging that size. Easier to sit behind the kit than a 14", and a bit less volume. Pitch is same as 14" you can tune 13" anyway you want. Great jazz snare.
 

markdrum

Silver Member
If you want to go single ply Pearl made a single ply snare that was part of the "Custom Classic" series. They're well made drums and you can still find them on ebay for around $250 if you're patient. These are well-made with premium level hardware. The one I have is a 6.5x14" maple shell with 10 Pearl bridge style lugs. It comes with the same throwoff that you get with their Dennis Chambers model. These are great drums but they didn't seem to catch on. They're a great way to go steam bent single ply with out refinancing your house..
 
Last edited:
Would a 6.5 inch deep snare drum be suitable for small group jazz playing? Making the pitch to low?
The pitch depends on diameter, not depth. A 14" snare drum will have the same pitch if you tune it the same, using same heads, however deep the shell is. The deeper a shell is, the fuller, bassier the sound gets, and usually the snare response will decrease a little. Nothing to worry about, still more than enough for every kind of music.

I mostly play my 6 1/2 snares in jazz environments, either an aluminium supra or a Slingerland COB. They both work more than fine, and they are also decent for all other styles.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Another vote for a solid shell snare. But I'd recommend having a great metal snare in addition.

One good wooden solid steambent shell snare like a Craviotto, and one good metal snare...G2G
This. Larry speaks gospel to me. If I could only keep two, it would be my steambent maple and nickel ove brass snare drums. That would cover a lot of playing situations I'd like to try my hand at.
 
Last edited:
Top