Another dumb question (possibly more): Stock snare drum wires-

wraub

Well-known member
-are they all the same?

I have a snare drum that has a couple of wires missing, and while it's okay for now I will need to get a new set.

This leads me, again, to dumb questions... are all stock wires the same?
Do factory stock snare wires differ at different price points? Does a $200 drum get "better" wires than a $600 drum? What makes a set of wires better, anyway?

With aftermarket wires, it seems like you can spend from a couple of bucks or so to about $40, with some outliers for more... Do new drums reflect these options?
Or is that the kind of thing usually left to the purchaser to change (or not?)

Inquiring minds want to know... Mine does too. ;)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I have noticed that as the prices go up on snares, most manufacturers also install better (higher priced) snare wires. Although Ludwig seems to install their stock snare wires on all their snares, a company like Pearl installs better wires as you go up in price.

On my DW Collectors snares, the snare wire is good. But when I went third party to the Canopus brand, both drums seemed to open up and sounded more responsive. This isn’t to say the stock DW wires are bad, just that the upper $30+ Canopus wires were just that much better.

Even then, this is all “your mileage will vary” because it’s so subjective at this point. My snares sounded great out of the box already. Maybe I perceive “better” because I made the investment - who knows?

I will tell you this though, give me any snare drum, and with regular ol Ambassadors and $12 Snappy Snares, I’ll make it work.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
All the Tama snare I’ve bought have had either stock Tama “carbon” snappies or Starclassic High Carbon snappies. I tried PureSound and wasn’t impressed, especially for the price. Virtually the same sound as the stock snappies. I tried Fat Cat adjustable snappies and heard a significant difference, so I’ve installed those on a coupe snares. I’ve also tried Gibraltar 40-strand snappy (China) and it was a significant increase in snap with a decrease in shell sound.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
-are they all the same?

I have a snare drum that has a couple of wires missing, and while it's okay for now I will need to get a new set.

This leads me, again, to dumb questions... are all stock wires the same?
Do factory stock snare wires differ at different price points? Does a $200 drum get "better" wires than a $600 drum? What makes a set of wires better, anyway?

With aftermarket wires, it seems like you can spend from a couple of bucks or so to about $40, with some outliers for more... Do new drums reflect these options?
Or is that the kind of thing usually left to the purchaser to change (or not?)

Inquiring minds want to know... Mine does too. ;)

I've found that the most obviously noticeable difference in snare wires is the thickness. A 32 or 42 strand wire will sound considerably different than a vintage 16 strand style. The more wires a snare has the more they influence the drum sound; fewer wires allow a more pure drum sound. Generally, more wires will result in a crisper, brighter sound. While using more wires adds articulation, they can dampen or even choke a drum's sound. More = fatter. Less = faster.



I personally haven't found the biggest of difference going between a stock 32 strand and puresound 32 strand - a lot of people swear there's a difference. Below is from Sweetwater:


  • Steel — Steel is the major player in snare wires. It’s generally marked by a neutral, broadband response and moderate attack. Examples: PureSound Blasters, PDP Steels
  • Carbon steel — The more carbon added to a set of snare wires, the brighter the tone, and more often than not, the greater the life. Carbon both decreases weight and reduces oxidation for a great-sounding, long-lasting set of snares. Examples: TAMA Super Sensitive Hi-Carbons, Fat Cat Snappy Snares
  • Brass — Brass wires tend to be darker, more sensitive, and more resonant than steel wires. This is useful to keep in mind when attempting to manipulate the tone and length of either an excessively dry or excessively lively drum. Examples: PureSound Custom Pro Brass, Gibraltar Brass
  • Bronze — Bronze is not only a proven cymbal and shell metal but also a proven guitar string material. On its own or mixed with phosphor, bronze lends a warmth and clarity to snare wires all its own. Examples: Sabian Blend Phosphor Bronze
  • Nylon — Though it’s not as common today, some vintage snares may come with nylon-strand snare wires — a derivative of cat gut. The differences between nylon and steel snare wires are akin to those observed between nylon-string classical acoustics and steel-string folk acoustics. Nylon creates a smooth, even tone and boasts incredible life — which is why you’ll find these on vintage Ludwigs and Yamahas today.


I tend to like less snare....my Gretsch USA Bronze came with a massive 42 strand set and I'll likely swap that out with one of the Canopus Vintage wound (16 strand like the older slingerlands) - to get a little more shell tone and just slightly less snare attack.

The one snares I did really like for an upgrade were FatCat snares- which had a neat little system where you could control the tension of the middle strands seperately from the rest...so you can have a tight tension overall - then loosen the middle parts and get a neat mixture of crispness and fatness (like what the Weckl snares did with two whole strainers). But I haven't had one of those in forever..maybe I'll pick a set up for my bronze!
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
There's good advice so far in this thread, Wraub. Just remember this: Don't get too caught up at this point in the overwhelming technicalities of options out there. In your early stages as a drummer, practice is more important than upscale snare wires. Just strap on wires that work, and play like there's no tomorrow, man.
 
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wraub

Well-known member
I agree, lots of great advice here, and, exactly what I was looking for.
I ask only to discover available options and unknown possibilities, as almost all is still new to me. I am but gathering all I can for the eventual decision. Personally, I love the learning of new information and the sorting of the useful from the not, and there is much here to be learned. I am in my happy place. :D I think I got lucky with this drum, and I want to take care of it. I know it'll need the attention of new wires and a new bottom head at some point.

That said, I've had this snare for a few months with the missing wires, and have been in no real rush to replace them, as it sounds good, and I play on the damn thing all the time. :)






There's good advice so far in this thread, Waub. Just remember this: Don't get too caught up at this point in the overwhelming technicalities of options out there. In your early stages as a drummer, practice is more important than upscale snare wires. Just strap on wires that work, and play like there's no tomorrow, man.
 
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bongoman

Junior Member
I’m a huge nerd about snare wires. I have bought over a dozen different ones to try on various drums over time. Results, well, it’s mostly case by case. A set of wires that sounds amazing on one drum may sound all wrong on another, of similar quality and pretty much the same tuning.

There are a few generalizations I might make. The wider the snare bed, the more wires will work. For shallower beds I may use thicker cord, or bent endplates (Fat Cat “with pitch”). For deeper beds, I may do more detuning of the lugs at the ends of the wires. For loud bright blast, more wires; for fatter shell tone, fewer wires. As much as I like having options of different metals, I don’t hear as much difference between those as one would hope for. I get more of a change going between thin ribbon and thick cord.

For brands, they’re all fine, including cheapo generics, but I am fond of Fat Cat, Canopus, and Oriollo. Be aware that DW True Tone is just rebranded generic “German style” from Taiwan (which is fine, they sound great, just don’t overpay).
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I have a snare drum that has a couple of wires missing, and while it's okay for now I will need to get a new set.
You can prolong those wires life by trimming out the opposite wires. It keeps the pull of the throw off even.

Look at it like this. You have a 20 strand snare. Strand 1 is on the left, 20 is on the right. Lets say for example, strands 3 and 4 are missing. When you engage the throw off, it will pull crooked on the wires because the resistance to pull will be different on either side. Or, if you split the wires down the middle, the left side has a resistance of 8 wires and the right 10 wires. To correct this, trim out wires 17 and 18. Your snare is once again symmetrical and has even resistance across the whole thing. Unless of course the snare is on there crooked to begin with. That can wear the snare wires unevenly by itself.
 
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