Are Solid-Shell Snares worth the money?

s1212z

Well-known member
in the Inde vid , which myth is dispelled? All I heard was donk donk donk ...

Maybe try headphones, the difference is hard to miss; clearly the ply'd shell has greater shell resonance and tone compared to SS or stave (I imagine would further exaggerate on a rimshot wallop). We know nothing of the shell thicknesses in this video though which may not be apples to apples (that stave is probably not thin at all). From what I see, many SS come use 1/4" (6.35mm) but some may vary from 4.5-9mm (or maybe more?).

Nonetheless, the notion of pure/clear SS tone and greater resonance is being over-romanticized by marketing; clearly not all SS are equal yet we are saturated with many $1000 SS options. I believe NC word within their own shell line as their all their products are consistent top of the line and are able to A/B but I would take their ply'd snare over many SS that I hear across the market. However, I can't disagree that there are a few SS snares that sound exception with immaculate build quality and are special. Personally I put 'value' as playability (not a collection piece) so a $2500 private reserve instrument that sits in a glass case and afraid to gig with is a bit sad.

When I read the description of their steam bent drums on DCP, it says “no re rings”

Canopus has a walnut and bubinga 1 ply that has no RF I believe; I wonder if the cross-seam construction is different. Good to know that Craviotto does same species RF if preferred, I saw a few walnut SS with maple RF that had me wondering.
 
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NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Edit: I'm not looking for purchasing advice, we all know it's subjective. This is just an opinion question for discussion.

Mono-ply, single-ply, solid-shell....

I've only played a few, never owned but have watch a million videos. The range I see is $1000-2500 new which could buy many other things (including multiple well-made and great sounding snare drums). DCP mistakenly put a ply snare in their SS shoot-out; it was hardly noticed.

The projection and sensitivity are the appealing factor to me (and many come with best hardware options available) and the concept of why it has these qualities makes sense. But there are some things that bother me, mostly the lack of low-end fundamental in the med tuning range (even in deep 8"); these drums always sound like they are cranked. So the tonal variety seems to be less extreme to my ear given the price these drums yield. And it seems expert woodworkers are now in the market, which is great for a nicely crafted product but it doesn't seem to put the priority of sound first. But not all SS are equal it appears; some companies are shaping sound a bit more.

Apologies if this has been posted before, I did not see a thread. Just to narrow the variables for discussion maybe exclude used deals or vintage SS. And the Craviotto Johnny C are ~$650 w/o brass hardware which is a bargin but these are exceptions.


I just picked a Noble & Cooley solid shell snare and it's one of the best drums I've owned in my entire life: Amazing tuning range, beautiful tone at every point I've tried it....doesn't choke out cranked out at any volume.

All that though is very specific to that particular snare and manufacturer: I don't have enough experience to say that a multi-ply version of the same drum from N&C wouldn't be equally great....but my particular snare is a BEAST.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Hey congratulations on the new snare Nicholas. Is it by any chance a walnut solid shell?

Just curious, I used the exact same term (beast) to describe my walnut snare when I first got it.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Hey congratulations on the new snare Nicholas. Is it by any chance a walnut solid shell?

Just curious, I used the exact same term (beast) to describe my walnut snare when I first got it.

No - it's the "One Headlight" snare. 1991 3 7/8 x 14 Piccolo One Ply Maple Snare.

Here it is (this is the first day I got it haha):


I'd love a walnut snare from N&C: Based on this drum alone I'm totally sold on them...I'd also love to spend some time behind one of their kits.
 

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Darth Vater

Senior Member
The fact that something is a solid shell doesn't really guarantee anything. I look at the drum as a whole. Bearing edge, hardware, throw, snares, etc. I've had solid shell drums that didn't do it for me. One because of the shell and one due to having lousy hardware. I currently have just two snares. Both wood, one ply drum and one stave. They're both keepers because they satisfy all the above criteria in addition to sounding really great. YMMV
 

charliedrummer

Senior Member
I purchased a Craviotto Johnny C snare impulsively just after his passing. I did so because I was able to get it new for just under $500, which seemed like a worthwhile gamble given that I didn't have a chance to try it out beforehand. It immediately became my "go to" workhorse snare. It's sensitive, focused, and plays well tuned high or low. I've been so impressed that I sold all of my other snares except for one that matches my vintage Ludwig kit. I would not pay the high prices that some of these solid shell snares are commanding today, since you can get a good sound from snare drums that cost much less. However, this was a bargain in my mind because for my needs it can do it all.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
All that though is very specific to that particular snare and manufacturer: I don't have enough experience to say that a multi-ply version of the same drum from N&C wouldn't be equally great....but my particular snare is a BEAST.

Sounds great from here! Probably worth mentioning the Horizon and Walnut are horizontal ply which give it some SS characteristics. From my understanding, it not just the grain pattern itself but the tension of grain pattern into a circular shape. I think many have seen the John Good demo where a vertical ply flops like a wet hanky low tone in his hand while a horizonal ply wants to straighten, the pitch goes up under tension but adds tone even hand bending it. I'm guessing this is why so many SS have an inherent high-end tone even with med-ten
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
It's not if the drum is worth the money but are you! If you're some tanglediddled eight thumbed knuckle dragger, well maybe not. That said, if you are a student of the instrument and one who applies dynamics and fineness along with the aforementioned attributes it may be a life changing event. Or just another frigging drum. LOL
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Maybe try headphones, the difference is hard to miss; clearly the ply'd shell has greater shell resonance and tone compared to SS or stave (I imagine would further exaggerate on a rimshot wallop). We know nothing of the shell thicknesses in this video though which may not be apples to apples (that stave is probably not thin at all). From what I see, many SS come use 1/4" (6.35mm) but some may vary from 4.5-9mm (or maybe more?).

Nonetheless, the notion of pure/clear SS tone and greater resonance is being over-romanticized by marketing; clearly not all SS are equal yet we are saturated with many $1000 SS options. I believe NC word within their own shell line as their all their products are consistent top of the line and are able to A/B but I would take their ply'd snare over many SS that I hear across the market. However, I can't disagree that there are a few SS snares that sound exception with immaculate build quality and are special. Personally I put 'value' as playability (not a collection piece) so a $2500 private reserve instrument that sits in a glass case and afraid to gig with is a bit sad.



Canopus has a walnut and bubinga 1 ply that has no RF I believe; I wonder if the cross-seam construction is different. Good to know that Craviotto does same species RF if preferred, I saw a few walnut SS with maple RF that had me wondering.
I did listen on phones, it sounds like 3 different pitches of donk. sSince when do you measure resonance and tone with one finger touching the inside of a shell? clearly the ply'd shell just happens to be his own shell...over romanticised marketing and a very rushed video......and I do have a private reserve instrument that doesn't sit in a glass case , not all drums are destined for gigs but get used in other ways. in fact it is one of the best snares I have ever played.. far from sad..
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
The answer to the OP's question is - it depends.

The type of shell, in isolation, is almost irrelevant, as is almost any other individual feature. I've heard just as many examples of poor sounding solid shell drums as I have poor sounding drums of other constructions.

As always, aside from overall constructional quality, it's how the drum's various features and materials have been brought together in a coherent design with a specific delivery set in mind that dictates the end result.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
I did listen on phones, it sounds like 3 different pitches of donk. sSince when do you measure resonance and tone with one finger touching the inside of a shell? clearly the ply'd shell just happens to be his own shell...over romanticised marketing and a very rushed video......and I do have a private reserve instrument that doesn't sit in a glass case , not all drums are destined for gigs but get used in other ways. in fact it is one of the best snares I have ever played.. far from sad..

It's an over-simplified test, I agree and whatever on the difference of 'donk', lol. But this 'greater resonance' claim of SS I don't get. I've played Craviotto kits; yes, it sounded fantastic but was it the most resonant drumset I ever heard? No, and we all know ply'd kits that are able to achieve ample shell & acoustic resonances. Good to hear the PR is played/enjoyed, that's the way it should be (no offense to collectors, I know that is a thing here).
It's not if the drum is worth the money but are you! If you're some tanglediddled eight thumbed knuckle dragger, well maybe not. That said, if you are a student of the instrument and one who applies dynamics and fineness along with the aforementioned attributes it may be a life changing event. Or just another frigging drum. LOL

Well, there is certainly no musicianship pre-requisite for owning a fine instrument (other than the money). I've encountered mediocre musicians who own exceptional instruments....and it's a point of pride for students of the instrument to take a beat up swingstar house kit and make it sound fantastic. So yes, we are the instrument...mostly. But I see your point, a skilled player will get the most out of a SS. Ironically, SS have a great backbeat reputation so I'm sure neanderthal slammers love their snare, lol


The answer to the OP's question is - it depends.

The type of shell, in isolation, is almost irrelevant, as is almost any other individual feature. I've heard just as many examples of poor sounding solid shell drums as I have poor sounding drums of other constructions.

As always, aside from overall constructional quality, it's how the drum's various features and materials have been brought together in a coherent design with a specific delivery set in mind that dictates the end result.


There has been a lot great answer and opinions so thank you for sharing. This seems to be the overall sentiment I'm reading here.

Let me re-phrase this into a simple math question then rather than a variable sound aesthetic opinion (since there are many worthy SS):

You have a $1500 budget: 1) You can get a SS snare of high quality build and satisfaction or 2) Consider two snares within the $700-800 range that are also of high quality build and satisfaction.

Again, not looking for purchasing advice (just a conversation topic)...no 'correct answer either, I assume responses will vary on a number of personal factors.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
You have a $1500 budget: 1) You can get a SS snare of high quality build and satisfaction or 2) Consider two snares within the $700-800 range that are also of high quality build and satisfaction.
A select few instrument of every type rise above the usual and deliver a distinctive voice greater than the sum of their parts. Such instruments are worth snagging if they speak to you.

I've never subscribed to the view that multiple snares owned by one player must all be versatile. If you want a truly versatile snare, buy 1 snare that covers all the bases well. If you want multiple snares, then search out instruments that deliver a distinctive talent set to a higher level.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Personally I put 'value' as playability (not a collection piece) so a $2500 private reserve instrument that sits in a glass case and afraid to gig with is a bit sad.

This!
If I feel I can't regularly rotate it into my set up on gigs, then my wallet isn't getting involved. None of my drums are "studio queens"...Never will be.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
But this 'greater resonance' claim of SS I don't get. I've played Craviotto kits; yes, it sounded fantastic but was it the most resonant drumset I ever heard? No, and we all know ply'd kits that are able to achieve ample shell & acoustic resonances.

Exactly! The mantra that a "Solid Shell has less glue so it has more resonance" makes sense in theory, but it ends up being incorrect and mostly marketing.

Why? Because Solid Shells need to be much thicker. Thick shells don't resonate as well. So any benefits gained from the minimal use of glue is negated by the extra thickness and mass of the shell itself.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Exactly! The mantra that a "Solid Shell has less glue so it has more resonance" makes sense in theory, but it ends up being incorrect and mostly marketing.

Why? Because Solid Shells need to be much thicker. Thick shells don't resonate as well. So any benefits gained from the minimal use of glue is negated by the extra thickness and mass of the shell itself.

I’ve got two hollow-log kits and a hollow-log snare, all have very thin shells, 1/8 inch or less. But you’re right, stave and especially steambent shells tend to be much thicker.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've gigged cheap drums and I've gigged expensive drums. To me they are all just drums, cost doesn't factor in. Just because I paid a lot for it, that doesn't have to mean that "fear of gigging" has to come with the purchase price. That's my choice whether I want to live in fear or not. (screw fear) It really comes down to the relationship with money that the drum owner has. With some people, money is the be all end all of everything. Not a healthy way to be IMO.

The more is paid for something, the more fears can be generated...if one allows it. Which neutralizes most of the good emotions when we buy something nice. I've seen fear trumping the joy a lot. That's just wrong. I don't spend money to fear what might happen to whatever I bought. It's all how people choose to regard things. Money can help or hurt. Allowing myself to be hurt over money...an inantimite concept, is fully my own problem with no one else to blame.

My philosophy is to be joyful NOW, and annihilate fear anywhere I can. Joy is life, fear is death. Self imposed fear is the very worst kind. It's like a knife that WE knife ourselves with...on purpose! Why do we do that again? Fear could be the most life-robbing emotion there is. I'm working towards ZERO self imposed fear in my life. Tall order

The takeaway...go after what you want and kick fears ass along the way. Don't let fear win.
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Im wondering where this " fear " of gigginhg an expensive drum comes in, you take it out of a case , you hit it, you put it back in the case just like any other drum... and why "resonance" is the catchphrase ? It is not the bee all and end all of a great drum. purity of tone is however is something I revere whether it's solid volume whack or ballad fullness. The material used for hardware for a particular drum is rarely discussed but plays a big part in its overall sound... Go ahead play on your multiple resonant versatile full of glue tone rich ply drums with pot metal hardware and cheap wires , just add great heads and your good to go@! on all of them.. oh cheap drums sitting in a rack look just a sad.. And I love all these guys who have played a Craviotto set and while they sound great as if that's not enough they didn't float the boat.. huh?
 
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