Hating on the Stock Snare

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I don't understand the hate. Or the desire to have a non-matching snare. Furthermore, I don't buy it.

No one ever puts into words what exactly they DON'T like about the stock snare. Its always just "garbage", or "not my sound", or "I just don't like it".

Adjectives fly when describing bad sounding toms or kick. Flat, boxy, cardboard boxes, Tupperware, too sharp, plastic-y, boingy, no attack, too much attack, the list goes on.

The snare, IMO, is the easiest drum to make sound right. I have played some pretty awful gear since I started in 91. The snare is never the problem. Obviously I don't share the same sentiment about stock snares.

With all the different heads, snare wire thickness and material options, and tuning ranges a snare can do, I just don't see it. I'm calling BS, or even snare drum snobbery. A different snare won't make anyone a better or worse player.

This thought came about in another thread where someone was looking for a stock Gretsch snare. All the replies ignored the question and immediately went to "it's garbage". No explanation as to why, just that it's garbage.

So I ask, without using the word garbage, can anyone describe in real terms as to why stock snares are bad? I don't think they really are.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
I have only one kit. It's a 1970s era Slingerland Stage Band kit in WMP. The snare is wood wrapped WMP as well. It was an entry level kit when it was bought for my as a present by my parents. Over the years I've come to really love the sound of not just the snare but all of the drums. Maple, poplar and mahogany. So, I don't believe stock snares are bad. In fact I think they sound pretty darn great.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
I won't disagree with you there. I have a matching snare for each of my kits, and they all get used, even the one that came with my inexpensive Stage Customs. With a Remo CS batter and tuned up properly, it sounds really good! For a while, I was collecting snares, telling myself it will be great having all these different sounds, imagining I was some kind of in-demand session guy. Now I have a few extra snares sitting in a rack that I rarely play, because the differences are so subtle that most people won't notice the difference.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
I thought this was satire. But if serious, I disagree with almost all of that lol.

It's pretty simple. When you buy a kit, the one drum with the highest probability of not sounding the way you want is the snare. Who buys a complete drum set for the snare drum? So the most logical thing to do is replace it with a snare that sounds right.

I always assumed the reference to "garbage" stock snares was with regards to less expensive kits, which often can still have great sounding toms and bass drums.

All snare's don't sound the same. Buy the one that makes you want to play.
 
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harryconway

Platinum Member
You do realize, for some people, there IS no stock snare. My first pro grade kit, two Ludwig 22x16 clear Vistalite bass drums, 10", 12", 14", 16", 18" Roto Toms, and a Ludwig 14x10 Stainless Steel snare (SuperSensitive). That was my main snare for 15 years.

Then I got a Tama Superstar 14x8 (later made famous by David Grohl). And I had an alternate.

Meanwhile, my first Yamaha Recording Custom kit, never came with a snare. Nor my 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. My Premier Baron kit, never came with a snare. My two RMV kits didn't come with snares. With my Ludwig 6 ply's, I never had a stock snare, nor with my Classic 3 ply's, or my Club Dates. My Rogers XP-8's never came with a snare. Nor my Gretsch Round Badge kit.

My first kit that "actually" came with a snare, my Tama Royalstar's. Not a bad snare. And then my Yamaha Manu Katche Jr. kit. And it's snare, ah, so-so. ...... Sure, maybe I could get it to sound OK, but my 3 main snares are a 13" Pearl Manu Katche Sig., and Yamaha 12" and 13" Musashi's.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
I use the one that came with my Gretsch Catalina Club kit. I'll admit it's been "improved" quite a bit over the years with a new throw off, die cast batter hoop & better wires.
But the core drum is still the same.

I like my kit to match. The hodge-podge Frankenstein kits have come to bother me.
 
When I first started paying attention to drums/drummers in the mid-to-late 70s, it seemed to me that most of the drummers I liked had metal snares that didn't match the rest of their kits. I mean, I might be misremembering, but I seem to recall even John Bonham had a metal snare when playing his Vistalites. Keith Moon, Peter Criss, Artimus Pyle, same thing. So I think I came to associate matching snares with the cheapo kits you could get in toy stores and at Sears and such. So that even today, the sight of a matching snare on, whatever, a Pearl Masterworks, say, just immediately strikes me as cheap, even though I obviously know that's far from accurate.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
No one ever puts into words what exactly they DON'T like about the stock snare. Its always just "garbage", or "not my sound", or "I just don't like it".
So I ask, without using the word garbage, can anyone describe in real terms as to why stock snares are bad? I don't think they really are.
Not that all stock snares are bad, but here's what I consider the difference between a good snare and a bad one. A good snare produces a strong fundamental note, an appropriate level of attack (whether you're going for a strong 'crack', crisp response, etc.) and complimentary overtones that enhance the overall sound.

A bad snare to me usually offers a weak fundamental that gets overwhelmed by overtones, is lacking in attack in some way, or is just totally dead-sounding with minimal sustain or snare response. Or some combination of all of these.

Again, not all stock snares are bad. In fact, most of them these days sound pretty decent. But there are some that still sound horrible to me, and the Catalina Club is one of them. Maybe the newer ones have gotten better, but I briefly had an older one and I found it to be completely lacking in a fundamental tone, with absolutely zero richness or fullness of sound. Plus the shell hardware was crap. And this is coming from a Gretsch fanatic, though admittedly I only like their mid- to high-end gear (Renowns and up). Does that make me a gear snob?
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
can anyone describe in real terms as to why stock snares are bad?
I bought a Sonor birch kit that came with a 5x14 snare. I never fell in love with it 'cuz I was playing very hard at the time and could've/should've used a metal snare. About 5 years into that kit, I bought a NOB snare and fell in love with its sound and looks. When I bought my Starclassic Bubinga I didn't like how the stock snare looked with the rest of the kit (scorched copper burst lacquer). I'd been using that NOB snare for years by then and preferred the look of shiny metal. Do I wish I had that matching snare drum now? yessir. Just because it'd be nice in the quiver, not 'cuz it's the best sounding snare on the market.

Does that answer it for you?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I've played the Cat snare and the Imperialstar snare and they were functional/serviceable. It challenges my imagination to try to to name a positive attribute about them, especially when there are so many other better options in the $149-$199 tier.

That thread isn't about matching snares, it's about Catalina snares. They're just that unexceptional. When we see someone going to buy one "new", I'd encourage people to attempt to influence them onto a better path. I'd much rather see someone playing on Gretsch's entry level steel snare than fighting with a Catalina.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Well, I have a Catalina kit and 12 pro level snares. It couldn't keep up at all. In my case I was actually able to sell it, for a symbolic amount to a local music school. I had it for about 6 years before it went, so it has been played.

It's not a good drum and I feel pretty objective in saying that.

The other part is that it's hardly something people obsess over. Nothing wrong with a hint that sound and how something feels to play maybe should be the main concern. That's not interrogation that's just a bit of advice from experience that most drumers would agree with.

I hardly ever use my own kit. I certainly almost always bring my own snare, though, No match in sight there.

It doesn't have to be a bad snare. I just think most who care put a bit of thought and have a personal sonic vision of that main drum between their legs. Most brands offer way more snare options than models of kits for a reason.

I'm lloking at my guitar pedal board now, and though there actually is two pedals of the same brand on there, it was not because I thought matching brands was important.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
My Cat Club snare always sounds harsh to me. I’ve replaced both heads, including three different batters. I think the shell is too thin. I also don’t like the strainer - if I accidentally rest my thumb on top it won’t release.
I’ve heard other people play it and it sounds OK through a mic and a PA, but up close it irritates me.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I am one of those people who definitely likes the snare NOT to match a kit. A cheap stock snare is always easy to make sound decent at high tunings. The difference between stock and better snares is always at low tuning to my ears.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
I don't understand the hate. Or the desire to have a non-matching snare. Furthermore, I don't buy it.

No one ever puts into words what exactly they DON'T like about the stock snare. Its always just "garbage", or "not my sound", or "I just don't like it".

Adjectives fly when describing bad sounding toms or kick. Flat, boxy, cardboard boxes, Tupperware, too sharp, plastic-y, boingy, no attack, too much attack, the list goes on.

The snare, IMO, is the easiest drum to make sound right. I have played some pretty awful gear since I started in 91. The snare is never the problem. Obviously I don't share the same sentiment about stock snares.

With all the different heads, snare wire thickness and material options, and tuning ranges a snare can do, I just don't see it. I'm calling BS, or even snare drum snobbery. A different snare won't make anyone a better or worse player.

This thought came about in another thread where someone was looking for a stock Gretsch snare. All the replies ignored the question and immediately went to "it's garbage". No explanation as to why, just that it's garbage.

So I ask, without using the word garbage, can anyone describe in real terms as to why stock snares are bad? I don't think they really are.
Simply put, most stock snares above entry level aren't bad. Most are good/great, from intermediate and higher-up kits, and even *some* entry-level ones. I think it's become a thing to assume stock snares are terrible because, for so many years, and mostly with beginner's kits, they were. There's more to a snare drum than with the others- strainer, beds (or lack of, on some cheap kits' snares), wires, etc, so lack of attention to detail on those, combined with the fact that it's the loudest drum on the kit, really make sonic issues stand way out.


It's pretty simple. When you buy a kit, the one drum with the highest probability of not sounding the way you want is the snare. Who buys a complete drum set for the snare drum? So the most logical thing to do is replace it with a snare that sounds right.

I always assumed the reference to "garbage" stock snares was with regards to less expensive kits, which often can still have great sounding toms and bass drums.

All snare's don't sound the same. Buy the one that makes you want to play.
Agreed- with experienced players, the stock snare often doesn't give you want you want, but often, and especially with drummers who have learned how to tune & maintain their instrument, it's high-enough quality that it's fine. Those who want metal when the stock is wood or vice-versa, or simply a different wood or metal, have a reason to change it that's not based on quality.


My personal experiences: I liked my '91 Tama Rockstar steel stock snare that admittedly had a bit of a funky ring to it (which I addressed in, I think, a recent metal snares thread) that I kinda liked- suitable for the noisy rock bands I was in at the time- but made it not very versatile. I found a great deal some years later on a 6 or 6.5x14 10-lug Legend maple snare (probably discontinued, new/old stock) which was my first long-term up-close introduction to a high-quality drum. It sounded fantastic, so I used it for years. I also used a Pearl 3.5x13 brass piccolo for certain other musical situations.

Once I bought my next kit a dozen years later, Pacific CX (my gig kit for years, now a rehearsal kit), even with the stock heads, I tuned up the 5x14 8-lug snare and was pleasantly surprised that it sounded the same as the Legend drum, so I used it for a while. Had to upgrade the batter side rim because the thin (likely 1.6mm) stock rim didn't give me great cross-stick sound. A 2.3mm Gibraltar rim resulted in that stock snare giving me everything the Legend did (even with its die-cast rims), so several years later, I sold the Legend on eBay.

I briefly had a Sonor 3003 kit (maple/basswood) because I got a great deal on it used, and the 5x14 stock snare sounded pretty good. I sold the kit after a few months because I got a great offer, and I wasn't into the basswood, and I'd kinda bought it with intent to resell it anyway. But if I had plans to use it, I don't think I'd have felt the need to replace the snare. (I did play 1 gig with the kit and loaned it to an uncle for another, and the stock snare sounded fine.)

My next kit and current gig kit is a Mapex Pro M maple kit, and the 8-lug stock snare sounds just as great as the Pacific and Legend snares. It's my gig snare in most venues.

I do sometimes use a 6x14 10-lug Ahead COB snare because I wanted another metal snare (not because the maple stock snare is lacking, but just to have one in the arsenal) and I prefer brass over other metals. I got a fantastic deal- around $100, because, oddly, there's an allen-wrench-adjustable something-or-other inside each end of the tube lugs, accessible only from inside the drum unless you remove it altogether (it's down inside its... um, what's that part of a lug called, that goes through the shell- mounting post?), and one of them was loose so the lug screw receiver would spin and not allow the lug to tension very much. I think the seller thought it was broken, as did I when I got it home and discovered this. I called Big Bang Distribution to order a replacement, and the rep talked me through checking it- sure enough, it was just loose. The beast is loud (yet sweet-sounding), so I use it for outdoor gigs. But I digress...

So, the only stock snare I felt I needed to replace was that '91 Rockstar steel snare. None of my subsequent stock snares have been "garbage"- they have been great, rivaling pro level drums. Price isn't always an indicator; I love Tama still, but the Starclassic Performer birch snare at the store I worked at in '05 left a lot to be desired. It sounded boxy and cheap. The aforementioned Sonor snare sounded better.
 
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yammyfan

Senior Member
I've never owned a matching snare until recently but I'm really pleased with the one that came with my new kit.

I think once you're into intermediate kit range, the matching snares are generally pretty good.
 
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