Jazz snares...

kafkapenguin

Senior Member
Being a neophyte, I am curious as to what snares are considered the best for Jazz, especially for brush work. I'm especially wondering if there is a shared consensus on what constitutes the "ideal" Jazz drummers snare. Thanks for all and any responses.

cheers!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I don't think there is, honestly. Most drummers use what they use because it does what they need it to. Just by sheer market share, I would say the Ludwig Supraphonic 5x14 is probably the most recorded and owned snare drum in history, with the Ludwig Black Beauty it's upscale cousin. But some drummers use 6.5x14's, some use 13" wide snares. In the early days, 15" snares were popular. You just need to find your own voice that you like and use it. But I think the requirements of the snare drum is pretty much the same in all genres: must be sensitive and tunable.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Being a neophyte, I am curious as to what snares are considered the best for Jazz, especially for brush work. I'm especially wondering if there is a shared consensus on what constitutes the "ideal" Jazz drummers snare. Thanks for all and any responses.

cheers!
I think I can pretty much nail this one down. I speak to many jazz drummers, & we're frequently crafting snares specifically to their requirements. An ideal jazz snare drum should deliver in two areas;

1/ full shell tone at low dynamic
2/ instant & sensitive excitement of the reso head.

A good jazz drum should deliver body at the slightest touch. This means a shell construction that resonates freely with minimal input. That same shell construction & bearing edge combination should ideally capture input from the batter head & deliver it to the reso head without relying on moving a lot of air. This offers great low dynamic control of the snare wires. Great for stick playing at very low dynamic, but especially good for brush comping.

As for brushwork, aside from the obvious head selection & tuning, hoop choice is an important consideration. The more open the head character, the more sustain will be delivered during brush work. Almost like adding a touch of reverb. A drier head character will present more focus and apparent articulation to the strokes. Most players seem to prefer the former, so a 1.6mm triple flange hoop or similar is often favoured, and also works well with a good performing open shell. Those seeking a slightly drier & more woody sound, especially in snares off mode, will often choose a solid wood hoop, & preferably one that matches the shell. I'm not referring to heavy ply hoops, but solid hoop forms such as segmented or steam bent single ply. The segmented hoops bringing cross stick weight & woodiness to the party, the steam bent hoops maintaining openness, yet sitting outer head/cross stick/rim work better into the palate.

Hope this helps :)
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I think I can pretty much nail this one down. I speak to many jazz drummers, & we're frequently crafting snares specifically to their requirements. An ideal jazz snare drum should deliver in two areas;

1/ full shell tone at low dynamic
2/ instant & sensitive excitement of the reso head.

A good jazz drum should deliver body at the slightest touch. This means a shell construction that resonates freely with minimal input. That same shell construction & bearing edge combination should ideally capture input from the batter head & deliver it to the reso head without relying on moving a lot of air. This offers great low dynamic control of the snare wires. Great for stick playing at very low dynamic, but especially good for brush comping.

As for brushwork, aside from the obvious head selection & tuning, hoop choice is an important consideration. The more open the head character, the more sustain will be delivered during brush work. Almost like adding a touch of reverb. A drier head character will present more focus and apparent articulation to the strokes. Most players seem to prefer the former, so a 1.6mm triple flange hoop or similar is often favoured, and also works well with a good performing open shell. Those seeking a slightly drier & more woody sound, especially in snares off mode, will often choose a solid wood hoop, & preferably one that matches the shell. I'm not referring to heavy ply hoops, but solid hoop forms such as segmented or steam bent single ply. The segmented hoops bringing cross stick weight & woodiness to the party, the steam bent hoops maintaining openness, yet sitting outer head/cross stick/rim work better into the palate.

Hope this helps :)
Andy,

Do you think a stave or steam bent shell is more favorable for this a snare drum of this goal? How about preference of wood or shell depth assuming a 14" drum?

I sure am hoping to get a Guru snare. It's my next drum purchase for sure though it may need to wait until early 2013.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
As with everything, there's considerable room for difference of opinion on the matter. But most jazz drummers tend to favor a 5x14, wood shell snare.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I prefer 14" x 5" or 5 1/2" snares for most work and a lot of that playing involves jazz. When playing with brushes, most of the sound emanates from the batter head so the depth of the drum is of little concern to me. Because of this reason, I seldom use a bottom snare microphone when working with jazz musicians. I hate to advertise for the company, but Evan makes a great sounding snare batter head that works well with brushes, it's their J1 Etched heads. As for wooden hoops, I see maybe one out of a hundred in the studios where I work, they just aren't that popular compared to triple flange or die cast in a recording environment or live gigs for that matter. I personally know of only one drummer that consistently uses wooden hoops on his snare drum on his Yamaha kit. I might try them again in the future, but I'm never blown away with the sound or feel of wooden hoops when I do get a chance to play them.

Dennis
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
As for wooden hoops, I see maybe one out of a hundred in the studios where I work, they just aren't that popular compared to triple flange or die cast in a recording environment or live gigs for that matter. I personally know of only one drummer that consistently uses wooden hoops on his snare drum on his Yamaha kit. I might try them again in the future, but I'm never blown away with the sound or feel of wooden hoops when I do get a chance to play them.

Dennis
Not suggesting they're better Dennis, just offering something different, & highlighting the fact that hoops have a profound affect on how a head behaves. Just for my own curiosity, out of the wood hoops you have tried, were any of them segmented or steam bent single ply? Thick multiple ply hoops are about as sonically interesting as a house brick.
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
Thick multiple ply hoops are about as sonically interesting as a house brick.
Is that because they are "dead" because of being glued?

I would assume, that the vibrations "don't know where to go" and then the hoop just kind of hold the head down, instead of adding to the whole sound of the drum.

With a solid hoop, it would seem that the vibrations from a strike would go through the whole hoop and drum easier.

I've had single flanged hoops on snares before. I really like them, and they did have a little more "air" to the sound.
Triple flange hoops keep some shell character, but they are better for my Rock stuff than the single flange hoops because the sound is a little....stronger, and that tiny bit shorter sound means less gates (which I hate) FOH guys will use.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Andy,

Do you think a stave or steam bent shell is more favorable for this a snare drum of this goal? How about preference of wood or shell depth assuming a 14" drum?
In terms of shells that open up more readily at low dynamic, yes. As for wood species, that really is an open ended discussion & totally subjective + personal to the player. There are some that I prefer for a low volume vibe, but as I'm grossly unqualified to offer a personal opinion re: jazz, I'd best steer clear of that ;)

Best reactions we've had from jazz players were with the following species;

East Indian rosewood
Purpleheart
Satinwood
Ovangkol
Mahogany
Maple
Ash

Is that because they are "dead" because of being glued?
A combination of lack of natural structure & mass. Unmolested wood, even in thick sections, resonates more readily than multiple ply constructions, but especially 10/15/20 ply hoops. Not all woods are suitable for solid wood hoops however. You can get away with high quality mahogany, but much of the modern stuff is just too soft/weak. Walnut's another one that's too soft really. Harder & lower mass woods such as maple, ovangkol, purpleheart, make great segmented hoops. In higher mass models, satinwood, pretty much any rosewood, & ebony really give backbeat's a kick, but probably not ideal for jazz.
 

RickP

Gold Member
All my gigs over the last two years have been Jazz gigs ( quartets,trios and Big Bands) and my snare size of choice is a 5 x 14. I go between three snares depending on the venue or size of the band. For smaller rooms and acoustic gigs, I prefer either my Ayotte 10 ply maple or my Ludwig Legacy Classic. These are both articulate snares that have great sensitivity and warmth. For larger rooms and swing band gigs, I prefer my Ludwig Black Beauty. It is crisp, articulate and has a lot of body and can cuth through a large ensemble well. Brushes sound great on this drum as well.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Andy, having you around here to talk about drum construction, materials and sound properties is the equivalent of a medical health forum having a resident neurosurgeon as a regular contributor. We are so lucky.

So, supposing I decided I wanted you to build me a snare drum out of purpleheart, how would we go about it? I'm not ready to pull the trigger just yet, but in the not-too-distant future, I think I'm going to want to explore this option.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Andy, having you around here to talk about drum construction, materials and sound properties is the equivalent of a medical health forum having a resident neurosurgeon as a regular contributor. We are so lucky.

So, supposing I decided I wanted you to build me a snare drum out of purpleheart, how would we go about it? I'm not ready to pull the trigger just yet, but in the not-too-distant future, I think I'm going to want to explore this option.
See... This is where I'm headed too.... I've communicated with Andy briefly about building a snare in the past and I mistakenly said "I wanted to have "xxxx" wood". It was sort of put on hold on my end ever since. I will have a Guru snare in my arsenal. I just want to make sure I don't make the wrong call on any part of it. At this point, when the time comes, I'll need direction since I'm fairly a complete dope on anything much more than Gretsch snare drums - and modern ones at that.

I play a 5" x 14" & 5.5" x 14" and love them both for Jazz. I've never been a personal fan of deep snare drums for two reasons. 1 - I've never felt the response on any that was sensitive enough for my tastes at low volume and 2 - since I'm short, I sit fairly low and as a result my snare stand is low which means that extra 1+" does have a slight impact on setting up comfortably and I have a fairly low going snare stand.

Anyways, I've said too much and apologize to the OP. I really didn't want to turn this into an "about me" reply. Was trying to piggyback on Andy's post and probing for additional expertise on the topic.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Just for my own curiosity, out of the wood hoops you have tried, were any of them segmented or steam bent single ply? Thick multiple ply hoops are about as sonically interesting as a house brick.
The one drum that I owned was a Yamaha snare, it had 19 ply vintage maple hoops. I bought it about four years ago just after acquiring my Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute drums. I returned it after a couple of weeks of trying to convince myself to liking its sound and feel. It was only the second drum that I ever returned in over fifty years, I usually just eat my mistakes and chalk them up to experience. For the other drums sporting wooden hoops, I really don't have any idea of their make up since I didn't own them and played them very infrequently. They too were probably maple, but I couldn't swear to it.

Dennis
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
The one drum that I owned was a Yamaha snare, it had 19 ply vintage maple hoops. I bought it about four years ago just after acquiring my Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute drums. I returned it after a couple of weeks of trying to convince myself to liking its sound and feel. It was only the second drum that I ever returned in over fifty years, I usually just eat my mistakes and chalk them up to experience. For the other drums sporting wooden hoops, I really don't have any idea of their make up since I didn't own them and played them very infrequently. They too were probably maple, but I couldn't swear to it.

Dennis
Thank you for this reply Dennis. I would agree with your appraisal of the yamaha hoops, although I strongly suspect you not perceiving sonic value in them was very little to do with them being maple, & much more to do with their construction. One of these days, I'd relish the opportunity to meet up with you, & throw a few alternatives in your direction for your expert evaluation. 95%+ of the wooden hoops out there are ply. They're quick & easy (& therefore economical) to make. They also make sense structurally, as ply is inherently strong, due mainly to the huge glue bond surface area.

Fitting steam bent single ply or segmented hoops to a drum doesn't make a revolutionary scale difference to the drum's character, but, correctly done, they do contribute enough sonically to justify their existence, if that's a vibe you're going for. Context is everything however. By way of example, there's no way I'd advise a customer to fit quality solid maple hoops to a thick multiple ply maple shell. The different masses & general characteristics just wouldn't work together, although a surface thought process would imagine they'd be very well matched. A drum resonates as a whole, not in components. It's like a choir, every part must be singing off the same song sheet for it to really elevate it's performance. To myself & Dean, the mark of a well designed instrument is one where it's performance is greater than the sum of it's parts. Achieve that, & you have a truly beautiful instrument that delivers, & that applies equally across all price points.

So, supposing I decided I wanted you to build me a snare drum out of purpleheart, how would we go about it?
Thank you for your kind words, but I really only know what I need to know & maybe a bit more. As for building you a drum, super happy to talk, but away from this thread (PM).
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Thank you for this reply Dennis. I would agree with your appraisal of the yamaha hoops, although I strongly suspect you not perceiving sonic value in them was very little to do with them being maple, & much more to do with their construction. One of these days, I'd relish the opportunity to meet up with you, & throw a few alternatives in your direction for your expert evaluation. 95%+ of the wooden hoops out there are ply. They're quick & easy (& therefore economical) to make. They also make sense structurally, as ply is inherently strong, due mainly to the huge glue bond surface area.
.
It would also be a great pleasure meeting you in person one of these days. Another pleasure for me would be to actually play one of your kits. You really can't beat the "in person" type of impression a great set of drums can make because over the Internet, you don't have the advantage of "feeling" the sound.

Take care,
Dennis
 

kafkapenguin

Senior Member
See... This is where I'm headed too.... I've communicated with Andy briefly about building a snare in the past and I mistakenly said "I wanted to have "xxxx" wood". It was sort of put on hold on my end ever since. I will have a Guru snare in my arsenal. I just want to make sure I don't make the wrong call on any part of it. At this point, when the time comes, I'll need direction since I'm fairly a complete dope on anything much more than Gretsch snare drums - and modern ones at that.

I play a 5" x 14" & 5.5" x 14" and love them both for Jazz. I've never been a personal fan of deep snare drums for two reasons. 1 - I've never felt the response on any that was sensitive enough for my tastes at low volume and 2 - since I'm short, I sit fairly low and as a result my snare stand is low which means that extra 1+" does have a slight impact on setting up comfortably and I have a fairly low going snare stand.

Anyways, I've said too much and apologize to the OP. I really didn't want to turn this into an "about me" reply. Was trying to piggyback on Andy's post and probing for additional expertise on the topic.

Please continue, I find all this talk about drums quite interesting and informative and encourage side tracks, because the more I learn from varying points of view, the more knowledge I will have to move forward...

Oh and I still would like to know if there is the alluded to, everyone's immediate response, "Jazz snare"....

Thanks all for your responses...
 

pcastag

Senior Member
Sensitive and dry. Die cast hoops, like the gretsch sound, lots of dry snare response so not tuned up so high, I use sonor phonic reissue 5.75.
 
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