Metal vs. Metal (Snare drums)

Yohin

Member
When I get a new kit in like a year or so I'm going to get a mid-level kit and then get a really nice high end snare to go with it. I like my snare to have a nice fat, deep sound but still with a good crack. A good example of the sound I'm after is Brandon Barnes's snare sound on Rise Against's album Appeal to Reason.

I might get a metal snare, but I'm not sure what would be the best to get. I'm thinking that either copper or brass would be the best metals since, from what I've read, both have the crack of metal snares but also with the warmth and low end of some wood snares. I'll mainly be playing hard rock, punk, and a little metal, but I also want my snare to be versatile so I don't need to get a new one if I begin to play different genres.

So what do think would be better for the sound I'm after - brass or copper? I'm also considering aluminum and bronze, but I can't find much info on their sound characteristics.
 

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
I'd go with brass or steel for a brighter all around metallic tone and aluminum or bronze for a warmer tone with less bite. When tuned open with single ply heads, aluminum has great warmth in tone but sounds drier than standard non-hammered bronze shells do. In my opinion both bronze and aluminum have nice attack but lack the harsh highs of most brass & steel shells.
 

Ian

Silver Member
Taking titanium out of the mix, I would recommend the following order:

Brass - very commonly recorded and versatile. Hoops and wires can make a lot of difference on a brass drum.
Aluminum - good solid "crack" or "pop" and perhaps more recorded than brass.
Steel - has some ring, but this can be tamed down with head, hoop, wire, and muffling to sound drier.
Copper - not that versatile, but it can sound really good.

I have had one copper (6.5x14 Yamaha Copper seamless) drum and I sold it because it didn't do anything I couldn't get my brass or steel drums to do.

Instead of buying one high end snare I'd suggest buying two mid level drums.

Pork Pie 6.5x14 BBB or a Pearl Sensitone 6.5x14 Brass for the brass drum. These are awesome and can be found for under $200.

AND

Ludwig Ludalloy Supraphonic or Pearl Sensitone Aluminum. Also killer drums.

Also, you should buy different wires - I suggest 42 strand on the brass, different heads, and different hoops. Experiment and see what you can get.

Inexpensive snares can really kill when set up right.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Ludwig Black Beauty is the only snare you'd ever need to own. Some folks prefer the chrome supra...but man the BB is a sweet, sweet snare. It's quite versatile.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Taking titanium out of the mix, I would recommend the following order:
Instead of buying one high end snare I'd suggest buying two mid level drums.

Pork Pie 6.5x14 BBB or a Pearl Sensitone 6.5x14 Brass for the brass drum. These are awesome and can be found for under $200.

AND

Ludwig Ludalloy Supraphonic or Pearl Sensitone Aluminum. Also killer drums.
Inexpensive snares can really kill when set up right.
YES!
I have the Pearl Sensitone 6.5x14 Brass AND Ludwig Ludalloy (aluminum) 6.5x14 Supraphonic. I'm still preferring the brass, but I'm going to put some PureSounds and hoops heavier than 1.6mm on the Supra and see how that does. It's still an great drum, tho.

That Rise Against snare sounds is really meaty. It's hard to tell how much that's effects, but it doesn't sound like steel or aluminum to me, but I could be wrong. I thought it might even be 3mm cast bronze or brass. Hard to tell. Listen to The Pretender (Foos), the snare on the intro sounds exactly like my Pearl (I think his is a roughly equivalent Tama - 1.5mm non-seamless brass).

Of course Black Beauties are nice, but are they $350 better sounding than a Pork Pie /
Pearl Sensitone? There are two other threads on here recently where I've asked that that are still unanswered. I suspect not.
 

Chonson

Senior Member
If you're looking for a metal drum, it's really hard to go wrong with brass. My brass drums get more time by far than any other drums I own - they've got a full, dark, and punchy tone. With the right heads and tuning you can get a very fat and punchy tone, or you can go for serious crack. And there's all kinds of things to do.

IMO the best workhorse is a Black Beauty or a COB Supra - you could also do real well with one of the Worldmax shells. But it's a very flexible material, and different treatments on edges and the shell have different results. The 20s brass snares can be unbelievably full for a drum in their size; modern Black Beauties are a can't-miss staple (and try the hammered, or hammered supersensitive for a more dry take on that); there are a handful of signature drums that are great (I'm a huge fan of the 4x15 Aronoff signature drum - instant Tom Petty), and at the high end - Craviotto, Joyful Noise, etc - there are some unbelievable samples.

Copper is also great, but I haven't found as much versatility within the metal - but then, not as many drums are made of copper. The Pearl free-floating copper drums are nice (the 3.25x14 is like a gunshot), and again at the high end the Craviotto copper is ridiculous. (And with a price tag to match.)

Ultimately it's a question of what you want -- but IMO, again -- if you want a metal drum, it's really hard to go wrong with brass.
 

ENRICO

Silver Member
the main difefference is that copper is less resonant , so I would go with the bronce snare , and if you want a drier sound , you can always muffle it
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Of course Black Beauties are nice, but are they $350 better sounding than a Pork Pie /
Pearl Sensitone? There are two other threads on here recently where I've asked that that are still unanswered. I suspect not.
I had one of those Pork Pie brass patina snares...and while it was nice it wasn't even in the same class as a Black Beauty. I chose the patina over the BBB, it sounded much nicer to me. So in my opinion...yes!
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
I'll second Steamer's vote for bronze. This is a SJC hammered bronze snare. It features a Trick throw off and die cast hoops. They can be had at Sam Ash for $450.00. I picked this one up for a hundred less on special. Awesome drum!
 

Attachments

Yohin

Member
So what would be the differences in sound between copper, brass, bronze, and aluminum? Assuming all other factors are the same (heads, tuning, hoops/hardware, wires, etc.) which one has the warmest tone? Which one has the most sustain? Least sustain? Lowest fundamental? Loudest crack?

Also, I'm not looking to spend more than $400. So as great as it would be to have a Black Beauty or some of those other snares you guys mentioned, it' s just out of my price range.
 

Ian

Silver Member
So what would be the differences in sound between copper, brass, bronze, and aluminum? Assuming all other factors are the same (heads, tuning, hoops/hardware, wires, etc.) which one has the warmest tone? Which one has the most sustain? Least sustain? Lowest fundamental? Loudest crack?

Also, I'm not looking to spend more than $400. So as great as it would be to have a Black Beauty or some of those other snares you guys mentioned, it' s just out of my price range.
Shells of the same thickness and size with the same hoops, heads, and wires:

Least to most ring/sustain: aluminum, copper, bronze, brass, steel
"Warmest" to sharpest: aluminum, bronze, brass, copper, steel
Lowest to highest fundamental: brass, bronze, copper, aluminum, steel
Loudest crack: steel (can be a ping if tuned to be so), brass, bronze, aluminum (more of a pop), copper (sort of a slap)

These are my experiences and while I have not owned a bronze drum that fits the bill (6x14 THICK shell), I have owned aluminum, copper, brass, and steel drums in 6.5x14 with beaded, thin shells and flanged edges.

To my ears the Pork Pie BBB sounds as good as a Black Beauty when set up properly (diecast or S-Hoops, 42 strand wires, coated control sound, Evans Orchestral snare side) and can be found for less than $200 used.

Couple this with a Pearl Sensitone aluminum (also less than $200 used) and you've got two killer drums at your $400 price point.

This is what I would buy if I could only have two drums.

My third drum would be a Tempus (small Canadian fiberglass, carbon-fiber, carbon-kevlar builder). Tempus snares can be found fairly inexpensively used, are loud as hell, have a low fundamental, little to no ring, and a loud crack. I would strongly suggest them as a contender. Paul (the owner) makes his shells different from any other synthetic maker, so they don't compare to anyone else.

Good luck.
 

Yohin

Member
Thanks Ian, that helped a lot!

Just out of curiosity, what if you threw a birch and maple snare into the mix? Same size, hoops, wires, heads, tuning, etc. but obviously they couldn't be the same thickness.

Would any wood be inherently warmer/lower pitched than any metal? Or is the line between them a bit more blurred than that?
 

Ian

Silver Member
Thanks Ian, that helped a lot!

Just out of curiosity, what if you threw a birch and maple snare into the mix? Same size, hoops, wires, heads, tuning, etc. but obviously they couldn't be the same thickness.

Would any wood be inherently warmer/lower pitched than any metal? Or is the line between them a bit more blurred than that?
I have much more experience tinkering, building, and playing metal drums. My wood snare collection is small and limited. Outside of a Craviatto which I no longer own, I have a 8ply 4.5x14 Colaiuta Yamaha maple, a 6ply 6x14 Keller shell with Slingerland hoops, and a 5.5x14 Starclassic Birch (10ply, I think) with diecast hoops.

My maple drums have some surprising low end and the Coliauta has serious crack. A good rule to follow with wood is the thinner the shell the lower the pitch.

My birch Tama doesn't have the body or tuning range of any of my metal drums and it really likes to make a pop instead of a crack.

If I had to narrow my collection to only a handful of drums I'd ditch the wood drums first as they are the least versatile and the least pleasing to me, but those are my tastes.

Another bang for buck drum that I just remembered is the Morgan Rose sig model. If you can get over the look it has a great tuning range and can cover a lot of ground. I rarely get the urge to buy a drum but I almost walked out of a store with this baby. Instead, I just played it for about an hour. It is a 5x14 thin shell steel with no bead and flanged edges that comes with 42 strand wires.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Ian - that's really good info. You obviously know your metal snares. I too am a metal snare guy. I think it's interesting that your ears can't make out a significant difference between the Black Beauty and the Pork Pie BB, which is as I suspected. Actually, to do that comparison apples to apples though, you'd have to strip away the good hardware attached to the Pork Pie!

Along those same lines, comparing an aluminum Supra to the aluminum Sensitone, I think the Pearl is a much better value. The Supra's ship standard with 1.6mm hoops, the cheapest wires possible, a laughable P-85 strainer, and sub-standard stock heads. The Sensitones, on the other hand, ship standard with 2.3mm Superhoops, Pearl's version of PureSounds, a decent strainer, and Remo Ambassadors. To make these upgrades to the Ludwig will cost another $100, and that's just to get it up to scratch with the Sensitone.

Even an Acrolite goes for $307 new vs. $243 new for the Pearl (both 6.5x14) and you'd still have to add that 100 bucks to get the Acro up to par.

I've never been huge fan of Pearl, but those Sensitones are a great deal. Plus, along with the brass and aluminum, they also come in Steel, Stainless Steel, and Bronze.
 

Ian

Silver Member
Ian - that's really good info. You obviously know your metal snares. I too am a metal snare guy. I think it's interesting that your ears can't make out a significant difference between the Black Beauty and the Pork Pie BB, which is as I suspected. Actually, to do that comparison apples to apples though, you'd have to strip away the good hardware attached to the Pork Pie!

Along those same lines, comparing an aluminum Supra to the aluminum Sensitone, I think the Pearl is a much better value. The Supra's ship standard with 1.6mm hoops, the cheapest wires possible, a laughable P-85 strainer, and sub-standard stock heads. The Sensitones, on the other hand, ship standard with 2.3mm Superhoops, Pearl's version of PureSounds, a decent strainer, and Remo Ambassadors. To make these upgrades to the Ludwig will cost another $100, and that's just to get it up to scratch with the Sensitone.

Even an Acrolite goes for $307 new vs. $243 new for the Pearl (both 6.5x14) and you'd still have to add that 100 bucks to get the Acro up to par.

I've never been huge fan of Pearl, but those Sensitones are a great deal. Plus, along with the brass and aluminum, they also come in Steel, Stainless Steel, and Bronze.
Right you are on so many points. I have replaced all the throws on my Ludwig drums with the p86. The 1.6mm hoops have their own sound and it can be cool, but now that I check I actually have a Pearl Superhoop on my Supraphonic!

I'm with you on Pearl drums. I'll pass on most of their kits and I actually dislike their hardware with the exception of the Demon Drive - which is pretty cool - and the ICON rack, but their snares are a killer deal. They sound great and are well made.

I did have the allen screws on a throw-off strip on me once, but they replaced it free of charge, and I was not the original owner of the drum and it was well outside the warranty.

I think they have a black on brass drum too, and they are all inexpensive and killer.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I think that Ludwig shells are perhaps slightly better, just by virtue of being seamless (and I don't even know how much that matters in the end). But I think Ludwig is a little too proud of their illustrious, if dated, history. They're definitely not ashamed to bend you over for it.

I agree that 1.6mm hoops have their sound and place (vintage kits?), but I think the real reason Ludwig continues to use them because; a) they're too afraid to break from the past; and b) they are cheap. If only Ludwig could get back into the business of being innovative, I wouldn't have to try so hard to keep liking them. They always seem to be 3-10 years behind the rest of the industry (eg, they now have Bubinga hybrid shells 5 years after Tama, and only went to all Maple after getting decimated by DW and everyone else).

Anyway, Pearl black on brass - that's the one I have. Like you said: inexpensive and killer.

Question for you: How does the volume of brass compare to aluminum? Should it be much louder, or just slightly louder? I only went on that Ludwig rant because my Supra is so much less present than the Sensi brass. Before I sink money into PureSounds and hoops, can you give me any idea how much I can expect to gain in volume? How does your Supra compare to your brass?
 
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