Snare Growth

Skwerly

Senior Member
Some of you veterans may appreciate this thread. It’s no big deal, just a fun discussion maybe.

When I was a kid (started drumming around 19 yrs old) I wanted the loudest, gnarliest snare I could possibly find. I mean, offensively loud. I saved up some dough and hit the music shop. Came back with a Remo MasterTouch Piccolo – the gunshot like CRACK that it dealt pleased me very much. After a few years, I was good enough at the drums to record a CD with a band and the Piccolo wasn’t going to cut it in the studio, so I went on the hunt for something a tad more mellow.

I ended up picking up a used chrome Tama Swing Star snare (year unknown, probably run of the mill) and hated it immediately. It was warm, it had tone it was much deeper, and the, "Oh, my God what just happened?" *crack* was gone. Not my speed. I wanted a .45 to go off every time I brought the stick down, hard.

The “today” drummer in me is quite a bit different. I still have both snares, but just played that Tama for quite a while because the Remo was in storage. Recently, I dusted the Remo Piccolo off, replaced the heads and brought it into practice expecting everyone to ooh and aaah at the high-pitched, ringy CRACK that I would bestow upon them. I hated it. I tried and tried and couldn’t get a *tone* out of the thing to save my life. Played two shows on it, and now the Swing Star sits back on the snare stand. I love it.

Weird how things do that in life, eh?
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Haha, I'm kind of surprised that nobody has a similar story! Did none of you like certain things when you started out that you cannot stand now that you are more experienced? :)
 

chaymus

Senior Member
I'd like to understand your second to last paragraph better. Are you saying that the piccolo isn't the same sound you recall from before storage, or that you're now accustomed to overtones instead of a sharp attack and like a "rounder" sound?


Either way, if you haven't changed out the head do that before you shelve it again and see if you can't tune something better.

I recently replaced my metal snare with a wood one and really disliked the array of noises coming out of it at first. Much more sympathetic ringing & buzzing, and I had been playing a really dry fat sound and this is now tuned almost the opposite. I don't notice it much anymore but it took a lot of time for me to get rid of this "that's not my snare" feeling I was used to.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Both heads brand new on the Piccolo - I just can't get back into that sound lol. I love the deeper crack of the Tama. It simply sounds better, and goes with the rest of my drums better. Odd how I did not see that 10 years back. :p
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I think sometimes we get used to certain sounds that sort of establish themselves as our neural defaults.

When I was starting out drumming, I had this steel CB-700 that was so harsh and nasty that I extended my hatred to all metal snares. I only thought wood ones were worth anything and had a several over the years, some that I liked better than others.

But then I fell in love with Bill Bruford's snare sound from the early '80s King Crimson days and noticed that he was playing a steel Tama Imperialstar (Stewart Copeland had one too). At first I dismissed it as studio trickery, but then I got a chance to actually play on one that was tuned up really nice and had to have one. It was my No. 1 for 12 years until I played on a brass snare that really knocked me out. So I sold the Tama and got a brass.

I also picked up a DW Collectors maple snare thinking that I needed a good wood snare, but hated how boxy it seemed. After several fruitless months of trying to make friends with it (lavishing goodies on it like fancy wires, different heads, plus hours and hours of tuning) I finally gave up and sold it and bought a Ludwig LM402. Wow, aluminum sounds great, too!

I friend of mine has a couple wood snares (a Dennis Chambers and an Omar Hakim) that he's let me borrow, but they just sounds woody and muted to my ears, and I really miss the sharp crispness of metal.

I don't think it's that wood snares sound bad, mind you, just that my ears and brain have been hardwired to expect that metal snare sound. I'm sure if I forced myself to go wood exclusively for a while, I could get back to preferring them.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Great post, MikeM! I know what you mean. I did the same bit with my two snares, as I mentioned. Now when I listen to the Swingstar I just love it, but I hated it for years lol.

I guess just like beer and other things, we must first acquire tastes and only then make decisions. I have yet to play a brass snare but I’m looking forward to it. The snare I’ll likely be using in coming months will be the one that comes with my Mapex Saturn kit – it’s wood, but MAN what a crack it delivered in the store. I cannot wait! :)
 

ddrumman2004

Senior Member
I fell in love with my Pearl 8" deep maple free floater after I bought it in 98. I gigged with that snare at every gig and still carry it as a back-up.

My older snares sound great here at home but not out in the places we play with the exception of one....a 1975 Rogers COB Dynasonic. Tuned medium it sounds great in every place we play. I gig with it full time now.

At home on my practice kit, I use a 6.5x14 brass free floater.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I grew up on a Ludwig Supraphonic and a Black Beauty so this has shaded my expectations somewhat through the years.

However, ten years ago when I went with my first DW kit, I was convinced I'd get a great sounding all-maple snare drum when I ordered my kit and got a 5.5x14 maple snare to match, and....hated it. I tuned it high, I tuned it low, tried all kinds of different heads, then ultimately went back to the ol' Supra. Come forward three years to my second DW kit and decided this time to get the black brass DW snare, now staying in the metal realm and thinking everything will be ok. I hated that one too.

For some reason, I couldn't make those DW snares do anything for me. I kept going back to the Supra, or the Black Beauty. When I went Tama I now have a Stewart Copeland snare and that drum does everything I ask it to. In my case, I don't know if DW snares just suck or if it was just me. But for some reason, other snares could be manipulated into the sound in my head, but not DW's. I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar story? I could take that cheap snare drum that came with my Sonor Safari kit and make it sing, but two DW snares I couldn't do a thing with!
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
I've only been drumming for a year and a half (that is, with an acoustic drum set of my own), but my tastes have changed and maybe even matured so much throughout that timeframe its almost not funny.

At first, I liked the sound I got on my Export snare with over-a-year-old Remo Renaissance Emperor and stock reso. Then I got rid of the Rem-O and played it like that, then retuned it to an insanely high tension that lasted for a week or two and then killed the head, then I played it as a dead-headed snare drum.

Honestly, the miserable heads seemed to sound nice to me. But then that must be the changing expectations or delusions we have when we're not very experienced.

Now I play with a coated Emperor over Ambassador Snare side, with the tuning kinda low, and wetter than the bottom of a Louisiana bayou.
 

braincramp

Gold Member
There is something magical about a metal snare whether its brass, alum, bronze or even steel..I own 1 wood snare now and its only becuase I made it..its a walnut stave which I do like and will use once in a while...I grew up with the acrolite, so love the dry sound of aluminum.. As far as taste changing..I changed from all Paiste 2002's and sig's to twenty's and K's ...I really got tired of the glassiness of the high end Paistes (except for the dry ride).. I also get tired of cymbals being too dark.. so I have settled (for now) with a nice mix of a19" twenty,17" K, 20"A Custom and 18" AAX for crashes it gives me 2 bright and 2 dark crashes that even mix well
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
There is something magical about a metal snare whether its brass, alum, bronze or even steel..I own 1 wood snare now and its only becuase I made it..its a walnut stave which I do like and will use once in a while...I grew up with the acrolite, so love the dry sound of aluminum.. As far as taste changing..I changed from all Paiste 2002's and sig's to twenty's and K's ...I really got tired of the glassiness of the high end Paistes (except for the dry ride).. I also get tired of cymbals being too dark.. so I have settled (for now) with a nice mix of a19" twenty,17" K, 20"A Custom and 18" AAX for crashes it gives me 2 bright and 2 dark crashes that even mix well

i hear that man! i'm having cymbal woes at the moment too. i like that bright, high sound (think classy) on the cymbals but when i go into the cymbal room at guitar center or somewhere it's really hard to tell just by tapping them with the end of a pen or even a stick what they'll sound like with my set, how they will cut through live, how they will record, etc.

i've run the same two cymbals for years and years and thus have no clue where to even start looking for the sound i have in my head. also, we play a little heavier music so a thin, bright sound may not fit well, but we all know that bands don't last forever and so i'd like to get something that fits kind of universally. i have a time with cymbals and heads - indecision kills me lol!
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
I can relate. When I started drumming, I wanted to make noise. Now, I want to make music...

LOL great post. 100% what i'm finding out. I had no clue that I had this in me haha.

Old thinking: well, the toms go from high to low, so a roll is a roll. let's just play.

New thinking: WOW check out the different tones and sustain i can get from hitting the thing this way or that way! oh man, so if i mix this with that i get... HAHA! love it! okay, now to play it in a song...

Very fun to grow and improve and actually *listen* to my instruments as opposed to just playing them and hoping for the best.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
For some reason, I couldn't make those DW snares do anything for me. I kept going back to the Supra, or the Black Beauty. When I went Tama I now have a Stewart Copeland snare and that drum does everything I ask it to. In my case, I don't know if DW snares just suck or if it was just me. But for some reason, other snares could be manipulated into the sound in my head, but not DW's. I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar story? I could take that cheap snare drum that came with my Sonor Safari kit and make it sing, but two DW snares I couldn't do a thing with!
I've only had two DW snares and I gonged them both. The first was the one I described ealier in this thread. The other was a 6x14 Edge. It was a huge improvement over the maple because it had the sharper bite that I was looking for, but it didn't sound better than my Sensitone brass ($230 new). It just didn't have that much character. Just kind of flat and unremarkable. I sold it after just a couple months.

I think my Supra and BB knock-off are all I need (actually, I'll eventually upgrade the Pearl to a Black Beauty, but I think it's pretty close).
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I've only had two DW snares and I gonged them both. The first was the one I described ealier in this thread. The other was a 6x14 Edge. It was a huge improvement over the maple because it had the sharper bite that I was looking for, but it didn't sound better than my Sensitone brass ($230 new). It just didn't have that much character. Just kind of flat and unremarkable. I sold it after just a couple months.

I think my Supra and BB knock-off are all I need (actually, I'll eventually upgrade the Pearl to a Black Beauty, but I think it's pretty close).
Yeah, some of those DW snares are great, just not $500+ great. For that kind of money I'd go Noble & Cooley or Brady. But the Tama Stewart Copeland is doing fine, for only $330!
 

makinao

Silver Member
I've had only one snare of my own since 1975. Steel Pearl #4514 14"x5.5". But I've changed the setup many times. I've had it with coated, dot, and pinstripped heads. It came with 20 strands, I cut it down to 12, took it back up to 22, and now it has 42. I've changed the lugs and tension rods. At one point it was full of stickers, now its just bare.

Tastes, preferences, and fashions change. Mine did, and apparently yours did too. I have no plans of going back to any of my old setups, but who knows.
 
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Aeolian

Platinum Member
I had one of those Remo 13" things years back. I thought that it was the most amazing thing with the tight crack it had. I was coming off a couple of old Ludwig kits with wood snares that didn't do that. Those kits would be worth fortunes now, but then they were just old cheap things that sorta looked like Ringo's kit, not like a "good modern" drum kit.

But after a couple of years, I realized that the Remo did only one thing. And I ended up with a maple Ludwig that I put on the same type of Legacy head that the piccolo came with. Didn't crack the same, but way more versatile. I still have that drum with the Legacy head and use it for trad sounds.

I think tonal versatility comes into play at some point over one trick ponies. I'm about even between wood and metal snares. But the 12 x 5.5 maple DW Workshop is about the only highly stylized one. My next snares will be an Acrolyte for that thing they do, and then building a 13 x 7 solid shell, probably out of purpleheart, which will be an upgrade from the 12 incher for that high and tight church crack. Something with that crack but more body underneath it.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
I had one of those Remo 13" things years back. I thought that it was the most amazing thing with the tight crack it had. I was coming off a couple of old Ludwig kits with wood snares that didn't do that. Those kits would be worth fortunes now, but then they were just old cheap things that sorta looked like Ringo's kit, not like a "good modern" drum kit.

But after a couple of years, I realized that the Remo did only one thing. And I ended up with a maple Ludwig that I put on the same type of Legacy head that the piccolo came with. Didn't crack the same, but way more versatile. I still have that drum with the Legacy head and use it for trad sounds.

I think tonal versatility comes into play at some point over one trick ponies. I'm about even between wood and metal snares. But the 12 x 5.5 maple DW Workshop is about the only highly stylized one. My next snares will be an Acrolyte for that thing they do, and then building a 13 x 7 solid shell, probably out of purpleheart, which will be an upgrade from the 12 incher for that high and tight church crack. Something with that crack but more body underneath it.
MAN you said a mouthful there. That’s a better way of putting my original thought – thanks! I, too, fell in love with the shotgun-like crack of the 13” Remo, but now I just don’t think it can hold a candle to my Swingstar, which also has a formidable crack but a LOT of body and tone.

The Mapex I played the other day had an amazing crack when you really lay into it but was very nice when playing lightly. I cannot wait for it. For the price of the thing I hope I like it better than my Tama, but one never knows...
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
When I was 18, I got an LM402, because I liked how it could cut through the mix, but still have a deep but refined low-mid punch, and nice hi-mid colours too.

Now I'm 23, I play an LM402, because...er...
 
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