Supra or BB

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
Hey. I just sold my Roland E kit and have 800 euros to spend on a snare drum since I got a studio space and can FINALLY play an acoustic drum. It really is another instrument.
My drum teacher told me to get a snare that would last me a lifetime (and maybe even pass down to future generations) and recommended me a Ludwig snare drum. Now I am looking at 2 drums, the Ludwig LM402 and 6.5x14 Black Beauty with imperial lugs. I have played the BB live before but in a 5x14 size and loved it. Some say the Supraphonic is the better choice since it’s so reliable, versatile and iconic (no drop in resale value). Others say the Black Beauty is the obvious choice since it has a distinct sound no other snare has, it is versatile and is also iconic. I play rock and funk music and usually use a medium-high tension. Sometimes drop it low and use it as a “Disco snare“ if you will.
Which would be the snare to get if I wanted a “do everything” snare that lasts a lot? I’ve heard that Supraphonics have a tendency to rust when aging and it’s called “pitting”? What’s that all about?
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
Oof, that’s a tough call. I have both, and I love each of them. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with a 14x6.5 Ludwig Supraphonic 402 model, simply because it is a tad more versatile. You really can’t go wrong with either of those drums though.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Supraphonics pit because aluminum and chrome are incompatible metals. Some get it worse than others but eventually they all pit to some degree. It doesn't affect the sound though...

I'd personally go for the Black Beauty. They're both iconic drums and they both have a distinct sound, but I love the sound of black nickel over brass and to me it has a meatier, deeper tone.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
If I could only pick 1 snare (under $1k) to play the rest of my life, it would be a Supraphonic.

The Supraphonic is unique in that no other copycat snare sounds quite as good IMO. It has a satisfying crackling high-frequency pop that is lacking in all the imitations. I finally bought one last week after wanting one for years. It's everything I wanted, it sounds perfect!

The Black Beauty's sound is a little warmer on the high frequency end, and equally as loved in the industry. It's sound is easier to copy though, so most black nickel snares from other manufacturers sound very similar to the original Black Beauty IMO. This means you can get a snare that sounds like a Black Beauty from Pork Pie or Pearl for half the price. Still a great sound though.

Ultimately you should watch all the demo videos on Youtube and decide which sounds best to YOU.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
so the Black Beauty will not suffer from pitting?
Black Nickel shells don't seem to pit at all, but Black Beauties also have chrome lugs, hoops and throwoff, so the potential is still there.

If you take care of your snare over the years, keeping it clean and away from high humidity and moisture, you should have no problems with either a Supra or BB.

Don't choose either snare on that basis. Choose it on SOUND. :)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Both snares are great and something you'll hear on countless records.

They're not your only choice for a main drum, though.

I have a 5x14 BB with die cast hoops that I sort of mainly use for low volume stuff with different utensils and orchestral work. My other metal shells are Gretsch and since I wanted a slightly drier sound the main one is a hammered brass. They're worth looking into. That goes for Ludwig's versions also.

Choosing based on sound is the best advice and I'd even go a little further and say that even if you've set on Ludwig, find a place where you can try all the different metal shells in both 5x14 and 6,5x14. For an online resource, you can start here. https://www.youtube.com/user/DrumCenterNH/search?query=ludwig+snare
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
There's no wrong choice.

I have a 400 and 402. Splitting hairs which is the best. Snares for life, keep em dry and keep the strainer oiled as they can be a pain otherwise.

The black beauty is the same.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
Now I am looking at 2 drums, the Ludwig LM402 and 6.5x14 Black Beauty with imperial lugs . . . . . I play rock and funk music and usually use a medium-high tension. Sometimes drop it low and use it as a “Disco snare“ if you will. Which would be the snare to get if I wanted a “do everything” snare that lasts a lot?
My only input is this: if you're leaning towards the Black Beauty--especially for gigging--do yourself a favor and go play an 8" X 14" Black Beauty. It is essentially a 6.5" X 14" Black Beauty only with more body. I own both the 8" and 5" deep Black Beauties and if I could only have one it would unquestionably be the 8" deep shell.
 
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I'll be playing devil's advocate here! Disclaimer: I own a very flakey Supra that I hold onto for sentimental reasons mostly but I might sell it at some point. I've never had a BB though.
So, just to fuel the discussion, here are some negative points:
- Nobody NEEDS a Supra or a Black Beauty. They are good sounding snares but they are also iconic because Ludwig was so popular in the 60s and 70s (Ringo? Bonham? Marketing? Really better than Rogers or Premier?). But do they really sound that differently than what other manufacturers offer for half the price? In a band context, probably not so much. Maybe listen to some comparison videos without looking at them and take note when you hear something you like:
- The chrome pitting issues of the Supras can be pretty extreme. Depending on your local climate, a shiny Supra might not look so great in ten years.
- Lots of people complain about P-85 strainer. I think it's alright but others have had problems with it.
- Especially in Europe, the prices are outrageous.

Are you completely satisfied with the rest of your set? I'd rather use 800 Euros to buy something like an SLP or a Sensitone and a complete set of great cymbals. Drumming and lessons are expensive, so I wouldn't spend everything on a drum that you haven't checked out in person for a long time. However, if you come to the conclusion that you really want a Ludwig snare, I'd get an old Supra on ebay.co.uk ( like this one https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ludwig-1975-Supraphonic-400-Snare-Drum-/202804860130?hash=item2f381c94e2:g:xEcAAOSwsAtdre2Q&nma=true&si=XI4YVZbF8T3wSqWnxjVglz%2Fu8aY%3D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 ) and see how you like it. The resale value will probably remain constant. When you buy new and eventually want to sell it, you'll always get less money back.
 

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
I'll be playing devil's advocate here! Disclaimer: I own a very flakey Supra that I hold onto for sentimental reasons mostly but I might sell it at some point. I've never had a BB though.
So, just to fuel the discussion, here are some negative points:
- Nobody NEEDS a Supra or a Black Beauty. They are good sounding snares but they are also iconic because Ludwig was so popular in the 60s and 70s (Ringo? Bonham? Marketing? Really better than Rogers or Premier?). But do they really sound that differently than what other manufacturers offer for half the price? In a band context, probably not so much. Maybe listen to some comparison videos without looking at them and take note when you hear something you like:
- The chrome pitting issues of the Supras can be pretty extreme. Depending on your local climate, a shiny Supra might not look so great in ten years.
- Lots of people complain about P-85 strainer. I think it's alright but others have had problems with it.
- Especially in Europe, the prices are outrageous.

Are you completely satisfied with the rest of your set? I'd rather use 800 Euros to buy something like an SLP or a Sensitone and a complete set of great cymbals. Drumming and lessons are expensive, so I wouldn't spend everything on a drum that you haven't checked out in person for a long time. However, if you come to the conclusion that you really want a Ludwig snare, I'd get an old Supra on ebay.co.uk ( like this one https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ludwig-1975-Supraphonic-400-Snare-Drum-/202804860130?hash=item2f381c94e2:g:xEcAAOSwsAtdre2Q&nma=true&si=XI4YVZbF8T3wSqWnxjVglz%2Fu8aY%3D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 ) and see how you like it. The resale value will probably remain constant. When you buy new and eventually want to sell it, you'll always get less money back.
well I am pretty happy with “My” kit. It’s a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute with Sabian HHX, Zildjian K and UFIP class cymbals. DW9000 pedals. Technically it’s not my kit but I can pretty much treat it like mine. I have access to a Dave Weckl signature Yamaha snare but I’d like something I can call my own. Since I heard that every studio has at least one supraphonic/BB in their snare arsenal, I thought something “standard” like a Supra would be a fine choice for a first snare drum.
 
Well, it doesn't get better than what you have now - just different. Without knowing your situation: You have access to a fantastic set right now but will it always be like this or could you be in need of having your own drums in a few years? Maybe you take them to a gig and the owner complains about scratches on the drums, he (or you) moves town, he needs to sell them, you have a dispute or whatever else can go wrong. In that case, I'd rather have 800 Euros because you can get a good used set with cymbals and hardware for that amount of money and continue playing. But if you really want a snare of your own, I'd buy a used one, so that you can get your money back if need be.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Why are you limiting yourself to just Supra or Black Beauty? There are other makes and models just as good and some even better. Way better. Try to keep this in mind. Yeah Supras may have the rep as being the most recorded/used studio drum in the galaxy. HOWEVER, when you think back to when that "legend" came about....50s/60s/70s.....just how many drummers were buying outside the Ludwig line? In the 60s, most all manufacturers were drowned out by Ludwig thanks to Ringo. Supras, Acros, BBs are not the end all snare drums. They sound great, but their legacy has to be attributed to marketing superiority over Slingerland, Gretsch, Rogers, etc.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
I played a friend's 6.5x14 Pork Pie Big Black model and it sounded as Bonham-y sweet as any Supra I've ever played. YMMV.
 

jdavis

Member
FWIW, I put a BB and Pork Pie BOB side by side with the same heads and tuning and was able to get the BOB to sound about 90-95% like a BB. Needless to say, I ended up buying the BOB. But, I'll definitely pick up a BB one of these days. It just has that extra bit of sweet, rounded tone that is missing from the others. (y)

Bottom line: if money is an issue, get a BOB to tide you over and save up for a BB. You'll at least be able to take the BOB out to gigs and beat the hell out of it until then.
 
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