The best snare drums in the world today

24th Nov 2010 | 17:20

The best snare drums in the world today
10 best snare drums in the world today
Metal, wood and synthetic, from budget to custom-built

This is a constantly updated gallery of the best snare drums on the planet - from beginner and mid-priced wood or metal models to professional and high-end synthetic or custom-built beasts, there’s a snare here to suit every drummer and drumming style.

This month we're revisiting our round-up with an updated Ahead model in the mid-price metal market and a new list of alternative picks in each category.

All the snares here are hand-picked from the buyers’ guide pages of Rhythm magazine following a gruelling test process. So, have a browse and be sure to click through to read the full review for an in-depth look at each snare.

First up: Ahead's updated brass snare drum

The best snare drums in the world today
Best mid-price metal snares: Ahead Black Chrome on Brass
£325-£375

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Previously famed for aluminium sticks, Ahead enters the drum market with this 14"x6" black chrome-over-brass beauty. The metal ‘S’ hoops bend in rather than out and a central band of snares can be tensioned separately. Rhythm’s 2006 review described this gem “as though John Bonham, Bill Bruford and Stewart Copeland had collaborated on a joint signature snare.

FULL REVIEW: Ahead Brass Snare Drum

If you like Ahead’s Black Chrome on Brass snares, you’ll also like:

Ludwig Supraphonic 400/402 Snare Drum

Pearl Sensitone Elite Snare Drum (Available from Andertons Music Co. | Thomann)

Premier Modern Classic Snares Drum

Pork Pie Big Black Patina Snare Drum

Next: Best budget wood snares: Yamaha Oak Custom Matte Finish

The best snare drums in the world today
Best budget wood snares: Yamaha Oak Custom Matte Finish
£227

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Oak is Yamaha’s trump card at the moment. The company seems to be able to make oak drums cheaper than its other lines, and many of Yamaha’s endorsers are big admirers. Looking at and hearing this snare, it’s clear to see why. Sonically, oak has a warm, deep and centred tone, and aesthetically it has a beautiful wide grain in this matte finish.

FULL REVIEW: Yamaha Oak Custom Drum Kit

Available from Andertons Music Co. | Thomann

If you like Yamaha’s Oak Custom Matte Finish snares, you’ll also like:

Sonor Force 3007 Maple Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Tama Artwood Custom Maple (Available from Andertons Music Co. | Thomann)

Gretsch Renown Maple Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Peace Paragon Snare Drum

Next: Best high-priced wood snares: Brady Jarrah Ply Custom

The best snare drums in the world today
Best high-priced wood snares: Brady Jarrah Ply Custom
£670

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Brady’s enviable reputation is based on the use of Australian desert hardwoods, which are harder than the familiar maple and birch of Western drums. Jarrah is Brady’s most popular and versatile choice, with good balance of attack, body, warmth and depth. The 10 plies are, unlike anyone else’s, all laid horizontally.

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FULL REVIEW: Brady Handmade Snare Drums

If you like Brady’s Jarrah Ply Custom snares, you’ll also like:

Ayotte Custom Snare Drum

DW Acoustic EQ Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Sonor Delite Series Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Spaun Multi-ply Snare Drum

Next: Best high-priced metal snares: Dunnett Classic Titanium

The best snare drums in the world today
Best high-priced metal snares: Dunnett Classic Titanium
£899

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Ronn Dunnett’s award-winning snare drum is a firm favourite with top drummers of all styles. Many pros have a Dunnett snare which they find works wonders on certain studio dates. It’s extremely sensitive, quite dry and doesn’t suffer from uncontrollable high-end overtones, which makes it close-mic friendly.

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If you like Dunnett’s Classic Titanium snares, you’ll also like:

Ludwig Special Edition Black Beauty Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Trick Aluminium Snare Drum

Ayotte Keplinger II Snare Drum

Gretsch Copper Shell Snare Drum

Next: Best solid wood snares: Noonan Solid Seamless Shell

The best snare drums in the world today
Best solid wood snares: Noonan Solid Seamless Shell
£695

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Gary Noonan is a perfectionist drum-maker who makes fabulous single-ply, solid and block drums. This beauty is carved from a single, solid lump of mahogany – it’s as pure as a drum shell gets, with incredible projection. It is perfectly round, has precise bearing edges and a wide choice of hardware and plating.

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If you like Noonan’s Solid Seamless Shell snares, you’ll also like:

Brady Sheoak Block Snare Drum

Pacific SXE (Solid) Exotic Snare Drum

Craviotto LTD Edition Custom Solid Maple Snare Drum

Noble And Cooley SS Maple Snare Drum

Next: Best synthetic snares: RCI Starlite Acrylic

The best snare drums in the world today
Best synthetic snares: RCI Starlite Acrylic
£370-£499

MusicRadar’s verdict:

The RCI Starlite Acrylic is really a designer drum - you choose your own fittings, lugs, strainer, plus a blinding array of patterns and colours. Standard drum has 0.25" shell, but RCI will make you a 0.5", 0.75" or even a massive 1" thick, geometrically-cut shell. That’s one heavy drum, with a brilliant tonal presence.

FULL REVIEW: RCI Starlite Drum Kit

If you like RCI’s Starlite Acrylic snares, you’ll also like:

Tempus Carbon Fibre Snare Drum

Gatton Snare Drum

Pacific SX Acrylic

Ludwig Vistalite Snare Drum

Next: Best artist signature snares: Yamaha Steve Jordan

The best snare drums in the world today
Best artist signature snares: Yamaha Steve Jordan
£374

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Mr Funk Steve Jordan’s 13"x6½" maple snare has an old-school thin four-ply maple shell with thick six-ply reinforcing hoops for that classic ’60s sound. The non-plated snare wires add to the dirty, wet sound of the snare. What’s more, Steve insisted on environmentally friendly wood, finish and adhesives. Very cool indeed.

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If you like Yamaha’s Steve Jordan snares, you’ll also like:

Pearl Chad Smith Snare Drum (Available from Andertons Music Co. | Thomann)

Tama Stewart Copeland Snare Drum

Sonor Danny Carey Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

ddrum Travis Smith Snare Drum

Next: Best beginners' snare: Yamaha Stage Custom Nouveau

The best snare drums in the world today
Best beginners' snare: Yamaha Stage Custom Nouveau
£76

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Yamaha ups the ante with a beginner snare that has an outer ply of oak or birch. Tasty finishes and the low mass Nouveau lug make this a cutting-edge drum with a warm, musical sound.

FULL REVIEW: Yamaha Stage Custom Advantage Nouveau Series Kit

If you like Yamaha’s Stage Custom Nouveau snares, you’ll also like:

Pacific SX MapleSnare Drum

Sonor 2007 Series Steel Snare Drum (Available from Thomann)

Next: Best British custom-built snares: KD Drums Segmented Snare

The best snare drums in the world today
Best British custom-built snares: KD Drums Segmented Snare
£450

MusicRadar’s verdict:

Keith Keough uses a variety of construction methods - including ply, segmented, stave, steam-bent, vented and one-piece solid - to produce a beautiful range of custom drums. The segmented construction is unbelievably strong and drums can be made in a variety of exotic hardwoods, such as padauk, purpleheart or rosewood.

If you like KD Drums’ Segmented snares, you’ll also like:

FVF Custom Snare Drum

Newell Custom Snare Drum

Highwood Steambent Series Solid Maple Snare Drum (Available from Andertons Music Co.)

Jalapeno Classic/Elite Snare Drum


Liked this? Now read: The best drum kits in the world today

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