9 Important Tips on How to Choose Snare Drums

Snare Drum and drum stick
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The global musical instruments market is expecting to garner more than $11 billion by the end of 2030. The influx of snare drums is opening up this market to new possibilities.

But, there are several things you need to remember when determining the sound of a snare drum. These tips will help you choose the right snare drum. Let’s begin!

Snare Drums

Playing Snare Drums

First of all, if you’re just beginning to use snare drums, consider your budget. There is a fallacy that suggests that an expensive snare drum sounds better than a cheaper one.

This isn’t true, an expensive price tag does not determine the overarching quality and tone of the snare drum. The expensive tag could offer qualities like a finer finish or a durable throw-off, but that does not completely change the sound.

These are only convenient features or beautiful aesthetics.  A snare drum with a better price tag could give an equally strong delivery of sound. To understand how to shape your sound, you need to understand the different aspects of a snare drum that help determine this sound.

How to Choose a Snare Drum?

There are many qualities to a snare drum that can shape the sound. There are many pieces of the snare drum responsible for shaping and modeling the sound of the snare drum.

Drum Shells

These Most shells on the market measure from about 13 to 14 inches in diameter. The type of material you buy will determine the shape of the sound. Some snare shells are concocted of metal, while others are made of wood.

The type of material, as well as the thickness and depth, can help bring you closer to the kind of sound you are looking for. Thinner shells can produce more volume with less effort, while thicker shells require more force to get that sound out into the ether.

The depth can shape the fullness of your snare’s sound. The shallower the depth, the sharper the sound. Deeper depths can attract a weightier bellowing sound.

Hoops and Tension

The hoops of a drum can affect the breadth of the sound of your snare. The tightness affects the snare head’s freedom of vibration. The triangle flanged steel hoop is the most common hoop setup for most snares.

If you decide to upgrade to the die-cast hoop, a recent addition to the snare world, you can confine the overtones. This allows for a more defined sound. Carving this sound prevents drummers from buying thicker drum heads or using muffling materials to muffle the sound.

Wood hoops also create a tightness in the sound, as well by enforcing a complete restriction in the vibration. The elimination of the vibrations from the initial attacks can create shorter sustains in the rimshots.

Drum Keys and Tuning

Sometimes you may like a specific drum, but the sound doesn’t meet your expectations. Try to request a drum key for tuning, an associate can guide you through the tuning process.

You can manipulate the drum lugs or even replace the drum head on your snare to bring the snare drum closer to the sound you want.

Lug Pieces

The lugs are small metal pieces that restrain the hoops to create tension. The drum key can tighten or loosen these lugs to warp the sound. A durable lug can not only keep the drum together, but keep the sound together.

Tuning the drum consists of turning the lugs clockwise or counterclockwise. This tightens the drum head and can manipulate the pitch and breadth of sound.

What Is a Snare Drum?

Drummer playing Snare Drum

The snare drum sits directly in front of you on your drum kit or alone in the marching band. It is comprised of two heads, one at the top, or the playing side head, and one at the bottom.

There is a piece of equipment at the side called a throw-off. This piece pulls the snare strands off, this allows for a more open sound in the drum, removing the rattle of the snare strands. The throw-off also has a tension device, manipulating the tightness of the drum.

The shell, as mentioned above, completes the drum and contains a nice finish. The shell finish comes in different colors and lacquers depending on the rest of the kit.

Marching Snare Drum

There are specific differences between snares and marching band drums. Marching snares are found in military lines or marching bands for different schools.

A nylon or gut drum head produces this resonant sound. These are higher and sharper percussive sounds that emanate these tight staccato rhythms. The drum shells on these snares are smaller in diameter.

Tension Rods and Lugs

Some of these marching band drums contain longer tension rods connecting the hoops and lugs. The tension of the lugs will sharpen the sound. The snare wires of marching band drums are flush against the drum heads to create that sharp kick.

The lugs and hoops are more lightweight to prevent fatigue from marching. The thick metal shells help prevent damage to the drum while lugging them around. The normal model contains a shell 14 inches in diameter, but the 13-inch drum will provide a higher pitch.

Small Snare Drum

Smaller snares, such as a piccolo snare, are great for those tighter staccato rhythms. It also raises the pitch of the snare drum to give a higher frequency. These drums provide a nice high-pitched popping sound.

These snares almost always utilize the durability of a metal shell. These shells contain a far narrower depth than the marching snare or kit snare. These snare heads often come in 13-inch sizes as well.

Snare Drums

There are many different aspects of choosing a snare drum sound. There is a wide range of different snare drums available on the market today. Understanding the different types of snare drums can help you understand what you need.

Utilizing these different pieces of a drum, such as the hoops and drum heads, can help shape the sound to your preference. Once you know the differences between these drums, you can build your perfect sound. 

Looking for drum lessons? Check out the Sloan School of Music to help start your snare drum lessons!