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Choosing The Right Steel Snare Drum For Your Sound

By :Adam Frost 0 comments
Choosing The Right Steel Snare Drum For Your Sound

Choosing The Right Steel Snare Drum For Your Sound

Steel snare drums vary greatly in size, price, and sound. With so many choices, how do you decide? To help answer this question, the Drum Center of Portsmouth is comparing 12 of our favorite steel snare drums from 12 different manufacturers (at various price points) head to head! 

Why Do Steel Snare Drums Vary So Much In Price?

Like so many other things in our lives, steel snare drums can range wildly in terms of cost. We can narrow down the factors that go into this cost to 3: WHAT they are made of, HOW they are made, and WHERE they are made.

There are a few ways to make a steel snare drum shell, including rolling, casting and spinning. Depending on which method is used, the amount of time to create each shell can differ a lot. If the process can be automated in a factory overseas, the cost for each steel snare drum will be MUCH less than if it is created individually by a single craftsman.

With this in mind, we've selected 12 different steel drums that range from $199 to over $1500 that we would consider "Best In Class".

Ludwig Supralite Steel Snare Drum

Ludwig Supralite Snare Drums are designed with a mirrored, polished, 1mm beaded steel shell for bright, cutting attack, while providing a wide mid-range overtone. Fitted with chrome plated brass tube lugs, 2.3mm chrome-plated triple flange hoops, and brass snare wires. All snares feature a new and improved P88I throw-off and P33 butt-plate. At only $199, this is a versatile steel snare drum to fit any budget!

Mapex Armory 14x5.5 'Tomahawk' Snare Drum

Made with a 1mm stainless steel shell, the Tomahawk has penetrating accuracy and long range projection. The focused power of its rimshot is devastating. Coming in at just $279, this is one of Mapex's most value-packed offerings!
This Stainless Steel snare drum shell with rounded 45 degree bearing edge delivers a focused brightness with plenty of volume. The Piston Strainer with Vertical Throw-Off enables a quick, comfortable, and smooth operation and prevents snare wire tension changes during playing.

Tama SLP Series Big Black Steel Snare Drum

This 8x14 Tama SLP Series Big Black Steel Snare Drum has a thin, 1mm beaded steel shell and 2.3mm flanged Steel Mighty Hoops. The resulting sound is round and warm that projects clearly through any mix. The Tama LST148 is finished in a handsome matte black and delivers beautifully fat steel tone at a price point that is hard to beat. For added response and articulation, Tama gave the Big Black steel snare a 20-strand carbon-steel Snappy Snare.

Sonor Kompressor Steel Snare Drum

High performance metal at a great price! This New Kompressor Series Steel Snare Drum from Sonor is jam packed with quality features at only $309! The sensitive response, the powerful and characteristic Sonor sound makes this snare a true workhorse, suitable for a variety of musical styles.

Gretsch Brooklyn Steel Snare Drum

For less than $400, All Brooklyn steel snare drums include Gretsch "302" 3mm double-flanged hoops, Lightning throw off and butt plate, "Snap-in" drum key holder, 20-strand snare wires, and Gretsch Permatone drum heads. The steel shells resonate with classic, musical tones and are extremely versatile. The 302 hoops provide a timbre that is more open and ambient than traditional Gretsch die-cast hoops.

DW Performance Chrome Over Steel Snare Drum

The DW Performance Series Steel Snare drum is made from thin 1mm rolled steel, and projects all the pingy goodness of brass without the harsh overtones sometimes associated with steel drums at this price point. This snare will project nicely on stage, and tune up or down with ease. For a versatile DW snare drum at a killer value, look no further than DW Performance Series!

Rogers PowerTone Steel Snare Drum

Rejoining the Rogers family is the distinguished PowerTone series. A true all-around workhorse, the long-celebrated PowerTone snare drum is the ultimate tool for every player, delivering warmth, power and projection to complement any musical style. Features the classic beavertail 8-lug profile and meaty 2.3mm chrome hoops. Finished in high-luster chrome, Rogers’ Steel Snare Drum PowerTone models are not only visually breathtaking, but these proprietary 1.0mm shells deliver volume and cutting power on demand, while also maintaining superb tone and dynamic sensitivity for even the quietest of ghost notes.

PDP Concept Select 3mm Steel Snare Drum

PDP's new line of Concept Select Steel snare drums offer world-class tones, complemented by a visually stunning design. From a BEEFY 3mm steel shell to the unique laser-engraved Art Deco insignias emblazoned on each drum, these babies are worth checking out.

Yamaha Recording Custom Stainless Steel Snare Drum

Yamaha's Recording Custom Stainless Steel Snare Drum hits the perfect balance of price to performance! RC Steel Snare Drums project effortless volume, and a cutting rimshot that is noticeably darker than your typical steel snare drum. Features include a 1.2mm shell, 2.3mm DynaHoop, and extra crispy 25-strand snare wires.

Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum

On every single "best of" snare drum list that we create, you will likely find a Keplinger Snare drum at or near the very top. Be it brass, Stainless Steel or Black Iron, these drums have THE ideal studio sound without any frills. If you know, you know.

Dunnett Classic Sledge Snare Drum

The Dunnett Carbon Steel Sledge is by far the heaviest, most dynamic snare drum on this list. At a ridiculous 5mm thick, the solid Carbon Steel shell speaks as articulately at a whisper as it does at a roar. This snare drum records like an audio engineer's dream, and is ideal for live gigs! At around $1500, it's expensive, and worth every penny.

Joyful Noise Knight Hawk Snare Drum

The Knight Hawk seamless steel shells are inspired by the vintage German drums of the 1970s, as they are produced using ferromanganese steel. Due to the additional manganese in the alloy, these shells are exponentially harder than conventional carbon steel and produce an extremely vibrant tone. In addition to the enhanced metallurgy, the shells are bright polished to a mirror finish and then the bearing edges and bell flanges are "blued" using a technique that further hardens the shell. This technique was used to produce Armor during the Middle Ages and was highly prized by the Knights who favored the blue hues that resulted from hardening the steel.
The Knight Hawk produces a truly clear and bright tone with a beautiful array of overtones that are not brittle but are very musical and shimmer elegantly in the voice of the drum. The presence of these drums is undeniable, as they project and command a powerful sonic footprint. The open timbale tone alone makes these drums an extraordinary instrument in any portfolio.
Once the Knight Hawk the shell is hand-selected, the bearing edges and snare beds are finished by hand to refine and optimize the sonic performance. Finished with a bright mirror polish and "blued" to specification the shells are then heat sealed in 100% carnauba wax. The Knight Hawk model design and hardware consists of 2.5mm solid brass bright nickel-plated triple flanged hoops, ten Corder solid brass nickel-plated tube lugs, bell flanged bearing edges, vintage inspired crimped snare beds, and the "One Touch Classic" snare drum strainer system. A certificate of authenticity, serialized lapel badge and a complimentary soft-shell case accompany each instrument.

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