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The Top 10 Snare Drums of 2023

By :Adam Frost 0 comments
The Top 10 Snare Drums of 2023

Hello from the Drum Center of Portsmouth - the biggest and best independently owned drum store in the world. We’ve demoed a TON of snare drums on our YouTube channel over the past year (52, to be precise.). From these demos, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best!

#10 - Canopus Limited Edition Wenge Birch Snare Drum 14x6.5


This magnificent sounding hybrid shell drum was made IN JAPAN with all the attention to detail you'd expect from the innovative craftsmen at Canopus. This snare features a birch shell with an inner and outer ply of wenge, die cast hoops, eight chrome-plated solid brass lugs, Remo heads, and Vintage series wires.

#9 - DW Jazz Series Cherry/Gum Snare Drum 14x6.5

DW Collector's Series snares are crafted from only the finest hand-selected tone woods and can be customized in any California Custom Shop finish and drum hardware color option. Built from a hybrid of cherry and gumwood, this exciting shell combination gives you plenty of low-end punch, along with generous amounts of warmth, resonance, and high-end bite. This versatile wood combo is excellent for a wide variety of musical applications. Finished in a high-gloss Natural Lacquer and is fitted with chrome hardware, this snare drum is a total workhorse wood snare drum that will fit any musical genre.

#8 - Sonor Kompressor Snare Drum 14x8 Polished Aluminum

Kompressor series snare drums transform air to pure sonic energy that takes your breath from the first hit. The sensitive response, the powerful and characteristic Sonor sound and the wide range of materials and sizes make these snares a true workhorse, suitable for a variety of musical styles. Our favorite from the new Kompressor lineup is this TANK of 14x8 Aluminum.

#7 - Mapex Black Panther Design Lab 14x6 Jeff Hamilton Snare Drum - "Maximus"

With a nod to the traditions of the Jazz greats, the Maximus has the sound and feel of a vintage drum, built with modern precision and articulation. Made from a 6 deep, 100% Mahogany shell, it is outfitted with a special snare bed for the execution of the most dynamic playing. It is the choice for a warm, big sound, with the ability to whisper in the most delicate small group settings. Tradition meets a modern voice, the Maximus is a commanding instrument for all forms of playing.

#6 - British Drum Company Raven Snare Drum 14x6

The Raven is British Drum Company's best value in snare drums, constructed from 100% Scandinavian Birch and featuring Palladium hardware throughout. A sensational Black Ash outer veneer, 10 ply 6mm shell and 45 degree bearing edges give this pro-level drum a look and sound all of its own. Cutting high frequencies and balanced low- and mid-tones make this Raven snare a welcome addition to any drum collection. Equally at home, on stage, or in the studio, RAVEN’s tuning flexibility ensures a performance that can be matched to any musical situation.

#5 - Tama Star Reserve Solid Japanese Cedar Snare Drum 14x6

The 9th entry into the STAR Reserve series is 14"x6" Solid Japanese Cedar. This snare drum features a traditional and unique Japanese woodworking technique, Uzukuri, that creates a three-dimensional texture and appearance. The 8mm solid Cedar shell is steam bent and fitted with matching steam bent Cedar Sound Focus Rings (reinforcement hoops) that are hand cut with old-world Japanese woodcraft artisans. The Cedar shell is outfitted with 8 Low Mass STAR Lugs, 2.3mm Customized Brass Mighty Hoops and Starclassic Bell Brass Snare Wires. This hardware works with the mellowness of the shell to pull out thick, rich tones with powerful attack and super dynamic sensitivity. The Uzukuri exterior shell is finished in natural oil, which highlights the intrinsic natural beauty of the Cedar wood grain. This drum is a work of art with distinctive sound like no other.

#4 - Milestone Founder's Model Fiberglass Composite Snare Drum 14x6.5

Back in the 1970s, Michael Clapham began making fiberglass drums under the Milestone name, and anyone who owned one was lucky to have it! The quality was top-shelf, and the sound was magnificent. Through many twists and turns over the past 50 years, the Milestone name has neared falling into obscurity, but fortunately Ronn Dunnett has decided to carry the torch and start offering these amazing drums once more. Drum Center of Portsmouth is excited to carry these stellar drums to outfit and inspire a new generation of players! 

#3 - Joyful Noise Knight Hawk Ferromanganese Snare Drum 14x6.5

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. 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.


#2 - Gretsch USA Phosphor Bronze Snare Drum 14x6.5

When you absolutely have to destroy every 2 and 4 in the room! The USA Phosphor Bronze is the heaviest drum Gretsch makes, both in actual weight and in the sound it produces. It features a 5mm thick shell with a 45-degree bearing edge at the core, providing projection and clarity like no other. Additional features include Lightning throw-off, die-cast hoops, 'Snap-In' key holder, and 42-strand snare wires.

#1 - Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare Drum 14x8

Gregg Keplinger’s snare drums are the ultimate weapon for tracking in the studio. His no-nonsense approach to crafting a drum has resulted in some of the most famous recorded sounds in the past 20 years. Whether it’s steel, brass or black iron, a Keplinger shell projects with enough power and sensitivity to make it your go-to for any musical situation. Money well spent.

And There you have it…the 20 best snare drums of 2023. If any of these drums happened to speak to you, feel free to purchase them from us by using the links in this blog. We’d like to thank you for your continued support over the years. We’re all drummers here, and part of what we do is to help you make informed decisions when choosing your gear.

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