Best Snare Drums (2020)

If you’re a drummer than snare drums are an important part of your kit, and you want to make sure you get the best ones for you. Luckily, this guide will take you through some of the best options out there, answer your burning questions, and remind you of a few things to look out for while you’re shopping around.

The Best Snare Drums - The Top 5 Reviewed

Now let’s get down to business and review some of the best snare drums. Please know we only considered the highest rated snare drums for this list:

  1. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Snare Drum 
  2. Gretsch Silver Series Snare Drums 
  3. Mendini by Cecilio Student Snare Drums 
  4. Birch Snare by Mapex Snare Drums 
  5. Pearl S1330B Black Steel Snare Drums

We used consumer reviews and our own research to compile this list. These are unbiased reviews designed to help you pick the best possible snare drum.

Best Snare Drums

1. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Snare Drum

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Cranberry Red

Our rating:

This first option is an excellent piece of equipment from Yamaha and one of the best. Yamaha is well known for making excellent instruments for all different budgets, and this is another model that won’t disappoint.  

The Birch construction means that it has a warm, quality sound, with extremely good resonance and a nice thick tone. It also gives you the classic solid punch and snap, which you want from a wood snare drum. As it’s from Yamaha it’s superbly crafted and made like one of the more expensive models without the price. The six-ply birch on the drum shell is particularly good, but the whole thing has the feel and quality of a top-end product. You can also get this item in a variety of colors, which is great if you’re looking for something with a little bit more character. The paint will chip at some point the more you play, so if this a worry than natural wood is probably the best, but your style your choice.

As you want a snare drum to take a beating this is an option that doesn’t disappoint. There are flashier options out there, but the sound quality from the model is second to none, and it’s a drum that’s built to withstand which is most drummers' first concern. If you want a wood shell than you’re going to struggle to find something much better than this.

Pros

  • Excellent quality, and built to withstand the beating your average drummer will throw at it

  • Comes in a variety of colors without sacrificing on quality, If you want something with a bit of style this is a good option

  • Excellent depth of tone and overall sound

  • Looks and feels like a more expensive model

Cons

  • The paint will chip if you go for another color other than natural wood

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Cranberry Red
  • All-Birch shell
  • Ten Lugs for More Precise Tuning
  • Hi-Gloss Lacquer Finish
  • 45 Degree Bearing Edges

2. Gretsch Silver Series Snare Drums

Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14' Hammered Brass Snare Drum

Our rating:

This is a model that will stop you in your tracks before you’ve even played it. It looks amazing and is one of the best looking snare drums available, it comes in a range of colors so you’re sure to find something that you love, and that reflects your style so you know you’ll look good while you play.

It’s made of brass which creates a mix between the warmth of a wooden snare drum, and the snap of a metal one which can cut through the mix. It has a unique sound that really makes this a drum for the drummer who likes to stand out from the crowd, and the hammered finish focuses the sound into something punchy. This is a robust drum due to the chrome hardware and die-cast hoops, and it’s a model that’s built to last.

If you’re worried about breakage while you’re on tour than this is the perfect solution as it's built to withstand a rough ride. This is a very versatile instrument built for a variety of genres and styles. If you’re a beginner then it might not be the best thing to learn on, but it will last you a long time so it’s worth considering how seriously you’re going to take your music and how much you plan to play.

Pros

  • A gorgeous piece of kit, this is a drum that stands out from the crowd and will defiantly turn heads wherever you go 

  • It comes from a brand with an excellent reputation for quality, so you know you’re in safe hands

  • A unique sound that really stands out in a crowded market

  • Good for a variety of genres, a very versatile piece of kit

  • Durable and robust perfect for touring 

Cons

  • Might be a bit too much for beginners

Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14" Hammered Brass Snare Drum
  • 6.5x14" Snare Drum
  • 1.2mm Polished Hammered Brass shell with Bolt-on Silver Series round badge & Chrome hardware
  • Throw-Off: Fully adjustable side pull with fixed butt plate
  • 10 Lugs
  • Die Cast hoops, 30-Degree bearing edge, Remo heads

3. Mendini by Cecilio Student Snare Drums

Mendini Student Snare Drum Set with Gig Bag, Sticks, Stand and Practice Pad Kit, Blue, MSN-1455P-BL

Our rating:

If you’re just starting and you’re a little unsure what to look for than Mendini is a great option for you. This model is designed with learners in mind and it’s a great model that comes with all the accessories a beginner needs like a stand and a case.

As it’s essentially built for those just starting out it’s a model that does everything you need it to, but it’s not going to break or fall out of tune as soon as you start playing. It also doesn’t have the annoying rattle many cheap beginner snares have. The sound is decent, and for a beginner or an amateur you’re probably not going to notice very much difference between this and something a little bit better.

This isn’t a particularly flashy piece of kit, and you might want someone who knows what they’re doing to take a look at your set-up to get the most out of it, but it is going to do the job and help you master the basics. It’s a good option for someone whose been playing for a while and is looking for something to use while busking for example, or who just started gigging. It’s a decent piece of kit that while it lacks style will do what you ask of it and make a decent amount of noise!

Pros

  • Great value for a beginner as it comes with all you need to get started

  • Well built and durable, so you don’t have to worry about bashing it around as you get used to your set up

  • A good sound suitable for busking or smaller gigs

  • From a brand who are known for good quality instruments especially for beginners

Cons

  • As you improve you will need to upgrade. This is not going to last you your entire career, so worth keeping in mind if you’re more experienced than a beginner

Mendini Student Snare Drum Set with Gig Bag, Sticks, Stand and Practice Pad Kit, Blue, MSN-1455P-BL
  • 14-inch x 5.5-inch student snare drum
  • 30-inch snare stand with 10 lugs (standard size as it is meant for adults or students to sit by.)
  • Rubber practice pad to mute the drum's sound
  • Includes: padded gig bag, sticks, and adjustable neck-strap
  • 1 Year Warranty Against Manufacturer's Defects

4. Birch Snare by Mapex Snare Drums

Mapex MPBC4550BMB MPX Series 14' x 5.5' Birch Snare Drum - Transparent Black Finish

Our rating:

Another all-birch model, this is a 5.5-inch snare drum that comes with Remo heads and it’s a great option for those who want a good product without having to break the bank. The sound has a great depth and a good bright feel and is nice and distinctive because of the birch construction. It’s a great option either for a beginner, or for an intermediate player. You could play this drum straight of the box if you wanted to or exchange the head for something more your speed if you wanted to.

It’s a great looking instrument too, with a transparent black finish with black hardware. It’s a drum that will definitely stand out from the crowd and could fit in well with pretty much any color kit, so you know you’ll be looking great as you play.

This is a great option to start off with because it’ll last you a good long time, and you don’t have to worry about outgrowing it too fast. It could even take you through some of your first gigs if that’s something you’re interested in. It’s not going to break the bank, but it’s worth at least double what you’d pay for it terms of quality of the sound and how nice it looks. It’s a great option well worth thinking about.

Pros

  • A great option to start on and to grow your skill on

  • Durable and robust. This drum will last you a while and you don’t have to worry about it breaking or going out of tune right out of the box

  • Looks great

  • Excellent sound due to the all-birch construction

  • Suited to a variety of styles and genres

Cons

  • If you want a drum that you can take on tour or a lot of performances, it’s probably not going to stand up to the abuse

Mapex MPBC4550BMB MPX Series 14" x 5.5" Birch Snare Drum - Transparent Black Finish
  • 7.2mm birch shell
  • MAPEX birch 13'x6" Snare drum
  • 14" X 5.5"
  • Birch

5. Pearl S1330B Black Steel Snare Drums

Pearl S1330B 13 x 3 Inches Black Steel Piccolo Snare Drum with Vater 5B Wood Tip Hickory Drum Sticks, Pair

Our rating:

Pearl is one of the biggest names in drum manufacturing so at least one of their drums would have to feature on this list. This is a piccolo snare drum that comes in at a compact 13x3 inches. This drum sounds so crisp that those who are used to standard snares might decide to use these instead in your primary set up, they really do sound that good. A usual birch snare drum has a different resonant sound to this one, but the difference is why this model sounds so good.

They’re also built to last with the level of experience and care you’d expect from a brand like Pearl, so they feel like you’ve spent more than you have. It’s designed to be played by anyone all the way up to professional level so it’s a great option for everyone.

Pros

  • Amazing sound, something a little different that won’t suit everyone but is something that every player taking their music should try 

  • Compact and portable, excellent for the touring or gigging musician, or for taking to lessons

  • Built by an iconic brand so you can trust the build and the quality straight away

Cons

  • Won’t suit everyone’s style

Pearl S1330B 13 x 3 Inches Black Steel Piccolo Snare Drum with Vater 5B Wood Tip Hickory Drum Sticks, Pair
  • Brand: Pearl
  • Product Code: S1330B
  • Compact and affordable with plenty of snap
  • Wood Tip
  • Size: 5B

Final Thoughts

There are so many different kinds of snare drums it can be hard picking the one that’s right for you. Making sure that your snare drum is tuned properly is something you need to be aware of to get the best sound from it. Obviously, all snares can be tuned but some do a better job of staying tuned. Better hardware and heads tend to stay in tune for longer, and are more durable so they’ll withstand heavy playing without distorting.

Better quality materials change the sound of the snare drum, some cheaper woods will resonate less for example when you hit them with your drum sticks, or using a single piece of curved wood rather than laminated wood. Making sure your drum has been built in the best possible way is also really worth looking out for. Poorer builds that have defects in the materials used or aren’t designed well can really affect your drum's sound. For example, beginners’ drums are often used with cheaper materials and can develop annoying rattling or rigs and it can be very hard to tune them out or cover them.

Some drums are better suited to different kinds of music, for example metal and jazz are both genres that make heavy use of the snare drum, so it’s worth considering your genre before making a choice.

Jazz, for example, normally prefer wooden drums because of the warmer sound drums made from wood tend to create. Maple is also the preferred wood for jazz players, much like with guitar tops. Most jazz drummers tend to go for a single coated ply head, because of the responsive feel and sensitivity which helps produce a high pitched and sustained sound from their snares. If you are looking for a snare for jazz than responsiveness needs to be your buzz word. Jazz beats are complex, and you need your snare drum to be able to keep up. You need a versatile drum that can make multiple sounds and responds to the way you hit. If your drum can’t do that, then it’s no good for jazz.

If you want to play metal than you’re probably going to use a metal snare. Make sure you look at what metal you the drum’s made from. Steel and brass are the preferred choices, because they’ll get you to the Loud and resonant crack that you want in Metal. Some do use wood because of the warmth and depth, and if this is something you want then don’t feel restricted. If you’re not sure though and want to sound like your favorite bands than metal is probably a better choice.

It’s worth finding out what your favorite band uses because it might give you some insight into the sort of thing you’re looking for. Some learners worry that they’re just playing their favorite songs, but knowing what sort of sound you like and what you want to play can be one of the best ways to work out what you’re looking for.

Snare drums are also a great way to customize the ‘look’ while you play, something which is especially important in Metal. Finding something that you love to play, and makes you look good while you do is important.

Ultimately you have to find the drum that’s right for you. Think about the music you love and work out what you need to get that sound. There are so many different types of snares, you are guaranteed to find something that suits you. Failing all this you can just grab yourself a drum machine and make those same snare drum sounds without the physical drum. 

FAQs

How much do snare drums cost?

Like with any instrument there is one for every budget. Make sure you look at trusted brands though, a snare drum needs have been designed knowing it’s going to get hit a lot, and you don’t want to have to replace it after only a few practices.

How portable are snare drums?

There are so many types of snares, that finding one that suits your sound and you can get to where you need is a matter of perseverance. Shop around and really consider what you need.