Once you begin to look beyond the £100 mark, every aspect of your snare should improve. Lugs and tension rods should preferably have nylon isolating washers and gaskets, while hoops will usually be triple-flanged steel – sometimes with thicker 2.3mm gauge metal rather than the standard 1.6mm.
Try out the different snare strainers/throw-offs to see which feels smooth and looks like it won't break - it's the only mechanical part and it can see a lot of rough action.
"A heavier shell tends to produce marginally more volume and a higher fundamental pitch, both generally regarded as positives when it comes to snare drums"
You can always change the heads if need be, but hopefully the snare will already come fitted with a decent head - at least budget Remos made in the Far East.
Made in Taiwan…
You'll get all the big names, but the drums will mostly be made in China or Taiwan. These days that shouldn't put you off – quality control and design are improving every year.
More and more drums are now made from maple and the wood often comes from North America, which ensures it'll be of reasonable quality. Birch is also used and Yamaha even offers oak.
Shells are ply construction, but you may notice that some of them are thicker, with more plies than on cheaper drums. A heavier shell tends to produce marginally more volume and a higher fundamental pitch, both generally regarded as positives when it comes to snare drums. Here are five of the best budget models to get you started…
5 budget snares from £140
Peace is a Taiwanese company that makes absolutely everything in-house and has been supplying others for over 30 years. This snare features nine-ply maple shells - and that's proper, Canadian maple – with extra deep lacquer fi nishes in numerous colours. The double-post, off-set tube lugs may tickle your fancy too.
Read the full review of Peace Drums' Paragon Maple Kit
4. Gretsch Renown Maple
Virtually indistinguishable from the much more expensive USA made Gretsches, the Renown has a 10-ply USA rock maple shell with 45 degree bearing edges and die-cast hoops, Evans G1 batter and high gloss and UV painted finishes on a 14"x5" eight-lug or 14"x 6½" 10-lug shell.
3. Tama Artwood Custom Maple (13"x6 1/2")
A classy range of four different sizes in four fi nishes. 14"x4", 5 1/2" and 6 1/2", plus 13"x6 1/2", seven-ply 6mm maple shells and heavy, 2.3mm-thick triple-flanged hoops. The hardware is in black nickel plate – a popular feature of several Tama lines. It's all topped off with a tough Evans Power Centre Reverse Dot batter.
Next page: Sonor Force 3007 and our top pick
Distinctive design touches include a solid black nylon throw-off and 10 stout Sonor mallet logo TuneSafe (non-slip) lugs. Nine-ply, 7mm maple shells are also available as a 12"x5" or 10"x5" second snare. The drum is completed by 2.3mm Powerhoops, Remo Ambassador heads and an attractive choice of nine fi nishes, including fades and sparkles.
Read the full review of Sonor's Force 3007 kit
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. Oak has a warm, deep and centred tone, as well as a beautiful wide grain in this matte finish.
Read the full review of Yamaha's Oak Custom kit
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