Buyers' guide: high-priced wood snare drums

The art of buying top end wood ply drums

All the drums included in this category are wood ply drums - to distinguish them from solid wood construction drums featured elsewhere. Increasing the number of plies adds to the expense and, at the same time, makes the drum slightly louder and drier with a raised pitch.

These are qualities that many drummers find attractive in a snare, more so than with the rest of their kit perhaps, where sustain and depth of tone are prized. A thicker shell also allows for higher tension, with the attendant extra stress on the shell, which is often required of a snare drum.

"When you're splashing out for a special snare the build quality, finish and attention to detail should be beyond reproach"

Darker = thinner

Conversely, for a darker sound go for a thinner shell (like Sonor's Delite) that has a deeper fundamental with a more resonant and colourful timbre. In the end, the most expensive snares do not necessarily sound appreciably better than the more modest, professional level snares.

The difference is that no expense has been spared in producing them.

Designer ethic

When you're splashing out for a special snare the build quality, finish and attention to detail should be beyond reproach. The designer ethic is also evident in high-priced wood snares, with myriad choice of finishes available, Rolls Royce silent snare strainers, top quality lugs and hoops.

Exotic woods may also be available from some manufacturers, which will again push the price up.

5 high-priced wood snares from £499

5. Spaun Multi-ply

As a snare's shell gets thicker the pitch rises, overtones are reduced and the drum gets louder. So, for a brighter snare go for a thicker shell. Spaun will build you a snare as thick as you like, from eight to 30 plies or more, in maple or birch, name your finish.

4. Sonor Delite Series
From £499

Vintage shell construction of nine plies of maple forming an extra-thin 4mm shell, plus 2mm Dynamic Edge (or reinforcing ring). Handsome centre-mounted tension rods and massive die-cast hoops. Simple but excellently made throw-off completes a dazzlingly strong package.

3. Ayotte Custom
£789 - £999

Ayotte offers over 300 custom configurations – diameters from 10" to 15", depths from 3" to 12", and shell plies from six to a whopping 50, with both straight-sided and reinforced shells. You can have steel or Ayotte's famous wood hoops, with a colour-matched finish.
Read the full review of Ayotte's Custom kit

Next page: DW Acoustic EQ and our top pick


2. DW Acoustic EQ

The Acoustic EQ is a collector's series 10-ply with six-ply reinforcement hoops maple snare, with variable control vents cut into the shell. By adjusting a double series of gates, you alter the amount of air expelled from the drum as you play it, thus varying the tone from wetter to drier.

1. Brady Jarrah Ply Custom

Brady's enviable reputation is based on the use of Australian desert hardwoods, which are harder than the familiar maple and birch of Western drums. Jarrah is Brady's most popular and versatile choice, with good balance of attack, body, warmth and depth. The 10 plies are, unlike anyone else's, all laid horizontally.
Read the full review of Brady's handmade snare collection

Liked this? Then try:
Buyers' guide: budget wood snare drums
17 seriously useful drum tuning tips
Cheap Trick's Bun E Carlos's dos and don'ts for drummers

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