Arguably there’s no other part of the kit that defines a drummer’s sound as clearly as their choice of snare drum.
The top picks this year favour metal shells in brass or steel and exotic woods like English Yew and Walnut, and they span the range from Pearl’s affordable Modern Utility Steel up to instruments that are practically investments like The Archer from the British Drum Company complete with gold plated tension rods.
But reigning supreme for 2019 comes a heavy-duty entry from Tama that swept up over a third of all the votes cast.
1. Tama Metalworks Black Steel
Tama muscles into the metal snare market with their three Metalworks Black Steel models, available in 10” x 5.5”, 14” x 5.5” and 14” x 6.5” sizes. The shells are 1.2mm steel with a centre ridge for reinforcement and, as you’d expect given the material, they deliver a crisp attack.
2. Pearl Modern Utility Steel
Originally launched as a line of Maple snares, the Modern Utility range has grown to include Pearl’s new Steel model available in 14” x 5.5” and 14” x 6.5” sizes. The drums are made with a 1mm beaded steel shell, feature Pearl’s CL arch lugs, and are priced for affordability.
3. Ludwig Jazz Fest Series
During their 110th anniversary, Ludwig has reintroduced their 1950’s Buddy Rich Model Snare Drum under a new name. Made with a 3-ply Legacy Mahogany shell, the 14” x 5.5” drums feature vintage-style baseball bat dampeners, white-washed Reso-Coat shell interiors, and 8-lug triple-flanged hoops for a wide range of tuning possibilities.
4. British Drum Company The Archer
The stunning new snare drum from the British Drum Company is handmade from English Yew in a 10-ply shell crafted using a cold-press moulding process to bring out the full warmth and tone of the wood. Each drum is fitted with vintage-style mini-claws, gold plated tension rods and Palladium lugs.
5. PDP Concept Walnut
PDP have expanded their range of Concept snares from their classic Maple and Birch models with the release of the new Concept Exotic Walnut snare drum. Like the rest of the series, the Walnut model has a 10-ply shell, DW’s True-Pitch tension rods, dual turret lugs, and all chrome hardware.
6. Dunnett 2N-B8
There’s no other brand as closely associated with crafting metal snare drums than Canadian drummer builder Ronn Dunnett and the new 2N-B8 brass snares live up to the company’s reputation for excellence. The lathed exterior looks stunning, and the signature deep, contoured snare beds accommodate 42-wire snares while eliminating buzzing.