Liberty Drums Elm Burr snare review

Beautiful burr sounds as good as it looks

  • £522
This snare (right) has a 15-ply birch shell topped with a veneer of rare elm burr

MusicRadar Verdict

Provides a great working platform for anything from tight backbeats and tantalizing rolls to delicate ghosted notes - simply put, this is a highly desirable snare.


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    Very high build quality and excellent components - from the shell material to the heads and lugs. Excellent tonal balance and controllability.


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This handcrafted Elm Burr And Birch snare from Country Durham drum maker Liberty Drums, boasts a whopping 15-ply birch shell.

This is nicely topped with a slice of rare elm burr veneer, creating an impressively thick but tightly-packed 9mm shell. The overall finish is simply captivating with its random and complex grain, typical of any top-notch veneer.

The drum also features the Liberty 'Iconic' metal badge and share similar chrome-plated hardware including snare strainer, throw-off, counter hoops, and lugs.

"There is a feeling of immense controllability which provides confidence to our playing, plenty of attack and bags of volume"

These semi-circular Liberty 'beetle' lugs are, of course, isolated from the precious veneer walls by nylon gaskets. They are chunky but slick, each with a retro-esque elegance of their own.

As with many of the Liberty snares we have road-tested, the firm has opted for the superb George Way 'beer tap' snare throw-off and butt-end. This is surely one of the world's most simplistic but cunning levers, relying on nothing more than the tension of the strainer and lever angle to keep everything in place. Once adjusted to the optimum position, the butt-end has a knurled adjuster with four machined recesses to stop it from rotating.

Heads of choice are Evans - with a Level 360 white coated ST for the batter and a Hazy 300. Incidentally, ST stands for Super Tough as this batter has two 7.5-mil plies to thicken up the sound and give extra stick resilience. The strategically drilled air holes provide venting while also providing a fine tonal balance with good levels of overtone.

Hands on

After lifting the drum from its protective packaging, a couple of the usual finger flicks shows this to be tightly tensioned and evenly tuned.

A number of stick blips aimed directly at the centre demonstrate this drum's potential - it is going to be a loud drum! Taking a step back and giving time for the ears to settle, it is possible to detect the inherent crispness provided by the thick shell, coupled with an aggressive snap from those 15 plies of birch.

With the Elm Burr, there is a feeling of immense controllability which provides confidence to our playing, plenty of attack and bags of volume - with each component part helping to supply the optimum resonance and the desired overtone.

It's worth mentioning the superb Evans ST Dry heads and the Puresound strainer which assist the snare with its superb stick definition - each strike clear and responsive, precise and accurate.

The well-engineered components respond smoothly and accurately so obtaining your preferred pitch and snare sound is a breeze, whether increasing or decreasing the tuning - we can go right up into timbale territory and down again for something a little more meaty.