How to buy high-priced snares
There is a fine selection of high-priced metal snares available, which are made from a variety of metals - not just the usual steel or brass, but aerospace-grade aluminium, copper and even titanium. Although it’s tempting to assume that rare metals such as titanium must sound great because they’re expensive, this is not necessarily the case...
They have a particular timbre, which may or may not appeal – aluminium is quite dry, copper earthy and darkTake a trusted, known snare along with you as a reference when you try out some of the more exotic offerings. And be prepared for some surprising sounds.
An important structural feature in which expensive metal snares differ from cheaper ones is their shell construction. Up-market snares are usually seamless, while most cheaper shells have a vertical weld.
Producing a seamless shell means spinning the metal as opposed to the relatively easy method of bending a fl at strip into a circle and welding it together. Obviously, the welded join causes some interruption in the shell resonance. Having said that, some snares - such as Ludwig’s, for example - are spun in two halves, top and a bottom, and are also joined at the central strengthening bead.
Here’s our guide to buying the best…
Next page: 5 best metal snare drums under £1200
Gretsch Copper Shell
A 40-year-old classic, reissued with various shells, of which the 1.2mm hammered copper is the most unusual. Idiosyncracies include the 42-strand snare, beautifully sculpted Lightning strainer, vintage octagonal badge, snap-in key holder and die-cast hoops.
Ayotte Keplinger II
Shell by Gregg Keplinger, hoops and fittings by Ray Ayotte. The shell is 3mm of brushed stainless that weighs a ton. Because it’s Ayotte, you get wooden hoops – an unusual combination, but one that works, adding extra warmth and fatness.
Trick employs a simple design with top quality materials, like a shell made from aircraft grade aluminium and solid, machined aluminium lugs. Shells have a unique venting/pressure equalising system and extremely durable electro-powder coated finishes.
Ludwig Special Edition Black Beauty
With seamless spun brass shell finished in black nickel plate, it’s the most celebrated of metal snares. The SE has vintage solid brass tube lugs and brass die-cast hoops. Despite a typically basic strainer and snare wires, the sound is as rich as ever.
Dunnett Classic Titanium
Ronn Dunnett’s award-winning snare drum is a firm favourite with top drummers of all styles. Many pros have a Dunnett snare which they find works wonders on certain studio dates. It’s extremely sensitive, quite dry and doesn’t suffer from uncontrollable high-end overtones, which makes it close-mic friendly.