What do you hear in a higher quality snare drum that you don't hear in one of lower quality?

Tdipaul

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Regarding the sound...

I think the look of a drum, the marketing and the hype play tricks on me.
How can a $100 Stage Custom snare have more sensitivity than a $600 Brand X snare?
It cant be!

Regarding the feel...

Big difference here.
The quality of the shell, lugs, tension rods, hoops and a smooth throwoff mechanism all add up to a much better feeling drum that is easier to tune and work on. But they dont guarentee it will sound better.
 
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5 Style

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I don't own anything that would be considered really high end, but I do notice some shortcomings with cheaper snares that I've tried. Those cheaper snares might even sound OK if you're playing only full force backbeats on them, but as soon as you play lighter ghost notes and buzz rolls on them the sound really starts to fall apart. No matter how you tune certain snares it seems that lighter strokes just don't really track that well and rather than getting a smooth, even response, you hear the snare wires rattling separately from the fundamental tone of the drum. I like a snare to track all of the strokes that I lay down and for the snares to have an articulate sound even at the lowest volumes. As long as that's happening, I care less about the details of the tone. I've got wood, aluminum and fiberglass snares and though I can dig the different tonal colors that each one provides, I still feel that any of them could work for basically any kind of music that I'd ever play. The whole sensitivity/precision thing is to me what makes a snare good and beyond that it's really just subtle seasoning...
 
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equipmentdork

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Snare sensitivity, even without a "super sensitive" snare system. The rest is tone, and the job you need to get done. I've recorded with thousand-dollar snares and $50 entry-level steel and gotten great results from both.



Dan
 

equipmentdork

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Pearl Free Floater equipped with the bottom 4 inches of a 5-ply Slingy concert tom .

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Slingerland 5-ply shells are among my favorite snare sounds ever. The 8x14 Magnum(in my avatar) is my favorite out of around 50 that I own.


Dan
 

MVE

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Disclaimer: Im a bass player that just recently bought a drum kit and joined this forum for some guidance.

That being said, I really enjoyed this thread.

If anyone cares about my perspective as a bass player and bandmate (and it’s probably shared by all your bandmates too) is that we don’t care what your drums sound like, but we sure do care about what your cymbals sound like.

A great sounding kit is about 10% bass drum, 5% Toms, 1% snare and 99% cymbals! ;)

You could be kicking a cardboard box and shaking a coffee can full of beans for a snare, if you have a really nice sounding HH and ride, you’re golden.
 
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JimmySticks

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Disclaimer: Im a bass player that just recently bought a drum kit and joined this forum for some guidance.

That being said, I really enjoyed this thread.

If anyone cares about my perspective as a bass player and bandmate (and it’s probably shared by all your bandmates too) is that we don’t care what your drums sound like, but we sure do care about what your cymbals sound like.

A great sounding kit is about 10% bass drum, 5% Toms, 1% snare and 99% cymbals! ;)

You could be kicking a cardboard box and shaking a coffee can full of beans for a snare, if you have a really nice sounding HH and ride, you’re golden.
I get that.

When I was playing guitar in bands, the drummers choice of equipment never came up. Nobody ever said the snare didn't sound right or something like that. It was his playing that mattered most. I don't even remember what kits the drummers played to be honest. It didn't really matter because they just always sounded right in the context of the band when everyone was playing.
 

varatrodder

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Hear? Nothing. That’s subjective. To me a Ludwig Black Magic sounds better than a Supra, but that’s because I don’t like Supras.

I’ve owned plenty of budget drums that I loved the sound of - Tama Rockstars, Pearl Exports, vintage MIJ.

The real difference to me is the quality of the build and hardware.
 
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varatrodder

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Nobody ever said the snare didn't sound right or something like that.
I actually did have that happen once. It was the one time I tried Evans heads. The lead singer/guitar player (who is also one of my best friends, so very honest) turned to me and asked why my snare sounded so bad. I went back to Fork’s the next day to get a Remo, and the sales guy (who knew me from shopping there all the time) just chuckled and said he knew I’d be back to get a Remo.
 

Drumbumcrumb

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I think those two drums aren’t so crazy far apart where they’d sound like night and day. Especially with good heads and wires, and good tuning. They’re both pretty high quality, I suppose the strainer on the Catalina isn’t fantastic but the shells, edges, hoops, lugs are very nice.

Modern production methods and materials have made entry- and mid-level instruments exponentially better and higher quality. So now more than ever, you have to spend more to hear a difference. And even then - under mics and accompanied by a band, you’re talking about pretty subtle differences TO THE AVERAGE LAYMAN. You could record a dozen hit records with a Catalina snare and everyone would be fine with it. But we’re not just some Joe Bagadonuts, we’re passionate drum lovers. A Stradivarius just sounds like a violin to me, but the sound of Gladstone drums makes me a little watery eyed. The subtle differences add up to create that “perfect” drum - a drum that can’t really be improved upon. And then of course you need the perfect aluminum drum, and bronze, and maple, and mahogany, and on and on. Rabbit holeville.

One of the marks of the highest quality drums IMO is they sound excellent wide open at many tunings - no muffling required. There are no nasty overtones to quiet, no rattling to mask, nothing to clean up or hide. The higher quality drum sounds more musical, wires on or off. It’s much more sensitive and responsive, especially at low volume - more consistent across the board. It’s got it all, awesome sound at the center, at the edges, cross stick, rimshot. That’s all just the SOUND differences that are easy to articulate - there’s a whole slew of details that are harder to describe, like feel, and how that translates to sound - “pop” “breathy” “crisp” and the like. Intangibles.
 

Whitten

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I get that.

When I was playing guitar in bands, the drummers choice of equipment never came up. Nobody ever said the snare didn't sound right or something like that.
That may be a reflection on the bandmates. I definitely have bandmates telling me my drums sound great. Even more so the out front sound people. Obviously I take great professional pride in delivering an awesome drum sound to whatever show I'm playing in, not just telling myself "that'll do, no one notices anyway".
The first time I had a rude awakening on the quality of my drums was when I started recording. Several disastrous sessions with worried recording engineers pulling their hair out just trying to achieve a usable sound for the record. There is a reason studios use Drum Doctor to hire in snares like the Ludwig black Beauty and some record producers own their own selection of great sounding snares.
 

pwc1141

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In my own case, snares that came with kits I bought were always unsatisfactory in one way or another and I could easily tell the difference between my 12 x 7 Brady Sheoak black snare and those. Focus, tone, sensitivity and more .....
 

Markkuliini

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One thing that many forget. It takes a really good touch to pull 100% out from a snare (or any) drum. That's the only way to hear the true differences between snares.

With lesser quality touch you're hearing more of the heads and wires and getting inconsistent sound because your aim is not great, so the contact point and angle varies too much.

The ironic thing is that, when you finally have achieved a good touch, and can fully enjoy the sound differences between snares, you're also able to pull much better sound out of lower quality snare drum, so in a way higher end snare becomes less of a necessity.
 
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swarfrat

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The other reason I'd delay spending a wad for what you can't hear is... I hate Les Pauls. Now that I have a couple strats and a Tele, I wouldn't mind one. But when I started out I really wanted one. I had a LP Studio just long enough to learn that everything about the isn't me. Balance, neck humbuckers, the bridge, the neck angle... Had I saved up $2k for that experience I'd have been severely bummed.

Spend the money AFTER you know what you want and why. Don't throw money at it if you can't hear the difference. Wait until you can.
 

JimmySticks

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That may be a reflection on the bandmates. I definitely have bandmates telling me my drums sound great. Even more so the out front sound people. Obviously I take great professional pride in delivering an awesome drum sound to whatever show I'm playing in, not just telling myself "that'll do, no one notices anyway".
The first time I had a rude awakening on the quality of my drums was when I started recording. Several disastrous sessions with worried recording engineers pulling their hair out just trying to achieve a usable sound for the record. There is a reason studios use Drum Doctor to hire in snares like the Ludwig black Beauty and some record producers own their own selection of great sounding snares.
We definitely complimented the drummer on sound and playing, but what I'm saying is his gear never mattered. I don't ever remember having a reason to criticize his choice of kit or drum heads, snare choice or tom sounds because they sounded bad. When the band started playing, they just sounded good and blended right.

But we weren't at your level either. No sound guys picking everything apart. Bars and VFW halls were as far as we got, so I can see gear really mattering more at your level than where we were.

PS - I played an Aria Pro II guitar most of the time and it really killed, what a sound. Nobody ever told me it didn't sound good. But you'd never see that at your level.
 

What It Is

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For me, I always try to steer clear of drums that have a "thinness" to them, be they high or low cost snare drums. I like a snare drum that can do many different things, and if that means it's between $100-$700, so be it. I think two things come into play as well: there's always a certain nostalgia for a drum; the first snare, the garage sale find, the hand me down from grandpa. I also think we've been steered towards thinking expensive instruments somehow channel the gods and make us superior musicians. In the end, be yourself and find your voice. If the drum does what you need it to do within a variety of your musical contexts, then you've achieved enlightenment.
 

Whitten

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I don't ever remember having a reason to criticize his choice of kit or drum heads, snare choice or tom sounds because they sounded bad.
Sure.
I also think the right gear for the music is important.
I hate seeing 'classic rock' played on a 10, 12 & 14 fusion kit with a piccolo snare. It isn't idiomatic.
 


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