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

Markkuliini

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Here we go.. This video was custom made for this thread/debate... Interestingly.. It was put on YouTube May 27, 2020.


B sounds bit colder, I would say that's the steel drum.
Over all, on his videos you often hear the room a lot and everything seems loud. Makes sense, the room looks echo-y and hard. But in any case it's bit difficult to hear the details on his videos.
I agree. But the drums had some kind of powerstroke heads(?). I think the difference might have been bigger with coated Ambassadors.
Ah ok. They tend to make everything sound more alike.
 

GeneZ

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B sounds bit colder, I would say that's the steel drum.
Over all, on his videos you often hear the room a lot and everything seems loud. Makes sense, the room looks echo-y and hard. But in any case it's bit difficult to hear the details on his videos.

Ah ok. They tend to make everything sound more alike.
From where I sit I hear real snare drums... Different sounding. Yet, tapping on two different desks will also produce two different sounds.

The problem is.... the drummer needs to be able to tune and be able to become one with the music. As long as its a decent snare drum that is optimally tuned, it will add a different flavoring ... but still delicious if tastefully done. Those who make excuses for their deficiencies wish to blame the drum.

Some of the greatest drum hits that excited us were using what today would be considered simply well made snares... The drummer is what makes the drums sound good. He has to know how to tune instinctively. That is the key. (no pun intended)
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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But neither one is better... only different. Each is a different spice to add to a particular stew.

The only bad snare a cheaply made one.
I disagree. My Brady overall is much better than my 64' Acro, regardless of price, and every drummer friend of mine that has played both (which is many), agree. Using your stew reference - the Acro is canned tomatoes, the Brady is fresh ones from the garden (grown by a loving Italian grandmother). Maybe some people just don't have the ability to tell the difference in quality. For every time I get asked to bring my Acro to a session, my Brady gets requested ten times more. As Chris has repeatedly pointed out, you want the best tools for the job. The only time I get asked to bring my Acro is when that sound is wanted, and only that sound. Otherwise, the expectation is to bring my best gear, gear that'll produce a top quality sound, not one that rattles and requires cotton balls jammed in every nook and cranny. Don't get me wrong, I love my Acro, for what it does, but it's limited compared to my Brady.

I think the divide here is on one side you have drummers who use their gear in high expectation situations, and the other in more general, less consequences, situations. If I'm going to track at The Warehouse - I'm bringing the Brady, if I'm doing a weekend cover gig, Acro all the way.
 

GeneZ

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I disagree. My Brady overall is much better than my 64' Acro, regardless of price, and every drummer friend of mine that has played both (which is many), agree. Using your stew reference - the Acro is canned tomatoes, the Brady is fresh ones from the garden (grown by a loving Italian grandmother). Maybe some people just don't have the ability to tell the difference in quality. For every time I get asked to bring my Acro to a session, my Brady gets requested ten times more. As Chris has repeatedly pointed out, you want the best tools for the job. The only time I get asked to bring my Acro is when that sound is wanted, and only that sound. Otherwise, the expectation is to bring my best gear, gear that'll produce a top quality sound, not one that rattles and requires cotton balls jammed in every nook and cranny. Don't get me wrong, I love my Acro, for what it does, but it's limited compared to my Brady.

I think the divide here is on one side you have drummers who use their gear in high expectation situations, and the other in more general, less consequences, situations. If I'm going to track at The Warehouse - I'm bringing the Brady, if I'm doing a weekend cover gig, Acro all the way.
I can make that Acro sing... As long as one is not making a comparison directly, it can sound great on its own.. Now, if you are playing a certain style of music? One sound will work better than the other. It only makes it better for that style.
 

Markkuliini

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From where I sit I hear real snare drums... Different sounding. Yet, tapping on two different desks will also produce two different sounds.

The problem is.... the drummer needs to be able to tune and be able to become one with the music. As long as its a decent snare drum that is optimally tuned, it will add a different flavoring ... but still delicious if tastefully done. Those who make excuses for their deficiencies wish to blame the drum.

Some of the greatest drum hits that excited us were using what today would be considered simply well made snares... The drummer is what makes the drums sound good. He has to know how to tune instinctively. That is the key. (no pun intended)
I totally agree.
Not to toot own horn, but just to be sure you know my point of view, I would consider myself a really good tuner. Have done it a lot through my career, been really into it right from the start, been teaching it professionally a lot, and last year I even filmed and released a 3 hr instructional video on drum tuning.

My point is, if you're able to tune drums really well and have a good touch, pretty much all the randomness disappears from the sound producing process and you really start to hear a true sound of each drum. In other words, then the differences between drum materials/edges/constructions get more apparent.
I could get by with 2 snares, but I have about 15 because to me sound (and behave) different even if I tune them the same.

That being said, I have owned an Acro at least 5 times. Different eras and all that. Sold them all,
because that drum does absolutely nothing to me, it lacks character and most of all, headroom. It goes to 8, and that's it.
Sure, I can work with one and make it sound really good (unless I need volume and body at the same time). I just don't enjoy them.

And it's not about the price either. For instance my vintage Pearl COB's have been dirt cheap. Love them!
 
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Old Drummer

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Here we go.. This video was custom made for this thread/debate... Interestingly.. It was put on YouTube May 27, 2020.


Thanks. I like head-to-head comparisons like this and think there should be more of them. They cut out a lot of nebulous opinions by zeroing in on actual sound differences.

In this case, I got the "right" answer by having an ever so slight preference for A, which I believe turned out to be the more expensive Black Beauty. However, to my ears, the difference really was minuscule--and definitely not worth $500.

Though I have to agree with others in questioning the choice of heads. I don't have experience with the exact heads used, but they appear to be in the class of heads that are designed to alter the sound of drums. It's fine for players to choose heads from this class, but I think more conventional plain heads like Remo Ambassadors are more appropriate for comparing snare drums.

Also, the comparison wasn't between a low end and a high end drum. The Gretsch Brooklyn isn't exactly low end. Related is that the comparison was between metal snares. I suspect that if wood snares were compared and a low end drum was included, craftsmanship might make more of a difference. I think that with metal snares things like bearing edges and snare beds always come out right, while with wood snares both may vary more.

Of additional interest to me is that I didn't hear one drum as louder than the other. I've read that steel drums are louder than brass, but I didn't hear that in this video.
 

Markkuliini

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I suspect that if wood snares were compared and a low end drum was included, craftsmanship might make more of a difference. I think that with metal snares things like bearing edges and snare beds always come out right, while with wood snares both may vary more.
Wooden drums require probably more handwork, and therefore the craftsmanship can make em or brake em. But interestingly enough, the only drum that I have gotten new and that have had severe problems with bearing edges, was a metal snare. It was a DW thin aluminum that had the edge really wonky at the point where the weld was. It was so apparent that the shop took it right back and sent it back to DW for replacement.
 
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Whitten

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Those who make excuses for their deficiencies wish to blame the drum.

Some of the greatest drum hits that excited us were using what today would be considered simply well made snares... The drummer is what makes the drums sound good. He has to know how to tune instinctively. That is the key. (no pun intended)
Like I said - I took a COB Gretsch snare drum to literally hundreds of recording sessions in the 80's, no producer ever chose it over my Black Beauty or N&C. I tried multiple different tunings, multiple different heads. Maybe I just couldn't gel with it, but I was obviously not 'deficient' regarding the BB and N&C, and I would routinely tune them for the needs of the song - low, medium or high.
 

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Louder and higher-pitched complaints from your parents, wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends and kids!
 

GeneZ

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Like I said - I took a COB Gretsch snare drum to literally hundreds of recording sessions in the 80's, no producer ever chose it over my Black Beauty or N&C. I tried multiple different tunings, multiple different heads. Maybe I just couldn't gel with it, but I was obviously not 'deficient' regarding the BB and N&C, and I would routinely tune them for the needs of the song - low, medium or high.
Do you have the wide Gretsch snares on it? And, I am not sure Gretsch snares would be a good comparison. Bring in a good Slingerland or Tama, even Pearl... and there might have been a more positive response. Gretsch snares have not been always liked by those who like playing their Gretsch toms and bass drums... Gretsch vintage snares have been known for having a boxy sound. https://www.drumforum.org/threads/about-boxy-snare-drums.175973/
 

GeneZ

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One of my snares is a 14x5.5 Cadeson Studio snare. Sold for only $275 new when I bought mine in 2001.

Looks like you can pick up a used one for around $150.00 today. If interested, I did a small studio recording if someone wants to get an idea how it can be made to sound while playing the set...

Here are some used ones.
https://reverb.com/item/27456075-cadeson-5-5x14-studio-maple-snare

https://reverb.com/item/29546967-cadeson-cadeson-studio-series-14x5-snare-drum

It does not have to be super expensive...
 

JDA

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Gene's right on that. Gretsch Wood snare however are a different animal. My COB sits in a stack as it has for 35 years. Only in extreme desperation would it get used. It's a difficult drum to ignore and get on to playing with. I still love it in it's strange built like a tank but highly obnoxious way but the Wood version is much more palatable. 99% of Gretsch metal snares traditionally over all the years have been odd ducks. Gretsch wood snares much more palatable.
 
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JDA

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One of my snares is a 14x5.5 Cadeson Studio snare.
Cadeson were High end drums weren't they Gene? I remember when they first came out and were reviewed in modern drummer it seem they were the next Yamaha or above. Like a Canopus well before a Canopus (existed) .
The drum on reverb you mention has rings and looks top end.
" Cadeson is a Chinese boutique company "
now that I didn't know (Thought/assumed they were Japanese) Still.

Looks nice. To read the description sure sounds high end.
 

GeneZ

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Cadeson were High end drums weren't they Gene? I remember when they first came out and were reviewed in modern drummer it seem they were the next Yamaha or above. Like a Canopus well before a Canopus (existed) .
The drum on reverb you mention has rings and looks top end.
" Cadeson is a Chinese boutique company "
now that I didn't know (Thought/assumed they were Japanese) Still.

Looks nice. To read the description sure sounds high end.
. :study: .., PRICE! We are talking about (expensive) high quality gear verses what? I have yet to see an expensive cheaply made drum - the kind that sounds bad.
 

5 Style

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I don't disagree that very cheap drums, particularly snares more often than not don't sound very good. I also don't disagree that some very expensive drums have a sound that just isn't possible with anything much cheaper. What I'm saying though is that drums are a kind of interesting case, one where there are lots of examples of great drummers, who are successful enough to use anything, get amazing tones on recordings and live and yet choose to use gear that though might not be the most junky cheap cheap stuff, but still is solidly mid-level. Though in many cases this mode modest gear really doesn't sound like the most expensive stuff (solid wood drums) it still is exactly the sound that the player is after. I'm just making the point that within the world of drumming, this use of more modest gear, even by demanding professional players is very different than what's typical for players of other kinds of instruments - like with wind and acoustic string instruments where it seems that the typical thing is that pro players buy the very best instruments that they can afford, regularly spending tens of thousands of dollars. These instruments don't just sound different than their cheaper counterparts, but to the folks who know, they sound and play much, much better...

One example for me of how relatively cheap gear can be the right choice is with a jazz festival that I help organize (The Montavilla Jazz Festival, in Portland Oregon - Look up NPR's Jazz Night in America, we were recently profiled on that show). I've kind of been the de-facto drum tech for the festival as I'm the one who's a drummer in the the small group of us that are the organizers. We get back line drums from a really great shop in town (Revival) that are different from year to year (they sell used stuff and don't really have a back-line biz per se so they lend us stuff that they haven't yet sold, mostly used), but are always excellent, well tuned drums, suitable for jazz. It's always great sounding gear and everyone who plays it says as much. We've had pretty much all of the best jazz drummers from our area and a few who were flown in from other areas (like Rudy Roysten from NYC, to list one example). The snares included with the back line kits that we get tend to be higher end metal ones - newer model Ludwig, Gretsch, etc. Most of the years that it's happened, I've also brought along my favorite drum, which happens to be a very beat up, well loved, Ludwig Standard that cost me all of $100 some 15 or so years ago (and that I spent another $30 or so on replacing a really bent up strainer). I offer any drummer who plays the fest the snare that's provided with the backline kit (which is always expertly tuned when we get it BTW) and my beat up old, budget Ludwig... and after tapping on each one, a surprisingly large percentage of these great drummers who perform choose mine over the backline. That thing always ends up sounding great too and all of the subtleties are heard as the festival is held indoors at a place that has decent acoustics, everything is mixed my a guy who's really good at mixing subtle music and his PA system sounds more like a great hi-fi than a typical club PA. That stuff gets recorded too (really nicely) and even hearing that stuff back on tape, the snare sounds great... and this is for music that often has lots of detail, broad dynamic range, drums being played solo, etc...
 
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