What Makes A Snare Drum Good?

michaelg

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The other night i had my snare tuned really evenly , tuned to around a medium tension with the wires at medium tension, a bit of muffling at the edge,,,,It sounded great before the gig while i sound checked on my own..

As soon as the gig started (Loud rock/pop) the snare wasn't cutting it at all, It needed a lot more Beef,,
Between songs I instinctively de-tuned a few lugs quickly with one lug almost fully loose and made the wires super loose,,,,, getting close,,, I removed the muffling and bam the sound i needed for the gig was there, super fat with some crack.

I think the room, the music ,other musicians, volume on stage, all play a huge factor in whats a "good" sounding snare. You can't really teach this stuff either, comes down to experience and what feels like the right sound for the musical environment your in at that moment.

It can be highly annoying at times when you've put a lot of time into tuning your snare to sound one way and then you have to quickly abandon the tuning during a gig.
 
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RIDDIM

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Bottom line - does it meet your musical needs?

A round shell, true and properly cut bearing edges. The right heads and tuning are important, as well as a working strainer.
 

Mcjnic

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Any way to check those things before buying?
It’s common sense.
If it’s onsite with you, sure. Use your own eyes and hands.
If it’s online ... nope. You couldn’t possibly eye the edges or test the feel of it.
 

Marquisjohnson22

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If you can tune it to sound good lol... one of my favorite sounding snares in my collection is an 80's or so seamless steel 8 lug Yamaha snare with normal strainer.
 

tommykat1

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I think there's something to be said in favor of simplicity. To me, too much and too heavy hardware chokes the sound. Give me six or eight lugs over ten or (god forbid) twenty! And triple flanged hoops over die cast.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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In my view, the critical elements of a good sounding snare drum are the same as a good sounding tom-tom.
In other words the snare should give full-bodied tom tone with the wires released.
if it doesn't exhibit a robust tom-tom sound, it's not going to give a robust snare sound either.
If the sound is thin with the wires off - it'll be thin with the wires ON.
 

Seb77

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With a good snares , the parts work together to forma cohesive whole. You want the head, the rims the shell and the wires to connect somehow. The best snares to my ear have a character based on that cohesion.
The snares I like share fullness, sensitivity, crack, openness, articulation etc., but they make me feel differently. Actually, the ones that make me feel more are the better ones, the ones I use more often.

When you put a snare up at soundcheck an can't stop playing it, that's the one for that room, day, mic , band etc. Could be a different one on another day. The room plays a big role how a snare actually performs. For example, a Ludwig 400 is great, but in some rooms I prefer a wood snare.
 

DanRH

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For me, too much snare buzz (why I don’t like 42 strand wires) or harshness turn me immediately off. Some of this I can control but sometimes not. Like Nacci said, it’s a moving target, constantly changing. Ugg, tough question.
 

RIDDIM

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Any way to check those things before buying?
- For roundness, bring a ruler. Remove the heads and verify the distances from lugs to their opposites are the same. If they are over 1/4" off, I'd pass, unless they are stainless steel, in which case judicious use of a folded towel and a rubber mallet can help get the shell back to where it will tune evenly.
- To check the edges, you need access to a known flat surface, such as a granite table (http://www.starrett.com/metrology/metrology-products/precision-granite/precision-granite-faq). Remove the heads, wipe down the table, and place a bearing edge on the table, Take a light source, turn it on, and place it inside the drum. Turn off the other lights in the room. Gradually turn the shell and watch the edges; if the edges are good, you should see the same amount of light escape all the way around. Also, you should not be able to rock the shell. If there is a snare bed involved,obviously you'll see more light escape from it, it the amounts should be the same on both sides of the drum.

I hope these help.
 

tbart16

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Depends on the day and the mood. I have a few go to snares that never disappoint. Everyone has a different taste and a different ear
 

RyanR

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What's a "good" snare? I have what must be a $50 snare that came with my Breakbeat kit..... and it's perfectly adequate. I swapped the wires for cheapo German-made, and the nylon straps for cord, but it's still got Chinese heads on it and sounds fine.

-Ryan
 

Rock Salad

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Right?
I have a made in China Yamaha budget snare and it rocks. But i know not all the cheap snare drums sound that good or even some of the medium priced ones either. I wonder why these particular ones we got are good and others not so much. I think maybe it has to do with the snare beds, but i don't know what exactly about them. One day i will take off the heads from my two snare drums (one good and one not so good,) at the same time and check my theory.
 

noreastbob

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I would say that if you can get it to sound as you want and play or feel how you want, it's a good snare.
Some may add if it looks good to you as a criteria.
But if you don't know or can't quantify these things... there is no answer to your question.
 

Ptrick

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Personally, if a drum tunes up easily, sounds good at multiple tunings, and doesn’t have to be fiddled with all the time to sound good, it’s a good snare. And there seems to be no hard set rules. I’ve had $1000 snares that only sounded great after a half hour of tuning work (and seem to require it almost every time), and entry level ones that sounded good with a few turns of the key. Life is too short to have to fight for a good sound.
 

drummerjohn333

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They all sound good until you have something better to compare to lol
My first Japanese stencil was the bomb until I got a Supra
I can appreciate a Supra. At the same time, we all need to know this: sometimes a snare can sound like a piece of junk, but then you might record it to see "how well it records" and discover that it sounds great when recorded. I'm not referring to EQing or processing here. It can sound entirely different from that one spot where the mic is positioned.

I have one of those Japanese stencil snares on my stand right now- doing some recording and I love how it "records".
 


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