When would you choose a mahogany vs a maple snare?

Heartbeat

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I find that a maple snare can cover a lot of situations, of course. But I'm curious: Sizes being equal, when would YOU choose to use a mahogany vs a maple snare? A certain genre? A certain song dynamic (a soft ballad or a rocker?)? Do you prefer a mahogany snare and why/why not? Or do you think it even matters?
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

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Great question. I’m looking forward to the responses that come in.

It’s taken me a long time to talk myself OUT of mahogany, the whole kit in particular. The Ludwig Legacy Mahogany is the best current example of temptation I’ve had to fight against. Nothing else sounds as dark, rich and luxurious.

The trouble is, that near-field, drivers seat luxury is lost out front most of the time, slipping into a murky mud. And until I start staging jazz trio gigs in our living room where its sumptuousness could be fully appreciated from the sofa, I simply can’t justify it. (But my gosh, does that sound awesome. A bottle of bourbon poured among a few friends with a small fire...)

All that aside, Gretsch’s mahogany Swamp Dawg DOES remain on my wish list for a fantastic, alternate snare. Shuffle’s tasty description tells why better than I could. Tuned fat and low, there’s your Texas Roadhouse shuffle or even 80s rock ballad. Tuned up higher, and the full bodied crack of that dark wood rivals (in my humble opinion) a WFL from the middle of last century. A beautiful drum I hope to own someday.
 
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Redbeard77

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Are you assuming edges, plies, thickness, hardware, "everything" is the same except for wood type? In that case I'd think the differences would be minor.
However, as in shuffle's response above you will find that a lot of mahogany snares are designed with a nod to a more vintage sound since the wood's natural characteristics go there easily.
 

Heartbeat

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They are dark,smokey, sweet like bbq sauce,perfect for those genres to my ears.
That is the perfect description. :)

All that aside, Gretsch’s mahogany Swamp Dawg DOES remain on my wish list for a fantastic, alternate snare. Shuffle’s tasty description tells why better than I could. Tuned fat and low, there’s your Texas Roadhouse shuffle or even 80s rock ballad. Tuned up higher, and the full bodied crack of that dark wood rivals (in my humble opinion) a WFL from the middle of last century. A beautiful drum I hope to own someday.
I almost bought a Swamp Dawg a few months ago. Great drum!
 

JDA

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if it was a little more of an electric band maple........ mahogany if I really wanted to sit in the vintage cracks of the music;

Pretty much interchangable depending on the mood that day and the volume of the room/setting.
Pretty much interchangable
 

EvEnStEvEn

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To me, nothing beats the low-tuned snare sound of a vintage American-made African mahogany drum with maple rerings.
I've been hearing about these newer mahogany drums like the Gretsch and the Legacy though I've yet to try one.
Are they good?
I love to sample them but never had the opportunity yet since I haven't actually visited a music store in over ten years.
Personally, aged mahogany has the tonality I strongly prefer!
 

NobleCooleyNut

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I love mahogany on toms and bass drums but I have to admit , mahogany is not one of my first choices for snare drums . As previously mentioned I like the beer filed sound of mahogany but if I wanted a snare drum for projection and to have clear articulation then Mahogany would not be my first choice .
I would suggest Walnut as a better choice of you wanted a darker snare but still wanted it to sound great to the audience .

Ludwig Legacy Mahogany is a fine snare model but if push cane to shove I would be more inclined to use a Classic Maple or Legacy maple .
 

Talktotommy

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I have several solid shell vintage radio king snares and I have one three ply Mahogany radio king in the same 7 inch size as some of the others.
Certainly when you’re sitting right on top of it they sound slightly different. As stated above not a lot different but you can definitely hear it. How much the difference translates out front if everything is Mik’ed up is another question.
The video on YouTube that goes through all the different Ludwig shells available is a good reference. I think they actually picked the mahogany legacy shells as their favorite. They have mics on the drums but you can still hear the differences.
As far as in the Studio I can hear the difference between my mahogany Slingerlands and my maple ones same sizes-I think
 

BennyK

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The Pearl Omar Hakim 13x5 is a winner . The reduced width focuses the fat bite traditionally associated with mahogany .

For versatility I'd go with maple , but if you've already got one, adding a mahogany snare to your shelf widens the possibilities .

When you're after presence instead of projection mahogany gets you there , especially soulfully tempo-ed numbers .
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I have a 9-9-1959 Slingerland 8 lug 5.5x14. I bought it because it was gorgeous, 3 ply, COB hoops, good deal. Only mod is a Rogers muffler, not Slingy. I also liked it was a Sept. drum (my bday month, but I am a bit younger). No particular reason other than it was cool, a good deal and I wanted a vintage snare, the bonus being it is my only mahogany snare of about 35+ now.

When do I play it? Not often enough! Have I gigged it? Yes, in Jan. we had a library gig (the library has a nice large room with maybe 100 seats) and I pulled out my Slingy 12/14/18 with this snare. It has a nice mid tuning. Not as much crack as a modern maple, but more of a fat vintage tone likely due to the baseball edges. My gig was pop/blues/surf so it fit right in. Would I gig it regularly? No. I use a 6.5x14 Ludwig bronze Supra, my bronze 6.5x14 Black Beauty, or other drums depending on my mood, but it has its uses. If I had a gig on 9/9, I'd pull it out again.
 

speady1

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Hey Amy, great topic and question. I have an older mahogany snare that doesn't get used much unless I'm doing a recording session for Americana, traditional country, or singer/songwriter-type ballads. It's perfect for that scenario to my ears, but it doesn't work well for me in any live situation that I currently play. If you're doing an acoustic coffeehouse gig, it would be great. For what you do most of the time, you'll be like, "where did the high end and crack of this thing go"?

I hope that makes sense...
 

jaymandude

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I concur. I have a 6.5x14 50’s Ludwig School Festival that I use for the same thing. Americana/Acoustic singer songwriter. Not as edgy and blends well. And I muffle it. It’s kind of surprising how thin the shell is on mine. Really thin 3 ply, it was a budget drum for sure.

other than that I take a walnut Craviotto 5. Or a 70’s bronze Ludwig 5” for just about everything. So it’s a conscious choice to use the mahogany.
 

CC Cirillo

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When downtown, I’ve been known to bring grandma brown.

For me the vibe coming from this late 50’s WFL is part wood tone and part age, so disregard what I’m saying if you plan on getting a newer drum.

This one has has a little more meat on its bones in a Howlin Wolf sort of way. It doesn’t drive the music, it moves with it. You know when you hear a small old amp fuzzing a little? This is that in a drum.

I can’t really use it in my modern bands but I keep it for the day when I’ll have to have that sound.

Not pretty, not articulate. A slightly lower pitch, but not “warm”. Warm is for tea cozies and quilts, not drums.

You are going to have to try mahogany. Your bandmates might not hear a change, but the more rooted ones are going to feel it.


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jaymandude

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When downtown, I’ve been known to bring grandma brown.

For me the vibe coming from this late 50’s WFL is part wood tone and part age, so disregard what I’m saying if you plan on getting a newer drum.

This one has has a little more meat on its bones in a Howlin Wolf sort of way. It doesn’t drive the music, it moves with it. You know when you hear a small old amp fuzzing a little? This is that in a drum.

I can’t really use it in my modern bands but I keep it for the day when I’ll have to have that sound.

Not pretty, not articulate. A slightly lower pitch, but not “warm”. Warm is for tea cozies and quilts, not drums.

You are going to have to try mahogany. Your bandmates might not hear a change, but the more rooted ones are going to feel it.


View attachment 451719
mine's the 8 lug version. Defintely a vibe..
 


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