When would you choose a mahogany vs a maple snare?

bellbrass

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Here's my two cents: I've moved away from all-maple snare drums. I like mixed-ply drums. I have a couple of all-maple snares, and they are my least favorite.
One of my favorite snares is a George Way mahogany - I think the Tradition line; not sure. I don't know what species of mahogany he used, but it sounds great. Snares, by definition, are so bright and loud that I think mellower woods help out with that. I used to be all about metal snares - and still like some of them - but if I'm recording, I like a mix of maple and a less dense wood, like maple / poplar or maple / gum.
The Ludwig Legacy mahogany snares sound fantastic. I also love Gretsch USA Custom snares.
 

Heartbeat

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Thanks for your replies! Lots of good info and opinions.

I do quite a bit of recording, especially now during COVID. I tend to favor metal snares and have a variety, but my wood snares are all maple: 6.5" Ludwig Classic Maple, 8" Standard Maple, and 5.5" Pearl Masters Custom w/re-rings. These cover a lot of ground when I need a wood snare. But I also love the tone and richness of mahogany, so I've been considering adding a Legacy Mahogany, either 6.5" (my favorite "go-to" size) or a 5.5" Jazz Fest. It would primarily be for recording, since my live gigs tend to be loud rock/country-rock. Just trying to decide if it would be worth it. I want one, but do I need one? Hmm. LOL!
 

Neal Pert

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That's really the question-- do I need it?

I mean, if you're already recording a fair amount, it seems like there are so many paths to get to what you want to do. Like, that Pearl drum with the right heads and tuning and some sweet, dark-sounding overheads might do it all for you.

Right now I'm finding that I can seriously do everything I want to do, recording-wise, with two maple snares and two metal snares. But that may change. And I'll admit, the male snares are a Noble and Cooley 7x14 SS and a Yamaha AHM 6x14.
 

bellbrass

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Thanks for your replies! Lots of good info and opinions.

I do quite a bit of recording, especially now during COVID. I tend to favor metal snares and have a variety, but my wood snares are all maple: 6.5" Ludwig Classic Maple, 8" Standard Maple, and 5.5" Pearl Masters Custom w/re-rings. These cover a lot of ground when I need a wood snare. But I also love the tone and richness of mahogany, so I've been considering adding a Legacy Mahogany, either 6.5" (my favorite "go-to" size) or a 5.5" Jazz Fest. It would primarily be for recording, since my live gigs tend to be loud rock/country-rock. Just trying to decide if it would be worth it. I want one, but do I need one? Hmm. LOL!
Get a Legacy Mahogany. You won't regret it. I had one years ago; a 5" x 14" in Nickel Sparkle. I regret selling it. I have another on order. You'd be surprised at how much crack those snares have.
 

RayB

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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?
About a year ago, Drum Factory Direct offered a demo Ddrum Vintone mahogany snare drum (14 x 7) at a great price, so I took a chance on it.
I can hear the snickers, "how dare you even mention Ddrum in a thread with Ludwig, Noble and Cooley, and Gretsch mahogany snares? You should be drummed out of the Forum in disgrace, your sticks broken in two!"
I say this as a relative newcomer to Drum Forum who has observed unspoken rules, including: 1) You MUST worship Buddy Rich, John Bonham and Neal Peart to be considered a real drummer, and 2) NEVER praise inferior manufacturers such as DDrum.
The Vintone mahogany has become one of my favorite snares. I haven't found any of the infamous Ddrum flaws. The 8 lugs stay in tune even after a hard hitting gig. The throw off is nothing great but isn't falling apart as I've been warned, and works fine overall. It has a vintage tone with plenty of snap. Some other drummers have commented mahogany sounds particularly good for blues and shuffle beats: I agree 100%. My new Tama SLP walnut snare projects better, but the Vintone mahogany has a sweeter sound.
My best snare is still the Slingerland maple I purchased in 1964 (so you can guess I ain't a kid). I've owned several other maple snares but none ever had the full, warm sound of the Slingerland. Nonetheless, mahogany is a little sweeter sounding and I just like it better for backbeats.
Brands aside, my experience is you can't go wrong with maple for all kinds of music, walnut has a little darker sound with wide-open projection, and mahogany is a little less explosive but gives you a sweet beat.
 

speady1

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I say this as a relative newcomer to Drum Forum who has observed unspoken rules, including: 1) You MUST worship Buddy Rich, John Bonham and Neal Peart to be considered a real drummer, and 2) NEVER praise inferior manufacturers such as DDrum.
Brother, pay no mind to the "unspoken rule enforcers". If you found a great drum you love, then by all means, praise the heck out of it. And, don't worship any drummer that you don't want to. Everybody has an opinion, including me, and differing opinions is what makes a place like DF great. If we were all the same, what would there be to fight over? LOL Welcome aboard.
 

DannyPattersonMusic

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I use mahogany shell snares for certain songs/genres. Like if I'm playing an 80's cover band gig I will use my Gretsch Swamp Dawg snare (14"x8" all mahogany shell) ... it has that 80's sound.

For recording sessions, I've used the Swamp Dawg snare for ballads or songs that need a marching-type groove.

I've also used a vintage WFL and the new Ludwig jazz fest snares (maple/mahogany shell) for certain gigs, they both are "lower stage volume" type snares compared to modern all maple or metal shell snares.
 

bbunks

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I did an A/B test between a friend's Maple Craviotto and my Mahogany Craviotto.

Maple was 6.5, Mahogany was 7. Ambassadors on both. 45 degree edges.

Mahogany had a “thicker” note, but in a live setting I don't think anyone would notice, and it becomes a matter of preference. Recording may be the place where it's noticed.

I guess the real difference, of course, would come from tuning, heads, hoops and edges.

That said, which drum will be more fun for you to play, which in the end, means I sound and play differently. That's always been a part of my decision to use a specific drum.
 

Roosto

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About a year ago, Drum Factory Direct offered a demo Ddrum Vintone mahogany snare drum (14 x 7) at a great price, so I took a chance on it.
I can hear the snickers, "how dare you even mention Ddrum in a thread with Ludwig, Noble and Cooley, and Gretsch mahogany snares? You should be drummed out of the Forum in disgrace, your sticks broken in two!"
I say this as a relative newcomer to Drum Forum who has observed unspoken rules, including: 1) You MUST worship Buddy Rich, John Bonham and Neal Peart to be considered a real drummer, and 2) NEVER praise inferior manufacturers such as DDrum.
The Vintone mahogany has become one of my favorite snares. I haven't found any of the infamous Ddrum flaws. The 8 lugs stay in tune even after a hard hitting gig. The throw off is nothing great but isn't falling apart as I've been warned, and works fine overall. It has a vintage tone with plenty of snap. Some other drummers have commented mahogany sounds particularly good for blues and shuffle beats: I agree 100%. My new Tama SLP walnut snare projects better, but the Vintone mahogany has a sweeter sound.
My best snare is still the Slingerland maple I purchased in 1964 (so you can guess I ain't a kid). I've owned several other maple snares but none ever had the full, warm sound of the Slingerland. Nonetheless, mahogany is a little sweeter sounding and I just like it better for backbeats.
Brands aside, my experience is you can't go wrong with maple for all kinds of music, walnut has a little darker sound with wide-open projection, and mahogany is a little less explosive but gives you a sweet beat.
This man makes a nice drum at a nice price. Kinda Radio King-ish with the stick chopper hoops and all. My hunch is the builder truly loves making the drum -

 

Matched Gripper

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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 .
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 .
Well put!
 

Tama CW

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When tuned a bit high by 1962 Slingerland Hollywood Ace (mahog/poplar/mahog) is very close in tone to my '67 Supra....only a bit warmer. I was surprised how similar they were. When compared to my all-maple 30's and 40's Radio Kings the '62 Mahogany has much more punch yet is still very similar to them. This '62 Hollywood Ace is the best wood snare drum I've had and it packs quite the crack/punch. I found it much better than my '67 Ludwig Jazzfest which seemed almost dullish by comparison.
 

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I've never played a mahogany drum I liked-- it's a dark/warm sound, but also a little feeble and unfocused. To my ear. I would choose one if I wanted a very vintage sound-- like 40s/50s. Maybe if I were setting a drum up for a very "natural" sound, I would choose a mahogany drum-- calf heads, gut snares, whatever.
 

thejohnlec

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Great info on this thread everyone! My mahogany snares are indeed dark and richer in tone, tending to mesh with the music, rather than poke a hole through it. Tuned lower, they sit well in this role. Maples, tuned a bit higher, are great for up tempo genres. At that tuning range, I have swapped out wood for metal snares in order to achieve that presence.

Both are certainly functional in a variety of settings, but the fun is assigning them to roles based on their individual characteristics. Cheers and enjoy!
 

Drumskillz

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I have three mahogany snares. Two Pork Pies (one an inexpensive Hip Pig and the other a USA Custom) and a custom made stave drum made by a guy I met on Facebook (has Ludwig hardware). All three just sound killer at every tuning and are my go-to snares for recording and gigging. Can't say enough good things about 'em.
 
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Great thread here and all great answers. If you can afford it, get a mahogany snare. Between steel, bronze, brass, aluminum, maple, mahogany, mix plies, they all suit different situations differently.
I have all the above, minus aluminum, and they each ‘play’ and feel ‘different’...some are right for a situation and some not.
Frankly, my go to snares have always been 6.5” bronze black beauty and classic maple from Ludwig.

btw...the bbq sauce and bourbon filled living room vibe was spot on!
 

Larry B

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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.
Picked up a Swamp Dawg a few months ago on Reverb. I absolutely LOVE this drum! Great sound(s) . . . so versatile.
 

kzac

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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?
When it comes down to it..... No one will ever be able to hear the difference between the two wood types.... Either will sound just like a snare drum...
Contrary to popular opinion, drum shells don't produce drum sounds, else drummers would be whacking their shells and not their drum heads...
 


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