5 Best Snare Drums (All Budgets, All Play Styles)

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  • Find out what some of the finest rock, metal, jazz, and funk snare drums are
  • In this guide, you will find the best snare drums at all price ranges
  • Learn what separates cheap snare drums from budget ones made by established drum makers 

The snare drum can make or break your sound. Just look at what it did with Metallica with its infamous St. Anger album. When it’s good, everyone will hear it, and the sense of satisfaction will stick with you for months. When it’s bad, everyone will talk about it for years. 

Choosing any drum part can be difficult if you’re not bringing the rest of the kit, but the current market is so rich with diverse models that anyone can find what they need. 

To save you weeks or months’ worth of time you’d spend researching the biggest brands and their models, I’ve shortlisted the 5 best snare drums that stand out among thousands of alternatives.  

What are the Best Snare Drums?

Ludwig’s LM400 is my favorite snare drum for several reasons. First, it was being tweaked, refined, and perfected for decades before it became “the” LM400 we know and love today. It offers a balanced, warm tone; it was designed to last for years, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. 

However, all drummers have their preferences, and I’m sure a metal drummer would rather pick Tama’s Trackmaster, just like a pop drummer would find more value in Rogers Drums DynaSonic snare drum. My choices of the 5 best snare drums in the current market are:

  1. Ludwig LM400 Snare Drum
  2. Sonor AS-1406-CM Snare Drum
  3. Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum
  4. Tama KA1465 Snare Drum
  5. Rogers Drums Dyna-Sonic Snare Drum

1. Ludwig Supraphonic LM400 Snare Drum (Our Pick)

Our Pick
Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum

Famous for its bright, crisp attack, thanks to a chrome-plated, seamless beaded aluminum shell, the LM400 provides you with a sublime balance of full, resonant tone and cutting snare crack.

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Ludwig is one of the longest-running American manufacturers of drum gear and accessories. Famed for its premium drum kits, there’s not a single professional that doesn’t have at least one Ludwig drum at home. The LM400 snare drum from the Supraphonic series is one of the best-rounded models in the brand’s catalog. 

Key Features:

  • Chrome-plated aluminum shell
  • Steel hardware
  • Weather Master™ coating 
  • 10 tube lugs

Choosing drums is deeply subjective, especially since we all hear and perceive sounds differently. This is precisely the reason why selecting the “best” drum snare was so difficult, but I’d take Ludwig’s LM400 over any alternative at any time

This is arguably the most versatile drum snare ever to be made, especially given the fact that the version we are looking at has endured nearly a century of upgrades, reiterations, and changes so drastic that it barely resembles its predecessor. Its distinct, punchy sound can fit any kit, regardless of the type of music you’re playing and making except modern pop, rap, and electronica. 

Some drummers may question my decision to pick an aluminum-made snare over, say, bronze or brass, and that would normally fly – aluminum snares are typically razor-sharp and tend to bleed into the band’s overall sound all over the place. 

That’s not the case with LM400, though. This is a highly controllable drum snare equipped with ultra-thin shells & hoops, and the brand’s proprietary Weather Master coated drumheads; it offers excellent response and a full-bodied tone.

As a vintage-sounding snare drum, the only drummers I can’t imagine using LM400 are modern ones who might be into pop, EDM, and electronic music genres. 


  • A perfect balance between tone clarity and depth 
  • Exceptionally easy to control 
  • Built to last 
  • Suitable for virtually all musical styles and genres 


  • Its vintage-like sound may not be great for drummers pursuing a modern tone 

2. Sonor AS-1406-CM Snare Drum (Best Premium)

Best Premium
Sonor Artist Series Snare Drum

From a drum maker that traces its roots back to 19th century Germany comes a line of hefty, punchy, visually stunning snares: the Sonor Artist Series snare drums.

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Sonor is rightly dubbed the “Grandfather of drums & percussions”. Founded in 1875, this brand has released hundreds of exquisite drum parts, and singling AS-1406-CM out from the pile was all but simple. Tremendous presence, mids, and treble are some of the main tonal characteristics of this snare while its sustain remains uncontested.

Key Features:

  • Maple shells with a matte finish
  • Chrome hardware with a cottonwood matte finish 
  • Cast rims 
  • Stainer mechanism 
  • 10 tube lugs 
  • Dual glide stainer 

You may be wondering why I’m recommending a snare drum that costs more than an entire mid-range kit, and the answer is quite simple – premium tone comes with a premium price tag

Before diving into the specs of Sonor’s AS-1406-CM, I’d like to emphasize that there aren’t too many snares that have such a powerful sustain and “bigger than life” tone. Each hit on this snare drum resonates with pure power, which is quite uncharacteristic of maple-made snares. 

Even though all snare drums produce different sounds depending on the area where they’re hit, this can’t “ring” more true with AS-1406-CM. Its responsiveness is legendary, enabling drummers to fully express their emotions and techniques and eliminating all guesswork from the equation. 

Sonor’s AS-1406-CM hails from a special Artist series that is home to several exclusive snares. The Cottonwood 14×6 is the only maple snare in the group and in my humble opinion, it has the best-rounded tone relative to its bronze, Amboina, and birch counterparts. 


  • Louder, stronger, and considerably more expressive than most maple-made snares
  • Powerful sustain that will only rarely spill over into the mix
  • Incredibly simple to set up due to its advanced stainer mechanism 
  • Gorgeous finish 
  • Ideal for more aggressive playstyles 


  • Costs more than an average drum kit

3. Ludwig 5.5×14 Supralite Snare Drum (Best Budget)

Best Budget
Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum

Ludwig outfitted the Supralite with only the highest-quality components available — 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, chrome-plated brass lugs, and brass snare wires. Best of all, it sounds fantastic!

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Ludwig Supralite series is the “lighter” version of the beloved Supraphonic family. Manufactured in the People’s Republic of China, Supralite 5.5×14 snare drum offers a similar feel, tone, and resonance as its older cousin at a considerably more approachable price tag, but make sure you take good care of it. 

Key Features:

  • Steel shell
  • Chrome-plated hardware
  • Thin steel hoops 
  • 10 chrome tube lugs 
  • P88I throw-off mechanism 

Ludwig’s Supraphonic snares have been widely acclaimed as the ultimate aluminum snare drums, but they are a bit too expensive for many up-and-coming drummers. They’ve been around since the early ‘60s and are featured on hundreds of classic records. The only problem is that they weren’t known for their affordability. 

If you’re enamored with the sound and versatility of Supraphonic snares but don’t have the cash to buy one, you’ll love Supralite 5.5×14. It’s almost the same thing as the iconic LM400, with the main difference being that it’s made in China.

Even professionals wouldn’t be able to tell Supralite 5.5×14 from Supraphonic LM400 if they were both played during a live show. In the studio, however, the former requires considerably more editing, as its springy tone can be pretty difficult to control. 

The main issue with this snare drum lies in its long-term durability, or more specifically, its wearing process. 

Premium quality aluminum ages better than mediocre steel, so even though Supralite 5.5×14 snare isn’t necessarily flimsy, it can’t retain a consistent level of sonic performance as well as some of its counterparts.


  • The best-sounding drum snare you can find for the buck
  • Nearly impossible to tell apart from boutique Supraphonic snares during live shows 
  • Easy setup
  • Excellent mids and treble 


  • Heavier than average
  • Wears fairly quickly 

4. Tama Trackmaster KA1465 Snare Drum (Best For Rock & Metal)

Best For Rock & Metal
TAMA Snare Drum (KA1465)

Kenny Aronoff plays the three beautifully engraved snare drums with brass shells and brass mighty hoops, but each with a different mission in sound. The deep-shelled KA1465 offers the bright, round tone of brass.

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05/29/2023 02:57 pm GMT

As one of the youngest, yet fastest-growing manufacturers of drum kits and hardware, Tama was founded to serve metalheads and rockers with some of the sturdiest drums available. The infamous “Trackmaster” can take a beating and “respond” with an impressive attack and moderate sustain. 

Key Features:

  • Nickel-plated brass shells 
  • Brass Mighty nickel-plated hoops 
  • MSL35 Lugs 
  • Starclassic steel hardware

Nickel-plated brass on steel is about as “metal” as drum snares can be. If you were searching for a snare that can endure years of use and abuse without giving in, look no further than Tama KA1465. 

Aptly named the “Trackmaster”, this is one of the most sonically accurate drums a performer of heavy music can want. Its strong emphasis on top-end frequencies synergizes with decent treble and mids surprisingly well, while its sustain couldn’t be better for fast-paced playing styles.

Even though many drummers use the Trackmaster for recording sessions, it’s an excellent choice for gigs and may very well be the ultimate touring companion because of its highly durable construction. 

It also has gorgeous engravings on the sides, and the only drawback I could think of is that its paint and graphics may not be as durable as its frame. Even so, nicks, dents, and bruises on metal drums always make for good stories. 


  • Built like a house of bricks 
  • Superb highs; excellent mids and low-mids
  • Much lighter than it looks 
  • As roadworthy as they come 
  • Great for both studio and live performances 


  • The paint flakes fairly easily 

5. Rogers Drums Dyna-Sonic Snare Drum (Best For Light Playing Styles)

Best For Light Playing Styles
Rogers Drums Dyna-sonic Snare Drum

This Beavertail Dyna-sonic faithfully re-creates later iterations of Rogers' iconic snare, with double-sided die-cast Beavertail lugs to complement its period-correct shell formulation. 

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All drum fans and players know nearly everything about Rogers Drums. It’s one of the oldest American manufacturers of percussion and drum kits, and even though this version of DynaSonic is one of the more recent models, it represents the brand well. 

Key Features:

  • Maple shell
  • Patented choke-free floating snare system
  • Clock face drum stainer
  • 10 Bread and Butter lugs 

Rogers Drums has existed for nearly 175 years and was founded right around the time when opera became the leading music genre. Although this brand would eventually branch out and create drum parts and kits suited for “freshly” emerging styles, it was and to this day remains regarded among the leading pioneers in the industry. 

We all have DynaSonic to thank for introducing an exquisite snare wire cradle system, snare head chokes, and innumerable revolutionary ideas in terms of using exotic wood shells in drum manufacturing.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you should use an ancient drum snare for your pop band – the freshly revived iteration of the DynaSonic is a product of nearly two centuries of research, experimentation, and innovation. It rocks the brand’s patented floating snare system, which serves as a passive dampener to stabilize its overly emphasized sustain. 

Equipped with Maple shells and steel hardware, the sound of this drum snare is fairly balanced. Although it could potentially be used by drummers who are into heavier music styles, it shines the most when hit by gentler drumsticks. 


  • A perfectly balanced sustain thanks to the innovative floating snare system
  • Available in multiple gorgeous finish options 
  • Well-rounded tone 
  • Made of premium quality North American maple wood 


  • Pricey


What is the difference between expensive and cheap snare drums?

The main differences between low and high-end snares lie in sound quality and durability. More expensive drums have clearer, more pronounced sonic qualities and have the capability to mitigate some of the drawbacks of their base material (e.g. quality steel drums aren’t too heavy or springy). 

What is the best snare drum material?

It all depends on your needs and preferences as a drummer. Birch and beech woods, just like brass, aluminum, and copper snares are best for rock and metal; poplar is ideal for lighter playing styles; mahogany, maple, and brass are good all-around choices. 

Wrapping Up

Most semi-pro and veteran drummers have at least a couple of different snare drums at home and use the one that fits their needs for particular songs or sessions. 

Having a reliable go-to snare is, in my opinion, better than having an arsenal of “okay” ones. I hope that you liked my selection of the top 5 best snare drums, and that these reviews helped you make the right choice.

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