Selecting A Snare Drum
Ask your teacher to help you locate a good beginning snare drum at a good price. If you have no teacher, ask a professional drummer or percussionist to refer you to a good local store. The salesperson at this store should steer you in the right direction.
Many companies make snare drum kits which include a snare drum, case, stand, and a practice pad. To rent one of these, plan to spend $10.00 to $15.00 per month. To purchase one, you should plan to spend approximately $200.00 or less. Unless the drum is something special, the entire setup should cost you no more than this.
Please realize that in the world of drum prices, "list price" means nothing. Many drums you can purchase for $200.00 or less will have a "list price" of $300.00 or more. Prices are always negotiable and can sometimes be as much as 50% below list price. Don't ever be afraid to check prices from a few places before making a decision.
Also keep in mind that a slightly higher price at a local store may be worth the personal service you'll receive. For instance, mail-order retailers will not be able to make quick adjustments to your drum when you need them.
Your snare drum should be fourteen inches in diameter and have at least eight tuning lugs. If it's one of the new drums listed below, it will most likely be in excellent condition. Below is a list of current brands and models of beginning snare drum kits. Click on any model number to see information from the manufacturer's website.
- Yamaha Student Snare Kits
- Pearl Snare Drum Kits
- SK750 (hard molded case)
- SK800C (backpack case with rolling cart)
- Ludwig Snare Drum Kits
- LE2472, LE2474, LE2475, LE2476 The LE 2472 is a descendant of the classic "UFO" kit Ludwig began marketing in the 70's. It comes with a black Acrolite snare drum made in the USA. This is one of the few kits that will cost over $200.00, as the snare drum is higher quality than the chrome-plated steel drums which come in the LE2474 and 2475 models. The LE2476 comes with a piccolo maple snare drum (3"X13"), which will have a higher pitched sound than the other drums listed here. While the playing surface will be one inch smaller, the drum serves its purpose, and it might be lighter than the 5X14 steel drums listed here. The LE2472, LE2474, and LE2475 models are available with rolling cases.
There are other brand names that I have not covered here. Some may be good. Some may be garbage. If you are ever in doubt, ask an independent drummer what he or she thinks.
Before you take your snare drum home, be sure the music store has tuned the drum properly for you. When struck in the center, it should sound very crisp, as you hear in the sound samples from The Snare Drum Plays The Zoo. If it sounds dull and thuddy, ask for someone to show you how to tune it. This way, your drum will sound good when you get it home, and you'll have a better idea of how to tune it in the future.
If no one at the store is able tune the drum for you, ask for a larger discount so that you can pay a professional to give you a tuning lesson. (You wouldn't pay full price for a new car that needed tuning, would you?)
Be sure to keep your drum tuned properly. See the article "Tuning Your Snare Drum" for more information.
A good drum will sound best when struck with good sticks. See the article "Selecting Drum Sticks" before buying your next pair!
Finally, check out my beginning snare drum method book The Snare Drum Plays The Zoo for a fun way to get started playing, reading, and writing drum music!