Jazz drumming is a very interesting art of playing a drum set. Of course, if you want to get that high-spirited, energetic jazz beats, you need the best snare drums for jazz.
Not just any snare drum, but those that are designed and engineered to deliver just the perfect ingredient for jazz music.
Snare drums that are perfect for jazz usually have the standard 14-inch diameter with around 6-inch depth.
Drums under the deep snare drum category can be used in jazz music — but not all. Hence, we try to do all the hassle, so you can just read and pick the one you like.
This list offers you 10 snare drums that are widely used by jazz players. How did we shortlist the products? Using a simple, yet effective technique, which will be revealed to you towards the end of this article. So, read on.
Here are the best snare drums for jazz
- Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Jazz
- Mapex Black Panther Snare Drum
- Yamaha Recording Custom Snare Drum
- DW Performance Series Snare Drum
- Ludwig “Super Ludwig” Snare Drum
- Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum
- Ludwig Supraphonic
- Pearl StaveCraft Snare Drum
- Gretsch Drums Renown Series
- GP Percussion SK22
We just love Ludwig snare drums and it’s not very evident in this list. The Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Jazz is the fourth Ludwig in the list, but it’s one of our best snare drums for jazz. The best for those who want to add elegance to their drum set, this one has a stunning Vintage Blue Oyster finish.
This 14 x 5.5-inch Ludwig is made of Mahogany/Poplar/Mahogany with 8-lug triple-flanged hoops for wide-open tone and easy tuning. It has a Baseball Bat dampener, smooth-action P88 throw-off, and premium retro shell wrap. You’ll not only get just the vintage looks but the classic tone perfect for jazz music.
- Ludwig always made the finest, including this snare drum
- Not the best, but simply sounds great
- Has vintage looks with vintage vibes
- Uneven bearing edges, so it’s hard to tune it
- Also an expensive Ludwig on this list
Mapex Drums, a Taiwanese brand of musical instruments, is again giving us another high-quality snare drum – the Mapex Black Panther Snare Drum This 14 x 6″ snare drum is made of real all-mahogany shells to achieve a warm, crisp, and fuller tone. It’s a decent drum at an affordable price, which can last for several years.
The Black Panther is equipped with 10-lug solid hoops and SoniClear heads. You know that a SoniClear drum head is great, so you don’t need to replace the stock ones. It’s very easy to tune, making it a great snare drum for everyone.
- High-quality Maple drum shells
- The drum heads are easy to tune
- Has solid batter hoops, especially if you do rimshots frequently
- Bottom skin is of poor quality
- Batter hoop could be better with an upgrade to Pearl
Considered to be among the best snare drums for jazz, the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Snare Drum is just what you need. It’s a 14 x 5.5-inch snare drum made of 100% Birch shells to give you two things. First, Birch has a warm and nice tone and second, it has good resonance to offer thick tone with a solid punch.
Like Yamaha’s Live Custom, this snare comes with the same thickness of the ply and the 45-degree bearing edge for optimal head-to-shell contact. With this, you’ll be enjoying jazz music with this snare. It has ten lugs to achieve easier and precise tuning, too.
- Snare quality is top-notch
- Has great depth, perfect for jazz music
- High-gloss finish is stunning
- Snare has no muffler
- May have a lackluster response
Made in the USA, so we assure you of its quality, the DW Performance Series Snare Drum is a great add-on to make wonderful jazz music. It’s a 14 x 8-inch drum made of 10-ply Maple shells at 7.1mm thick. Hence, it helps you achieve deep and hot drum tones.
Hardware is made of steel including, triple-flanged hoops and tap-style throw-off. Unfortunately, it has no internal muffler, so you got to dampen it to reduce the noise. It’s designed with 45-degree bearing edges, new lower-mass lugs and Remo’s heads.
- Perfectly tuned and has great sound out of the box
- Can be tuned high for pop and has low and fat tones, as well
- Stays in tune so well
- No internal muffler should you need it
- Not the choice for those who want a huge snare sound
We love how gorgeous-looking this snare drum is, so perhaps, you might want to add it to your drum set. Although the price is high, the Ludwig “Super Ludwig” Snare Drum is beautiful inside out. It’s made of a smooth brass shell with supra-sonic snare perfect for jazz drumming.
You’ll notice unmatched sensitivity given by the classic P-85 snare throw-off and the Supra-phonic snare. This one-piece brass beaded 14 x 6.5-inch snare drum offers a balance between metallic (with warm) tone response and ease of tuning. The chrome hardware and the classic lugs perfect the striking, beautiful Black Beauty.
- Amazing classic sounds from this snare
- Quality is undeniably outstanding
- The sound perfectly matches the looks
- The most expensive one on the list
- Need to tighten the lugs (tuned super high) since they loosen after playing for some time
This is among our favorite snare drums on the team because it can play from rock to metal, and jazz, as well. The Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum has awesome quality, perfect for recording studios or live performances.
It’s made in the US with beaded steel shells, that’s why you can see an expensive price tag. But, you’ll not be disappointed in its bright and crisp sound with a perfect balance between resonant tone and the snare’s ‘crack’ sound. This chrome snare drum from Ludwig is also equipped with Triple-flanged Hoops.
- Stock heads and wires are great
- With the imperial lugs, it’s very easy to tune the drum
- Responsiveness is awesome
- The stock strainer is the weak point of this instrument
- Lugs may not keep its grip after frequent use and abuse
If you are one of those musicians who prefer American-made music gears, the Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum surely fits your budget and taste. This 14 x 6.5-inch drum is made of the all-chrome metal shell, which delivers a bright and crisp tone. Hence, it’s not just one of the best snare drums for jazz, it’s also for symphonic, rock, and pop.
We love how responsive this drum is, thanks to the enhanced triple-flanged hoops. You’ll see that it also has classic lugs and P-85 throw-off. Overall, you’ll get a snare drum with great projection and fat tone.
- It’s a Ludwig, so quality and consistency is guaranteed
- Versatile with top-notch performance
- Has deep snare sounds
- Metal shows early wear and tear
- Kind of expensive
Of course, you might have heard of the Famous Pearl and their famous Stavecraft Snare Drum. We love this compact Pearl StaveCraft Snare Drum with a tight sound and excellent projection. It’s a 14 x 6.5″ matte-finished makha with plenty of snap.
Though it only has 14-inch diameter, it’s still among the best snare drums for jazz and loved by jazz drummers all over the world.
- Excellent projection with tight and crisp attack
- Versatile and can be used for different genres, especially jazz
- Compact size and well-built
- Good drum heads, but could be better with a replacement
- No muffler, especially for those who need a quieter snare drum
Since Gretsch is an award-winning company, we are eager to know a Gretsch snare drum that’s best for jazz music – the Gretsch Drums Renown Series. It’s made of 100% brass that offers warm tone — linking wood and steel snare drums. The cutting power of metal is there, but it’s balanced by the dark character of brass.
With decades of experience, Gretsch effectively uses a hammering pattern to reduce the overtones of the snare drum. So, you’ll get a focused and more powerful snare sound. Equipped with 30-degree bearing edges, 10 lugs, chrome hardware, die-cast hoops, and fully adjustable throw-off.
- Versatile snare drum, especially the balanced tone
- Fits into just any drum set for any music style
- Durable and built to last
- Lugs around the rim loosening up when playing more rimshots
A student snare drum isn’t always the choice for budget buyers only. Some snare drums like the GP Percussion SK2 offer stunning features, making it fit to be on the list of the snare drums best for jazz music. This is a 14 x 5.5-inch drum with 10 lugs around the diameter.
Though it’s the cheapest drum, this is the most complete with a double-braced stand, practice pad and drumsticks. It also includes a drum key for tuning, plus a nylon backpack for transport.
- A complete package with accessories at an affordable price
- Good student snare drum for jazz music
- A great snare for home and practice
- Sounded tiny even with proper tuning
- Stock heads need an upgrade, wears out so soon
How to Choose the Best Snare Drums for Jazz
A snare drum has a critical role in a drum set used in jazz music. Since the 20th-century jazz drummers already utilized snare drums, along with a bass drum and cymbals. The famous drummers like Warren “Baby” Dodds focused much of their playing on snare drums and bass, as mentioned in Wikipedia.
So, how will you choose the best snare drums for jazz? You got to find a snare drum with 14-inch diameter and around 6-inch depth. And, if you look at our list above, more than 50% on the list has 14-inch diameter. How much more if you’ll try to look for your next snare drum for jazz online or in a local store?
Good news, we a very useful guideline in choosing the ultimate snare drum. As professional drummers like you, we’d love to explore different music genres, including jazz.
We came up with the list quickly because we use this guide. We hope it’ll also be useful to you not just in finding a snare drum, but in finding the best drums, in general.
Check the Drum Heads
The sound of your drum greatly depends on the thickness (thinness) of the drum head, particularly the batter head. If you are a light jazz drummer, you might need to have a thin and single-ply head, clarified by Drum Magazine.
Drum heads today are made of Mylar, a plastic either clear or coated, single-ply or double-ply. Remember that when you’re changing the drum head, you’ll only get one in three — fuller, darker, or muffled tones.
Snare drums come in different sizes, in terms of diameter and depth. Here are some examples
A snare drum with 14 x 5-inch or the 5.5-inch dimension is easy to play and tune, as said in KUMU. This size of your snare offers a punchy tone for tight tuning and you’ll get a tone for a ballad with loose tuning. You can play any songs when tuned in between.
Around 14 x 6-inch to 6.5-inch is perfect for rock and pop. Tightened tuning offers more depth because these snare drums are more focused on the bottom end and low frequencies.
Those snare drums with 13-inch diameter are considered as tight-sounding drums. But, with increased depth, the instrument can be very versatile and can even be good for jazz music.
Wood snare drums are very common. You can see drums made of Maple, Birch, Mahogany, Poplar, etc. On the other hand, there are also snare drums made of metal like aluminum, brass, steel, and copper.
Yet, to get the most out of your snare drum for jazz, you should have to get warmth and resonance, rather than attack and brightness. With that being said, the ideal snare drums are those made of Mahogany or Bronze. However, the material used is just among the few factors to consider.
Tuning the Snare Drum
It’s not just the drum materials or the size that influences the sound of the snare drum, but also the tuning. So, this could mean that any snare drum can be used for jazz drumming, provided that you’ll properly tune it to get the right sound for jazz.
As long as it has a warm and better response without too much snare “crack,” you’ll find a great snare drum for your jazz drum set. But, of course, if the snare drums are designed for jazz, this means it’s optimized in every aspect. So, you don’t need to sweat since you can get the perfect tone character to jazz right away.
In line with the tuning of the snare drum, this YouTube video will surely be of help to you. This includes more tips, not just for tuning the snare, but also for your entire drum set.
FULL LIST: Best Snare Drum
Although we love Yamaha a lot, our favorite is beaten by the Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Jazz Snare Drum. We’ll ditch Yamaha for now, because based on performance, construction, and price, the only Ludwig snare drum in this list is the ultimate winner.
Made with 3-ply Legacy Mahogany shell, and who would say no to these shells? It offers two things — (1) a nice and warm tone and (2) good resonance for a thick and punchier tone. You’re going to enjoy great performances with its high-quality hardware.
Definitely, Yamaha will have nothing to say about this. Our ultimate choice for the best snare drums for jazz is the only product on this list that excels both in performance and price.