10 Best Snare Drums for Jazz in 2020 (reviews)

Our #2 Rated
DW Performance Series Snare Drum - 8 Inches X 14 Inches White Marine Finish Ply
Our #3 Rated
Ludwig Snare Drum (LB417)
Our #1 Rated
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Natural Wood
Our #4 Rated
GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Snare Drum Kit
Our #5 Rated
Ludwig Snare Drum, 14-inch (LM402)
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Made of 10-ply 7.1mm to achieve a deep tone
One-piece brass shell offering balance between sound and ease of tuning
Made of 100% Birch shells with the rounded bearing edges
Good snare drum that comes in a complete package (stand, drum key, etc.)
Made of aluminum shells with quality construction
Versatile tone just by adjusting the tension
Hardware and lugs match the finish
Has 10 lugs for more accurate tuning
Has 10 lugs for easy tuning
Offers a perfect balance between resonant sound and the snare’s ‘crack’
Lugs are super reliable, so drum stays in tune
P-85 throw-off provides better sensitivity
Quality drum construction, perfect for jazz music
A very affordable add-on to complete your jazz drum set
Versatile and can play different genres
Our #2 Rated
DW Performance Series Snare Drum - 8 Inches X 14 Inches White Marine Finish Ply
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Made of 10-ply 7.1mm to achieve a deep tone
Versatile tone just by adjusting the tension
Lugs are super reliable, so drum stays in tune
Our #3 Rated
Ludwig Snare Drum (LB417)
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One-piece brass shell offering balance between sound and ease of tuning
Hardware and lugs match the finish
P-85 throw-off provides better sensitivity
Our #1 Rated
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Natural Wood
Made of 100% Birch shells with the rounded bearing edges
Has 10 lugs for more accurate tuning
Quality drum construction, perfect for jazz music
Our #4 Rated
GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Snare Drum Kit
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Good snare drum that comes in a complete package (stand, drum key, etc.)
Has 10 lugs for easy tuning
A very affordable add-on to complete your jazz drum set
Our #5 Rated
Ludwig Snare Drum, 14-inch (LM402)
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Made of aluminum shells with quality construction
Offers a perfect balance between resonant sound and the snare’s ‘crack’
Versatile and can play different genres

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 drum for jazz

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Natural Wood
122 Reviews
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14x5.5 Snare Drum, Natural Wood
  • All-Birch shell
  • Ten Lugs for More Precise Tuning

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.

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Pros
  • Snare quality is top-notch
  • Has great depth, perfect for jazz music
  • High-gloss finish is stunning

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Cons
  • Snare has no muffler
  • May have a lackluster response

 

 

DW Performance Series Snare Drum

DW Performance Series Snare Drum - 8 Inches X 14 Inches White Marine Finish Ply
2 Reviews
DW Performance Series Snare Drum - 8 Inches X 14 Inches White Marine Finish Ply
  • 8" x 14" Maple Snare Drum with 3.0mm Triple-flanged Hoops - White Marine FinishPly

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.

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Pros
  • 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

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Cons
  • No internal muffler should you need it
  • Not the choice for those who want a huge snare sound

 

Ludwig LB417 Black Beauty

Ludwig Snare Drum (LB417)
  • Seamless, one piece brass beaded shell
  • Balanced metallic-yet-warm 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 LB147 Black Beauty 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.

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Pros
  • Amazing classic sounds from this snare
  • Quality is undeniably outstanding
  • The sound perfectly matches the looks

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Cons
  • The most expensive one on the list
  • Need to tighten the lugs (tuned super high) since they loosen after playing for some time

 

 

GP Percussion SK22

A student snare drum isn’t always the choice for budget buyers only. Some snare drums like the GP Percussion SK22 offers 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 double-braced stand, practice pad and drumsticks. It also includes a drum key for tuning, plus a nylon backpack for transport.

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Pros
  • A complete package with accessories at an affordable price
  • Good student snare drum for jazz music
  • A great snare for home and practice

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Cons
  • Sounded tiny even with proper tuning
  • Stock heads need an upgrade, wears out so soon

 

 

Ludwig 402 Snare Drum

This is among our favorite snare drums in the team because it can play from rock to metal, and jazz, as well. The Ludwig 402 Snare drum has awesome quality, perfect for recording studios or live performances.

It’s made in the US with chrome-plated aluminum 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. It’s equipped with imperial lugs and hammered shells.

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Pros
  • Stock heads and wires are great
  • With the imperial lugs, it’s very easy to tune the drum
  • Responsiveness is awesome

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Cons
  • The stock strainer is the weak point of this instrument
  • Lugs may not keep its grip after frequent use and abuse

 

 

Mapex MPX14

Mapex Snare Drum, Natural (MPML4550CNL)
33 Reviews
Mapex Snare Drum, Natural (MPML4550CNL)
  • 6.5mm Maple shell
  • MAPEX maple 14"x5.5" Snare Drum

Mapex Drums, a Taiwanese brand of musical instruments, is again giving us another high-quality snare drum – the Mapex MPX14. This 14 x 5.5-inch snare drum is made of real maple 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 MPX14 is equipped with 3mm solid hoops and Remo heads. You know that a Remo 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.

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Pros
  • High-quality Maple drum shells
  • The drum heads are easy to tune
  • Has solid batter hoops, especially if you do rimshots frequently

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Cons
  • Bottom skin is of poor quality
  • Batter hoop could be better with an upgrade to Pearl

 

 

Ludwig Supraphonic

Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum Brass 14 x 6.5 in.
  • 14" x 6-1/2"
  • Ideal for styles ranging from symphonic to arena rock

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.

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Pros
  • It’s a Ludwig, so quality and consistency is guaranteed
  • Versatile with top-notch performance
  • Has deep snare sounds

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Cons
  • Metal shows early wear and tear
  • Kind of expensive

 

Pearl S1330B Black Steel Piccolo

Of course, you might have heard of the Famous Pearl and their famous Piccolo and Effects Snare Drum. We love this compact Pearl Piccolo Snare Drum with a tight sound and excellent projection. It’s a 13 x 3-inch black-lacquered steel drum with plenty of snap.

Though it only has 13-inch diameter, it’s still among the best snare drums for jazz and loved by jazz drummers all over the world. Aside from steel, Piccolo snare drums come in brass and maple, too. You’ll definitely find the one that fits your style.

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Pros
  • Excellent projection with tight and crisp attack
  • Versatile and can be used for different genres, especially jazz
  • Compact size and well-built

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Cons
  • Good drum heads, but could be better with a replacement
  • No muffler, especially for those who need a quieter snare drum

 

 

Gretsch Drums Silver Series

Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14' Hammered Brass Snare Drum
4 Reviews
Gretsch Drums Full Range Series S1-6514-BRH 6.5x14" Hammered Brass Snare Drum
  • 6.5x14" Snare Drum
  • 1.2mm Polished Hammered Brass shell with Bolt-on Silver Series round badge & Chrome hardware

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 Silver 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.

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Pros
  • Versatile snare drum, especially the balanced tone
  • Fits into just any drum set for any music style
  • Durable and built to last

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Cons
  • Lugs around the rim loosening up when playing more rimshots

 

 

Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Jazz

Ludwig 5.5x14 Legacy Maple Jazz Fest Snare Drum Vintage Blue Oyster
  • The Ludwig 5.5x14 Legacy Jazz Fest Snare Drum Vintage in Blue Oyster
  • Ludwig is known for having the most extensive catalog of collectible drums. The 5.5"x14" Jazzfest snare is a “big fish” on that long list.

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.

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Pros
  • Ludwig always made the finest, including this snare drum
  • Not the best, but simply sounds great
  • Has vintage looks with vintage vibes

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Cons
  • Uneven bearing edges, so it’s hard to tune it
  • Also an expensive Ludwig on this list

 

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.

Snare Drum
Snare Drum of Band’Union drummer Alfredo Laviano. Via Flckr

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.

best snare drum jazz

Drum Sizes

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.

Drum Materials

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

Our Top Pick

Although we love Ludwig a lot, our favorite is beaten by the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch snare drum. We’ll ditch Ludwig for now, because based on performance, construction, and price, the only Yamaha snare drum in this list is the ultimate winner.

Made with 100% birch shells, and who would say no to Birch shells? It offers two things — (1) nice and warm tone and (2) good resonance for thick and punchier tone. You’re going to enjoy great performances with its 45-degree bearing edge and high-quality hardware.

Definitely, Ludwig will have nothing to say to this. Our ultimate choice for the best snare drums for jazz is the only product in this list that excels both in performance and price.

Get the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Snare Drum here

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