For your electronic drum kit to sound its best whether you’re performing or practicing, you’ll need a predictable and extremely capable snare pad. A snare pad is arguably one of the most important components of an electronic kit.
Ideally, drummers playing on an electronic snare drum want it to be every bit as dynamic as an acoustic snare. Capable of rim shots, cross sticking, as well a number of sounds that match the velocity of your strikes.
Top 3 - Electronic Snare Drums
If you’re thinking about upgrading your e-snare, you’re in the right place. I recently tested out some of the newest entries to the e-snare market and here are my findings!
Best Electronic Snare Drums - My Top Picks
1. Roland V-Pad PD-140DS
What a lot of drummers will like about this pad right out of the gate is its size. It looks like a real snare drum. The polished metal shell is sharp looking but prone to fingerprints. You may have to wipe it down every so often.
This e-snare pad from Roland is a full 14” in diameter and mounts on a traditional snare stand. Drummers will not have to adjust their playstyle at all while jamming on this pad. It feels like the real deal!
The pronounced rim of the drum makes it easy to get rim shots when you want them. You don’t have to strike it too hard, which is really nice as this reduces shock through the hand. You can even let your stick dance on the head to get ghost notes when desired.
The triggers were responsive to my playing. I didn’t find myself struggling to get what I wanted out of this pad.
Around the 3-ply mesh head are 8 easily accessible lugs, so drummers can dial in their optimal level of tension. As it has come to be expected from Roland, the V-Pad mesh head provides very clean, articulate feedback while playing.
Though there seemed to be a reduced level of bounce to this head compared to previous models from Roland. This could be due to the 3-ply mesh head. I didn’t find it to be a bad thing for how I play but, I felt it was worth noting for any long-term Roland users.
2. Roland V-Drums PDX-12
The Roland PDX-12 may seem familiar as it is the same snare that comes with Roland’s TD-17KV drum kit.
The PDX-12 has a simple but effective design featuring a dual mesh head and dual-zone trigger system that allows drummers to play both the adjustable primary mesh head, as well as the rim area.
Players who are transitioning frequently from an acoustic kit to an electronic kit will enjoy this larger-than-average-sized electronic snare pad.
While the PDX-12 is not as impressive looking as some of its counterparts you’ll find that it can absolutely get the job done. The triggers are accurate. Drummers will be able to play flams, drum-rolls, perform cross-stick patterns, and play dynamically with ease.
The simple design will be appreciated by drummers who have a tendency to tinker with their gear. The triggers are easily accessible and adjustable. The rim trigger may take a bit of adjusting as I found that at times I had to hit a little harder than I wanted to, to get it to register.
I really liked the fact this pad has a little bit of weight to it too. It feels quite sturdy.
You may be considering augmenting your current e-kit with this pad and that may not be a bad decision. In case you are wondering, you can use this pad with other manufacturers' e-kits without an issue.
For the price, size and functionality, this would be a wise purchase for those looking for an update or an easy replacement.
3. ddrum Hybrid Snare Drum with Trigger
If you’re looking for something that combines style with cross-functional capability, this may be a good place to start. Ddrum’s Hybrid Snare Drum can function both as an acoustic snare for live performances and as an e-snare that can be plugged into an electronic drum kit.
This snare just looks great! The black satin finish and red hardware accents make this a stand-out piece.
First I wanted to try this snare on its own, without trigger assistance. This is a birch shell snare so it sounds very bright and poppy!
Its 13” diameter also lends itself to a more condensed clean crack sound when struck, which I really liked. The snare acoustic sound is easy to dial in so you can get right to playing.
For fans of kits that sound big and boomy, they may find the snare too “small” sounding. If you would be one of those people, then may I suggest utilizing snare’s hybrid option?
After some digging, I found that the trigger used on this snare is a single-zone trigger based on ddrum’s Acoustic Pro Trigger line. I found the trigger to be accurate and a lot of fun to play with!
For those who might criticize the acoustic component of the snare for its lack of resonance or size, you can easily fill in that gap by utilizing the trigger audio interface.
If you’re mainly seeking flexibility with the aesthetic presentation, then this is for you. If you want a more standard e-pad, then this would not be for you.
4. Alesis 12" Mesh Head Pad with Acoustic Feel
I’m very familiar with how Alesis products play as I’ve spent more time on an Alesis e-kit than any other brand. Alesis has another good feeling and quiet pad here.
These Alesis dual mesh heads are a pleasure to play on. The head's tightness can easily be adjusted via the surrounding lugs. I was able to get a very responsive bounce from this for some quick rolls and even accurate-sounding blast beats.
The 12” diameter makes for easy playing when used as a snare drum for your electronic kit. The rim is raised enough to make it easy to hit when you want that rim shot sound. At times you have to hit a little harder than you’d think. With some adjustments on the module, it gets better but, I never was able to find the absolute perfect setting.
After a bit of playing, the pad did start to turn on its mount connected to the rack. This is something I’ve run into in the past with Alesis kits. You really have to tighten those knobs a lot to get them to stay put.
This particular pad has a neat feature I really enjoyed in the form of a knob that helps with a bit more fine-tuning. The knob will help adjust the dynamic response of the triggers in the head. So, in addition to the physical feedback you can get from the mesh head, you can also dial in the sound a bit more for more accurate play.
Can I Make My Own Hybrid Snare?
Marrying electronic and acoustic drums is a popular practice in the modern-day music scene. Drummers incorporate all sorts of samples in their playing to make for a more dynamic sound.
It is not entirely uncommon for drummers to convert acoustic shells they already have and replace their head and rim with an electronically triggered component. This snare trigger from ddrum is fairly popular.
You may already have most of the pieces you need. Check out YouTube for plenty of helpful videos which demonstrate how to do this in a short amount of time. This could save you money should you not want to rush out and buy a brand-new hybrid snare.
Can I Use Different Brand E-pads with My Kit?
This will require some research but, you will find a lot of e-kits that can utilize different brands of pads. Keep in mind this does not mean all!
Some brands have different inputs and outputs for certain functions. Other times the module won’t read the e-pad even though it’ll hook up just fine.
Be sure to do your research, so that you don’t waste your money on something that doesn’t work.
Whether you’re replacing your current e-pad or looking to integrate something into your acoustic kit with more function, there are a lot of great choices here.
Personally, I found the ddrum Hybrid snare to be a very exciting choice! It was something a little more foreign to me, but I loved utilizing it on its own or in tandem with the triggered effects. You can really liven up your snare with a trigger as a compliment to the organic sound.
The Roland V-Pad PD-140DS feels very authentic for an e-drum. A combination of some low-volume cymbals, an electronic kick pad, and this snare could make for some really fun practice time. I’d even venture to say you could play some small room gigs with that sort of setup as well.
More convenient options for e-kit users would include the other more traditional e-pad options from Roland and Alesis. If seeking convenience for plug-and-play fun, then the more traditional route would be the path of least resistance to continue your e-drumming playtime.