With snare drums being one of the most essential parts of your drum kit, it’s important that you have a high-quality snare drum head. You and whoever is listening is going to be hearing it very often. So, how do you want it to sound?
The are many snare heads out there that change the tonal qualities that your snare shell produces. The type of sound you need depends on what and how you’re playing.
We’re going to look at some of the best snare heads on offer from Evans, Remo, and Aquarian and explain how each one can benefit you and your playing style.
7 Best Snare Drum Heads from Renowned Brands
Table of Contents
Starting off with one of the most versatile snare heads on the market, the Evans Genera DH Dry works wonders on every single snare drum you put it on. No matter what type of shell or material, this head will bring out a punching rimshot and a balanced response.
It’s a 2-ply head that has air vents surrounding its perimeter. These air vents help eliminate overtones and focus the sound. They also allow you to seriously dig into the snare without stressing the drum head too much. This makes it a great option for playing heavy musical styles like rock and metal.
The head is coated and makes the brush work very fluid. So, once you play some heavy rock, you can move onto the next jazz gig without changing anything on your snare drum. The dry tone brings back memories of the older snare drums that had minimal sustain.
The head allows you to get a nice fat tone when the snare is tuned low. Typically, you’d need to add some sort of muffling ring. You don’t need to with the Genera HD Dry as there aren’t many overtones to eliminate in the first place.
This is a fantastic drum head for anyone who plays varying musical styles or does session work. If you’re looking for a head to bring out a lot of tone and resonance from a snare, this won’t work as well as a single-ply head would.
My favorite thing about this head is how well it focuses on ghost notes. Since there isn’t much sustain, you can clearly hear every subtle note that your stick may play. It highlights how good playing ghost notes can make a groove sound.
However, it also highlights when a drummer has bad ghost note technique. It’s both good and bad in that sense. Good because it will show you that you need to practice a bit. Bad because it will expose you on the gig!
I’ve found that the dry tone is fantastic for recording drum parts. I highly suggest getting this head if you plan on recording in a studio in the near future.
The Powerstroke 77 is Remo’s take on a seriously versatile snare drum head. However, this head screams durability. It’s a 2-ply head with a center dot, underneath which is a bit meatier to help with preserving the quality of the skin.
This center dot is iconic and you’ll see it on a lot of snare drums played by Remo artists. The Powerstroke has a nice fat punch when tuned low. It would work well in any situation where you need that thick snare tone.
However, it really shines through when tuned high. It produces such a solid crack that will cut through any mix and make a huge impact on a stage.
The sound is highly controlled while still producing a pleasant ring. The tone will be about as natural you can get from a 2-ply drum head. As said previously, this is one durable snare drum head. It will survive a serious amount of bashing while still keeping its tone.
The built-in dampening will stop you from needing to use any muffling and the easy tuning will save you a lot of time.
I love how this head hardly ever requires dampening. No matter what tuning your snare drum has, the head will control the overtones nicely, so you don’t need to use Moongels or tape. I feel that this preserves the true tone of your snare drum.
Adding dampening will always take away from how the snare drum was designed to sound. So, this is a great head for anyone that loves the pure sound of drums.
I’ve used Powerstroke 77 heads for years at a time. The sheer durability of this thing is something to appreciate by any drummer who hates swapping heads out frequently.
Overall, it's a great choice for most situations. Similar to the previous drum head, the 2-ply skin may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Evans EC Reverse Dot head is a unique head in the Evans lineup. It’s not coated, yet it’s not clear. Instead, it has a middle ring that provides all the punch and then outer rings that control the tones. The surface has a hazy appearance that is uncommonly seen on snare drum heads.
The EC Reverse Dot is one of the loudest snare heads on the market. Although the sound is controlled, it projects with massive volume. This makes it a fantastic option for loud and heavy music. Rock and metal drummers are huge fans of it. Jazz drummers…not so much.
It gives your snare drum a significant popping sound, accenting backbeats and intentional loud patterns. Ghost notes won’t be as easily heard as they would with more sensitive heads. However, they’re still audible.
Its durability is fantastic and the feel of this head is really solid. It’s a great choice for hard-hitting players. Drummers who love sensitivity and responsiveness may not do too well with it.
I once saw a band where the drummer was using this head. They were playing in a restaurant, so the volume levels had to be kept low. It was then and there that I decided that this head was only something I would ever use if I was playing in a large venue.
As good as the drummer was at keeping his levels down, the snare drum volume was too loud for the environment. It’s a rock snare drum through and through. Definitely not suited for your next pub gig.
If you’re looking for a more natural sound from your snare, Remo’s Controlled Sound Coated is a great head to look at. It has a single-ply surface with a black dot in the center.
The center dot produces the controlled tone while the outer surface produces more overtones, giving you a variety of sounds to play around with.
The tone you get from your snare will be extremely true to its shell. The sound will be open, but never unruly. It brings out a great crack with a deep body. Since it’s a one-ply head, it will take some time to tune your snare drum.
If you’re new to tuning, it may become a bit of a mission. However, this head will make your snare sound incredibly good once you hit the sweet spot.
If you’re looking for that controlled sound, you’ll need to hit the head directly in the center of the dot. This may be a downside to some drummers. Other drummers will love the versatility of the tones.
I’ve played on a few snares that have had this head over the years. I’ve always felt that it’s done a fantastic job in keeping me accurate since you need to strike the middle to get a powerful and controlled sound.
Hitting the middle of the snare is not something many drummers think about, so I think this head is great for that purpose.
I can see mainly jazz drummers utilizing the outer edges of the snare. The overtones are a bit out there sound-wise, so they would sound a bit off in any context that isn’t experimental.
Evans G2 heads are most commonly used as drum heads for toms. They’re a standard choice for many drummers and provide a controlled tone that works in many situations. It’s not very common for drummers to use them on a snare. However, they actually work wonders on snare drums.
If you want to be as versatile as possible, a G2 coated snare head is the answer. The two-ply head along with the coated skin will allow you to fit into a jazz band, rock band, or even electronic band.
This head brings out a natural tone from your snare drum. It’s fairly responsive, making ghost notes very audible. It also sounds great when tuned high or low. Everything you may need will be fulfilled by this head on a basic level.
However, it just doesn’t specialize in anything specific. A dedicated rock drummer will need a head that is loud and punchy and there are punchier heads out there than the G2 Coated.
So, it’s a great choice if you play all styles of music and you need a solid versatile head. It’s not the best choice if you’re specializing in something specific.
I currently have an Evans G2 Coated on my snare drum that I use to teach and record videos with. It has served me incredibly well and I can’t see myself swapping it out anytime soon. The versatility is what sells it for me. I feel it’s incredibly valuable.
I’ve also been able to get pretty good results when tuning both high and low, making the head even more versatile thanks to the wide tuning range.
I’d say this head is a very safe option to go with. It’ll definitely give you a great sound. It just won’t give you specific sounds.
The Aquarian Triple Threat snare head has 3 plies of Nu-Brite material. A 3-ply snare drum head isn’t something you’re going to see every day. It’s a seriously thick head designed specifically for hard-hitters.
It brings out a dry tone from your snare drum that sounds extremely full and thick. However, it responds like a singe-ply head, producing delicate ghost notes and buzz rolls. How is this possible?
Only the designers at Aquarian can tell you. Just know that you’re getting a thick and heavy head that has a controlled, yet responsive, tone.
It sounds great with brushes, but you probably aren’t a brush player if you’re looking to buy this head. On a stage, it will sound punchy and full, perfectly complementing the hard playing of any drummer.
It’s not a great choice for someone looking for a natural snare tone. Instead, it will make your snare drum almost sound like it’s been triggered.
I’d comfortably say that this is the most durable snare head on this list. It makes complete sense thanks to the 3-ply nature of it. It’s going to last the longest on your snare than any of the other snare heads without losing any tone.
For this reason, I think it would be good to put this head on a drum kit that you teach with. Teaching drum kits don’t often see the stage at gigs or recordings, so you shouldn’t focus on making them sound as good and fresh all the time.
Instead, it’s better to put heads on that will last as long as possible, saving you on costs. This is the perfect snare head for that situation, in my opinion.
Ending the list is a head that’s intended to be placed on the bottom of your snare. Reso heads aren’t something that most drummers think of replacing. However, the Evans Snare Side Clear is a great product that will make an immediate difference to your snare tone.
It’s easy to tune and will bring out more response from your snare wires, giving you a punchier sound with a tighter crack. It will add more depth to your tone, complementing any drum head that you choose to place on the top side of your snare.
If you’re looking to improve your snare tone even more, consider getting this head for the bottom of your snare. You won’t regret it.
I found this head to be amazingly resilient considering how thin it is. You can crank it up incredibly high without worrying about the head having too much stress. This allows you to get a seriously high-pitched and punchy snare drum sound.
A head like this goes incredibly well with a set of high-quality snare wires. If you choose to put this head on the bottom of your snare, I suggest you look at upgrading your snare wires as well. The upgrade in sound you’ll get from your snare will be massive.
Coated vs Clear Drum Heads
You may be wondering why some drum heads are coated while others are clear. Coated heads will be more responsive. You’ll be able to distinctly hear every note that is played on them. Clear drum heads have a warmer tone that isn’t as responsive.
You’ll most commonly see coated heads on snare drums thanks to the responsiveness. You’ll most commonly see clear heads on toms thanks to the warm punchiness.
Drummers love to play around with these tones, so it’s not a clear and set rule of where to put the different types of heads.
Which Brand to Choose
Remo, Evans, and Aquarian are the three powerhouse brands in the drum head world. I’ve always found it a bit weird that there are only three companies people use considering there are so many brands that make drum kits. Anyway, these are the brands you have to choose from.
Each brand has some fantastic heads, giving you a wide choice to select from. There’s no clear and cut winner over which brand is the best. I will say, though, that Aquarian isn’t near as popular as Remo or Evans.
Aquarian still make some great snare heads. I always use Eric Moore and Mike Johnston as examples for this. They’re two Aquarian artists who always have wonderful sounding snare drums.
You can’t go wrong with Remo or Evans, either. You can also check out my detailed article comparing these two. To choose a brand, you just need to try them all out and decide which is your favorite.
Musical Style Options
The style of music you play is an important thing to factor in when choosing a snare drum head. You could either go with something versatile that suits all, or you could get something specific that focuses in on the sound you’re going for.
If you’re going to play jazz, I’d suggest getting a single-ply head that is coated. Having a coated head will allow you to play with brushes while being thin will bring out the overtones of the snare. Hearing a few overtones is great in a jazz setting.
Rock music needs a head that is a bit heavier and thicker. So, 2-ply heads are the way to go. You’re going to be laying into the snare drum in heavier music, so the durability will ensure that you don’t need to constantly buy new drum heads.
Every style that falls in between jazz and rock would need a head that is fairly versatile. Something like the Evans G2 Coated would be my top pick for that context. It’s one of my favorite heads for versatility.
Thankfully, snare drum heads are inexpensive. Unlike bass drum heads, I feel you can easily get a few snare drum heads to try out in different contexts. It’s not going to break the bank anytime soon.
So, try as many snare heads as you can to make an informed decision on which one is your favorite. Remember that different heads will work differently depending on what type of snare drum you have.
Your snare drum is the main reason for how it sounds. A good snare head just makes it a bit easier to get the exact sound that you want. Snare heads can change how the drum feels, but they won’t change any of the fundamental tones.
When choosing a snare drum head to get, make sure that you love everything it has on offer. You don’t want to be stuck with tonal qualities that you’re not going to enjoy.
Also, make sure you’re getting a head that will benefit and add to the style of music you’re intending to play. Jazz drummers love single-ply heads while rock drummers generally love double-ply heads.
Try not to be married to one type of drum head. There are some really good heads out there and you will greatly benefit from trying all of them.