Several aspects determine the overall sound of your snare drum. The main two that drummers focus on would be the shell of the snare and the type of drum head used.
One aspect of snares that people often forget about is the wires underneath. The quality and the build of the snare wires can drastically change the depth of the snare tones.
So, drummers will often upgrade their snare wires. If you’re looking to upgrade, here’s a list of some of the best snare drum wires to use.
6 Best Snare Wires on the Market
The Puresound Super 30 is a set of 30 snare wires that are evenly spaced from each other. The whole idea behind these snare wires is that they’re designed to make your snare sound more articulate and dynamic.
It gives the snare drum a snappier sound with a serious amount of response. Ghost notes and buzz notes will be heard incredibly clearly and rim shots will give a solid attack. These wires don’t choke out your snare drum, allowing it to produce the true tones that the shells allow.
When your snare is tuned low, these wires are great for bringing out the fat and punchy sound. However, you need to make sure your snare is tuned properly, otherwise you’ll get a wonky hum at the tail of your hits.
These snare wires will make a huge difference to your snare by giving it more responsiveness, sensitivity, and snap. Rudiments will sound articulate and clean.
The best way to describe the sound these wires add is to say that it sounds like your normal snare wires have been amplified slightly. I found them to produce a louder snare sound coming from the bottom of your drum.
Just note that you need to have a heavy-duty strainer on your snare to handle the larger number of wires here. I tried putting a 30-strand set of wires on an entry-level snare in the past and it didn’t hold up well over time. If you have a cheaper snare, you’ll most likely need to get a better strainer along with these wires.
Overall, I’d say these wires are a great option for a tight and sensitive snare. If you want your snare drum sounding fairly loose, I wouldn’t go for these as they have too many wires to get a loose sound.
Gibraltar is a company that specifically focuses on making high-quality and affordable drum hardware. Instead of producing drums or cymbals, they try to innovate and produce hardware products for all drummers.
The Gibraltar SC-4467 is a standard set of snare drum wires that can be used on any 14” snare drum. These wires are made of steel and help to produce a classic snap that you’d expect from most snare drums.
They’re incredibly affordable, meaning this product is a great thing to get when your snare wires break and you need a quick replacement. You could buy a few of them to keep in storage as snare wires need to regularly be replaced to keep your snare drum sounding the best it can.
Unfortunately, these wires don’t offer anything extra from a set of wires that will come standard with a snare drum. So, they’re just intended for a quick replacement or to use when you build your own snare drum.
Getting back to the topic of entry-level snare drums, I’ve found these wires to be a fantastic tool to improve on their quality. I’ve had a few students who have told me that their snare drum at home doesn’t sound like the one in my classroom.
Since many of them get incredibly cheap drum kits to start out with, the hardware quality of the snare drum is typically always bad. Spending under $10 on a sturdy set of Gibraltar wires is one of the best ways to improve on the boxy sound of the cheap snare drums my students have.
So, you can use these for a quick fix of your cheap snare. Just note that they won’t change the tone. They’ll only improve on the responsiveness and make the drum sound more like a snare that has good wires underneath.
The Blaster Series from Puresound has 20 strands of premium steel-alloy wires. These wires are used to make your snare drum tone a lot louder than usual, meaning these wires are a great choice for hard-hitters and drummers who play rock and metal.
The clips on the end of the wires are bent and help provide a good amount of snare response, meaning ghost notes and buzz rolls will sound great on whatever snare you place these wires on.
These wires give your snare a crazy amount of control. If you’re looking for a tight sound that projects really well, look no further. They sound clean and articulate at higher tensions and quite sparkly at looser tensions.
Since they make the snare drum louder, they may not be the best choice for quiet venues. However, you can still get a quiet snare tone with these. You’re just going to have to play a bit lighter than usual.
My favorite thing about these wires is how they don’t have as much sympathetic snare buzz as many other sets of wires. Personally, I love it when a snare sounds tight and controlled without any ringing when I hit another drum on the kit.
Having no snare buzz is fantastic for recording environments. It’s also just great for people who don’t want to turn their snare off after playing. Running up to your drum kit to stop the buzzing is a minor annoyance that we all have to deal with.
I know a few drummers who love a bit of sympathetic snare buzz as it sounds more natural or organic. If you’re of a similar mindset, you may not like these as much as I do.
A small gripe I have with these wires, though, is that they’re quite difficult to install. The wires are slightly longer than most other wires, so it takes a bit of fiddling and nudging to get them to sit comfortably on the snare head.
4. DW True Tone
The DW company is known for producing some of the highest-quality drum kits and hardware on the market. Manufactured in the US, all DW kits go through a vigorous production process and come out sounding immaculate.
One of the defining factors of all DW snare drums is that they come with the True Tone wires. These wires provide a great buzzing tone and bring out the best from your snare drum. They have brass ends that keep them stable and durable, allowing them to last a seriously long time and survive a lot of playing.
Getting the DW True Tone wires is a great way to bring DW design quality over to a cheaper snare drum from any other brand. These wires will help keep a balanced tone and a controlled sound.
They’re more expensive than the other wires on the list which is expected from DW. However, their quality and durability are well worth their cost.
I’ve played on quite a few DW snare drums in my drumming career. I always loved how good they sounded, and I thought it was all about the type of wood they were made from and how well-designed the shells were.
Someone eventually told me that one of the biggest reasons they sound great is because of the snare wires. He blew my mind by showing me how you can get a similar sound with any other snare if you get a set of True Tone wires.
The overall tone will obviously be determined by the quality of the shell and how well you tune it but using a set of these wires will bring out the pro-level responsiveness that all DW snares have.
Adding a bit of variety to the list is the Fat Cat Snappy Snares FCS14. This model is dual-adjustable, meaning you can individually tighten the outer wires and center wires. This gives you a lot of versatility in your snare tone.
You can choose between getting a crisp and tight attack or a slow and fat attack. These wires are a great choice for any drummer who plays many different styles of music. They’re also great for being used on studio snare drums.
They have the snap of a 20-strand snare wire model with the presence of a 30-strand snare wire model. Unfortunately, some of the wires tend to snap after playing for a while, even if you don’t over tighten your snare.
I love how much you can do with these wires. While all the other wires on the list act as set it and forget it tools, these wires give you plenty of versatility with different options. The extra tensioning feature is priceless, in my opinion. It makes me wonder why all snare wires aren’t made like this.
I think these are a good choice to have if you’re looking for something in between a 20-strand and 30-strand set of wires. They won’t be as tight and responsive as the larger set and they won’t be as loose as the smaller set.Overall, they’re a great tool to have for any drummer looking for something a bit different from the norm.
If you want to hear your ghost notes loud and clear and have one highly sensitive snare drum, you need to check out the Sabian Blend Hybrid. This product has 42 snare wires, giving you one of the most sensitive snare drums you can possibly have.
These wires work well in all tuning ranges and make give a tight and controlled atmosphere to your snare drum. The sensitive tone makes them a great option for playing styles like jazz and worship.
These are specialized snare drum wires. So, they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re not looking for hyper-sensitivity, these aren’t going to be the wires for you.
Other than that, they’re a seriously fantastic product and they’ll provide a lot of value. They’re expensive but well worth the cost.
I was shocked at first to see that these were a product from Sabian. I don’t think any other cymbal company makes snare drum wires, so it was a bit of a weird concept for me at first. However, these are no normal snare wires.
I found that these wires make your snare drum so sensitive that you could play a whole solo with just your fingers and the crowd you’re performing for would hear every little detail.
I’ve experienced highly sensitive snare drums exposing my flaws in technique in the past. These Sabian snare wires will highlight just how good or bad your ghost note technique is. That’s great for when you want to see things to improve on. It’s not so great for when you have a gig this weekend.
So, just be wary of that before you put these wires on so that you have a great sound for your next gig.
Why Getting New Snare Wires is a Good Idea
I went over 10 years without ever changing a set of snare wires. To be honest, I was too scared that I would somehow mess my snare drum up and not be able to fix it. Most drummers like me are hesitant to change the wires for this reason. They may also not see the purpose of it.
Let me tell you that getting a higher quality set of wires will make your snare drum sound way more expensive than it is. All the wires I’ve mentioned on the list have the potential to make incredible differences in your snare drum’s tone and sensitivity.
If you want a tight and sensitive snare, go for a set of wires with 30 or more strands. If you love having a loose sound, get a 20-strand set.
Tuning the Snare Drum
The snare drum is the part of the drum kit that you’re going to be playing the most. So, it needs to sound great. There are a few things you need to do to get a good sound from it. To tune the snare, you’re going to need a drum key.
If you want a tight cracking snare tone, you’ll need to tighten all the lugs. The tighter the drum head, the higher the snare sounds. The drum head will need to a bit looser if you want a fat and deep snare tone.
Tuning the bottom head will change the resonance of the drum as well as determine how it interacts with the snare drum wires. The tighter the bottom head, the more resonance the snare drum will have.
However, the snare wires will vibrate a bit less as they’ll be tightly connected to the drum head. The looser the bottom head, the less resonance, and more snare buzz it will have.
Sympathetic Snare Buzz
One thing that many drummers struggle with is unwanted snare buzz. This means that the snare wires will ring when you hit the toms or cymbals.
Although this can be quite annoying, it’s important to understand that sympathetic snare buzz is part of playing acoustic drums. There isn’t too much you can do about it and it will actually sound suitable on many occasions.
If it really bothers you that much, you can try tightening the snare wires on the throw-off. This will keep the wires closer to the bottom head and cause them to vibrate less.
Many cheaper kits have weaker snare wires, so you’ll need to upgrade your snare wires if the sympathetic snare buzz is still bad.
If you have a snare drum that sounds immaculate thanks to its shell structure and choice of drum head. You can make it sound even better with the use of a better set of snare wires.
Higher-quality snare wires will subtly improve the tone and snare buzz, creating a through-and-through professional sound.
Investing in some better snare wires is something that all drummers should do. They really will change the sound of your snare drum.