When it comes to iconic snare drums, Ludwig is the brand that immediately comes to mind. Ludwig snares like the Supraphonic introduced in 1958 and Black Beauty, introduced in 1920 is still among the most desirable snares to play or record within the studio.
While both snare drums are held in high regard by drummers, they possess distinct differences that make each unique and special in their own way. In this article, we'll explore the features and characteristics of both drums, so you can decide which one is best for you.
Ludwig’s Supraphonic snare features a seamless, beaded aluminum shell that delivers a bright, crisp note, with a quick decay. The 1.7mm aluminum shell makes the snare highly responsive to input, allowing for a wide range of dynamic expressions.
The snare has a classic look, with a chrome-plated shell and tube lugs that give it a timeless appeal. It’s exactly the image most people think of when they think of a snare drum.
The Supraphonic's legendary sound has made it a mainstay of their snare catalog for well over 50 years, and for good reason. What drummers absolutely love about the Supraphonic is its lightning-fast response and hypersensitivity.
Ludwig’s Supraphonic carries with it quite the accolade. The Supraphonic is in fact the most recorded snare drum in the history of music! Specifically speaking, that would be the Supraphonic LM400 model.
The LM400 is widely considered to be the “gold standard” of snare drums. It is in fact the snare drum that all other manufacturers try to duplicate at some point but, with little success honestly.
Ludwig's Supraphonic snare features their legendary P85 strainer which is known for its smooth operation and reliable performance.
What drummers absolutely love about the Supraphonic is its lightning-fast response and hypersensitivity.
The Supraphonic is an ideal tool for those who play fast-paced music styles like jazz and funk, and its bright tone and sensitivity have made it a favorite of drummers like Steve Gadd and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Famously John Bonham would use the Supraphonic LM402 on most if not all of Led Zeppelin’s recordings and live performances. The LM402 has a distinct crack sound that can be recognized by listeners everywhere.
The appropriately named Ludwig Black Beauty used to feature a rather ornate brass shell in the early days of its production. It’s since been simplified but maintains an elegant appearance worthy of its name.
Black Beauty snare shells are made from 1.2mm brass and then wrapped in dark nickel plating. Hence the name, “Black Beauty”.
You will notice some variety in the finish as some shells have smooth dark nickel plating and others look dimpled. The dimpling is from a hand-hammering process used when finishing the shell.
The Black Beauty produces a deeper, more resonant sound with a drawn-out sustain that sort of floats in the air, filling those empty spaces. Black Beauty’s sonic qualities make it an ideal choice for drummers that play slower music stylings like ballads and power ballads.
For a monster-sized sound and a fat-cutting tone, you cannot go wrong with a Ludwig Black Beauty snare.
The Black Beauty snare drum also features Ludwig's P85 strainer, which ensures smooth and reliable snare wire engagement.
The Black Beauty snare drums are responsive and sensitive, with excellent projection and a warm, full-bodied tone that makes it an ideal choice for studio and live performances alike.
It is no exaggeration to say that Black Beauty can do it all. From rock, pop, country, funk, metal, whatever you play the Black beauty can be tuned in to fit into any genre.
Which One Should You Pick?
When comparing the Supraphonic and Black Beauty, you must keep in mind, both drums have distinct advantages depending on the musical style to which they are applied.
Whichever drum you choose will ultimately come down to personal preference or if you are chasing a specific tonal quality to fit a song.
As a drummer, you should always be considering what they can do or what they can use in order to make their performance sound the best it can. At the end of the day, the snare is both an instrument and a tool that allows you to get the job done. Choosing the right snare or “tooL” can make all the difference in the world.
If you're a drummer who plays in a band that requires a fast responsive snare drum then the Supraphonic is a great choice for you. If you’re a drummer who plays a lot of slower music and needs to fill some of that open air with some sweet resonant sound, then Black Beauty is the choice for you.
2 thoughts on “Ludwig Supraphonic vs Black Beauty – Which Snare to Pick?”
My favorite snare is the “super Ludwig” I picked one up back in 2019 and fell in love with it! So now it’s my go to snare drum.
Not trying to be a smartass here. I’ve always understood that hammered snares are mechanically done during production and not “hand hammered” as some cymbals are. It’d be great to know if that is so or I’m misinformed.