What Is A Snare Drum? (Correct Definition)

In any band, snare drums are utilized to maintain the pace. They play a key role in the drum set. Artists use them for a variety of events, including performing in orchestras, concert bands, parades, marching or military bands, drum corps, etc. Many musical tracks are built around the snare drum. If you’re a newbie, you may need clarification on what is a snare drum.

History Summary

History Summary

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Ancient Egyptian artifacts often included snares, which may also be seen on several modern Middle Eastern tambourines.

In certain situations, they might be seen on both sides of the drum tabor throughout medieval times in Europe. After using two sticks instead of one and moving the snares to the bottom section of the head, tabors with massive diameters developed into the side drum.

It was suspended from a belt or shoulder strap to the left of the player’s back. Beginning in the 14th century, it was coupled with the fife in Swiss infantry (lansquenet) units before being used throughout Europe.

The lansquenet’s drummer played a crucial role in the military by keeping the marching tempo and issuing commands to take action.

Early side drums’ height and diameter were equal or slightly higher.

Instead of using contemporary instruments, they employed larger membranes and sticks, which resulted in a heavier, duller sound.

The drum’s design underwent a significant alteration in the 19th century, becoming thinner and sometimes sporting a brass shell and rods or screws for tensioning.

Although a lever or screw could be used to manage the snares’ tension as early as the 17th century, an instantaneous release mechanism wasn’t created until the 20th century (for specific effects or to reduce the unwanted sympathetic vibrations generated through other tools).

Snare membranes were generally made of the intestines before the turn of the 20th century.

What Is A Snare Drum?

What Is A Snare Drum

Image: iStock

A snare drum, also known as a side drum, is a percussion instrument used in military and symphonic music with numerous strings made of silk, nylon, or wire draped across the lowest portion of the drum.

The drum emits a piercing, penetrating, and very high-pitched sound due to the snares’ coordinated resonance with the head above (to which the vibration is conveyed from the upper head, also known as the batter, via the air inside the drum).

Modern snare drums feature a cylindrical shell made of plywood, wood, or metal between 14 and 16 inches (35 to 40 cm) in diameter and 5 to 12 inches (13 to 30 cm) tall.

Several military bands use the bigger variants, sometimes known as guards or field drums. The drumheads are constructed of calfskin or polymer and are struck with two pointed sticks that culminate in small knobs made of nylon or wood.

A flesh hoop (around which the membrane is lapped) and the counter hoop hold them in place. Membrane tensioning is accomplished with screws that operate separately on each head, metal rods, or, as of late, rope lacings in the case of military bands.

Some Characteristics Of Snare Drums

Some Characteristics Of Snare Drums

Image: iStock

1. Snare drums may generate a variety of tones thanks to their various shells

The drum’s shell is the drum itself, devoid of any drum heads or hardware (rims, lugs, and bolts).

The shell of a snare drum may be composed of metal or wood. Steel makes up the majority of metal shell snare drums, while brass, aluminum, and copper are all common materials.

Basswood and poplar wood, often less expensive general-purpose woods, may be used to make wood snare drums. Maple, birch, walnut, oak, or even a blend of these woods may be found in higher-end drums. (Since drums are made by stacking many plies of wood on top of one another, it is conceivable and often done to mix different plies to get the desired tone.)

It’s a nice idea to visit your local drum shop to hear the differences in person or listen to sound samples on manufacturer websites since each wood or metal may have a distinct tone. Snare drums with wood shells often have a warmer tone than metal ones, which may sometimes be louder and more aggressive.

2. The two drum heads of a snare drum are very different in weight

The batter head, or drum stick head, is where you strike the batter and is the top drum head of your snare drum. It is called the snare side head because the snare wires vibrate against it and may also be referred to as a hazy drum head. It weighs significantly more than the bottom head. Snare batter heads may be single or double-ply and are often coated.

3. The snare wires produce a snare drum’s buzz

When the drum is played, the snare wires provide the distinctive “crack/snap” sound. When the top head is played, the snare wires on the snare side head vibrate. The amount they vibrate depends on how loose or tight you have them set; this is accomplished by twisting the straightforward dial on the snare strainer on the drum’s side.

The snare release mechanism, a lever on the side of the drum, may also be used to unplug the snare wires. Snare buzz is an intriguing sound quality produced by snare wires. The delights, annoyances, and eventual musicality of this snare drum feature are explored in this essay! Snare wires may have various “strand” counts, with 20 being the most popular (meaning 20 individual wires).

4. Snare drums come in various depths and diameters

A snare drum’s diameter ranges from thirteen to fourteen inches, with fourteen inches being the most typical. The ideal usage for snare drums with a diameter smaller than this is as a supplementary “effects” snare drum to broaden your range of sounds. Examples of such drums are 10-inch “popcorn” snare drums.

The drum also varies in depth. Although they are most often five and six inches deep, they may also be as shallow as three inches (known as piccolo snare drums, for a crisp sound with less ring) and as deep as eight inches (known as a Soprano snare drum, for more depth and resonance). The sizes of snare drums that are most often used are 14×5, 14×5.5, 14×6, 13×5, and 13×6.

5. How you hit the snare drum is important

The snare drum is an extremely dynamic instrument, thus, depending on how hard or soft (or anywhere in between) you hit the drum, it will make a varied sound.

Regular strikes, rim shots, and rim clicks produce a snare drum’s three most typical tones. A regular hit is made by striking the middle of the drum with the drumstick’s tip, which results in a steady sound. 

A rim shot is when you simultaneously strike the bottom rim with the stick’s body and tip, playing the drum’s center (producing a bigger, more aggressive, open sound). A rim click is performed by placing your lower palm on the snare drum and playing the rim with your stick’s shoulder. (This results in a click that sounds like wood; therefore, “rim click”).


What use does the snare drum serve?

The rhythm is often maintained by using the snare drum. Snare drums used in orchestras, marching bands, or the military are some instances of this. Another essential component of the drum set is the snare drum. Last but not least, the snare drum may sometimes be played alone.

What distinguishes a snare drum from a standard drum?

It is called the snare side head because the snare wires vibrate against it and may also be referred to as a hazy drum head. It weighs significantly more than the bottom head. Snare batter heads may be single or double-ply and are often coated.

What makes it a snare drum?

A series of wires outside the bottom drumhead give snare drums their characteristic sound when the drum is hit by the “snare” wires, which go by the rattle.

Are snare drums challen to play?

Learning to play the snare drum may be a lot of fun. Additionally, it’s much more difficult than many parents anticipate to give kids a genuine chance to learn. However, it’s crucial to avoid beginning by believing that all it takes is a little pounding to perfect the technique. Time and practice are necessary.

What sort of music is played on the snare drum?

The snare drum, which is distinguished by the metal wires, sometimes known as “snares,” that are stretched across the bottom head, is a key component in almost all musical genres, including pop, rock, metal, funk, hip-hop, R&B, progressive, marching band, drumlines, symphonic, and jazz.

Wrapping Up

You now be aware of what is a snare drum. Every drummer’s kit must have trap drums. They contribute to the rhythm and aid in establishing the pace or pulse for the other instruments. Ultimately, your choices will determine which is the best snare drum for you. Being aware of their many uses might accelerate the procedure.

Author: Sally Brown

Music is my life, and I love it. I aggregate musical instruments, including guitars, basses, drums, keyboards, amps, and other audio equipment used in music production. My work is published on axreview.com, and I believe my posts will help you find the instrument that suits you best in many ways. I am Sally Brown, and I am here to accompany you.

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