So you’ve been searching for a long time for that perfect snare drum? You’ve perfected your technique, you’ve tried different sizes of snares, and you still think that something’s missing from your sound? Maybe the best snare wires might help you out.
The true sound test and quality come not so much from the actual drum but the snare wires installed at the bottom of the snare drum. Those coiled wires that you haven’t paid much attention to until now are what make your snare sound punchy or heavy, crisp or thick, clean or dirty.
5 Best Snare Wires for Versatile Drummers
Check out my personal favorites and find out why you should pay more attention to the little things before adding anything else to your new drumkit.
These snare wires come in a 30-strand set. The best way to describe how they affect snare sound is that they amplify it a bit compared to standard wires. Each wire is coiled and you can find even spacing between all of them. This guarantees tone consistency.
The wires are medium gauge. This makes them rather versatile as they’re easier to blend into various styles and genres. A word of caution though, you’ll need a light touch and good control if you don’t want to overpower the band when playing jazz.
I love the build quality of these wires. The material of choice is high-grade steel which allows for fast response time and a crisp snare sound. And, because of the extra strand count, the snare is highly sensitive. This allows it to respond well to very delicate playing.
These wires aren’t a great option if you like your snare to be loose. I found that the added sensitivity caters better to tight and crisp snare tunings. The looser the snare, the worse these wires will sound.
If you’re looking for a different sound, PureSound has you covered. These brass wires come in two different strand options, 20-strand and 24-strand. The 20 is the standard set while the 24 adds a bit more sensitivity to your snare drum.
The brass wires give your snare drum a powerful whacking tone and extend the ring. So, these wires are great for having a wide open tone that resonates freely. Ideal for rock and metal.
Another interesting design feature is found in the end plates. Both end plates have an anti-choke design. This essentially means that the coils are slightly lifted away from the edge. This allows you to minimize the traditional buzzing sound created by the vibrating wires touching the edge of the snare drum.
And, this feature works well in unison with the brass coil as it allows the pure bright sound to stand out even more. Although the strap and pin system is fairly innovative, some will find it difficult to use. It requires a fair bit of trial and error to get used to.
I found that these wires cause snare drums to have a fair amount of ring and buzz. No amount of tuning or muffling will completely get rid of it. If you’re not wanting any of that buzz, these aren’t the wires to get.
If you’re all about saving money or having plenty of emergency replacements for your snare drum, the Gibraltar SC-4467 snare wires are always a fine choice. It’s a standard 20-strand configuration which has a neutral classic tone that every drummer should be used to.
There’s a lot of cross-brand compatibility as long as you stay in the 14” snare drum range. Of course, once you get to play a bit on these wires you’ll notice that things aren’t that cut and dry with the sound.
There’s plenty of punch to make your drum kit sound less boring. This should come in handy if you’re playing soft rock, jazz, or why not, in a marching band.
You can also use these for cajon drums. However, you may have to cut them to size in some cases and improvise in order to snap them on both ends.
Overall, these are a great set of wires that are best used as a cheap replacement. You’ll hear that they thicken your snare drum sound while keeping a buzz when you hit the other drums in your setup.
If you don’t want to hear the sympathetic buzz, you’ll need to get snare wires that offer a bit more control. Sometime the snare buzz sounds very organic, which is why I personally love these wires. They’re great for live gigging. They might not be the best option for recording.
These Blaster Series wires are incredibly popular amongst drummers who like personalizing their snare drums. The Blasters are perfect for getting a tight snare tone with heavy projection. Along with the projection comes plenty of control.
What I appreciate about these is the availability for snare drums of different sizes. They’re a versatile option if you own many different snares. The wires are made from a high-grade steel alloy ideal for high-intensity drumming – fast-paced rock, metal, you know the drill.
The response is still fairly quick but the difference is that these wires can take a beating. And, the bent end clips help fix some of the buzzing so you should have a clearer sound on stage. Enough projection but without the added noise.
I found that these wires were slightly longer than ones I had used before. It made it a bit harder to stop them from touching the bearing edge. If you can get past the difficult installation, you’ll be golden.
They do a great job in eliminating snare buzz, meaning they’re arguably the best option on this list for getting a supremely tight snare sound.
Similar to the Gibraltar wires, these S022 wires from Pearl act as a suitable replacement for any wonky wires that need to be upgraded. They’re inexpensive and tend to bring out a great tone from snare drums.
The wires are only available for 13” and 14” snare drums. However, most snare drums are that size anyway. So it’s not a big downside to these as you wouldn’t use them as specialty wires anyway.
This model also features plastic straps, further contributing to the low price. I’d suggest getting these wires if you have an entry-level snare drum that is sounding too loose.
While these worked well for entry-level snare drums, I didn’t find that they added anything in particular to higher-quality snares. If you have an intermediate or pro-level drum kit, you should consider getting some snare wires that offer a bit more.
Looking Past the Standard 20-Strand
20-strand snare wires may still be the industry standard but modern drummers have options these days. There’s nothing inherently wrong with 20-strands. I just personally prefer the tone and sound customization that 24 and higher counts have to offer.
It’s also a lot easier to make snare drums of different sizes sound better. If you think about it, with most 20-strand wire configurations you only get about 50% of the pure snare sound. More strands and different materials allow you a high degree of sound manipulation that wasn’t possible decades ago.
Materials and Gauges
Standard snare wires deliver a crisp and fast attack. But, when you play with high-quality steel allow snare wires you start noticing an increased sensitivity. Especially if they contain enough carbon in their makeup.
Experiment with various degrees of thickness too. Not all genres sound great with the same wires. Heavy gauge wires can better handle hard impacts and fast playing. They’re suitable for hard rock, metal, progressive, and other similar genres.
But, if your goal is to play softer, say jazz or blues, you should try using thinner wires instead. Thin wires are very sensitive so they don’t need you to hit hard to get a response. Thin wires are also ideal for drummers that use brushes.
Basic Maintenance Tips for Beginners
There are a lot of professional drummers that swear by their favorite manufacturers and don’t bother going over the small details. Therefore, it’s not uncommon that students or beginner drummers don’t know how to take care of their snare wires.
Snare wires stretch. Over time, the more they stretch the more they lose of their tonality and snare-specific sound. When you know everything is configured the way you like it but the sound is just not there anymore it’s time to change the wires. Stay stretched for too long and they might break. That would suck in the middle of a live show.
Exercise control when applying tension. You don’t want to start off with snare wires that are too tight. This chokes the snare sound, and adding more strands wouldn’t make much of a difference either. Also make sure that the wires are always lined up straight if you want accurate feedback and better lifespan.
Wire Up with Quality Snare Wires
Premium snare wires are still no replacement for a proper technique. However, it’s important that you understand that you shouldn’t be playing on the same wires if you play in a Slayer tribute band and perform Johnny Cash covers in between.
Each type of wire configuration has its highs and lows. That’s why so many configurations exist. Each one has its own uses and strong suits. By picking the right one, you can elevate your sound to another level. And, I’m sure that at least one option from this list is right up your alley.