5 Best Snare Wires for Drummers of any Skill Level

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.

My Top 5 Favorite Snare Wires

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. You can get them for 12, 13, and 14-inch snare drums. 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.

What I also like is the composition. 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, hitting ghost notes and incorporating the snare into more of your fills should become a lot more rewarding.

  • 30-strand count
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    Fast response
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    Increased sensitivity
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    Fuller sound
  • Not available for all snare sizes

If you’re the type of drummer that swears by the 20-strand configuration then this set is something you should really consider as a replacement for your factory snare wires. The Pearl S022 has a relatively crisp sound yet with a lower register that makes it suitable for modern mainstream music.

The wires are only available for 14” and 13” snare drums. The durability is impressive but perhaps more to me than to an experienced drummer. After all, the S022 has been on the market for years and enjoyed quite the popularity.

This model also features plastic straps. It’s a huge money-saver for if you’re shopping on a budget.

  • Affordable
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    Easy to install
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    Reliable playing
  • Only available for 14” and 13” snare drums

If you’re looking for a different sound, PureSound has you covered. Their brass snare wires are made for 13” and 14” snare drums. And, you can also find them in 20 and 24-strand sets. The 24-strand configuration seems more worthy if you’re looking for extra resonance.

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.

  • Bright tone
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    Good for low registry drums kits
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    Minimal buzzing
  • Limited snare compatibility

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.

  • Very affordable
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    Good as replacements
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    Simple setup
  • Won’t solve buzzing
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    Only made for 14” snare drums

Last but not least, this line of snare wires offers you plenty of options to mix and match. You can find both 16-strand and 20-strand configurations, which poses an interesting dilemma. If you like experimenting with different registries and tones then you might get a kick out of these.

What I also appreciated was the availability for snare drums of different sizes. The Blaster Series covers 10, 12, 13, and 14” snare drums. Even better, 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.

  • High quality steel wires
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    Bent edges
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    Reduced buzz
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    Very durable
  • Not suitable for slow play

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.

  • March 19, 2019
Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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