Best Brass Snare Drums: Your Secret Weapon for the Ultimate Groove

May 30, 2023

In this article, I will talk about the best brass snare drums today’s market has to offer. 

Brass snare drums are perfect for playing rock and metal due to their powerful sound, but they are still highly versatile.

I will help you decide whether or not this kind of snare drum is the right choice for you and explain all the essential facts about brass snare drums.

Let’s dive in and see what to expect and what to pay attention to before purchasing.

What to expect out of a brass snare drum?

A common question I found online is, “Are brass snare drums good?”

Short answer YES, but let me extend that a little bit.

Here is what to expect :

  1. Bright and Crisp Sound – Brass snare drums have great features in rock and metal genres. These genres demand a lot of attacks, and it is what brass has to offer.
  2. Powerful and Loud: Brass is a dense metal, making these snare drums loud and powerful, suitable for playing in large venues or bands with plenty of instruments.
  3. Sensitive and Responsive: Besides being a true powerhouse, brass snare drums are also very sensitive and responsive, producing a wide range of dynamics.
  4. Versatile: Thanks to their ability to produce a wide range of sounds and tones, brass snare drums can be used in various musical genres.

The 5 Best Brass Snare Drums – Quick Overview

  • Ludwig Supraphonioc Raw Brass
  • Keplinger Brass
  • Gretsch USA Chrome over brass
  • Dunnett classic 14″ x 6.5″ model 2n – chrome over brass
  • DW Collector’s Series Black Nickel Over brass
raw brass snared drum

1. Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass

Best for Vintage Look & Sound


  • 2.3mm seamless center-beaded brass shell
  • The same quality brass as used in Ludwig’s Black Beauty snares
  • Unfinished exterior remains visually distinct and sonically pure
  • Imperial lugs, and P88 throw off



This snare drum looks unique and vintage, but after testing it, I concluded that the sound is rather modern and versatile. 

It’s made of raw, unfinished brass, and the whole aesthetic of the snare drum is even more enhanced with imperial lugs and a keystone badge.

If you are familiar with the legendary “Black Beauty” made by Ludwig, you may find this brass snare drum has a similar sound. It has a distinctive warm tone, but it kept its high-end thanks to the brass shell.

It’s made in three different depth variations 5, 6.5, and 8. For me, personally, 8 is a bit extreme. It lacks the high-end and is less versatile than the other two types. 

I researched a couple of online stores, and from what I could see, I would say 6.5 is the best-selling model from this series.

For some, 5 inches may lack body and volume, so it’s understandable why the 6.5 version is in the “gold middle.”

As most of the snare drummers made by Ludwig, it’s hard to find downsides, except higher price.

So, if you like brass snare drums and more than $600 to set aside for a snare drum, it’s safe to say “it can get better than Ludwig.”

best brass snare drums

2. Keplinger Brass Snare Drum 6.5x14"

Best for Vintage Look & Sound


  • Handmade 3mm Brass Shell
  • Tube Lugs
  • Triple-Flanged Hoops
  • Dunnett Throw Off




Another high-end brass snare drum made by Greg Keplinger. Greg Keplinger gained prominence during the grunge era when he was a tech for Matt Cameron with Sound Garden and Pearl Jam.

His snare drums are known for their thick metal shells and heavy sound. Don’t let this fool you; these snare drums are versatile and sound great in the studio and on stage.

The Keplinger brass snare drum has 10 lugs, triple flange hoops, and Dunette throw-offs. So, in terms of hardware, they wouldn’t spare, you are getting a snare drum that will last.

The fact that they are kept unprocessed and not highly finished will make the maintenance harder, so prepare for markings and smudges.

This is a unique piece of the drum, high-end in every sense, and comes with a price over $1200 in most drum shops. 

But, let’s face not everyone can afford that, and usually, when we are talking about the best snare drums on the market, price is the only downside.

In terms of sizes, there are two:

  • 14×6.5 – powerful sound, more body, better for rock and metal
  • 14×5.5 – strong attack, more versatile, brighter, and with more punch, preferable for various genres
brass over chrome snare drum

3. Gretsch USA Chrome over Brass 14" x 05"

Best for Vintage Look & Sound


  • 1.2mm chrome-plated brass shell is focused, sensitive, and cutting
  • 4.0mm die-cast hoops deliver chunky rimshots and commanding cross-sticks
  • 45° bearing edges optimize head and shell response
  • Onboard Lightning throw off and snap-in drum key holder
  • 42-strand snare wire



The first time I heard about this snare drum Mark Shulman was testing it along with a few other snare drums made by Gretsch. So I knew right away this kind of shell (chrome over brass) was an excellent choice for me.

Gretsch is not the only company that makes chrome over brass shell snare drums, but this is my top pick if you like this shell composition. This shell produces bright, crisp, responsive sound with plenty of projection.

Although it’s highly versatile and can be used in all types of music, I find it more usable in heavy music genres. In addition, the drum comes with high-quality components, such as die-cast hoops and a Gladstone-style throw-off, contributing to its superior sound and playability.

Regarding downsides, some drummers have reported that this snare drum can produce excessive overtones, which may require additional tuning and muffling to achieve the desired sound.

They are not going crazy regarding price; it’s a flagship series. The price is a little over $600 when writing this article, but if that is too much for you, here is the alternative.

chrome over brass snare drums

4. Dunnett Classic Chrome Over Brass

Best for Vintage Look & Sound


  • Available in a number of different shell materials, each with its own voice
  • 100% handcrafted by Ronn Dunnett
  • Brass shell boasts matchless power and sensitivity
  • Straight bearing edges enhance projection and sensitivity
  • George Way 2.3mm double-flanged hoops deliver a timeless tone
  • Quick-release R4 throw off mechanism facilitates fast head changes




I previously said Gretch’s chrome over brass is my top pick. That’s because it has a better bang for the buck, and I genuinely choose that kind of snare drum for my “best of” lists.

I can’t talk about the best brass snare drums or any snare drums containing brass without mentioning this beauty. 

It’s usually 20% more expensive than USA Custom chrome over brass but the same as Gretsch; it’s one of a kind, high-end drum.

It’s not as punchy as the Gretsch chrome over the brass model, and I think it’s great we have a choice. 

It is a snare drum designed for a drummer who likes this shell composition, and they need a versatile drum that can bear a wide range of tunings.

Why would you pick chrome over brass versus a 100% brass shell?

If you want a snare drum with more sensitivity, then chrome over a brass shell is a better pick. That’s because the brass shell is thinner. 

Additionally, The chrome finish provides an added layer of protection against rust and wear, ensuring that this snare drum will last for years.

In terms of sizes, there are two, 14×5.5 and 14×6.5. It goes the same as Keplinger’s model. The 5.5 for more versatility and strong attack, 6.5 for a fuller body – larger-than-life sound.

best brass snare drum

5. DW Collector’s Series Black Nickel Over Brass 6.5x14"

Best for Vintage Look & Sound


  •  1mm shell plated with sleek black nickel
  • Stainless steel True Pitch tension rods
  • Nickel-plated-steel flanged counter hoops
  • Nickel-plated lugs, throw-off, and butt plate



One more “over brass” snare drum that would be hard to leave out when talking about best brass snare drums. Many compare this drum to Ludwig’s Black Beauty.

It does have a similar sound but not a comparable price.

In some stores, it’s twice as cheap. So you’ll get less body, “smaller” sound, and brighter sound with more attack but equally high quality for less money.

The snare drum features DW’s flawless design and innovation, like True Hoops, new tension rods, and the Mag Throw-off.

The metal construction of the snare drum provides a “cracky pop” sound that is suitable for various genres and can be tuned to a wide range of pitches.

The three-position butt plate allows for quick adjustments to the snare wire tension, providing different sound options with the flip of a switch.

It’s currently available in two sizes, and while 14×6.5 is highly versatile with a wide range of possibilities, the 14x.8 version is more for heavier music genres; it is mighty indeed.

Wrap up

Choosing a brass snare drum is a matter of personal taste and budget. Each of these drums offers a unique sound and set of features catering to different styles and preferences. 

Ultimately, it’s crucial to consider how the drum feels to play, how it blends with the music you’re playing, and whether it fits within your budget. 

Despite the drawbacks, brass snare drums have proven to be a worthwhile investment for many drummers, providing a unique sonic signature that can help define your sound.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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