Unleashing the Beast: 5 The Best Snare Drums for Rock

March 16, 2024

If you are in search of such a drum, you are at the right place. I crafted a list of the five best snare drums for rock music and discussed their sound, price, and pros and cons! 

I did lifelong research in order to provide you with the 5 best snare drums for rock. I picked and tested over 60 different snare drums over my career, including the ones for the rock genre.

I spent weeks researching this topic, gathered my fellow drum colleagues, drumed and tested on different snare drums together, and made this list. Now that I have chosen my top 5, let’s check them together. 

Best Snare Drums for Rock – Quick Overview 

  • Tama Kenny Aronoff
  • Ludwig Black Beauty
  • Ludwig Supraphonic
  • Nicko Mcbrain Icarus British Drum Co.
  • Gretsch Chrome over Brass

What I look for

Perfect rimshot sound

If you want to achieve that flawless, cut-through-everything sound with your snare, you have to go with a flawless rimshot sound. This is a must for snare drums, especially in the rock genre, so this was my first look for criteria.


When I rock, I rock hard. Rock music is not jazz or anything like any leisure-type genre. It’s harsh, powerful and loud. That’s why high quality and durability are highly important to me when playing this music style.

Snare’s tone depth

I looked for a great tone depth because good rock snares include profound tones and a lot of weight. Only by having such power you will feel the force they provide when playing it.

best snare drums for rock

1. Tama Kenny Aronoff

Best All-around Snare


  • 1.0 mm Brass (Black Nickel Plated & Hand Engraved)
  • 2.3mm Brass Mighty Hoop (10 hole)
  • 30-Strand Carbon Steel Snare Wire




Tama Kenny Aronoff is a beautiful metal snare drum that has 1mm of brass in the shell, with beautiful fat and warm tones with a lot of attacks – perfect for rock, right? 

This wonderful piece of the instrument comes with a die-cast hoop and a flange on the bottom, which creates a sound that is both aggressive and warm while making tunning much easier.

The greatest thing about this snare drum is that it sounds incredible both live and when recording it. It just cuts through any kind of instrument easily. When it comes to the look, I have to mention the hand-engraved patterns that give this drum such a vintage look. 

This is all because the drum features are replicated tattoo design from the owner’s arm, showcasing the words “Uncommon Truth and Honor” as well as dragon heads and snakes that wrap around the body. 

When it comes to drawbacks, I cannot really state any, aside from the higher price, which is around $900.

Overall, the drum has been specifically designed to emulate the unique sound of Kenny Arnold, which is sure to impress any drummer.

best snare drum for rock

2. Ludwig Black Beauty

The most versatile


  • Brass with Nickel-plating
  • Triple-flanged hoops
  • 1.2mm Shell Construction
  • Smooth shell with Imperial lugs



To begin with, the Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum sports a solid brass shell with an antique finish. Warm, deep notes from the drum, with a hint of a metallic finish, are enhanced by sharp rim shots. This snare is incredibly sensitive across different loudness levels. sensitivity across the loudness range.

The drum really projects with a nice, warm tone that cuts through any mix without being too clicky. It is also very easy to tune, and it will sound incredible, making the Ludwig Black Beauty a very versatile snare drum. 

The only downside that I can mark out is that the look of the hardware, like the snare wires, might give you a cheap feeling. 

Since Black Beauty has a really high reputation, it is a bit weird to have the not-so-boutique look of the hardware. However, with around $800, you can get lot of value from this beauty. 

It has been an essential component for traditional drummers who perform rock, jazz, and traditional country music, but metal and alternative musicians are finding its wonderful sound as well. Perfect for all styles of music! 

best snare drums for rock music

3. Ludwig Supraphonic

Best bang for buck


  • Chrome plated smooth aluminium shell (seamless)
  • Imperial lugs
  • Supra-Phonic Snare strainer



On my list of the best snare drum for rock is definitely another Ludwig, this time, the Supraphonic snare drum that is one of the most recorded snare drum in history

The Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum for rock music has a bright, clean sound that works well in the studio and in live performances. 

The construction of the drum is very simple, with a seamless beaded aluminum shell with shiny chrome. Thanks to the shell design, this snare drum has a classic snare crack and deep, resonant depth. 

The drum delivers a nice attack from the edge to the center with a great buzz and loud crack. It is very musical and very easy to play, which makes it a great snare drum for beginners as well. 

Considering the price, which is around $650 at the moment (April 2023), the drum delivers quite a lot. However, you might be in need to make some changes, like the snare wires to gain that extra loud and distinct sound. 

Of course, depending on the heads you put on the drum, as well as snare wires and resonant heads, you can make the drum sounds however you want. 

But, straight out of the box, this snare drum sounds pretty dry. The triple-flanged hoops add to the snare’s remarkable responsiveness. 

This flexible drum has the ideal sound for anything from jazz to pop, rock, metal, and classic rock. 

best sounding snare drum

4. Nicko Mcbrain Icarus British Drum Co.

Best for Drummers Seeking Unique Tones


  • 10-ply Birch shell with Black Fishtail Oak outer veneer
  • Triple Flanged hoops
  • 10 lPalladium Lugs & Throw Off
  • 45 Degree bearing edges
  • 42 strand snare wires




Icarus is a hand-manufactured snare drum in the UK utilizing the British Drum Co.’s unique cold-press molding method, constructed from Black Oak and finished oak veneer finish. 

This combination provides a very unusual look evocative of a hand-hammered shell – but made from Oak! 

Under increasing stress, Icarus sounds genuine, deep, and warm but with a full-body presence. 

It was designed to cut through the loud volume of rock and metal, but it also reacts well to gentler, calmer playing, enabling the oak’s tonal characteristics to show through in any musical environment.

It’s so unique and has a really cool sound that I’ve never heard before. Plus, the inside detail is just stunning; we recommend checking it out! 

And those red rings, also known as re-rings, add such a nice touch. The holographic badge and serial number make it really special, and the Icarus vent badge is just gorgeous – you can tell that a lot of workmanship went into it.

top snare drum

5. Gretsch Chrome over Brass

Best projection and tuning stability


  • Lightning throw-off
  • Diecast hoops
  • Center knurl pattern
  • Snap-in key holder
  • Brass shell witch chrome finish



The Gretsch chrome over brass drum is the most budget-friendly option on my list, yet the most versatile one. 

It features a 1mm thick brass shell that is chrome plated, giving it a bright, cutting sound. When it comes to its body proportion – 14 x 8, it can sound good in a wide range of tuning.

The drum also has die-cast hoops, eight lugs, and an adjustable throw-off, all of which add to the overall sound and performance. 

Eight lugs are perfect for rock since they are very open, have a lower pitch, and each tension rod is tighter compared to 10-lug drums. 

When you play it, you can feel so much projection, musicality, and warmth with the perfect balance of finesse and power. 

This chromed brass has nothing to do with steel, and the tone is still amazing. As I can see from playing it is a great snare drum for any kind of music, and it has a wide range of tuning. 

It is excellent for playing single shots as well as rolls. The manufacturing is at the highest level, and everything is metallic, even the stamp adjustment, which is not plastic as on other manufacturers’ more costly versions.

It is no wonder why it is regarded as a premium drum with a price tag that matches its craftsmanship and quality. 

Overall, the Gretsch USA Chrome Over Brass Snare Drum is a great option for drummers looking for a high-end, professional-grade instrument with a distinct sound.

Best Snare Drum Head for Rock

With the great snare drums come great heads. If you think about only changing that, here is my list of the top 10 best snare drum heads for rock music. 

  • Remo Ambassador Coated
  • Evans EC Reverse Dot
  • Evans G2 Coated
  • Aquarian Triple Threat
  • Remo Emperor X
  • Evans Hybrid Coated Drum Head
  • Aquarian Hi-Impact Drum Head
  • Remo Controlled Sound
  • Evans Hydraulic Drum Head
  • Remo Pinstripe Coated

How I Picked

I gathered my experience with all the rock snare drums I have tried and drummed on in the last 15 years. I set up the criteria for each one of them including the sound quality, the cut-through level as well as the snares tone depth. 

I also picked one of the most popular rock snare drums that are highly praised among drummers like Ludwig Supraphonic, Ludwig Black Beauty, Tama Bell Brass, and Gretsch Drums USA Bell Brass. However, I also choose to test some less popular ones and compare them with one another. 

Be aware that I didn’t pay attention to the prices. My criteria was to pick the top 5 best snare drums for rock no matter the name or the price. My only goal was for the snare drum to deliver that powerful sound with authority. 

How I Tested

Since I mostly play rock music, I was super excited to test all these different kinds of snare drums. However, I wanted to have another fellow drummer alongside me, and I appreciate his opinion at the highest level. 

I decided to test them out with my lifelong friend Sinisha who has over 20 years of experience as a touring rock musician.

Over the last few years, we decided to pay special attention to these types of drums. Aside from different snare manufacturers, we tested these snare drums in various scenarios. 

Since Sinisha is a touring drummer, he tested them in live performances while I was focusing more on studio recording sessions. We both tested these drums in studio practice rooms as well as in home settings. 

As a drummer and percussionist with over 15 years of experience, I’m deeply passionate about drumming. My insights and writings have earned recognition in Drum Magazine, reflecting my commitment to the drumming community. 

I focus on providing authentic advice and well-researched recommendations, drawing from extensive hands-on experience. My aim is to deliver relatable and informative content that supports drummers of all levels in their musical journey.

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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