The 5 Best Vintage Snare Drum for Serious Collectors

January 21, 2024

The snare drum is the core of the percussion kit, providing the fundamental beat in many well-known tunes. 

It is the piece of equipment that will make your tone distinctive. It’s why many professional musicians have more than one.

However, vintage snare drums provide a tone that modern snare drums simply cannot match. 

This is because the hardwood inside the drum lowers with age, producing a warmer/richer tone.

That’s why I created the list of 5 best vintage snare drums for all those old-soul lovers and collectors. I discuss their sound, their look, and overall pros and cons!

5 best Vintage Snare Drums

  1. Ludwig Supersensitive
  2. Rogers Dynasonic
  3. Slingerland 6.5″x14″ “Gene Krupa Model Radio King
  4. Leedy 2000’s 14″x 5″
  5. Gretsch Round Badge 4105
best vintage snare drum

1. Ludwig Supersensitive

Shell: Alumunium


  • Aluminium shell 
  • Dual snare release
  • Quick change snare unit
  • Double snare tension
  • Individual snare adjustment



One of the best vintage Ludwig snare drums is Ludwig Supersensitive. Ludwig was one of the first brands to develop a genuinely functional parallel snare mechanism design.

The Super-Ludwig was the flagship of the Ludwig series and the most expensive model in the inventory from 1926 to 1929. 

However, Ludwig added another choice to the equation in 1929: the Sensitive mechanism. Although the model was ultra-popular, it had flaws – the dual strainer.

After the war and many changes inside the company, around the 1960s, Ludwig crafted the new, improved model called Super-Sensitive 4-in-1 with an acoustic shell design removing the old flaws from the classic supersensitive model from 1929.

Throughout the 1960s, the Ludwig Super-Sensitive remained a popular choice among school ensembles and orchestral works. 

Ludwig pursued the school industry vigorously. Ludwig still sells the Super-Sensitive model, but not the old, vintage one.

The new, modern mechanism shows little similarity to the original. The new system, which has a wider, die-cast frame with round tubular steel guards, shares very little with its predecessors other than the way it functions.

vintage snare durms

2. Rogers Dynasonic

Shell: Brass & Wood variant


  • Brass & Wood Shells 
  • 10 Beavertail die-cast lugs
  • Floating snare rail system
  • 20-strand snare wires
  • Swivo-matic (Clock Face) style strainer



The Rogers Dynasonic classic vintage snare drums were introduced back in 1962. 

They manufactured both a wood and metal shell with various depths, as well as a distinctive snare structure, known as a snare cradle.

The snare frame that housed the snare wires went through several iterations in an effort to refine the wire setup.

The fundamental idea was to have a drum with floating snares that could be tensioned without applying weight to the head. 

This would necessitate the absence of snare beds, which were thought to decrease loudness and tone and cause choking.

The Rogers Dynasonic snare drum is widely regarded as the most inventive instrument of its generation. 

Rogers pioneered the use of a floating frame to autonomously hold and modify the snare wires, which was previously unheard of.

3. Slingerland 6.5"x14" "Gene Krupa Model Radio King

rare snare drums

Shell: Solid Maple


  • Solid Maple Shell
  • Slingerland 16-strand snare 
  • 16 Radio King double claws
  • The 2 adjustable bridge extension gates
  • Streamline center lugs



Slingerland Radio King is one of the best sounding vintage snare drums. 

Slingerland is a household brand in the drum business, and their Radio King snare drum is the signature drum.

Production started in the 1930s and was eventually stopped; 30 years later, manufacturing resumed. 

This continued until Gibson purchased Slingerland in 1994. These Gibson/Slingerland drums are regarded as the best Slingerland has ever produced.

The single-ply Maple body strengthened with Maple rings, produces a very bright tone. It’s both balmy and cool, and no wonder why are they so popular among musicians of all levels.

Aside from that, this model was also very popular for its three-point strainer and eight-center streamline lugs.

The 6.5″ x 14″ Slingerland Radio King Krupa model is probably the most popular among players and collectors. However, many Super Krupa fans claim that other of their models sound and perform just as well.

old school snare drums

4. Leedy 2000's 14"x 5"

Shell: Nickel over Brass & Chrome plated brass variant


  • Nickel over Brass & Chrome plated brass shells
  • Die cast hoops
  • Nickelworks throw-off
  • 8 classic box lugs



When it comes to vintage brass snare drums, the Leedy 2000s is unbeatable at this game. 

The Leedy Drum Company, also known by the name Leedy Manufacturing Company, began manufacturing drums at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Leedy Drum Company pioneered novel drum and gear concepts, patenting the first movable snare stand in 1899. When they merged with Ludwig, they became the world’s biggest drum business, producing high-end, sought-after snare drums, and the Leedy 2000s is one of them.

One of their first models has self-aligning tension wires, which provides more flexibility with putting heads on. They also featured a floating head that the rim is further away from the flesh hoop. 

Aside from this model, Leedy published another one in 1928 with different finishes on the drums but with the same extraordinary sound!

Leedy produced many snare drums from 1989 to 1947, including Leedy Multi-Model White Elite and Leedy Broadway Standard, and their remarkable sound is preferred by many drummers widely, no matter the genre.

5. Gretsch Round Badge 4105

Shell: Maple + Gum


  • 6-ply maple + gum shells
  • Fully flanged hoops
  • Streamed-lined tension rod casings
  • Metal parts in chrome plate
  • 6 lugs
best vintage snare drums



My top pick for vintage Gretsch snare drums is the Vintage Gretsch Round Badge 4105. It is crafted back in the 1960s with six lugs, diecast hoops, and a six-ply shell mixed with gum and maple.

Gretsch had their factory building in Brooklyn, NYC, where they crafted their drums and guitars, including Gretsch Round Badge 4105 back in the 1960s. 

Since the guitar went widely popular in the mid-60s, the company had to get new space to accommodate drum production.

This drum features a sparkling wrap that is incredibly thick, and the overlap extends the outer diameter of the drum at that area. 

What made people talk about this snare drum is its silver paint coat on the inside. 

While many thought this was just a marketing trick, it wasn’t. It was a simple fence-coating paint that ensured not to do any additional coating. It is not a marketing trick or a way of drum sounding better; it is just for the inside to look prettier.

This snare drum is easily findable online because many stores sell them. Also, you can try to look up your local drum shop as well, because there’s a chance that they might have it!

What is the oldest snare drum?

The Tabor – according to historical documents, this snare drum dates back to the 1300s, when its ancestor was used by the fife and drum corps. The tabor was a big double-headed instrument that was strapped over the right shoulder.

What are the rarest snare drums?

The “William S. Hart Jr.” snare drum. It is one of the rarest and widely regarded as the best and most legendary snare drum ever created. The story behind this snare drum is very sentimental and unusual.

William, a well-known American Hollywood film cowboy and screenwriter, asked for the Ludwig Drum Company to construct the snare as a present for his son’s third birthday. That’s how the “William S. Hart Jr.” rarest snare drum has been made.

What is the most durable snare drum material?

Maple is the most popular and most durable material responsible for crafting the best snare shells. Maple is one of the most commonly used woods for high-quality snare casings as well.

This is because maple has a warm tone with increased lower harmonics and an even spread of medium and high frequencies. The tone is distinct and has a broad tuning range, making it an excellent snare for a variety of music styles.

Which heads work best for vintage snare drums?

Coated heads are best for vintage snare drums. Aside from that, coated heads are a must, especially if you use brushes. With a clear snare head and brushes, you can’t get that lovely “sandpaper” tone. Coated tom heads tend to warm up the percussion, whereas transparent tom heads provide more impact. The same holds true for your kick drum.

What to Know Before Buy

Buying a vintage snare drum can be a pig in a poke, just like with any other used item. 

However, you should know a couple of things before you reach out to buy a vintage snare drum. Take notes.

Check the condition of the drum

If you go to the physical store or buy from a fellow citizen, check the drum’s condition.

Carefully inspect the drums for indications of wear and tear, such as scratches, dents, fractures, or corrosion. 

Examine the components for indications of damage or corrosion, such as lugs, tension rods, hoops, and snare wires.

Determine whether the snare drum is in its original condition or has been altered or fixed. Vintage drums that have been changed or fixed may be worth less than those that are in their initial state.

If you are buying online, ask the seller to send you close pictures of the drum and ask for anything that interests you to ensure the drum’s condition.

The need for investing in the snare drum

While you may find the same vintage snare drum in what appears to be the same condition as the one that is double the price, don’t buy it.

This probably means that you need to invest twice more in order to work and look like the “unbroken” one.

Restorations are not as cheap as you might think. Think twice if the drum is worth buying. How much will you invest in it, will you be able to pay for it, and will it be as good as you would desire, in the end?

Compare the prices

Unlike modern snare drums, vintage snare drums aren’t so easy to find at their prices.

There is no singular online or offline source that can immediately tell you about vintage drum costs. 

A wide variety of websites, such as e-commerce sites, auctions, and marketplace-style sites, can be used to examine the market.

As you do this, you’ll notice that prices for the same item can differ significantly between websites.

How to determine which price is the best one? 

When an object regularly sells in the same price range for at least three to six months, that range is a dependable indicator of worth.

Consider modified gear

If you’re a percussionist looking to save money, thinking about buying modified antique drums could be a good idea for you.

If you go this way, keep in mind that while some changes have no effect on a drum’s sound, others, such as re-cut bearing edges that are inappropriate for a shell type or a poor rewrap work, can.

Wrap up

There you have it.

The list of best vintage snare drums.

I considered many other factors, such as their durability, quality, and of course, other people’s reviews and opinions.

All of these 5 snare drums are rare to find, but once you start searching for them, ensure to go over the buying guide so you don’t get tricked easily.

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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