The 7 Best Wood Snare Drums in 2023

In this article, I will discuss the currently most popular and best wood snare drums.

 Not “ever” but on today’s market. 

I don’t want to talk about legendary snare drums that are not produced anymore but the new stuff, the best wood snares on today’s market.

Remember, we will talk about the best of the best, so prepare for a price tag above $500 or even triple that amount.

What they all have in common:

  • 99% of the time are made out of Maple
  • Come at a price tag above $500
  • Have hardware of the highest quality
  • Sound amazing

To come up with 7 of the best wood snare, I had to go through more than 47.

These 7 work best in different tunings and conditions. So let’s dive in and see what they are all about.

The 7 Best wood snare drums

noble and cooley best wood snare drum

1. Noble & Cooley CD Maple Snare

All maple ply shells

FEATURES

  • Basic sizes, 14” x 5”, 14” x “3,875” and 13” x 7”
  • Oil, Mate Gloss finish
  • Solid tension casings
  • Solid brass throw-off
  • Triple-flanged hoops
  • Bearing edge/snare bed design

CHECK PRICE

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

First on the list, not necessarily the first choice, is the Noble & Cooley maple series, produced for over 30 years. These snares are designed out of an all-maple shell.

And, like all maple shells, they have both attack and warmth but, most importantly, a wide tuning range. That’s something only the best wood snare drums have. This means, depending on the tunning, this snare drum series can quickly adapt to different genres.

Noble & Cooley CD Maple series snare drums also have a Symmetrical venting system. Do not be afraid by the sound of it; it’s very straightforward. They discovered that snare drums have better sound if they drill multiple holes symmetrically from one another instead of drilling a single hole.

This series of snare drums come in three basic sizes:

  • 14” x 5”
  • 14” x “3,875” 
  • 13” x 7”

but,  the company states that they can customize the snare drums beyond that.

This legendary series comes in a ply configuration. 

What does this mean?

Instead of crafting them out of one solid piece of wood, they glue multiple plies together. This kind of shell can be combined with others to get a hybrid shell with a new tone. Ply shells are the most popular, most produced and most recorded. 

For companies, it’s much easier to produce ply shell snare drums than solid ones due to their ability to bend easily. Lovers of solid maple shells believe that glue that goes in between ply shells ruins the tone. 

Instead, they think that having a snare made out of a solid maple shell has a better projection tone that is purer and clearer and more sustain.

They offer three options of finishes:

  • Oil
  • Mate
  • Gloss 

That’s enough to get more than 12 different finishes.

To get Nobley & Cooley snare drums, you will sometimes have to wait a few months and even pay additional shipping cause they are hard to get outside the US.

benny greb wood snare drum review

2. Benny Greb’s signature wood snare drum 13 x 5.75"

Birch shells with Bubinga inlay

FEATURES

  • 9 plies = 5 mm
  • Chrome plated, vintage lugs
  •  TuneSafe mechanism
  • Scandinavian birch veneer, semi-gloss. Centered “Bubinga” inlay

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

First Benny Greb’s signature model was released around 2013, and this snare contained 9 plies, each 5 mm thick. It was made out of Beech, while its finish shell was Scandinavian Birch. It included 16 head screws and was 13” x 5,75”.

This new model kept the dimensions and Beech shells, but now we have additional Bubinga inlay around the drum.

Lugs are replaced with vintage Teardrop lugs, and they added a MonoRail dampener and Dual Glide strainer. All in all, it’s an upgraded version of the “old” Benny Greb snare drum.

Generally, Beech has pronounced highs and mids and a good low-end punch. However, adding Bubinga, which is high-density wood, gave this shell more of a fat low end and a deep, darker tone. 

Although new vintage lugs are there just for design purposes, they kept the TuneSafe mechanism like the ones before. However, by adding a Dual Glide strainer, they provided substantial options when tunning the snare drum.

The newest addition is MonoRail, snare dampening mechanism designed by Benny Grebb. Each snare drum has two of these dampeners from the inside. These dampeners are made of different dampening materials, so you can combine them to achieve a variety of sounds.

As with every signature snare drum, it is what it is. It may come in 2-3 sizes, but regarding customization options, you are limited. Also, “the 13 snare drum is a little bit smaller than the usual 14” plenty of drummers are used to.

best wooden snare drums

3. Craviotto Solid ply Maple Snare Drum 14 X 5.5

1-ply Maple Shell

FEATURES

  • Solid Birdseye Maple Shell
  • 45 degree bearing edges
  • Nickel over Brass 2.3mm Hoops
  • Craviotto Brandy Trick Throw Off

CHECK PRICE

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

Here we have crema de la crema in terms of handbuilt snare drums. This kind of drum falls under rare collectable pieces whose price will almost certainly grow over time. 

Regarding price, you must be ready to single out over $1000 for this kind of snare drum.

Is it worth it?

It definitely is for drum fanatics and people who know to appreciate true quality.

Who is solid maple shell for?

If you are willing to invest in a high-quality instrument for this amount, you are getting a solid maple shell. Solid maple shells are known for warm and full-bodied tones. However, due to its sensitivity to humidity, these shells require more careful maintenance and storage than some other types of wood.

Who it’s not for?

If you need to be able to adjust the sound of the snare drum easily or you are working with a tighter budget, skip this drum. Likewise, if you require a wider range of sounds, you should skip this drum since a solid maple shell may not be as versatile as other types of wood.

The company claims this snare drum has a wide tuning range typical for all maple snare drums; however, it may be narrower than on snare drums built out of maple ply shells.

Bearing edges have a degree of 45°, which should potentially maximize head response, make your stick bounce more and overall make them easier to play.

Cravioto snares are handbuilt in small series and could be tough to find. This can substantially increase the price of this snare drum, and you can find solid maple shells under this price range, but still, this is “the Mercedes” in the world of snare drums.

best tama wood snare drum

4. Tama STAR Reserve Solid Maple 14"×5"

1-ply Maple Shell

FEATURES

  • 8mm Solid Maple
  • 2.3mm Brass Sound Arc Hoop (8 hole)
  • Sound Focus Rings
  • STAR Tube Lug
  • “Linear-Drive” Strainer & Butt
  • Super Sensitive Hi-Carbon Snare Wire

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

 

If the Tama Starclassic series are industry standard in studios worldwide, that Star Reserve series is one step further to perfection.

That unique sound comes at a price tag above $1000. Like many high-end snare drums, it’s made from a single ply of Maple. This guarantees a warm and resonant sound with plenty of projection.

Brass hoops add more high-pitched tones that are great for rimshots. By adding brass Tama aimed for a soft and sensitive sound. Talking bout sensitivity, they added hi carbon snare wires which tend to be ultra-sensitive. 

Their thin brass plate and softer hi-carbon coils respond to even the most delicate touch.

The 14” x 5” diameter makes this drum a versatile choice that can be used in various musical genres and settings.

The only disadvantage I was able to find is its price. At this high price tag, you can buy all sorts of handbuilt snare drums out of various materials. So with this budget, you have to really dig into Tama snares cause the options you have are endless.

A&F wooden snare drum

5. A&F Steam Bent Solid Maple Snare

1-ply Maple Shell

FEATURES

  • 8-lugs
  • Brass hoops
  • 45 degree bearing edges
  • Handmade Steam Bent 14” Solid Maple Shell

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

If you are into unique snare drums, A&F has a whole warehouse. I am not kidding; everything about this snare drum is unique, from the shell construction process to the finish.

A&F is making this series using steam bending. First, they expose wooden plies to heat in the steam box. Steam and heat make them pliable, so they easily bend afterwards.

Next, we have hardware made out of raw brass, and to keep the rustic look, they kept it natural. Except for the design, it contributes to the strength of the shell.

Dimensions of 14” x 5.5” are just perfect for versatile playing. This snare drum can sound good at various tunings; however, stick to medium tunning if you want to get that juicy hit. 

Even in that kind of setup, this snare drum sound versatile enough, so if you put it in the studio, you’ll be able to use it in various genres.

The finish is a two-side word. On one side, it’s unique and has a rustic look; on the other, that’s the only finish they offer. Although I like the rustic look, it doesn’t mean everybody likes it, so I prefer having multiple choices of finishes, but I guess to be expensive, the snare has to be unique.

So, the finish is something they call “Rum Maple”. But, again, it’s a unique process in which they mix oil, rum, whiskey, or bourbon to get darker paint.

Downsides? Like all A&F snare drums, we would like to get them at a lower price and get our hands easy on them. They can be ordered on their official website, but you rarely find them elsewhere.

best dw wood snare drum

6. Dw Collector’s Series Private Reserve Snare Drum

Maple shells with Exotic wood layer

FEATURES

  • 14″ x 6′.5″
  • Maple shells with various exotic woods
  • 3.0mm Triple-flanged hoops
  • Gloss finish

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

 

In 2020 John Good (DW’s wood expert) went on a wood hunt to find new sounds and woods rarely used in the music industry. The final result was DW Collectors’ Private Reserve, the limited series combining maple and various exotic kinds of wood such as Tortoise Pommelle, Congolese Moabi, Padouk, and African Chechen.

Exotic wood is often used for exotic finishes and a slight change in sound. This kind of wood gives a darker sound to the light and resonant maple, so it sounds more modern.

Besides the exotic wood layer and exotic finish, the manufacturing process is the same as for all collector series, which stands for hardware and other drum parts. 

This series is limited and will probably be hard to find in the future. Since they combined not just one but various exotic kinds of wood with maple, the sound can vary from snare to snare, so I leave it for you to decide which is the best. They are made in 6.5×14 dimensions.

If giving more than $1000 for a snare drum is not an option, I suggest a lighter all-maple snare drum by DW which is almost $500 cheaper in 2023. It’s basically the same snare drum minus the exotic wood layer and exotic finish.

After the private Reserve happened in 2020, DW continued to combine maple shells with exotic wood as a part of the Collector’s series. However, it’s a different kind of exotic wood like Black Limba, Tamo ash, Royal ebony etc.

Since this series costs pretty much the same as the DW Private Reserve, I suggest you try to find Private Reserve because,

gretcsh wood snare drum

7. Gretsch USA Solid Maple Snare Drum

1-ply Maple Shell

FEATURES

  • 30 finish designes
  • 1-ply Maple Shell
  • 30-degree bearing edges
  • Die-cast hoops
  • 42-strand snare wires

CHECK PRICE

REASONS TO USE

REASONS TO AVOID

Gretsch USA Custom is a series that’s been produced for more than 65 years. It’s been the flagship of this company for decades. 

This series is known as Gretsch flagship model when it comes to wood snare drums.

If you order this drum directly from Gretsch, you can choose among 30 different finish options. Still, the price of this snare drum goes over $1500 in 2023, I find too much for a snare drum that is not a limited edition.

Although it’s a great-sounding snare drum, I find its high price as its biggest downside.

Speaking about sound, this snare drum is one of the most versatile wood snare drums on the market. It’s been used in studios worldwide for decades. 

In terms of dimensions you have two options:

  • 5.5X14
  • 6.5X14

I find 6.5 to be more “juicy” and excellent for heavier music genres but 5.5 more versatile.

In terms of hardware you get to pick:

  • Lightning
  • Micro-Sensitive Throw-Off
  • Butt plate

Although the hardware is solid and the quality is high-end, it doesn’t offer as many options for adjusting the sound.

Does wood matter for drums?

Yes, the type of wood used to make the snare drum can change its sound drastically. Different wood has different tone qualities and resonance.

A dense wood, like Maple, produces a warm, balanced sound. That’s why it is used for manufacturing the best wood snare drums in the world. On the other hand, Birch wood, also a popular option, is bright, focused and has a strong attack.

Besides the type of wood, shell thickness and whether it’s only 1-ply shell or multiple shells glued together can shape the overall sound.

What is the most versatile wood snare drum?

Maple is most commonly used for the expensive and the best-sounding snare drums. These snare drums sound good in any tunning. This is a characteristic that poor-quality snare drums don’t have.

That said, keep in mind that the versatility of one snare drum is influenced not only by the shell but also dimensions and other drum parts like lugs, hoops, wires, drumheads.

What wood is best for drums?

Drum wood relies on personal taste, playing style, and tone. Here are some popular drum shell woods and their sound qualities:

  • Maple – warm, well-balanced, projecting tone. It works in many areas.
  • Birch – bright, focused tone with solid impact. Rock and pop use it.
  • Mahogany – warm, deep, rich notes. Jazz and blues use it.
  • Oak has a robust, punchy low-end tone. Rock and metal use it.
  • Cherry – warm, resonant tone. Jazz and symphonic music use it.

The best drum wood matches your playing style and sound. When picking a drum, consider the diameter and structure of the drum body, which can affect its tone.

Which drums are better, Maple or Birch?

Maple, due to its density, has a warmer and better-balanced sound. As a result, it is used for manufacturing of world’s most expensive drums.

Birch drums have a brighter tone with more attack.

Wrap up

So, by now, you’ve probably figured out that snare drums made of maple have the best results so far, and drummers love these.

Although I didn’t cover much of other great-sounding woods like oak, cherry or birch, that doesn’t mean you should not get your hands on one of these. 

It’s just that any unique and expensive snare you find is often made of a 1-ply maple shell. It goes under the term “solid maple”, and these are hard to find below $1000. 

Between $500 and $1000, you can discover snare drums made of ply combinations with several pieces of maple or maple combined with some other wood. Again if you find a snare drum that doesn’t contain maple and sounds good, I say go for it.

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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