Types of Snare Drums

A snare drum can easily be distinguished thanks to its lively sonic notes and the tightened metal snare wires beneath the body’s lower membrane. Also referred to as side drums or field drums, snare drums are members of the membranophones family – instruments that produce sound if you strike a member, which is the drum head. The drummer uses beaters to strike the upper membrane of snare drums. These beaters can be brushes, rods, drumsticks, or even mallets. Know more about them and the types of snare drums.

If you want to brush up on your instrument knowledge, this is for you. Let’s talk about these percussions – the origins, parts, and types of snare drums.

You can also check: Types of Drums: The Complete Guide

The History of Snare Drum

Types of Custom Drums
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To know about the origins of the snare drum, we must go back to another percussion instrument used during medieval times – the tabor. These instruments were widespread in the European market and through slow evolution, the world got the snare drum. Majority of the snare drums found in the market right now are kit snare drums, meant to be a part of a drum set of trap kit. However, a few modifications and we got percussions who could be standalone instruments: the piccolo snare drum, Tarole snare drum, marching snare drum, and the Highland snare drum are some of the few. Snare drums have also been a quintessential instrument for the military corps for quite some time now.

Parts of a Snare Drum

Types of Snare Drums
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There are three main components of a snare drum: the drum head, the drum shell, and supplemental hardware.

Drum head: Snare drums come with two drum heads. The first head is elongated over the top – the membrane the drummer hits with various beaters. This is technically called the drum’s batter head. The second head stretches around the drum’s underbelly, where it is placed beside the metal snare wires to give the snare drum its signature sharp-treble sound. Traditionally, snare heads were made of calfskin, but models today tend to have plastic alternatives. You can use a device known as drum key to tune these snare drums to a certain pitch.

Drum shell: A drum shell makes up the structure of the entire drum. Some shells feature a wood construction (maple and poplar are some of the more common) and others a metal one. Steel snare drums are very common among metal snares, but some players like brass snare drums featuring brass shells.

If you’re feeling fancy and have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you can also buy those black-nickel-over-brass shell snare drums. They are limited edition and priced thusly. Some players prefer acrylic snare drums, mainly because of their translucent color.

Supplemental hardware: On top of the drum shells and heads, a snare drum also includes a chrome hardware to maintain structural strength. Included in this are lugs (imperial lugs or tube lugs) and tension rods that you can use to tune and tighten a drum head; this process is tensioning.

Generally, snare drums come with 10 lugs. In addition to that, there is also the bearing edge, commonly termed a rim, which connects the drum head to the frame. Last but not the least, a snare strained links the drum to the metal snare wires. You can manipulate the wires away from the lower snare drum head using a throw-off switch.

How to Play the Snare Drum

How to Play the Snare Drum
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A drummer strikes the top membrane of the snare drum to play it. The striking causes the drum’s bottom and top membrane to vibrate. In turn, the bottom membrane vibrates the metal wires attached across the instrument’s bottom. Metal snare wires are the elements providing snare drums their unique sound, but by simply using the throw off switch, this “feature” can be turned off and the snare drum will sound similar to a tom-tom.

The Types of Snare Drums

There are seven main kinds of snare drums.

  1. Drum set snare: This version of the snare drum is used in ensembles to complement pop, jazz, rock, hip hop, country, R&B, and bebop music. This snare sound is mainstream drum beat you hear in every other popular song, giving beats two and four in the average backbeat.
  2. Orchestral snare: Orchestral snare drums are loved by classical musicians. It bears much resemblance to a drum kit snare but the drum head is made of plastic instead of the usual calfskin.
  3. Tarol: A Tarol is close cousins to the orchestral snare or a drum kit snare in the appearance department, but there are snare wires place on the top head rather than the bottom.
  4. Marching snare: A bigger, deeper snare in comparison to a drum kit snare with an increased resonant head sound created by the gut or nylon drum head. Sometimes commonly referred to as the “marching drum,” this member of the snare drum derives its name from the marching drumlines or bands where it’s routinely features.
  5. Piccolo snare: Although small in size, this type of snare drum produces a higher pitch as well as a sharp staccato note. Modern piccolo snares almost always feature a steel shell construction.
  6. Caixa Malacacheta: In Brazilian Portuguese, the name of this snare drum translates to “box.” They are often slung over the player’s shoulder. Caixa Malacacheta are easily distinguishable as they have snare wires on the top instead of the bottom of the instrument.
  7. Tabor: The tabor is rarely heard in contemporary music, but may be a common appearance in the melodies dating back to Medieval Europe. Some abos don’t have bottom heads while some have duo drum heads.

Bottom Line

Amongst the many types of snare drums available in the market, each has its own unique charm. When used properly, snare drums can add the jazzy tempo to your tunes that makes you want to break into a dance. They are truly interesting percussion instruments worth your interest.

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