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What it does - The snare drum

Welcome to our coverage of the different elements of the drum kit.

This page will tell you everything you need to know about the snare drum. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced player, you will learn something!


The snare drum

The snare drum is the central element of the drum kit. It is a barrel whose diameter and depth can vary according to the needs of the drummer and his playing. Its manufacture and the materials used can have an impact on the sound it produces. The snare drum is composed of several important elements:

  • The striking head
  • The resonant head
  • The timbre
  • The hardware
  • The trigger

The snare drum can be made of different materials such as wood (maple, birch, beech, oak...), metal (steel, aluminum, bronze...) or even a synthetic material such as acrylic (for transparent drums).

What is the purpose of the snare drum?

Usually played with a pair of drumsticks, the snare drum is the main drum of the kit because it has a greater impact than the other elements.

It is the beat produced by the snare drum that also sets the sound of a band apart.

The snare drum sound

Depending on the drummer's playing style, the sound produced by the snare drum will be more or less powerful depending on its settings, its components, the tension of its skins, its timbre, etc.

Depending on the size of the drum, the sound produced can vary and can be more or less important depending on certain manipulations, in particular the tension of the heads as well as the position of the timbre in relation to the lower head.

The place of the snare drum in the drum kit

Concerning the position of the snare drum, this one is placed just in front of the drummer, between his legs for a total ergonomics. This allows to reach it in cross-handed (arms crossed, the right hand plays the hi-hat) or open-handed (arms uncrossed, the left hand plays the hi-hat).


It is possible to play the snare drum in several different ways: with sticks (can vary the sound according to its size), with brushes (ideal for very light playing as in acoustic sessions, jazz, etc.), and even with the hands/fingers, to give small accents to the playing.

There are accessories to modify the tone configuration of the snare drum, such as an extra skin on the striking skin (Big Fat Snare Drum type), a harmonic attenuator (Moongel or Snareweight type).

Snare drum composition

Probably the most complex drum in terms of construction, the snare drum is composed of several elements, all of which are more important than the others.

The wire

Strands of wire twisted tightly against the resonant skin to cause it to vibrate when the snare drum is struck, resulting in a crisp, clear sound; it can be adjusted with the trigger via a key.

The trigger

Mechanism located on the side of the snare drum that allows to activate or to desactivate the contact between the timbre and the resonant skin by a movement. Varies according to the type of snare.

The tie rods

Screws for adjusting the tension and tuning the skins using a torque wrench, as on the entire kit.

Decompression vent

Small diameter hole drilled in the drum side allowing air to be evacuated upon impact.