Are steel snare drums underrated?

Jamos33

Member
From my experience, steel snares can sound just as good if not better than brass, aluminium, bronze etc... And not to mention Steve Gadd's snare is steel. Anyone else have a soft spot for steel? What snares in particular?
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
From my experience, steel snares can sound just as good if not better than brass, aluminium, bronze etc... And not to mention Steve Gadd's snare is steel. Anyone else have a soft spot for steel? What snares in particular?

My primary right now is a 13x7 steel snare - great shell material for cut.
 

Drum Guy

Member
interestingly I had most of the wood and metal snares I wanted, and thought I don't ever need nor want steel (it's cheapy, right? :)

Then I started to remember how I loved those loud steel ringy snares of SKA in the late 70's, 80's and I bought an excellent condition 1978 Premier 5x14 8 lug steel snare, then a 2021 Sonor Prolite 5x14 10-lug steel snare and I can say those steel snares sound as good as my various depths of Black Beauty, Yamaha aluminum and copper, and Luddy Bronze snares.

Steel snares sound GREAT, depending on what you want and how you tune them.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Anyone else have a soft spot for steel? What snares in particular?
Not so sure I have a soft spot ..... but I have 2. A vintage Tama Royalstar 14x5, and a Pearl Chad Smith sig. 14x5. I think everyone should have at least a couple different snares (if finances allow). A wood and a metal. A couple different woods ..... a couple different metals ..... and a few different sizes.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Steel shell snares can sound great if they're well made. I think steel gets a bad rap because a lot of us started on a cheap piece of junk steel shell snare drum and in those memories the shell material got lumped in with the overall quality of the drum.
This was exactly my thought. There's no way a stencil steel shell snare packaged with a $250 kit will sound as good as a purpose-built standalone snare. The best news is, those snares still don't cost an arm and a leg - $200-300 will get a great sounding drum that will be at home in a lot of playing situations.
 

T_Kauff

Member
From my experience, steel snares can sound just as good if not better than brass, aluminium, bronze etc... And not to mention Steve Gadd's snare is steel. Anyone else have a soft spot for steel? What snares in particular?
Steel isnt as bright or cutting as brass is, in the upper mid-high frequencies but, it IS a little more "round" and full. Nice to have both.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
If steel snares have a bad rap, it's because there are a fair number of super cheap, poorly made, terrible sounding ones out there.

For the longest time, I didn't even know a steel snare *could* sound good. Once I heard a decent one, though, I realized it was construction rather than material that doomed the cheap snares I was familiar with.
 

Iristone

Well-known Member
If steel snares have a bad rap, it's because there are a fair number of super cheap, poorly made, terrible sounding ones out there.
It could be that, since steel is cheaper than brass to begin with, it makes sense for companies to use steel on their cheapest lines, and brass for 'better' lines. Aluminium alloy used to be used the same fashion, which gave rise to the fabled Acrolite.
I don't see a reason why steel can't make a good snare drum: it's strong, resonates well, and affordable (so we could spend more of our hard-earned money on better hardware, build quality, or cymbals). And then it boils down to tonal preference.
 

Quai34

Junior Member
Ok, so, I was a bit like everyone, thinking that Steel snares were crap, I have an COS, wrapped, and it's not nice but when I saw the Steve Gadd signature in steel, I was really surprised. Do you think it's a nice one? I have no signature snares, heu no, I have one, the Benny Greg brass but if I want to have a collection with at least one of each material, do you think then Yamaha Steve Gadd steel should be considered?
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
If anyone hears Ian Paice with his sig Pearl snare, how do you not love that sound? Big and hard sounding but fat, too. I think steel gets a bad rap for being used in beginner snares from the 60's and 70's that it's never overcome. On the other hand, I just don't vibe with any I've tried, even the better ones.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If steel snares have a bad rap, it's because there are a fair number of super cheap, poorly made, terrible sounding ones out there.

...and I've owned 3 of them.

For me, steel snares can sound REALLY good from about 20 feet out, and some cheap ones record quite well. However, the ones I've played were terribly unsatisfying.
 
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