What difference does snare drum depth make?

Huw Owens

Active Member
This is something that I feel like I should really know, at 56 years of age, but I’ve never looked into.

So: if I had two snare drums of the same model range, but of different depths, what difference (if any) would I hear or feel?

For instance I own a Premier 2000 in 5.5” depth. If I got my hands on a 2000 in 6.5” depth how different would they be? Does the deeper drum sound lower in pitch (assuming same heads/tension)? Is it a tonal thing? Or maybe it would just feel a little different to play?

This is the sort of gap in my knowledge that comes from a long time away from the kit. I only found out yesterday (from an old thread on here) that a beaded shell snare generally produces a higher pitch than an unbeaded one. I don’t yet understand why, but it’s fun to explore this stuff.

Thanks for any info folks.

:)
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Depth in drums mostly affects sustain, not pitch. In a snare drum that extra sustain reads as "fullness" so your notes seem a little longer and fill in a little more sonic space.

I like deep snares because you can tune them up pretty high to get a lot of crack but also a good amount of body supporting it.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
Depth in drums mostly affects sustain, not pitch. In a snare drum that extra sustain reads as "fullness" so your notes seem a little longer and fill in a little more sonic space.

I like deep snares because you can tune them up pretty high to get a lot of crack but also a good amount of body supporting it.
Building on this, I like shallower snares for the exact opposite reason. I can tune it high, get a nice crack and ring, but the note gets gone real fast. This is fantastic for blast beats and fast rolls where the extra body can get kinda muddy.
 

Huw Owens

Active Member
Depth in drums mostly affects sustain, not pitch. In a snare drum that extra sustain reads as "fullness" so your notes seem a little longer and fill in a little more sonic space.

I like deep snares because you can tune them up pretty high to get a lot of crack but also a good amount of body supporting it.

Thank you.

So in my example, with the two snares tuned the same, they would sound similar, but the 6.5” might seem a bit fuller to the ear? That’s the sort of thing I was after.

How about the feel to play on - anything noticeable?

:)
 

s1212z

Silver Member
Even though I have different depth snares, the pitch range I look for end up pretty similar to match the kit unless I'm tuning for a specific sound. So my greater depth snare end up a tighter tension usually. With the sustain and air between the snare response plus the tension differences, the drum feel ends up differently. So I actually find my 5" snares a little easier to play on a slightly looser tension a bit more contained sustain...or maybe I'm just more used it. I generally prefer 8 lug snare, I think you get a little more range/sustain/body plus low-end body that fill the spectrum nicely once a snare is tuned up higher.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Thank you.

So in my example, with the two snares tuned the same, they would sound similar, but the 6.5” might seem a bit fuller to the ear? That’s the sort of thing I was after.

How about the feel to play on - anything noticeable?

:)

Feel? I can't say I've noticed a difference because of depth. I find batter head choice (1-ply, 2-ply, and/or dot) and tuning affect feel to a much clearer degree.

Even though I have different depth snares, the pitch range I look for end up pretty similar to match the kit unless I'm tuning for a specific sound. So my greater depth snare end up a tighter tension usually. With the sustain and air between the snare response plus the tension differences, the drum feel ends up differently. So I actually find my 5" snares a little easier to play on a slightly looser tension a bit more contained sustain...or maybe I'm just more used it. I generally prefer 8 lug snare, I think you get a little more range/sustain/body plus low-end body that fill the spectrum nicely once a snare is tuned up higher.

I'm the same way; my extra low pitch side snare is a 5". I already have to add a muffling to control the sound and a deeper drum would just add more to what I'm trying to limit.
 

bearblastbeats

Senior Member
Building on this, I like shallower snares for the exact opposite reason. I can tune it high, get a nice crack and ring, but the note gets gone real fast. This is fantastic for blast beats and fast rolls where the extra body can get kinda muddy.
oh man. I remember the days of the 3" steel pearl piccolo snare I beat this piss out of. I could hold a blast beat for like 5 minutes on one of those cranked to the tits.
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
I’ve had 4” to 8” deep snares and the most obvious difference is the length of the note. Deeper drums have a longer note. If you were to tune a 4” the same as an 8”, the pitch would sound the same, but the shallower drum will have a more curt note.

Regarding low pitched snare drums, I had a 15x8 and 15x4 side by side and tuned them for a fat thud. I preferred the sound from the 4” depth.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I think the deeper drum has a richer overtone profile in addition to the slightly longer note, and that adds to the impression of fullness. I have seen spectrum analyzer results that support this.

Give a listen to Memphis Drum Shop's demos. You can often find different depths of the same drum, and they generally play snares on and off at different tunings. The difference is even more noticeable with snares off.
 

jda

Silver Member
lower is slower to me; at times something one may want;
at one time I thought 6.5 would beat out a 5 and be the ultimate.
I don't think that way after owning both 5 and 6.5 for a long time.
5 is quicker. That's where I'm at.
Response time.
Time's getting short- just how I like my snare drum : ) (lol

lower and somewhat slower are what the toms and bass drum are there for
 
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Huw Owens

Active Member
I think the deeper drum has a richer overtone profile in addition to the slightly longer note, and that adds to the impression of fullness. I have seen spectrum analyzer results that support this.

Give a listen to Memphis Drum Shop's demos. You can often find different depths of the same drum, and they generally play snares on and off at different tunings. The difference is even more noticeable with snares off.

That’s a good idea - I like the DCP videos but I should look at MDS as well.

:)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
IMO 2 identically tuned, hooped, shelled and headed snare drums in 5" and 6.5" depths...the 5 has noticeably less low end than the 6.5. I've become accustomed to the 6.5 - 7" depth. When I go to a shallower drum, it's like someone dropped the all the low end EQ down to my ear. I like the 6.5-7" depth because it sounds balanced frequency-wise to my ear where the shallower depth snares are all crack.
 

classikdrummr

Active Member
Depth in drums mostly affects sustain, not pitch. In a snare drum that extra sustain reads as "fullness" so your notes seem a little longer and fill in a little more sonic space.

I like deep snares because you can tune them up pretty high to get a lot of crack but also a good amount of body supporting it.
Thanks for this info. I didn't know depth mostly affects sustain. I have a 7 x14 Mapex that i only use for Hard rock and Metal but i deep Tune it. I have my SC Tama Kapur Wood 6.5 x 14 tuned High for soft Rock , Funk, Jazz Rock. It rings and Snaps!
 

Drum Mer

Platinum Member
lower is slower to me; at times something one may want;
at one time I thought 6.5 would beat out a 5 and be the ultimate.
I don't think that way after owning both 5 and 6.5 for a long time.
5 is quicker. That's where I'm at.
Response time.
Time's getting short- just how I like my snare drum : ) (lol

lower and somewhat slower are what the toms and bass drum are there for
I wouldn’t call my previous 8” deep snares slower.

They did had more body when tuned up high.
 

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
I like deep snares because you can tune them up pretty high to get a lot of crack but also a good amount of body supporting it.
I have deeper snares for this very reason. My Gretsch is a 6" and I have a Rogers that's 5.5".
As opposed to my own RG model (that I'm holding in my pic) that's a 13x3.

The difference between the 2 is the shell material. The Gretsch is wood, Rogers is steel. The sound is VERY different and I'll choose which one I need depending on the show I'm playing.

Now...One snare I want really bad is Vinnie Paul's 8" deep model. Even though it was a beast of a unit, the crack he got from that was unreal.
 

jda

Silver Member
the amount of lug- 6 , 8 or 10- on a dimension matters, too)
my 6 Lug wood 6.5 's are deep low and almost too wide;
an 8L would be nice
a 10L even tighter
 
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dboomer

Senior Member
Shorter drum depths produce more fundamental pitch while deeper depths produce more harmonics. Also shorter depths result in longer sustain. If you picture the sound wave moving from the batter head to the reso head, the deeper the drum the longer that distance is. The longer that distance is the more energy that will be lost while traveling through the air, so less energy hitting the reso head.
 
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