top of page
  • Writer's pictureNathan Coles

Snare Drum Buying Guide: Which Drum is Right for You?

Updated: Mar 14

There is an extensive selection of concert snare drums in the orchestral percussion world, we'll break down the details of what Black Swamp brings to the table and what option is best for you.

"Which snare drum is right for you?"

Black Swamp Percussion has been setting the standard for orchestral snare drums for the past 25 years. The founder of Black Swamp Percussion, Eric Sooy, is an experienced designer, craftsman, and performer who has leveraged his considerable expertise to create snare drums that are both sonically and visually superior. These snare drums are designed and crafted by musicians who share the same passion for music as their customers, right here in Michigan. The catalog of Black Swamp drums is wide-ranging and covers a spectrum of performance situations at various price points, ensuring that there is a snare drum suitable for everyone's needs. We'll be discussing the different series of snare drums that Black Swamp offers and exploring the features and benefits that will help determine which drum is right for you.


Multisonic Snare Drums

Black Swamp Percussion cocobolo multisonic unibody snare drum

We'll start this tour off with our flagship series, The Multisonic™.

The Multisonic Concert Snare Drum by Black Swamp Percussion is the ultimate choice for modern snare drummers seeking complete control over the voicing and character of their instrument. The Multisonic Snare System, introduced in 2002, revolutionized the world of snare drums by meeting the challenge of repertoire spanning centuries. With this system, drummers can instantly and silently switch between combinations of cable and wire to create a vast range of sounds. The Multisonic Snare System is the most advanced, versatile, and silent snare system of its kind in the world.

Multisonic snare system in different configurations

The Multisonic snare system consists of five separate snare units that can be tensioned and activated in any combination, providing maximum flexibility to suit the musical situation, tuning, and performance space. Whether you're performing in a concert hall, recording studio, or outdoor venue, the Multisonic Concert Snare Drum ensures that you have complete control over the sound of your instrument.

You can listen to these different snare system settings and see how mixing and matching different combinations of snare units can completely change the timbre of your concert snare drum.

Snare drum features:

  • Multisonic snare system

  • Arch Lugs

  • Die-cast hoops

  • Stainless steel tension rods

  • Remo Renaissance heads

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth

The Multisonic is available several shell options; Unibody steam bent, 7-ply Maple, Medallion Brass, and Titanium.

We made an detailed instructional deep dive on how to dial in the sound of the Multisonic snare drum. If you already own a Multisonic or would like to get an idea of how the snare system operates, we highly recommend you check it out.


SoundArt Snare Drums

Black Swamp Percussion SoundArt maple snare drum

SoundArt Concert Snare Drums provide a reliable and straightforward concert performance suitable for musicians at all levels. One of the key features of SoundArt Concert Snare Drums is the SoundArt Strainer, which was the first trio snare system directly integrated into the throwoff. This integration allows players to have accurate and unprecedented control of snare unit tension, resulting in a finely-tuned and responsive instrument. The cable and wire units engage simultaneously to provide a full, balanced snare voice throughout the dynamic spectrum. In addition, the SoundArt Snare System with Arch Throw works as a cohesive unit, blending the three snare units together to produce a consistent tonal and dynamic response at all playing levels. With this level of control and response, SoundArt Concert Snare Drums are an ideal choice for both novice and professional musicians seeking a high-quality instrument for concert performances.

Snare drum features:

  • Multisonic snare system

  • Arch Lugs

  • Die-cast hoops

  • Stainless steel tension rods

  • Remo Renaissance heads

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth

The SoundArt snare system can be found on all shell options; Unibody steam bent, 7-ply Maple, Medallion Brass, and Titanium.

Similar to our Multisonic system, we made a detailed video and blog posts showing each step of the process when dialing in your preferred snare drum sound. Check it out at the link below.


Pro10 Studio Snare Drum

Black Swamp Percussion Pro10 Studio snare

Black Swamp Percussion's Pro10 Studio™ concert snare and field drum are specifically designed for use in settings where you want to "set it and forget it". The Pro10 Snare System, designed with the Arch throw, simplifies the process of achieving Progressive Tension (Pro10) and is resistant to accidental adjustments. The Arch throw's unique design allows the snare end to pivot and lock, keeping it set even with rigorous institutional use, ensuring that the snare drum maintains its desired sound throughout performances.

The Pro10 Snare System is engineered to create the perfect amount of gradual tension from thick to thin cable, resulting in more snare response at the loudest and softest dynamics. The precise tension control ensures that drummers can achieve the desired sound with minimal effort, allowing them to focus on their performance. Whether you're performing in a concert or on the field, the Pro10 Studio™ concert snare and field drum are the perfect choice for drummers who require reliability, durability, and ease of use.

Snare Drum Features:

  • 9-Ply Maple Shell

  • Arch Lugs

  • 2.3mm Steel hoops

  • Arch Throwoff

  • Progressive tension cable snare unit

  • Remo Renaissance heads

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth


Mercury Snare Drums

Black Swamp Percussion mercury snare drum

The Mercury Series snare drums by Black Swamp Percussion are renowned for their exceptional clarity and articulation, and are favored by many percussionists today for their portability and practicality - making them a popular choice for auditions. However, these drums are also versatile enough to be used regularly on the snare stand, making them a valuable investment for drummers of all skill levels. Black Swamp Percussion has been trusted by musicians worldwide to craft snare drums that deliver unparalleled quality and reliability.

Mercury Mini SoundArt trio strainer

The Mercury Snare Systems are available with either the Multisonic or mini SoundArt snare system, providing drummers with options to suit their individual preferences and playing styles. The Multisonic Snare System allows for instant and silent switching between combinations of cable and wire, providing complete control over the voicing and character of the drum. On the other hand, the mini SoundArt Snare System features a trio of snares integrated directly into the throwoff, allowing for precise and effortless tension adjustments. Both systems are designed with the same level of attention to detail and commitment to excellence that Black Swamp Percussion is known for.

Snare Drum Features:

  • Tube Lugs

  • Stainless steel tension rods

  • Die-cast hoops

  • Remo Renaissance heads

  • Multisonic or Mini SoundArt snare systems

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth

Mercury Series snare drums can be built from several shell types including; ply-maple, Unibody solid shell, or titanium.

These snare drums are perfect for drummers who demand the ultimate sensitivity and articulation for the most demanding soft excerpts. Whether you're looking to upgrade your existing setup or searching for a versatile drum that can handle a variety of playing situations, the Mercury Snare Drums are the perfect choice. Hear the difference for yourself and experience the unmatched clarity and articulation of the Mercury Series snare drums by Black Swamp Percussion.


Concert Maple Snare Drums

Black Swamp Percussion concert maple snare drum

The concert maple snare drum is an excellent choice for those who are looking for high-quality sound and performance without having to spend a lot of money. This drum offers the same top-notch sound and performance as our higher-end models, but at a more affordable price point. It's perfect for people and institutions that have a limited budget, or for those who are purchasing a concert snare drum for the first time.

Snare Drum Features:

  • Custom Black Swamp Cable Snare Unit

  • 7-ply maple shell

  • Die-cast Arch style lugs

  • 2.3mm Steel hoops

  • Remo Renaissance head

The genuine Black Swamp cable snares, provide excellent sensitivity and clarity. The 2.3 millimeter triple flange hoops, help to provide a balanced tone and increased projection. The concert maple snare drum also boasts a high-quality seven-ply maple shell that is the same as the one used on our Multisonic and SoundArt drums. This means that you can expect excellent tonal quality and resonance, no matter what type of music you're playing.

The drum is available in two different depths: five inches and six and a half inches. It's also available in two different finishes: cherry rosewood, and concert black. This means that you can choose the finish that best suits your personal style or that matches the rest of your gear. If you're looking for a high-quality concert snare drum that won't break the bank, the concert maple snare drum is an excellent choice. It offers top-notch sound and performance, as well as a variety of features that make it a great choice for players of all skill levels.


Field Drums

Black Swamp Percussion symphonic field drum

For those in need of a genuine field drum sound, our Black Swamp Symphonic field drums are a perfect fit. They are available in two options: the Symphonic Field Drum, which features our SoundArt snare system, and the Pro10 Field Drum. These drums are designed to kick out the punch and rumble of a traditional field drum sound, while also incorporating a classic and timeless design aesthetic.

At the heart of the Symphonic Field Drum's sound is a soft roundover bearing edge, which is cut into a thin 5-ply maple shell. This thin shell serves to produce a deep and robust tone that is characteristic of field drums. To add even more punch and definition to the sound, we've included 5-ply reinforcement rings that encircle the shell. Additionally, the Symphonic Field Drum features our Arch Throw with SoundArt snare system. This innovative system blends three snare units together, resulting in a consistent tonal and dynamic response at all playing levels. This means that no matter how hard or soft you play, you can expect a consistent and even sound from your drum.

Black Swamp Percussion Pro10 Field Drum

The Pro10 Field Drum offers a similar sound to the Symphonic Field Drum, but without the SoundArt snare system. It still features the same thin 5-ply maple shell with reinforcement rings at the vintage-style bearing edges, which results in a deep and resonant sound that is perfect for field drum performances.

Field Drum Features:

  • 5-ply maple shell with re-rings

  • Arch or SoundArt snare systems

  • Tube lugs

  • Die-cast or 2.3mm steel hoops

  • Stainless steel tension rods

  • Remo Renaissance heads

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth

If you're in need of a field drum sound that is authentic and powerful, the Black Swamp Symphonic field drums and Pro10 Field drums are a great choice. They offer a deep and resonant tone, thanks to the thin maple shell and reinforcement rings, and snare systems on the Field Drum ensures a consistent and even sound at all playing levels.


Dynamicx Drum Set Snares

Dynamicx Bocote snare drum

While not technically an orchestral snare drum, the Dynamicx series of snare drums are drumset snare drums crafted with the same quality and care as our concert snare drums and should be a consideration when choosing a snare drum.

Dynamicx Drums® snare drums were created in 2010, drawing upon the innovative design and precise craftsmanship that Black Swamp Percussion has been developing for the past 25 years. Our commitment to attention to detail, aesthetic sensibilities, and the union of beauty and performance results in a sound and quality that is truly unmatched. Each Dynamicx Drum is expertly crafted in the USA by experienced craftsmen who are also trained musicians. From the selection of the finest materials to the final assembly, every aspect of the drum's construction is carefully considered to ensure optimal performance and tonal quality.

Each Dynamicx snare drum comes equipped with the custom 20 strand Dynamicx curly wire snare unit. But, the drums are fully compatible with our Retrofit cable snare units which can transform this drum set snare drum to an orchestral drum ready for the concert hall.

Furthermore, Dynamicx Drums are available in a range of sizes and finishes, allowing drummers to choose a drum that meets their specific needs and preferences. Whether you're a professional musician looking for a top-of-the-line snare drum, or a beginner in search of a quality instrument to learn on, Dynamicx Drums has a drum that will meet your needs.

Dynamicx Snare Drum Features:

  • Arch throw strainer system

  • Arch lugs

  • Die-cast, 2.3mm steel, or straight hoop options

  • Dynamicx curly snare wires

  • Remo Ambassador heads

  • Includes Black Swamp drum key and microfiber cloth


Which Snare Drum is Right for You?

Black Swamp Percussion offers a wide range of handcrafted snare drums for all performance and educational settings. To choose which snare drum is best for you, start with addressing your budget. How much would you like to spend on a snare drum? Next, ask what context you'll be using the drum. Is this drum for school, the recording studio, the audition circuit, or for a professional band and orchestra? These two questions are where you should start your journey before exploring more fine details such as strainer system and shell type.

High-End, Professional Level Drums

The Multisonic snare drum is the flagship model, preferred by professionals, college students, and upper-level band programs. The Multisonic snare system showcases 5 different cable types that can be individually adjusted for maximum customization. The 5" x 14" inch ply-maple Multisonic is our top-selling snare drum due to its universal shell type, tone projection, and design.

The Sound Art snare system, with three contrasting snare units, is also a popular choice for percussionists of all levels. This snare drum features a trio strainer system that allows fine adjustment for all 3 cables in one engagement throw off. The 5” x 14” ply Maple version is a little more popular, but sometimes larger band programs do prefer the deeper 6.5” x 14” model.

Both the Multisonic and SoundArt snare drums can be found on a variety of shell types including: Unibody steam bent, Ply-maple, Medallion Brass, and Titanium.

Intermediate and Beginner Level Drums

The Pro 10 Studio and Concert Maple models are designed for band programs and percussion studios, providing a professional level of sound at a lower cost.

The Pro10 Studio snare drum uses the Arch throw system in tandem with a custom, progressive tension cable snare unit, mounted to a 9-ply maple shell. In combination, these factors make for a dynamic sounding instrument with projection and articulation that blends with ensembles of all sizes. The Arch throw snare system is a "set it and forget it" style strainer. One flip engages the strainer and a large tension adjustment knob can help dial in the cable snare unit for the desired sound. If you'd like to adjust the sound of the drum further, you can adjust the angle of progressive cable snare unit to fine tune which cables are tighter to the snare side head.

If you're looking for an even more affordable option, take a look at the Concert Maple snare drum. These snare drums are constructed from the same 7-ply maple shell found on our higher end series drums and features a custom wrap around cable snare unit to make a well rounded and beautiful sounding instrument. This snare system is simple with a die-cast snare strainer that is perfect for beginner students and band programs.

Specialized Drums

If you're finding that you are in need of a more specialized snare drum, consider the follow series of Black Swamp snare drums.

The Mercury Series snare drums are a series of piccolo models with the Multisonic or Mini SoundArt strainer, ideal for traveling percussionists and orchestral percussionists looking for a snare drum to suit a specific section of repertoire. These drums are offered in two small sizes: 4" x 14" or 3.5" x 13".

But, perhaps you're looking in the opposite direction and need a larger drum. Check out the Symphonic or Pro10 Field Drums. These field drums feature large depths and thin shells that produce warm and authentic field drum timbres. These drums come in two sizes: 10" x 14" or 12" x 15".

The Symphonic Field Drum features the SoundArt strainer system. As stated above, this system allows for fine tuning of each of the 3 cable snare units as well as a master tuning knob for adjusting all 3 units at once.

The Pro10 Field Drum uses the Progressive Tension cable snare unit found on the Pro10 Studio drums. While not as customizable, this cable snare unit features a spread of wires that span the full dynamic range and will allow players to explore a broad range of tones and sounds.

For percussionists who find themselves playing a balance of orchestral performances and musical theatre or pit orchestra gigs, a Dynamicx series drumset snare drum may be the best choice for you.

These snares a designed for the drumset and feature rounded bearing edges to better suit the traditional characteristics of a snare behind the kit. However, if the curly strand wires on these snares are a bit too harsh, you can always swap out these for a Retrofit Cable Snare Unit to transform the drum to a concert snare drum.

Full product details, including demo videos and sound samples, can be found on our website. Choosing a Black Swamp snare drum not only guarantees exceptional sound but also makes you part of the BSP family.

Check out the sound sample playlist to hear a wide selection of drums side by side. Viewing our snare drum buying guide video is also a helpful resource to check out. Our friends at Steve Weiss Music made a great comparison video for 5 different Black Swamp snare drums ranging from our Concert Maple to Unibody Multisonic! Check it out.


bottom of page