The 8 Best Maple Snare Drums | Reviews

Posted in Drums | Last Updated on May 1, 2020

Eight Snares You Can't Go Wrong With!

Maple snares are legendary for their warm tones, a very wide tuning range, and a sound that works very well for all styles of music. Their versatility makes them top sellers from all the major manufacturers. The tonal quality is produced by multi-ply shells of hand-selected maple, and they offer excellent resonation throughout the tuning range. Tuned tight, they deliver plenty of snap and crack, middle range is bright and robust, while tuned looser, the sound is punchy with good reverberation. You can’t go wrong adding a quality maple snare to your kit, and so we offer you the best of the best, but first let’s make the eternal comparison.

Maple Snares v Brass Snares – Let’s get it clear.

What Sounds Better to You? Seasoned drummers know that the material a snare is made of will greatly affect its sound. They find a material, and usually a size of drum, that fits their style. Sometimes drummers have a collection of snares they employ based on the needs of the gig. In this review we look at the difference in the sound produced by Maple snares versus the sound of Brass ones. It is important to note that tuning is an essential element in how any snare drum will sound, as most have a significant tuning range. Be sure to see our guide on How to Tune a Snare Drum for a more complete understanding of snare sound.

Maple shells are known for adding warmth to the sound. They can be crisp and crackling when tuned high, like dry twigs being thrown on a hot fire – that’s pretty warm. A higher tuned brass snare, on the other hand, will exhibit a sound more akin to sheets of ice cracking, less organic, colder. When tuned toward the middle, where most snares are set at least 75% of the time, the Maple ones will play even warmer and richer in tone, with added brightness in the mix.

Attack is slightly reduced versus brass, but can still be excellent.

Projection is also not as strong, but it has better resonance than brass, which tends to dissipate more quickly. In the middle, brass traditionally features ringing, more liquid tones, and obviously more metallic.

Tuned looser, a maple shell snare is going to respond with lower, punchier notes, often described as “fat” tones, with plenty of reverberation, but not much buzz. Buzz comes into play on brass shells tuned loosely, particularly on the resonant head. These shells sound very wet tuned low, and very funky.

Overall, sound is quite subjective, and is an essential part of every drummer’s style. Choose a shell material that gives you the right tones, and customize your sound within the available spectrum.

All right let’s start with the actual reviews:

Ludwig Classic

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Classic tradition begins with a legendary Name! Break down the name of thie snare, and you unpack a whole lot of tradition and quality: Ludwig Classic.

Let’s start with the name. The Ludwig brothers were the innovators of prototype snare drums which became the basis for today’s snares.

Their commitment to cutting edge technological advancement became the template for every generation of designers to follow.

Classic Maple means that you can expect a bounty of rich, warm, bright sound from the 7-ply, all-maple shells used in every Ludwig Classic drum.

Tuned low and earthy, these drums produce some of the fattest tones emanating from quality snares anywhere. High and tight, they can snap with the best of them, cutting through the sound to make themselves heard.

In between, quality sound is delivered by high-end components, including a variety of hardware styles, rims, and snares that produce customized sound in each model. Popular sizes range from the pop of the picclolo, through standards like the 5.5X14, to the deep rumbles of the 6X12. Those employing the instruments in their kits love the rich maple tone that projects well in the studio and during live dates.

Great articulation and attack are available from the sensitive heads, so you can style your play, crafting just the sound you want. There isn’t a genre these snares don’t like, and they handle anything from rock to jazz to concert band with equal dexterity.

Mapex Black Panther

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Attention to Detail Brings Attention to the Sound! Mapex designers believe that their reputation is only as good as their next drum.

That’s why they maintain a passionate approach to engineering and crafting some of the finest made snare drums in the world.

The Black Panther family exudes everything needed to keep their reputation intact and growing.

The snares are hand-crafted by highly trained artisans, using maple hand selected by their Professional Wood Grading Team.

Really! This multi-ply is fashioned into the industry’s thickest shells at a full 12mm.

The precision engineering continues with rounded bearing edges and deep snare bed that contribute to full, well-balanced tone, immediate response, excellent attack and projection, and rim shots that can’t be missed.

Superb die-cast 2.3mm hoops, chrome hardware, and professional finishes make these the most durable, best looking snares you’ve seen in a while. The Black Panther series comes in a variety of popular sizes and finishes.

Those making a living at the drums, and those playing for pure enjoyment all boast of the tuning range that goes from piercing crack to throaty rumble with a simple adjustment.

It is an outstanding feature for classic rock, mainstream pop, jazz, R&B, Latin, and most other styles. The great sound is a confidence builder in the studio or for live gigs.
The stock heads aren’t bad, but most drummers customize their sound with a favorite pair of new heads.

Pacific SX

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Drums Light an All-Maple Fire for Plenty of Warmth! Drum Workshop, a.k.a., DW Drums, keeps its ear to the ground, or should we say drum kit, and they know what their customers want.

Many are looking for a high-quality, that is more affordable than the professional series snares DW produces, yet still packs plenty of great sound and good durability.

They put their design team on it, and the Pacific SX is nothing short of a major hit!

This best-selling maple snare shows off its stuff on the kits of gigging musicians and drumming enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Pure, multi-ply makes up the shell, and the all-maple sound is enhanced by the hoops that are surprisingly durable, instead of die-cast or aluminum.

The effect is luxuriously warm tones, long-lasting resonance, and moderate to crisp attack.

The vintage tube lugs and professional grade throw-off complete a package that will enhance the playability of any drummer’s kit.

The natural finish, sealed in high-gloss lacquer makes for a handsome appearance to complement lovely sound. The Pacific SX comes in several styles, from the very versatile standard 5.5X14 to the quirky, fun 6X10 Popcorn that delivers plenty of projection and high-toned snap.

Those playing them report colorful, full-orbed tones from the all-wood shell/hoop construction that sounds wonderful when playing genres that require warm tones.
It excels at country, worship, and early pop like the Beach Boys, and other oldies. Put your favorite heads on and tune them fairly tight for the best sound.

Ludwig Epic Centurian

Ludwig Epic 7"x14" 20-Ply

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Marvelous Mixtures! Ludwig designers take a “both/and” approach to better sound, fully exemplified in their Ludwig Epic Centurian line. These snares feature all-wood hybrid construction, so now drummers don’t have to choose either maple or walnut, for example, but now can have the best of both worlds in construction featuring both maple and other fantastic wood options. This forest of snares is stunning.

Current production uses,20-ply, 12-ply Sapele with reinforcement rings, 10-ply Bubinga, or 8-ply American Walnut Burl, all over 4 inner plies of robust Canadian Maple. Older models included Birch hybrids, too.

The chrome, 2.3mm hoops offer strength and snappy rim shots, though some opt for the die cast hoops Ludwig offers as accessories. Most of the models are 6.5X14, but each exhibits its own variation on traditional rich, warm sound, tending toward mid-range tones and sweet lows. Crisp, snappy highs can be achieved with very tight tuning, but this drum is much more comfortable on the loose end.

Drummers enjoy its deeper sound than most snares elicit, and often use it as a second snare, though it is very pleasing as a primary for classic rock, oldies, and country.
Many find it sounds better in the studio or in small venues, than live in larger rooms. Put your favorite heads on the Epic Centurian, be patient with the tuning, and you will appreciate its “vintage” sound.

Pearl Masters Premium


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Everything About It is Sweet! The Pearl line up of 100% maple drums is widely regarded as the finest, most complete in the music industry.

High quality shells, top of the line hardware and components, and excellent heads combine to create drums with fantastic playbility. Pearl showcases the best they have to offer in the Pearl Masters Premium. Premium performance begins with the shells.

The 5.5X14 features Pearl’s Superior Shell Technology in their popular 6-ply, 7.5mm design.

The approach on the 6.5X14 was to produce a more robust sound using 4-ply and adding sturdy 4-ply reinforcement rings.

The great sound is enhanced with patented swivel lugs that produce precise head placement and tuning. Rich, full-bodied warmth, with nicely crisp highlight, is projected in every beat.

Tuning is quick and easy, so drummers can adjust the tone for agile variations on the hearty theme. The Pearl Masters Premium is a good choice for a wide variety of musical genres.

Those playing everything from tradition folk and country, to modern rock and punk find a featured spot in the lineup. The versatility of sound produced by the tuning range is the key.

Drummers also love the durability of the Premiums’ components and professional finishes. Pearl wants to show off these gems, so has released them in a total of 31 finishes, including high gloss lacquer, 8 with premium Delmar coatings, and 3 with real glass flakes for maximum sparkle.

Pearl offers their very best at prices the professionals and hobbyists can both access.

Mapex MPX


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Mapex for the Masses! Mapex quality and sound is known all over the music world, wherever great tunes are played.

Their snares command attention with fantastic projection and warm, bright tones.

Now, Mapex has released a line that maintains a high level of quality but also offers an affordable price point so drummers of all skill levels can get in on the great sounding action. The Mapex MPX line is made up of two sizes, the standard 5.5X14 and a punchier, tighter 6X13.

Solid attack and lots of power is supplied by the 5.1mm, multi-ply shell that delivers plenty of full-bodied sound.

The die-cast 2.3mm hoops give stability to the drum and the tone, and unleash some crisp rim shots when called upon. It doesn’t affect the sound, but the gorgeous chrome on natural maple beauty of these snares will tempt you to set them on the coffee table as works of art! Drummers playing the MPX love the versatility offered in the tuning range.

Only the heaviest metal and punk is beyond its comfort zone, but quality drummers could probably tune it to work there, too.

There’s plenty of pop where you want it, and it has the ability to go deep when necessary, especially with the “13.” The Remo heads it leaves the factory with are of average quality, so you’ll just have to give them a go and see if they are right for you.

Tama Artwood


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Traditional Beauty in Looks and Tone! Tama makes some of the finest maple snares in the music business, and robust sales and high user ratings are their best advertising.
The Tama Artwood is a custom drum that exudes the best qualities associated with maples.

Fat, warm, rich sound is generated by the 7-ply shell, which is a robust 6mm thick. The feel is luxurious and silky when tuned low, and has plenty of crackle in the attack as you tighten things up. Throughout, it provides wonderful, immediate and crisp response. Projection is vigorous and full, without being obtrusive.

Triple-flanged, sturdy steel hoops make for great rim shots, and give fantastic stability to the 4 Artwood models, including the 8-lug 6.5X13, and 3 10-lug models with the largest being the 6.5X14.

Four high gloss lacquer finishes are available on the line, each set off nicely with handsome black nickel hardware. Drummers love the tone of the various Tama Artwood drums.

There’s not a bad size in the bunch, just one to fit your playing style and genre. These models perform well across the musical spectrum, while excelling at rock, mellow jazz, R&B, and traditional styles like Bluegrass.

The stock Evans heads are better than most “factory” heads, and will deliver great sound until you want to switch them out for your personal favorites. These snares are the choice of plenty of professionals, yet they are affordably priced so any drummer can add one to the kit.

Yamaha Custom Absolute

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Absolutely Faultless! Professional drummers make different demands of their equipment. It must be incredibly tough and durable, for starters.

If it doesn’t last, it’s not pro-grade. And it must exude sound that will please the seasoned ear of a veteran drummer. Every aspect of its construction must contribute to better sound and playability. Yamaha has been making the instruments professionals use for decades, and the Yamaha Custom Absolutepasses the toughest tests in the studio and on the stage.

The vintage (thin) shell goes 6-ply, 6mm of pure hardrock maple, in the most popular sizes.
That’s the basis for the richest tones in music, delivered up and down the scale when you tune it just the way you want it. Snap crackling or low rumbling, you’ve never heard sound so sweet! The Yamaha Custom Absolute uses sturdy aluminum die cast 2.3mm hoops to give strength and maintain tune. Twenty short strands of high carbon steel wire composes the snare.

Quality Remo Ambassador heads are standard, and are several grades above most “factory” heads.

Like fine wine, the shell is aged for stability and depth of finish, and sealed to keep out moisture.

Drummers love the total package, especially the sound versatility of the drum that sounds great whatever your set-up. More than one pro has called this “the best snare ever made.” Its range makes it perfect for all but the most metallic styles of music.

Near-perfection is actually pretty affordable!