9 Best Ludwig Snare Drums 2024

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The Ludwig brand has one of the best reputations in the music industry when it comes to snare drums. Most of the snare options are incredibly popular, being used in a wide variety of different albums throughout the years.

You can find a Ludwig snare for almost anything you’re looking for, as the brand offers a wide range of materials and sizes.

Here’s a list of some of the best options on offer. I’ve selected a decent variety so that you have plenty of options to pick from.

Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum – Best Overall

Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum

The Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is arguably one of the most loved snare drums in Ludwig’s product range. It was famously used by John Bonham, but it’s also been used on thousands of albums since it was introduced.

The key feature here is versatility. This snare drum just does everything you could possibly want it to. In low tunings, it sounds beefy and powerful. In high tunings, it has a strong cracking tone with plenty of sensitivity.

The chrome-plated aluminum shell just makes it sound so good, no matter how you tune or muffle it. The common tone that it produces across all tunings is a very tight and punchy one.

The best way to hear this snare drum being used is to listen to all the old Led Zeppelin records. With it being Bonham’s favorite snare drum, it was regularly used in most of the band’s songs. While that was decades ago, Ludwig is still designing these snare drums in the same way that they did back then.

There are a lot of drum collectors that suggest that the older versions of this snare are superior, but I haven’t really felt after hearing how good the modern version is.

It’s one of the best workhorse snare drums on the market, and it’s undoubtedly my top pick for this list.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Aluminum

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged hoops

Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum – Premium Option

Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum

The Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) has just as big of a reputation as the Supraphonic. However, the Black Beauty has always been a pricier option. If you’re willing to spend a few hundred dollars more, I strongly recommend considering getting this snare.

It has a hammered brass shell that delivers a fat metallic tone. It’s another snare from Ludwig that has been heavily used in the music industry for decades, but the shell hasn’t always been hammered. With this hammered version, you get slightly more warmth than ones with solid brass shells.

The brass shell also gives the drum an impressively wide range when it comes to tuning options. When you add that to the boosted sensitivity, you’ll start to understand why this snare has such a great reputation.

The snare has a Supraphonic P85 strainer, which makes turning the snares on and off feel incredibly smooth.

This is one of Ludwig’s highest-end snare drums, and it’s a fantastic option for any drummer to have in their collection. The downside is that the brand only releases a few of these every year. With them being in such high demand, they can be quite hard to get.

This also makes them sell for very high on the used market, so you won’t be saving any money by purchasing a second-hand one.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Brass with nickel-plating

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged hoops

Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum – Best Budget Option

Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum

The Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the brand’s most affordable snare drums.

This is a great option for beginner drummers looking to get the sought-after Ludwig sound at a low cost. It’s also an excellent option for intermediate and pro drummers that need something affordable that can still handle gigging environments well.

It has a steel shell that makes it really pop in the high-frequency range, giving you a vibrant snare that tends to cut through a mix incredibly easily.

It’s not anywhere near as sensitive as all the other snare drums on this list. Drummers that play a lot of ghost notes may feel like something is missing, but that’s the only bad thing I have to say about this snare drum.

It has all the hardware features offered by Ludwig’s high-end snares, so most drummers and musicians wouldn’t be able to tell that this is a budget option. The chrome-plated brass lugs and brass snare wires add to the premium feel, and the triple-flanged hoops give it a great open sound.

Note that this snare drum is incredibly loud, especially when you play rimshots. If you’re someone who plays softer types of music in restaurants and similar environments, this may not be the best pick.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Steel

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig Classic Maple Snare Drum

Ludwig Classic Maple Snare Drum

The Ludwig Classic Maple Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the few wooden snare drums that I’ve placed on this list. If you’re looking for a good and reliable maple snare, this is one of the brand’s best options.

It falls under Ludwig’s Classic Maple line, so there are full drum kits with the same shell makeup. However, they sell these snares separately to those kits, allowing you to either match it with a Classic Maple kit or any other kit that you may have.

I love the price range that this snare drum sits in. It isn’t very affordable, but it’s far from being as pricey as all the high-end metal Ludwig snares. This makes it attainable for most drummers.

The maple shell gives the snare a great balance of frequencies and an overall warm tone. When you tune the snare low, it gives you a decent thump sound. When tuned high, you still get the warmth, as it’s not as aggressive as a metal snare.

The snare has Ludwig’s Small Bowtie lugs and Brass Cast Keystone badge. These are both iconic features that have been placed on Ludwig snare drums for many decades.

This snare is quite a safe option to go with, as most drummers love the sound. However, if you’re looking for something really specific, it may be better to go with one of Ludwig’s metal snare drum options.

Shell size: 14” x 5”

Shell material: Maple

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig Copper Phonic Snare Drum

Ludwig Copper Phonic Snare Drum

The Ludwig Copper Phonic Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a good option for drummers looking for something a bit darker and more mysterious.

The copper shell allows you to tune the snare very low while still getting a decent amount of crack. You can’t achieve that with too many snare drums, making this snare one of my personal favorite options from Ludwig.

It also has a patina raw dark copper finish, which I think perfectly matches the sound you get from it.

You then get the classic Imperial lugs and 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops that you’ll find on most Ludwig snare drums.

I’d say that this is arguably the least versatile snare drum that I’ve suggested on this list. Copper snares thrive in lower tunings, while you don’t really get the growling sounds in higher ones. If you’re someone that likes to crank your snare tight, I wouldn’t go with this option.

The final thing to mention is that it works wonderfully as an orchestral snare. If you need a snare drum to play in a concert band or orchestra, I highly recommend going with this one.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Copper

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig Legacy Mahogany “Jazz Fest” Snare Drum

Ludwig Legacy Mahogany “Jazz Fest” Snare Drum

The Ludwig Legacy Mahogany “Jazz Fest” Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an excellent pick for drummers wanting something with vintage inspiration. The original Jazz Fest snares were what drummers like Ringo Starr and Buddy Rich used, and this re-release aims to emulate everything that made those snares so good.

It has a really thin 3-ply mahogany shell with a bit of poplar. The mahogany brings out a good amount of low-end, while the poplar balances the tones out a bit.

My favorite thing about this snare drum is that it has what Ludwig calls a Baseball Bat damper lever. It’s a small lever on the side that controls an internal muffling ring. It has three positions, letting you control how much resonance the snare has.

This damper lever stops you from ever needing to put any external muffling on top of the batter head, and that keeps the tone as true as possible.

While this snare drum is inspired by vintage ones, it has all the modern hardware features that make it highly durable.

I’d recommend getting a snare drum like this if you play styles like jazz or classic rock. It works brilliantly for anything with an old-school appeal.

Shell size: 14” x 5.5”

Shell material: Mahogany/poplar

Number of lugs: 8

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig Universal Black Brass Snare Drum

Ludwig Universal Black Brass Snare Drum

The Ludwig Universal Black Brass Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a great affordable alternative to the Black Beauty. While the Black Beauty costs around $1000, this snare drum only costs just over $300.

It also has a brass shell, so it’s a good option for drummers on a tighter budget that want a brass snare drum. Even though it’s a lot more affordable, it’s still a top-tier professional option.

The tones you get from the snare are very crisp and articulate. You get a great amount of sensitivity from the snare wires, making ghost notes easily heard.

The P88l throw-off and P35 butt plate are excellent hardware pieces that allow the snare drum to run reliably. You get a good amount of control over the snares, allowing you to adjust the sensitivity quite easily.

There are a few different size variations of this snare, but I’m recommending the 14” x 6.5” version, as I think it’s the most versatile.

It’s one of the most affordable brass snare drums available, no matter what brand you look at. So, this isn’t a snare drum to pass up if it’s in your budget range.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Brass

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig Raw Bronze Snare Drum

Ludwig Raw Bronze Snare Drum

The Ludwig Raw Bronze Snare Drum (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the best option for drummers wanting something that is large, powerful, and very deep in its tone.

This snare drum is seriously heavy, and the deep shell makes it resonate for a lot longer than all the other snares that we’ve looked at on this list. When you tune it low, you get a seriously strong thumping tone.

The low-end still remains at higher tunings, along with the boosted amount of resonance. This makes it a great snare drum option for heavier styles of music where you just need something that is big and present.

It has a similar aesthetic to the Copper Phonic snare drum that we looked at earlier. The patina finish is a huge favorite for many drummers.

Unfortunately, this snare drum is quite expensive, and it’s not as versatile as the other Ludwig snares in the same price range. It’s an ideal option for drummers that love deep snare drums, though.

Shell size: 14” x 8”

Shell material: Bronze

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

Ludwig NeuSonic Snare Drum

Ludwig NeuSonic Snare Drum

The Ludwig NeuSonic Snare Drum is a more affordable alternative to the Ludwig Classic Maple snare drum. This snare comes from the brand’s NeuSonic line, which is their intermediate range of drums.

It has a standard maple shell, but there are a few plies of cherry wood added to add a bit of projection. This makes it louder than most other maple shells. It has a solid cracking tone, especially when it’s tuned high.

The 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops also ensure that it has a wide and open tone. If you don’t put any muffling on this snare, it will resonate freely. However, the overtones can get a bit nasty if you don’t tune it well.

Overall, it’s another decent option for drummers wanting a wooden snare drum. It’s not quite as good as the Classic Maple snare, but it’s a decent snare to get to save a bit of money.

Shell size: 14” x 6.5”

Shell material: Maple/cherry

Number of lugs: 10

Hoop type: Triple-flanged

What To Look For In a Ludwig Snare Drum

Shell Material

The biggest feature to look for when choosing a snare drum is shell makeup. The type of material used to create the drum shell is what gives it its tone. This is especially true for snare drums, whereas the differences between shells aren’t as noticeable with toms and kick drums.

When it comes to Ludwig snare drums, most of them have metal shells. You’ll get a few wooden ones, but metal snare drums are the brand’s specialty.

Here’s a quick summary of the tones you’ll get from various shell types:

Maple – Warm tones with boosted low frequencies.

Mahogany – Very strong low-end tones. These snares sound the best when tuned loosely.

Birch – Boosted high frequencies, giving the snare a bright and punchy sound.

Poplar – Balanced frequencies across the board. It’s a cheaper wood, so these snares aren’t as rich or detailed as others.

Steel – Very bright. The high frequencies sit at the front of the produced sounds. These are good snares when you need volume.

Aluminum – Bright and crisp tones. However, the sounds are drier than the penetrating sounds of steel snare drums.

Copper – Warm, crisp, and dark tones. More boosted low-end than most other metal snare drums.

Bronze – Balanced frequencies across the board, with a slight emphasis on the lower ones.

Brass – Crisp sounds that are highly sensitive. Brass snares tend to be the most versatile of all the metal snares.

Size

Size is the next thing to look for. The two things to check out are diameter and depth. Regarding Ludwig, most of the brand’s snare drums have 14” diameters. So, you’re mainly just going to look at different depths.

The depth of a snare drum affects how deep it sounds and how much it resonates. Deeper snare drums sound a lot fuller and rounder, while shallower ones are crispier and tighter.

You should choose a depth depending on what tuning you like. If you love the sound of deep and powerful snare drums, a deeper shell will work better for you. If you like to tune your snare drums tight so that they produce punchy high-pitched sounds, a shallow snare is the best option.

You could go either way if you’re looking for something in the middle. All Ludwig snare drums tend to have excellent sounds with medium tunings, no matter how deep or shallow they are.

Just note that metal snare drums with big depths are incredibly heavy. This makes it a bit of a chore to take them with to gigs.

Counterhoops

Counterhoops are the metal hoops that get placed on the top and bottom of a snare drum. They keep the drumheads in place, and they work together with the lugs and tension rods to allow you to tune the drum.

The two main types of hoops you get are known as triple-flanged and die-cast hoops. You get a few other unique ones from certain drum companies, but those two are the most common.

Triple-flanged hoops come on more affordable snares, while die-cast hoops are typically reserved for high-end snare drum options. However, all of Ludwig’s high-end snare drums have 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, which are the best kind.

Die-cast hoops are a lot heavier, so they dry the tones out a bit. A snare drum with die-cast hoops will always be a bit easier to tune and muffle to get a good sound. However, not everyone likes how dry they make the snare sound.

Also, not that the heavier die-cast hoops will make a snare drum even more of a mission to carry around.

The thing I love most about die-cast hoops is that they make rimshots sound very strong. If you’re a drummer that loves to get cracking sounds from the snare, die-cast hoops may be a better option for you.

You can always change these out later, so they’re not the biggest design feature to base your buying decision on.

Number of Lugs

The number of lugs a snare drum has will affect how much range you get with the tuning. Most snare drums will either have eight or ten lugs.

You’ll have more control with a snare drum that has ten lugs, as you’ll get finer details between each lug. Tuning is also a bit easier with these, as there is a lot less room for error.

Snares with eight lugs aren’t bad, though. They can sometimes be a lot simpler to work with. You also get more of a difference when tightening or loosening each lug, which some drummers enjoy.

Snare Throw-Off Design

The snare throw-off is the lever that controls the snare wires. When it’s flipped up, the snares are activated by constantly touching the bottom drumhead. When the lever is flipped down, the snares loosen, stopping the snare drum from producing the typical snare drum sound.

While all snare drum throw-offs perform the same task, some of them are a lot smoother than others. Some of them are also more innovative.

For example, you may find a snare throw-off that has three different tension settings, giving you varied tightness from your snare wires.

Most Ludwig snare drums have the same throw-off design, but the higher-priced ones are a lot better than the ones that come on affordable Ludwig snares.

Snare Wires

The snare wires are what cause the snappy sound from a snare drum. They also affect how sensitive a snare drum is.

The more wire strands there are, the more sensitive a snare drum will be. 42-strand snare wires give you the most sensitive snare drums, while 20-strand snare wires tend to be the least sensitive.

This is another feature that you can easily replace at a later stage, but it’s good to know what you’re getting when you first purchase a snare.

Price

Once you know what all the features are to look out for, the final consideration will be cost. Unfortunately, most Ludwig snare drums are quite pricey.

The NeuSonic and Supralite are the only ones that can be considered somewhat affordable, whereas all the other options cost a lot more.

With that being said, the beauty of getting a good Ludwig snare drum is that it can be used for anything. Most of the snares mentioned above are highly versatile, so paying a high price for a snare drum that you can use for any situation is well worth it.

If you decide to buy a high-end shell pack, the chances are high that it won’t come with a snare drum. So, it’s a good idea to invest a bit extra to get one of these top-tier Ludwig snare drums to round out your drum kit setup.

If you’re not happy with the Supralite and you want something that only costs between $200 and $300, it’s better to look at brands like Pearl and Mapex that offer multiple snares in that range.

Otherwise, expect to pay between $300 and $1000 for a good Ludwig snare drum.

Top Ludwig Snare Drums, Final Thoughts

You would have seen from that list that most of Ludwig’s best snare drums have metal shells. That’s where the company tends to thrive. The Black Beauty is arguably the most famous snare drum to exist, while the Supraphonic has been used on thousands of studio albums.

There’s such a rich history behind most of these snares that getting one to have in your collection is something that most drummers tend to do.

Look through all the options, select the best fit for your budget, and have fun playing!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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