Best Snare Drum Heads – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right snare drum is a crucial step in finding and honing your sound. One step that is often overlooked, however, is choosing the right snare drum head. They are a key component in achieving the exact sound you are looking for. 

But if you have just come off the search for the perfect snare drum, you probably already know how daunting it can be to choose something like that. You may even be a little fatigued, not wanting to spend hours looking at different drum heads in the hopes that you will find that perfect one. 

Luckily, you do not have to. Here, we have compiled a list of the best snare drum heads and reviewed them for you.

Comparison of the Best Snare Drum Heads

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 10-mil inner ply and 7-mil outer ply (14-inch head)
  • Edge-Control technology pre-equalizes the sound
  • Reverse dot is mounted on the underside of the head (more durability)
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  • Different size heads included in one package
  • Heads are coated for enhanced stick rebound
  • 1 ply 12-mil film
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  • Best for the money
  • Texture-coated heads and medium weight
  • 10-mil single-ply
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  • Coated for added warmth and articulation
  • 5-mil thick
  • Capable of bringing out the most subtle effects of any concert snare drum
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  • 1 ply 10-mil coated film
  • Excellent attack
  • Industry-standard
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  • Two plies of 10-mil film (free-floating)
  • 5-mil reverse black dot
  • Durable Mylar head
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What is a Snare Drum Head?

If you do not already know, a drum head is the thin membrane that is stretched over the open ends of a drum. This is what allows for sound to resonate within the drum. The drum head is struck by sticks, hands, or mallets, which creates vibrations that resonate and echo within the drum.

Evans EC Reverse Dot Snare Drum Head

A snare drum head is exactly what it sounds like -- a drum head, but specifically made for snare drums. The thickness of the membrane is used to determine what sound will be resonated when the drum head is struck.

How to Choose the Right Drum Head

A few things to consider to help you choose the right drum head for you:

Sound

This is more of a personal consideration. It has less to do with the drum head itself, and more to do with what you want to get from it. Consider what sound you will want to go for when you play. Softer sounds would probably warrant a drum head with a more extensive muffler; harder, louder sounds would not need to make use of a muffler as much.

Basically, just know what you want to hear when you play. This will be the ultimate determiner for what drum head would be best suited for you.

Muffler

As mentioned in the previous point, a muffler does pretty much what you would expect. It muffles or softens the sound. In bass drums, this is achieved by putting a pillow (or something similar) inside the drum itself. With snare drums, the sound can be muffled by putting tape over the head, but can sometimes be done within the head itself.

Tuning

Over time, the drum head can lose its tension which can drastically affect the sound your drums produce. When this happens, it needs to be tuned up with a tuning key. Some prefer more or less tension in their drum heads, which in turn affects the type of tuning key.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Snare Drum Heads

Here we have our top picks for the best snare drum heads of 2020. Follow these reviews to find one that you like.

Evans EC Reverse Dot Snare Drum Head, 14 Inch

PROS

  • Pristine highs; deep lows
  • Easy to fit to your drums
  • Simple to tune once you know how
  • Very durable for even the hardest hitters
  • Edge-Control gets rid of any unwanted mid-range frequencies

CONS

  • Learning to tune with this drum head is a bit of an adjustment
  • Better suited for higher volume play; sound suffers when at low volume

What Recent Buyers Report

Many have praised this drum head’s versatility. Although it is not optimized for lower volumes, with enough tuning and tweaking, many have found appropriate settings with which to use this drum head for almost any situation. It is also cited as one of the most durable drum heads out there and can take quite a pounding.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The first thing you will notice about this particular drum head is how pretty it is. The Evans has a lovely opaque-white color as opposed to being clear or plain white. Other than that, you already know that we consider this one to be the best snare drum head overall. It has great versatility, great tuning capabilities, and a solid sound.

Who Will Use This Most

We would recommend this to anyone looking for a drum head for their snares. You would probably discover its full potential if you like to play hard and loud. It is not the best at softer volumes, but it can be worked with. If you are a hard-hitter, this is the drum head for you.

Bottom Line

With its attractive design and resonant sound, this is our top pick for the best snare drum head of 2020. The tuning may take some getting used to, but it becomes so easy once you know what you are doing. For a versatile drum head with great potential and great sound, choose the Evans.

Remo PP-1390-BA Ambassador Coated Tom Drumhead Pack - 10', 12' & 16'

PROS

  • Consistent sound
  • Very solid and reliable
  • Incredibly attractive look
  • Warm tones, controlled sustain
  • Drum head coating provides added durability

CONS

  • Slightly muted sound
  • Coating degrades after a while

What Recent Buyers Report

The great thing about the Remo Ambassador is that there are no surprises when you purchase it. You get what was advertised and what you paid for, and what you paid for was a truly solid and reliable set of drum heads.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The only reason we gave the Ambassador the “runner-up” award is that we just feel that the Evans is a far more versatile drum head. Also, it is quite pretty. That being said, this is still a fine choice of drum head with its warm, consistent tones and added coating. This product particularly stands out thanks to the fact that three differently sized drum heads included.

Who Will Use This Most 

Although the sound is consistent, it is also slightly muted. Anyone can use this set of drum heads, but if you are a hard-hitter and need a wider, louder sound, you may be better off choosing another product.

Bottom Line

Remo is pretty close to being the global leader is drum head manufacturing, and it is because of products like this. The consistent sound and durability make this a perfectly solid set of drum heads, and anyone would find great pleasure in their use.

Aquarian Drumheads Drumhead Pack (TC14)

PROS

  • Easy to tune
  • Warm sound
  • Coating resists chipping
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Amazing budget option

CONS

  • Sound is less crisp than more expensive drum heads

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of people have found Aquarian drum heads to be a solid, cheaper alternative to other brands such as Remo or Evans. The sound quality does not suffer all that much -- if at all -- and the drum heads themselves are said to be more durable than others, including those from Remo

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lovely drum head gets our prize for “best value for the money”. Even if the price may be significantly lower than your Remo or your Evans, the quality of the product does not decrease much with the cost. Who knew durability and reliability could be so cheap?

Who Will Use This Most 

Because of its price, we would say that anyone could use this. It is great for beginners because the investment is not extreme, and the quality of the sound will be at an almost professional level (depending on how well you play, that is).

Bottom Line

With its affordable price and great quality, the Aquarian drum head has made a name for itself as an exceptional, cheap alternative to your premium drum heads. The sound quality stays the same, and the head itself will last you for years on end. We would recommend this drum head to anyone.

Remo M5011400 14-Inch M5 Coated Diplomat Thin Concert Snare Drumhead

PROS

  • Textured coating
  • Good with sticks and brushes
  • Highly sensitive and responsive
  • Ideal for beginners and concert players
  • Very articulate with even the gentlest hit

CONS

  • Not suited for playing at high volume
  • Thin membrane means it is easily damaged

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of people share the consensus that this drum head simply will not hold up if you are a heavy-hitter. The thin membrane is both lauded and criticized. It is easily damaged and can even break if you hit hard enough. However, it is also highly sensitive and is able to clearly articulate even the softest of tones.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the best 14-inch snare drum we would recommend. Sure, it may not hold up well if you like to hit fast and hard, but it is able to articulate even the most gentle of beats thanks to its thin design. This is perfect if you are trying to get those truly cracking snares.

Who Will Use This Most 

This would not be suited for snare-heavy instrumentals. You would be able to get the most out of this drum head if you are a concert or symphony player, where you will not need to be hitting hard in order to play your part well.

Bottom Line

If you need something to give you that subtle, sensitive touch to your sound, you cannot do much better than the Remo Diplomat. Its thin design may be too fragile for those hard rockers out there, but for someone who is willing to take things a little slower and softer, they will have found the perfect snare drum head.

Best 13-inch Snare Drum Head:
Remo Ambassador Coated Drum Head - 13 Inch

Remo Ambassador Coated Drum Head - 13 Inch

PROS

  • Good sustain
  • Warm, open sound
  • Subtle yet effective attack
  • Coating is very responsive, giving you a variety of possible sounds
  • Tone of this drum hair has an excellent timbre that most enjoy

CONS

  • Coating will chip away after excessive use

What Recent Buyers Report

Very few buyers who have purchased a Remo Ambassador have come away disappointed. The richness of the sound and the potential tonal variation are all excellent qualities many buyers have reported. Some have complained about the coating gradually being chipped away, but this is a minor concern for most.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Ambassador is yet another reliable drum head from Remo, providing wide coverage of sounds and volumes. This is a 13-inch drum head we could recommend thanks to its sturdiness and longevity of use.

Who Will Use This Most 

Pretty much anyone could pick up this drum head and make great use of it. It provides wide coverage of tones, at times warm and rich, and at others deep and resonant. It is hard to recommend this to one specific group. We reckon that if you are serious enough about your drumming, this is a good investment.

Bottom Line

Remo delivers yet another great drum product with the Ambassador drum head. Besides the coating, which can start to chip away the more it is used, there really is nothing bad to say about this fine drum head. Versatile, durable, and reliable, that just seems to be the Remo way.

Remo Emperor X Coated Snare Drum Head - 14 Inch

PROS

  • Full, rich sound
  • Excellent attack
  • Can be tuned high
  • Extreme durability (perfect for hard-hitters)

CONS

  • Sustain suffers
  • Coating is easily chipped (head itself is durable)
  • A bit more expensive than the Ambassador (also from Remo)

What Recent Buyers Report

Pretty much everyone who has purchased this product knows that it was designed for hard-hitting, and everyone seems to agree that it truly delivers on that front. There have been a few complaints that it does not have as much sustain as other drum heads, but sustain is not what the Emperor ought to be purchased for. It is all about attack.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We are giving the Remo Emperor the award for “best snare drum head for rock”, and it is clear to see why. This thing can seriously take a beating! It is perfect for delivering loud notes and is actually designed for snare drums. It is not as responsive to more delicate touches, but it does not need to be when it can thunder and crack like the sky.

Who Will Use This Most 

The hardest of hard-hitters would find the most use and enjoyment out of this drum head. When you need to be heard -- in concert or in a live performance -- the Emperor shall be your voice. And boy, will it shout.

Bottom Line

We did not give the Emperor our top rock honors for no reason. Th​is should be everyone’s go-to drum head for when you need that loud, thunderous touch. For you heavy hitters and hard rockers, you can do no better than the Remo Emperor

​What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?

There are a few personal things you need to consider before you make the choice of which snare drum head you will purchase.

Budget

You do not want to set your heart on a drum head you really love only to check your bank balance later and find that it is way out of your budget. Know what you are willing to spend before you spend it.

Skill/Experience

This can go hand-in-hand with your budget. If you are a newcomer or a casual hobbyist, you probably will not want to fork out heaps of cash just to get that perfect drum head. Conversely, if this is your passion or your livelihood (or both), it would not be unreasonable to buy a higher-grade drum head.

Music Style

Some drum heads are better suited to different music styles than others. If you are a rock musician, do not buy a wafer-thin drum head that will burst if you hit it too hard .

How to Assemble a Perfect Drum Head

Replacing your drum head can be a lot more simple than you may think. All it takes are three easy steps.

1. Take Off the Old Head

Start by loosening all of the tension rods to zero. Keep your hardware safe by laying it all out neatly on a flat surface. Be careful not to loosen the rods unevenly. To ensure this, start on one end of the drum and then loosen a rod on the other end.

2. Put On the New Head

Now you are going to reverse the process followed in the first step. Place the new head on the drum, and replace all the rods, making sure they are all at absolute zero. Now you can start tightening. Start with your fingers first: tighten the rods as hard as you can with just your fingers, and without them getting uncomfortable. Then use the drum keys to turn the rods until there are no more wrinkles in the drum head. Finally, tighten the rods to playing tension.

3. Even Out the Rods

Use any small object to measure each rod individually, making sure they are all at the same level. Adjust as needed.

Follow this link for a video tutorial:

Conclusion

Hopefully, you come away from this article knowing exactly what drum head would be best for you. If you do not like any of our picks, be sure to follow all our considerations to make sure you do not make the wrong choice. The sticks are in your hands now, friend. 

People Also Ask

If you have a few questions still left on your mind, keep reading below to see the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions.

What Size of Snare Drum is the Best?

This depends on the sound you want to achieve. Generally speaking, the smaller the diameter of the drum, the higher the pitch of the sound it will produce. Conversely, having a drum with a large diameter will produce a lower, deeper sound. 

Consider what sound you want to achieve and decide from there.

How Often Should You Change Drum Heads?

This can be a matter of personal preference. Some people like the worn-in feel and sound of older drum heads, while others like the pristine, fresh qualities of newer ones. There are certain situations that may warrant you having to replace your drum heads. If you are going into the studio or are going on tour, you will need a fresh set of heads. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb would be to change your drum heads at least once a year.