Most modern snares have either 8-lugs or 10-lugs, but it is possible to find 6-lug snares which used to be the standard several decades ago. In this article I’ll be comparing 6-lug, 8-lug and 10-lug snares and explaining the impact that the number of lugs can have on the sound and tuning of the snare.
6 vs 8 vs 10 Lug Snares
10-lug snares sound tighter and more focused compared to 8-lug snares which sound more open and 6-lug snares which sound more open still. Snares with 10-lugs are easier to tune, however snares with 8-lug and more so, 6-lugs are better at holding lower tunings.
Snares with fewer lugs sound more open and have more overtones compared to snares with more lugs which sound tighter and more focused.
Snares with 6-lugs sound very open and have very complex overtones almost causing them to sound more distorted. Snares with 8-lugs have a fairly open tone but with less complexity and distortion compared to snares with 10-lugs which sound very focused.
Describing sound can be tricky and there’s not really a “best” tone, just personal preferences Check out this YouTube video to hear a direct comparison between an 8 lug and 10 lug snare wit the same shell.
Pressure Points and Pitch Difference
Each snare lug will create more pressure in that particular area of the drum head. In other words, the pressure is not equal at the points of the lug, and the points between the lugs where the pressure is released.
The more lugs there are, the less “release” of pressure there is at the point between the lugs, because the lugs are spaced more closely together.
The amount of pressure/ tension that the head is under affects the pitch. The more tension the head is under, the higher the pitch will be.
Keeping the tension as even as possible around the head ensures that the pitch shift at different points is less dramatic. Hence, when using a 10 lug snare, there will be less pitch variation across the head compared to using a 6 lug snare.
Snare drums with more lugs have a greater tuning range compared to snare drums with less lugs. However, snares with fewer lugs can hold lower tunings better because each lug holds more tension.
More lugs = fewer key turns = less tension
It is also easier to tune a snare drum with 10 lugs compared to say 6 or 8 lugs because you have more control. However, it can take longer because there are more lugs to adjust.
Typically snares with 10 lugs are more expensive compared to snares with 8 lugs, and 6-lug snares are usually the cheapest.
This is because 10-lug snares are more expensive and time consuming to produce, but also because many manufacturers have run with the idea that more lugs = a better snare.
As I’ve discussed in the sections above, this isn’t always the case and there are several reasons why an 8-lug or even a 6-lug snare might be exactly what you need. There are many drummers that prefer the open sounding 8-lug snare and find a 10-lug snare too tight and focused.
Here are some more articles you might find useful: