The snare is one of the central components of a drum set, but it can also be found in orchestras and marching bands too. Snares come in all different sizes so in this article I’ll explain why the different types are available in multiple sizes and how this affects the sound.
Snare Drum Sizes
Drum kit snares typically have a diameter of 14″ and a depth of 5″ to 7″. Marching snare drums have a standard diameter of 14″ and depth of 12″. Some snares are smaller such as the piccolo snare which usually measures 12″-14″ x 3″ and the soprano snare which measures approximately 10″-12″ x 5″-7″.
Snare drums with a smaller diameter have a higher pitch. Snares with a shallower depth have a faster attack compared to deeper snares which are louder and more resonant.
|Type of Snare Drum
|Average Size (Width x Depth)
|Drum Kit Snare
|14” x 5.5”
|Orchestral/ Concert Snare
|14” x 5.5”
|14” x 12”
|Pipe Band Snare
|14” x 10.5”
|13” x 3”
|10” x 6”
How Size Affects the Sound?
The size a the snare drum refers to two measurements: diameter (width) and depth. Snare drums vary in both width and depth and this has an impact on the sound. In brief, the diameter of the snare drum affects the pitch and the depth affects the volume and resonance.
Snare drums vary in diameter depending on the type and the measurement can be anywhere between 6″ and 15″, however most snare drums have a diameter of 12″ to 14″.
The larger the diameter of the snare drum, the lower the pitch will be. High pitched drums sound brighter and sharper in comparison to lower pitched drums which sound warmer and more mellow.
If you want the snare drum to cut through the mix more and have a sharp and direct sound, a smaller diameter will be more suitable. If you’re looking for a snare which will blend in more than a larger diameter will be better.
Snare drums typically have a depth of 5″ to 7″, however there are some types of snare such as the piccolo which have a shallower depth of roughly 3″ and some types such as the marching snare which are much deeper and measure around 12″.
Deeper snares have more air inside them which makes them capable of producing higher volumes. Increasing the depth of the snare drum makes it more resonant and increases sustain which means the notes are heard for longer.
On the other hand, shallower snares are quieter but have faster “attack” which means the note is heard more quickly. Shallower snares are often described as sounding more direct.
Check out this YouTube video to hear a comparison of a shallow and deep snare drum.
Types of Snares and Average Sizes
There are 6 main types of snare drum:
- Drum Kit Snare
- Orchestral/ Concert Snare
- Marching Snare
- Pipe Band Snare
- Piccolo Snare
- Soprano Snare
Drum Kit Snare
The standard snare drum size on an acoustic drum kit is 14″. The depth of the snare drum is typically 5.5″ making the standard size 14″ x 5.5″. However, you can get smaller and larger snares than this.
Other common sizes include:
- 14″ x 6.5″
- 14″ x 6.0″
- 14″ x 5.0″
- 13″ x 7″
- 13″ x 6″
- 13″ x 5″
You can also find “micro snares” which have a diameter of 6″ to 8″.
Compared to the size of the other drums in a standard acoustic kit, the snare falls into the middle.
- Snare drums have a standard size of 14″ x 5.5″ making them wider but shallower compared to rack toms which have standard sizes of 8″ x 6″, 10″ x 8″ and 12″ x 9″.
- Snares are both narrower and shallower compared to floor toms which come in standard sizes of 16″ x 14″, and 16″ x 16″.
- Snare drums are narrower and shallower compared to bass (kick) drums which have standard sizes of 20″ x 16″, 22″ x 16″ and 22″ x 18″.
On an electronic drum kit the snare drum is usually the same size as the toms which is usually 6″ to 8″. Some more premium electronic drum kits may have 10″ drum pads.
14″ x 5.5″ Snare (Image links to Amazon)
Orchestral/ Concert Snare
Concert snares, otherwise known as orchestral snares are usually the same size as drum kit snares (14″ x 5.5″). However, they are usually more expensive and have different heads and snare wires to produce a different sound.
Marching snares are typically 14″ wide and 12″ deep making them the same width as drum kit snares but much deeper by comparison. This makes them more resonant and louder. Marching snare drums are designed to be clear and articulate but also powerful to allow them to really cut through the rest of the noise in this kind of setting.
Marching Snare Drum (Image links to Amazon)
Pipe Band Snare
A pipe band consists of pipers and drummers. Pipe band snares have a standard size of 14″ wide and 10.5″ deep. This means pipe band snares have the same width but are deeper in comparison to drum kit snares.
A piccolo snare drum can be used in an acoustic drum kit. Piccolo snares typically have a width of between 12″ and 14″ and a depth of approximately 3″.
This makes piccolo snare drums much smaller compared to standard drum kit snares. The result is that they have a higher pitch, more attack and are not as loud in comparison.
Piccolo Snare Drum (Image links to Amazon)
Soprano snare drums can also be used on an acoustic drum kit and are slightly smaller compared to standard drum kit snares but slightly larger compared to piccolo snares.
Soprano snare drums usually have a diameter of 10″ or 12″ and a depth of 5″ to 7″. This gives them a smaller diameter compared to drum kit snares but a similar depth. The result is a higher pitch but similar level of volume and resonance.
10″ x 6″ Snare Drum (Image links to Amazon)
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