Drums & Percussion

Marching Snare Drums: Keeping the Beat in Style

Snare drums are one of the most important instruments in any band because they keep the beat. In a marching band, they are typically the first instrument that you hear as the band comes down the street in a parade. It is also the most dominant instrument in a football game, so if you play the drums and you are interested in marching band, then you will need to find a quality instrument that not only looks good but sounds great outdoors. After a lot of consideration, I found the Yamaha 9300 Series SFZ Marching Snare Drum to be the best option for a drummer who is looking for a new marching snare drum for the coming marching band season.

Here’s a selection of the drums I reviewed:

I have played the drums in one form or another since I was about 10 years old. I know how important a snare drum can be when you have an entire band playing in the middle of a field. Snare drums for marching are different than snare drums that you will find in drum set because they need to be able to produce more sound outdoors.

I also know quite a few drummers who have tested out these drums to see which ones sounded the best to their ears, and although we disagreed on the top choice because of the comfortability of carrying the drum, we did agree that the sound of the top choice was amazing. Since not everyone will agree with my top pick, I have also included a list of other marching snare drums that compare with my top pick. Before we take a look at these snares, let’s dive a bit deeper into the marching snare drum and some of its most essential features.

The Difference between a Snare Drum and a Marching Snare Drum

When you think of a snare drum, you probably first think of the type of snare drum that you would find on a drum kit, but a marching snare drum actually looks quite different. This means that the two different types of snare drums cannot be interchanged, so if you are looking for a drum to march with, you will need to consider the type of snare drums that we will be reviewing in this guide.

What is the difference between the two snare drums? Well. When it comes to the diameter of the drums, they have the same width of about 14 inches, but the depth of the drum will differ so that a marching drum can produce a louder sound. In fact, a marching snare drum has a depth that is actually about double the size of a traditional snare, which would make it about 12 inches deep.

What is a Piccolo Marching Snare Drum?

A piccolo marching snare drum is a special type of snare drum that is used in a marching band to create higher, sharper percussion sounds. They are a little smaller in diameter than most marching snare drums, but there are often a few of these in any marching band. If you are interested in finding a piccolo marching snare drum, I have reviewed a few of them in this guide that you can consider.

What are the Benefits of Playing a Marching Snare Drum?

As with learning to play any instrument, you are going to need to train your mind to be able to read the music in front of you as you play to the beat and march in step as you play. Having this type of hand-eye coordination will not only be useful to you are you play the snare drums, but it will be a useful skill to perfect in other aspects of your life as well.

As you play the snare drum in a marching band, you are going to be required to go to different locations for your outdoor performances. Whether you are marching in a parade, at a football game, or in a competition, you will be interacting with others while you are there, which can help you communicate with other people better and build relationships that could help you later in life.

Playing in front of other people can be terrifying at first, but once you do it enough, you will become a more confident individual, which is something that you can use in other aspects of your life as well. When you are playing, you will notice that you focus a lot on what you are doing, which can be a great way to step outside of your day-to-day life and simply relax. In a way, playing the snare drum in a marching band can be a type of meditation that can help relieve stress and give you some structure in your life that you can rely on.

Features to Consider for a Marching Snare Drum

When you are purchasing a marching snare drum, there are a few things that you will need to consider before you make a purchase. The first is the frame and the design of the drum that you are looking to purchase. This outer shell affects the sound that is created when you hit the drum with the drumsticks, so you want something that is going to create the sound that you want. A metal frame will give the drum a crisp, sustained beat, while a wooden frame will create a warmer sound that some drummers prefer.

Many drums are made from woods such as maple or birch, but you can also find snare drums on the market that are made out of metal or other material. The main reason that you will choose one material over the other is the look of the drum, but it will also affect the type of sound that you can create. Another aspect that will change the sound of the drum is the amount of tension that is created on the drumhead. This tension along with the snare wires on the outside of the drum will give you the sharp sound that you are so familiar with. In addition, deeper drums will create a deeper tone, which is why the sound of a piccolo marching snare drum is much higher than a traditional marching snare drum.

Caring for Your Marching Snare Drum

If you plan to play this drum regularly, you will need to have a repair guy that you can go to and rely on. However, if you learn how to care for your snare drum and maintain it, you can minimize the number of repairs that you need. Here are some tips to help you maintain your drums:

  • Learn how to change the drum head on your own so that you can do it quickly, even if you are traveling to play.
  • Learn how to properly tune your marching snare drum so that you don’t need to visit a technician every time you play.
  • Drumsticks can get dirty easily, so make sure that you keep them clean and free of splinters.
  • Take the time to inspect all of the parts of the drum to make sure that everything is in working order.
  • Always carry backup drumsticks on you so that you do not need to continue to play with damaged or broken ones during a competition.

Brands to Consider

The snare drum in any band is responsible for keeping time for the entire band, so it is essential that you get a quality instrument. That being said, you can look at well-known brands to find one that fits your needs, but the brand name is not everything. In fact, you may even find a great instrument from a lesser known brand, so keep your mind open and see what options are available to you. Some of the brands that you will want to consider include:

Yamaha – The craftsmanship and the design of drums from Yamaha have made it a brand favorite for marching bands as well as concert bands.
Dynasty – Dynasty is a company that is known for their consistency and the quality of their drums, which makes them an excellent option for a marching snare drum.
Pearl – This is a company that has been known for creating quality marching percussion for years, but their drums have a bit more flair, which can give them a higher price point.

Our Recommendation: Yamaha 9300 Series SFZ Marching Snare Drum

Snare drums are one of the most important instruments in any band because they keep the beat. In a marching band, they are typically the first instrument that you hear as the band comes down the street in a parade. It is also the most dominant instrument in a football game, so if you play the drums and you are interested in marching band, then you will need to find a quality instrument that not only looks good but sounds great outdoors. After a lot of consideration, I found the Yamaha 9300 Series SFZ Marching Snare Drum to be the best option for a drummer who is looking for a new marching snare drum for the coming marching band season.

I really love the look of the Yamaha 9300 Series SFZ marching snare drum because it has a classic design that is enhanced with a retro drumhead that not only looks great against the rest of the instrument, but it produces a solid sound that can easily be heard as you march. This drum series was also designed with a new badge that I find looks great in the sunlight.

The shell of the drum is made out of six-ply maple, which is a very durable hardwood that will last for decades. It has also been air-sealed so that moisture does not get to the wood. This process also increases the durability of the shell and helps ensure that it is even all the way around the drum. I really like the way that the black and the white models look with the metal lugs, but you can also choose from a red or a blue style if they appeal to you.

The lugs on the outside of the shell are made from lightweight aluminum, which means that you will not easily get fatigued as you are marching. The thick metal walls also help protect the shell of the drum so that it does not get dented or damaged. One of the best features of this Yamaha marching snare drum is the feet that are on the bottom of the drum. This is something that you will only find on Yamaha drums, but these little feet allow you to set your drum down on the ground without damaging the surface of the drum.

This is a 14-inch model, but it is also available in 13 inches in case you need a percussion sound that is slightly higher. The suspension ring on this drum is designed to create a high amount of tension without warping the drum. This ring is crafted from an aluminum alloy, which will provide strength without adding weight to the drum. The high tension that it creates will give you bright, crisp percussion sound.

One of the things that I always consider when looking for a new marching snare drum is how easy it is to assemble and tune. I don’t want to be spending hours getting ready to play when I can be practicing for my performance. Fortunately, this Yamaha model is quick and easy to assemble. The height of the snare can easily be adjusted, even when you are marching with it if you need, and there is even a horizontal tension knob that you can use.

Runner-Up: Pearl Competitor High-Tension Marching Snare Drum

Of course, you may not be looking for the same thing as I am when it comes to a marching snare drum, so another model that I found to have great sound and look amazing in the outdoor light is the Pearl competitor high-tension marching snare drum. The first thing that you will notice when you see this drum is the vibrant white coloration of the outer shell. This drum is also available in black, so if you prefer something a little less white, you have options.

The shell itself, which is made from eight-ply mahogany, is very durable. In fact, this snare is made even more durable by the steel hoops that wrap around the shell. Even though the hoops are steel, they do not add a lot of weight to the drum, so you will not get fatigued holding the snare as you play. This lightweight form makes it an excellent drum for beginners or smaller students who may have difficulties carrying something more cumbersome for an extended period of time.

One of the things that stand out the most for me with this marching snare drum is the amount of tension that the drum face has when it is secured with the FFX aluminum alloy ring. In fact, this amount of tension allows you to install Kevlar heads, which will create a higher-pitched percussion sound than most snare drums. This drum is also available in a 14-inch by 12-inch model or one that is 13 inches by 11 inches. This slight difference in size will change the sound slightly, but overall you will need to select the size that works best for you.

This is also a fairly simple snare drum to assemble, so you will not need to spend a lot of time putting it together and tuning it before you play it. There are not individual tuning options for each snare, but that will not make much difference, especially for a student who needs to set up quickly.

Other Marching Snare Drums to Consider

1) Mapex Quantum XT Snare Drum

One of the marching snare drums that I thought could compare with my top pick was the Mapex Quantum XT. It has a beautiful exterior shell that can be purchased in three different colors. To help improve the durability of this drum, it was designed with a six-ply shell that consists of two layers that are birch and four that are maple. The hoops are made from die-cast aluminum, so they, fortunately, do not add much extra weight to the drum. A lightweight drum is an excellent option for a beginner.

Since one of the most critical aspects of a drum is the tension that you can create on the drum head, this is going to be a great option that you can consider that will not need a lot of tuning when you are getting ready to play. If the tension does not seem adequate, you can use the 12 lugs on the drum to help correct the tension. There are also aluminum feet on the base of this snare drum so that you do not need to set it directly on the ground when you’re not playing the drum.

2) Sound Percussion Labs High-Tension Marching Snare Drum

I really love the way that this Sound Percussion Labs marching snare drum looks. It has a smooth black finish that will look great in a parade or a competition, especially if your band uniform has darker colors in it that will add to the black color of the drum. This drum is designed to be used outdoors, so it has a durable, seven-ply shell that is made from birch. Birch is a hardwood that is actually much stronger than oak, so it will create a drum that will last for years. To help protect it from the rain, the drum has a lacquer finish.

This marching snare is designed to be a great high-tension instrument that can produce crisp, clean sounds. If the tension on the head of the drum is not as tight as you would like, you can easily tighten the tension and tune the drum near the head. It comes with a carrier so that you will be ready to marc with it right out of the box, and it has metal feet on the base of the drum so that it can be set down with ease.

3) Yamaha 9300 Series Piccolo SFZ Marching Snare Drum

For those of you who are looking for a piccolo marching snare drum, this option from Yamaha is well worth considering. It has an elegant design that looks sleek, and it is available in four different color options, which includes white, black, red, and blue. Of course, since this is a piccolo snare, it is going to be smaller in size than most of the other options that we have looked at so far. At 14 by nine inches, it is actually about three inches shallower than most snares.

The six-ply birch shell of this drum was designed using an air seal system that was developed by the company to keep the drum’s shape. In addition, the drum head creates a high tension face that produces a distinct sound that you will love. The aluminum suspension ring is also designed with durability in mind, which means that it will not warp under such high tension. One of the features that I find to be convenient with this snare is the rubber feet that are located at the base of the drum. The feet do not add a lot of weight to the drum, but it does help protect the snare so that it does not get scratched when you need to set it down.

4) Pearl Championship CarbonCore Varsity FFX Marching Snare Drum

One of the most attractive aspects of the next marching snare drum that we are going to look at is the coloration on the exterior portion of the shell. The shell can be purchased in eight different color options, but regardless of the color that you select, it will start out strong at the top of the drum and fade downward, combining with silver until there is no color left. The hardware surrounding the shell of the drum is made of aluminum, which will give the drum an overall lightweight feel. It will also help the drum to stand out a bit because this hardware will shine in stadium lighting, which makes it an excellent option for a student who plays at a lot of football games.

The shell is made from seven-ply maple, and there is an additional ply of carbon fiber on the interior of the shell that is designed to help the sound that you are creating project. The shell of this snare drum is free-floating, which means that the sound can be more resonate and warm. The tone of this drum is amazing, and if it sounds slightly out of tune, it will be very simple to adjust.

5) Tama Marching Starlight Marching Snare Drum

The Tama Marching Starlight is a great option for anyone who is going to be playing in a marching band situation, but it will also sound great in small venues. It is crafted from birch, which is a durable wood that is also relatively lightweight and easy to carry. The shell is actually eight-ply on this drum, which is thicker than all of the snare drums that we have looked at so far in this guide. This means that it is going to be an extremely durable option that creates a beautiful, crisp sound.

The hardware on this marching snare drum is all crafted from die-cast aluminum, which will help keep the weight of the drum down. Unfortunately, there are no feet on this drum, but it does come with a snare carrier so that you can comfortably play this drum as soon as you receive it. This carrier is made from the same material as the hardware on the drum so that it will look great together. It is also designed with shoulder padding to help minimize fatigue when you are playing in a game or marching in a parade.

6) Ludwig Ultimate Marching Snare Drum

The Ludwig Ultimate marching snare drum is an option that really stood out for me. Not only does it have a clean, crisp sound that sounds great when you are marching, it also has a beautiful design that will stand out from the rest of the drums as you march. The entire drum, including the shell and the hardware, is a shiny silver color that will reflect in stadium lighting. It also has a stylish badge on the front of the drum that is black in color, which offers a great contrast to the rest of the snare drum.

Though the hardware and the drum looks similar in color, the shell is actually made from maple that is eight plies thick. The hardware is lightweight aluminum, which will make it easy to carry across the field. This design also allows the shell of the drum to be suspended within the hopes and tubes. This will add a bit of resonance to the tone of the drumsticks hitting the drum, and it will help the sound that you are creating project further than other drums.

7) Premier Revolution Series Marching Snare Drum

If you are looking for a marching snare drum that has been created by a company that has been leading the music industry for years, then this drum from the Premier Revolution Series is a great option. The company was part of the leading development when it came to high-tension drums, and this series brings together that traditional style with many of the features that marching percussionists need today. Aesthetically speaking, this black drum looks excellent with the polished aluminum hardware that shines in the right lighting.

The 14 by seven-inch drum is a bit on the small size, but it’s designed so that the shell is suspended inside of the hardware, which makes it have a crisp sound that is easily sustained. This reduced depth is great for a student, but it is also ideal for an indoor performance. The tension on the drum head is high, and the shell is made from six-ply birch, which will give your percussion a warmer sound. There are aluminum legs on the base of the drum, which allows you to set the drum down without damaging it.

8) Sound Percussion Labs Marching Snare Drum

The final marching snare drum that I am going to review is another option that comes from Sound Percussion Labs. It is available in both black and white, and it comes with a matching carrier that is padded on the shoulders to help minimize fatigue while you are marching with the instrument. The drum has a very simple design, but it is an excellent option for a student who is unsure if marching band is for them. This allows you to have a quality snare drum that can be used when you are marching without spending a lot on the instrument.

Even though this is a budget-friendly model, it has excellent tension and sound. The drum head creates crisp, clean tones, and the drum is quite responsive. The shell of this snare drum is seven-ply basswood, which helps ensure that the drum is lightweight and easy to carry during competitions, parades, or games. However, what really sold me on this drum is the vintage look and sound.

Wrapping it Up

Finding a good marching snare drum is imperative for not only the quality of the music that you create but for the sound of the entire band that you are marching with. There are several models on the market that can fit your needs, but hopefully, the research that I put into finding the best marching snare drums has helped you find one that you can use for years to come. All of the models that I have reviewed above are great options for a beginner or an experienced drummer, so which one will you choose?

Here’s a recap of the top picks:



  • Emond, T. (2019, January 12). Personal Interview
  • Burns, A. (2019, January 13). Personal Interview

1 Comment

  • As far as the major percussion companies are concerned the Yamaha snare drum is the worst on this list if you want to purchase a snare drum in my opinion. Why? In my experience of 28 seasnons as a Marching Percussion Specialist the Yamaha snare drum, over the years is very inconsistent in its manufacture. One, some models have a snare bed, some do not. When they did have snare beds the snare beds were very inconsistent and that is probably why the latter models do not have any at all. Two, the projection of the Yamaha when comparing to the other top of the line snare drums suffers because there are only ten snare guts underneath whereas for instance, the Pearl Competition series drums haves12 snares which obviously helps with better snare response. Also, the snares are thin which does not help for projection as well depending upon what pitch you are looking for whether high or lower. Three, the shells are inconsistent and vary in pitch. Four, the nodal point hardware is made of plastic which dry rots in about five seasons time! You can touch the nodal point hardware with your hands and it will crumble after so many years of use!!!! Five, since the Yamaha is not a ” floater ” the shell will not vibrate as much with hardware on the shell as it would without.
    The Pearl Competition, Tama and Ludwig drums would be a far better choice.
    Plus, the Sound Percussion marching snare drums isn’t even in the same conversation due to the fact that it is basically a bargain snare drum. The money that you pay for a new Yamaha snare would allow you to buy two used Pearl or Ludwig drums that you could refurbish and would sound great and last longer due to better hardware particularly with the Pearl.

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