Music Gear News
10 Signature Snare Drums Worth the Investment
10 Signature Snare Drums Worth the Investment
We’ve put together an expert list of signature snare drums that live up to their name. Check out our top 10 artist snares that are worth your time and money.
Allow us to indulge in a little metaphor. If the bass drum is a drum kit’s engine, then you might say the snare drum is its battery. While the bass thuds away, preserving that all-important rhythmic spine, the snare crackles and ignites. Sparks flying with every strike.
Snare drums are full of personality, and they’re a great way of adding a certain tone or flavour to your sound. Irrespective of your drum kit’s style or configuration, drummers often upgrade or invest in a high-quality snare drum that can not only meet but surpass their demands in every playing situation - in terms of sound, style and performance.
Why choose a signature snare?
Much like signature guitars, signature snare drums are usually designed in collaboration with a popular or high-profile musician. They offer a distinct sound or sonic flavour from the artist in question.
Some of the greatest drummers in the world have their own signature snare drum - including Steve Gadd, Chad Smith, Joey Jordison and Stewart Copeland. And, as arguably the most recognisable part of a drummer’s arsenal, you’re generally able to pin down the player just by hearing their snare.
Whether you’re looking to introduce a new and exciting snare sound to your set-up, or simply pay tribute to one of your drumming inspirations - and master their most famous beats - there’s a perfect signature snare drum for you.
Featuring the likes of Ian Paice, Chris Adler and Joey Jordison, here’s our rundown of the 10 signature snare drums that are worth the investment…
Mapex ‘Warbird’ Chris Adler Signature
Featured drummer: Chris Adler
Associated artists: Lamb of God, Megadeth
Endorsed by one of the finest players in the game and designed for serious drumming warfare. The Mapex ‘Warbird’ is a superb snare drum collaboration between Mapex and Chris Adler. Best known for his time behind the kit in American heavy metal giants Lamb of God, Chris Adler needs his snare of choice to stand up to the most rigorous demands. Enter the Warbird.
Built with a 6-ply, maple-walnut shell, the Warbird Signature Snare produces dark, explosive sounds with a sharp bite and aggressive attack. It’ll assert itself as the dominant force in any genre - particularly rock and metal when you’re up against fat, crunchy guitars.
The Warbird includes all the custom Mapex trimmings you’d expect from a piece of Black Panther Design Lab kit: the SONIClear bearing edges, Sonic Saver hoops and much more. This is no tick-box artist series snare.
Shop now | Chris Adler Warbird
Pearl Ian Paice Signature
Featured drummer: Ian Paice
Associated artists: Deep Purple, Whitesnake
Simply put, one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, Ian Paice’s influence on rock drumming is undeniable. His playing style is known for its huge, shuddering grooves and manic, high-octane fills - just listen to Deep Purple’s Burn or Speed King. As such, his snare drum needs to be able to keep up.
Paice’s signature snare drum, in collaboration with long-time endorser Pearl, offers exactly that at a price that won’t break the bank. Its beaded steel shell provides bright, cutting attack and fierce projection, piercing its way through any mix. Not to mention a classic look with its all-chrome finish and TB65 tube lugs.
Each tension rod is fitted with a stop-lock to ensure tuning consistency during even the most ferocious performances. With the Sensitone series in mind, Pearl has a history of producing outstanding metal snares, and the Ian Paice Signature is no different. But don’t just take our word for it. Paice himself says that for the last 18 years his drum kit has been built around this signature snare.
Shop now | Pearl Ian Paice
PDP Chad Smith Signature
Featured drummer: Chad Smith
Associated artists: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot, Glenn Hughes, Ozzy Osbourne
Another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Having played on eight studio records, various EPs and live albums as the drummer of legendary Los Angeles funk-rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith is one of the most popular and celebrated drummers alive today. Not least because of his larger-than-life personality. Something that’s always reflected in his playing (Dani California and Can’t Stop to name just two!)
Made from acrylic, Smith’s PDP Chad Smith Signature Snare certainly oozes charisma. After all, that’s what acrylic shells are all about. Loud, piercing volume, crisp attack and boundless energy. With triple-flanged hoops on both sides of the Chad Smith Signature, your rim shots are in good hands.
Acrylic drum shells are also popular for their unique, see-through design. Under the bright lights of the stage, their visual appeal is unparalleled. You’ll soon see why. Created for Smith ahead of the Chilis’ Getaway World Tour, the PDP Chad Smith Signature Snare is your ticket to powerful snare sounds and flamboyant style at a seriously accessible price.
*Also available in 13” x 7” and 12” x 6”
Shop now | PDP Chad Smith 14” x 6”
Shop now | PDP Chad Smith 13” x 7”
Shop now | PDP Chad Smith 12” x 6”
Pearl Matt Halpern Signature
Featured drummer: Matt Halpern
Associated artists: Periphery
The man behind the kit in Periphery - Washington’s resident prog metal kings. Matt Halpern is one of the most respected drummers around. Aside from his impressive work in Periphery, Halpern is also known for his commitment to drumming education. Tutoring players of all levels across the globe. An excellent candidate for the signature snare treatment, then.
Pearl’s Matt Halpern 14” x 6” Signature Snare Drum boasts a smorgasbord of pro-level Pearl features, with extensive design input from the man himself. The result is a snare drum with cutting, dry versatility that responds wonderfully to high-speed hits.
Its Swivel Tube lugs allow for increased resonance, while the MasterCast hoops help to project the 1.5mm brass shell’s lively tones. We can’t think of a single style that wouldn’t suit the Matt Halpern Signature. Again, don’t just take our word for it!
“I wanted to optimise this drum to make something that raised the bar even higher in terms of comfortability, quality and sound. I honestly could not be happier with the result!” - Matt Halpern
Shop now | Pearl Matt Halpern 14” x 6”
Pearl Joey Jordison Signature
Featured drummer: Joey Jordison
Associated artists: Slipknot, Vimic
It’s no stretch to call Joey Jordison one of the best metal drummers of the 21st century. Perhaps the best. During his time in Slipknot, Jordison cultivated a fast and furious style characterised by blistering double pedal kicks with frightening hand speed to match.
Jordison is the perfect example of a drummer you can identify by snare sound. No other player alive can boast that unmistakable snare pop (listen to The Blister Exists for recorded evidence), which is what makes the Pearl Joey Jordison Signature Snare Drum such an exciting prospect.
It is the signature solution for that familiar snare drum crack. Slicing its way through any wall of noise with ease, like a steak knife through butter. With a 13” x 6.5” diameter, this ‘Power Piccolo’ snare is a must for relentless, heavy-hitting drumming with precision. Thanks in no small part to its steel stell - providing increased sensitivity and attack that can both keep the pace.
Along with the popular SR017 throw-off - offering effortless switching - the classic Masters Bridge lugs are also a nice addition. Aesthetically, the Joey Jordison Signature’s none-more-black, powder-coated finish provides a sleek, understated look. A pleasing contrast once you hear the snare’s incendiary dynamic range. This is an absolute no-brainer for rock and metal players looking to upgrade.
Shop now | Pearl Joey Jordison
Mapex ‘Maximus’ Jeff Hamilton Signature
Featured drummer: Jeff Hamilton
Associated artists: Jeff Hamilton Trio, The L.A. Four, Michael Bublé, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Diana Krall
The second Mapex entry in this list. In truth, the Black Panther Design Lab could have its own rundown - its snares are that good. This particular inclusion, the Mapex ‘Maximus’ Jeff Hamilton Signature Snare, is a collaboration with one of the finest, most prolific jazz players today.
Jeff Hamilton is constantly in demand for session work, due to his dynamic and riveting style. Alongside leading his own trio, he’s featured on roughly 200 records ranging from Paul McCartney to Barba Streisand. A busy man, to say the least…
But what about the snare? The Maximus Signature embodies the sound and feel of a vintage drum, built with modern precision and articulation. The best of both traditional and modern jazz, you could say. Its 6-inch deep, 100-percent mahogany, 8-ply shell offers warm, imposing sounds in any group setting. But it can also whisper delicately if the assignment calls for it.
Meanwhile, the Trick Multi Step Throw-off gives you total control of the snare’s response - the flexibility of three different settings with one smooth, reliable action. The Maximus Jeff Hamilton Signature is a truly commanding instrument fit to lead any band in the world.
Shop now | Mapex ‘Maximus’ Jeff Hamilton
Dixon Drums Gregg Bissonnette Signature Beaded Brass
Featured drummer: Gregg Bissonnette
Associated artists: David Lee Roth, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Toto, Santana
A genuine master of the craft. With decades of experience over a wide range of genres, Gregg Bissonnette is one of the most versatile drummers in the business. Bissonnette is well-versed in rock, big band, blues, fusion, and even Latin music.
His big break came in the mid-eighties in Los Angeles when he bagged the gig in David Lee Roth’s solo band, who had recently left Van Halen. He hasn’t looked back ever since, playing with household names such as Santana, Toto and countless others in the process.
Dixon has a fine reputation for high-quality, artisanal snare drums, so this collaboration is a match made in heaven. The Dixon Drums 14” x 6.5” Gregg Bissonnette Signature Beaded Brass Snare is a thing of beauty. Its 1mm, hammered brass shell imparts classy visuals, while sonically, this means dominating, full-bodied snare sounds with plenty of zest.
The 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops take these tones and help to project the snare’s personality with greater warmth. Those with a keen eye for hardware features will love the Bissonnette Signature’s Slide-Lever throw-off - a Dixon exclusive - for fast-action alterations mid-performance.
Overall, it’s a fantastic, all-round package that won’t leave many players on the planet wanting. Name your genre, name your style - the Gregg Bissonnette Signature will conquer it.
Shop now | Dixon Drums Gregg Bissonnette
PDP Eric Hernandez Signature
Featured drummer: Eric Hernandez
Associated artists: Bruno Mars, CeeLo Green, Travis McCoy
Fun fact: Eric Hernandez is not only Bruno Mars’ drummer, he’s also his brother. Nicknamed “E-Panda”, Hernandez first picked up a pair of sticks at the age of four, playing professionally by the time he was 10.
His unrelenting schedule allowed Hernandez to master every style he put his name to, be it soul, funk, reggae, rock and everything else demanded of him. Hitting the skins in his brother’s touring band has been his most high-profile gig, but Hernandez’ CV as a whole is an impressive one.
Even more impressive is his signature snare. The PDP Eric Hernandez 13” x 4” Signature Snare is the go-to for rich attack and fat, focused pops. This can be attributed to the snare’s European maple shell, and its shallow, piccolo-style depth. It’s perfect for R&B, funk, pop and any lively, upbeat music you can think of.
In terms of its look, it offers something different entirely with gold-plated hardware and a spectacular black gloss finish. A snare drum with style and substance. For the modern, working drummer with a more compact kit, the Eric Hernandez Signature is a superb, affordable addition that can hold its own against snares twice its size.
*Also available in 14” x “4
Shop now | PDP Eric Hernandez 13” x 4”
Shop now | PDP Eric Hernandez 14” x 4”
Gretsch Brooklyn Mike Johnston ‘Standard’
Featured drummer: Mike Johnston
Associated artists: Simon Says, Filter
Straight outta Brooklyn (well, California actually), Mike Johnston is an American drummer and educator with four decades of experience. In addition to his session work, Johnston is an accomplished tutor who won Modern Drummer magazine’s ‘Clinician of the Year’ award in 2016.
Alongside his wife, Amber, Johnston founded MikesLessons.com - an online drumming and learning community, offering downloadable content and live lessons to players of all skill levels. After much success, the website was expanded to a facility in California, running week-long, international drum camps. So, he certainly knows his stuff.
Johnston has been a Gretsch artist since 2012, and the result of this collaboration is the Gretsch Brooklyn 14” x 5.5” Mike Johnston ‘Standard’ Snare Drum. Nine months of prototyping, feedback and evaluation went into its making, with Johnston keen for a snare that offers tonal versatility and a wide dynamic range.
Every specification plays a part in achieving these design aims. Whether that’s the 6-ply, maple-poplar shell, the double 45-degree bearing edges, or the 42-strand snare wires, for a sharp response.
The excellent Gretsch Lightning throw-off and classic tube lugs don’t hurt either. For drummers looking to upgrade to their first pro-grade snare drum, the Mike Johnston Standard is an inspired investment.
Shop now | Gretsch Brooklyn Mike Johnston
British Drum Co. ‘Talisman’ Nicko McBrain Snare
Featured drummer: Nicko McBrain
Associated artists: Iron Maiden
The Rhythm of the Beast. Nicko McBrain is the long-time drummer of British heavy metal icons, Iron Maiden. His drumming can be heard on a slew of the band’s critically acclaimed albums, including Powerslave, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and A Matter of Life and Death.
With nearly 40 years spent at the band’s rhythmic helm, McBrain’s contributions to drumming - let alone heavy metal - have been vast. And he’s not done yet. As you can imagine, he’s a man who knows what he wants from his drums.
So who better to design the legendary British drummer’s signature snare than the British Drum Company? The British Drum Co. ‘Talisman’ 14” x 6.5” Nicko McBrain Snare Drum is the company’s latest magnificent collaboration with McBrain. Handcrafted in the UK and made from seamlessly spun British steel (yes, lots of British), the Talisman Snare has been a real labour of love for McBrain.
Bringing the Talisman to life, he was deeply involved in every aspect of its design and development. Given its metallic construction and stocky size, this snare does not hold back.
It's loud, proud and bursting with tone. Featuring understated Palladium lugs with a matching throw-off, 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops and a gorgeous, holographic BDC badge plate, McBrain says that he waited a lifetime to have a snare drum like the Talisman. And now it can be yours.
*Also see Nicko McBrain’s ‘Icarus’ Snare Drum
Shop now | British Drum Co. ‘Talisman’ Nicko McBrain
Shop now | British Drum Co. ‘Icarus’ Nicko McBrain
Find out more
Why not explore our full range of signature snares below?
Shop now | Signature Snare Drums
See more | Snare Drums
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