Best Student Marching Snare Drum – Top 5 For Beginners

Whilst the snare drum is an important part of any acoustic set, we appreciate that there are a lot of people out there who are looking for a solo snare drum, most likely for a marching band or military drum beat (or maybe even just as a good way to practice initially). With its own nuances and requirements, marching snare is a beast of its own and so needs and deserves to be looked at independently to acoustic drums.

What Makes a Marching Snare?

Typically deeper than orchestral and drumset snares, marching snares are often played outside and required to carry a bigger sound. As such these high-tension drums usually feature Kevlar heads, made to hold up under more extreme conditions of heavy playing, temperature shifts and humidity fluctuation from outdoor use. The hardware will usually be aluminum and the snares will mostly be synthetic. Most modern marching snares employ a free-floating design, where the hardware doesn’t touch the shell at any point. This helps protect the shell from damage due to the high head tensions used on marching percussion.

As mentioned above, the greatest advancement in snares is the free-floater models in which nothing touches the shell apart from a ventilation hole or two. This ultimately allows the shell and head to vibrate unanimously creating a cleaner and more constant tone. It protects it from damage due to high head tension heads used for marching percussion. It also makes changing the shells extremely simple and so you can from a simple Maple shell to loud Copper in a matter of minutes, one minute you can have a birch shell, the next brass or steel, all of which means you will have incredible versatility. They are also lightweight and made to meet the modern marching demands so unlike playing bass or tenor which can really weigh you down, modern snares at fairly easy to carry around. Due to their cost these immaculately advanced snares are pricier than the standard snare, so are not necessary for a beginner, but it is something to consider as you advance.

You will also at some point in the future have to choose between marching snare, field snare and pipe band, all of which serve different purposes in marching and offer something different, however, whilst learning the ropes you don’t need to consider this. The best marching snare drums are not cheap and so one thing you may want to do is start by practicing on a practice pad – it is cheaper and definitely quieter. Snare drums are all about buffing up on the rudiments so a practice pad is perfect. We have reviewed the best practice pads for marching snare and it is well worth considering. If you want an actual drum with an actual head then our list below should help you find your first snare.

Top 5 Best Marching Snare Drum for Beginners

These snares are going to be the best for beginners, so we won’t be recommending the likes of the Ludwig Acrolite or the Yamaha SFZ. The list below will compromise of exclusively entry-level snares with only a couple kits that are a little more high-end but nothing on this list will be more than $250 and in fact, most of the list will be in and around $100.

ModelName/ RatingSummaryCheck Price

    GP Percussion SK22

Score:    (4.60 / 5)

Perfect starter snare. Complete kit. Greta to practice rudiments
AMAZON

    Pearl SK900C

 Score:    (4.70 / 5)

The best student snare drum kit for under $200. Includes wheel case
 
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND

   Aileen Lexington Student Steel Shell Snare

Score:    (4.25 / 5)

Inexpensive lightweight snare, ideal for marching students
AMAZON

    Yamaha Power-Lite Marching Snare Drum 

  Score:    (4.65 / 5)

Quality shell and head. Can be used in amatuer marching by beginners or intermediatesMUSICIAN'S FRIEND MUSICIAN'S FRIEND

  LAGRIMA Marching Snare

Score:    (4.00 / 5)

Stunning finish and build for a budget snare. Great for beginner marching
AMAZON

 

GP Percussion SK22 Complete Student Kit

Best Marching Snare Drum for Beginners
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In our top spot is the ultimate student snare drum kit by GP Percussion who are known for their entry-level kits and have shown why with this solid snare starter set. The snare head itself is 14″ and comes with a double-braced stand, drumsticks, a rubber practice pad to mute the sound and a padded, nylon backpack with shoulder straps and carry handle and all of this for under $100. This kit represents incredible value for money and is everything a student will need to get practicing. The drum sounds remarkably good for something so inexpensive and is responsive with a good bounce, although the first time it is played you may need to use the provided drum key to tighten and tune it. Once you have, however, you will realize that it is actually a pretty decent starter snare. It is not going to be used in a concert any time soon but it’s perfect to practice paradiddles, rolls and the rest of the rudiments. It seems durable and like it can take quite a hammering which is, of course, a major factor when choosing your drum for marching. The ‘not so good’ is that the stock drumsticks are not great so you may want to buy some new marching sticks (LINK) which are cheap and so don’t pose a problem. One other thing is that the rubber pad will smell of a spare tire when you first get it (which is quite standard with lower end pads) so you may want to give it a couple of washes to lessen the smell.

Pros

  • Incredible value for a snare drum with a stand, mute pad and carry case
Cons

  • The drum and head produce a good sound – clean, crisp and bright.
  • Mute pad smells of rubber
  • Drumsticks are fairly cheap

Pearl SK900C Snare and Wheel Case

Pearl-sk900c-educational-with-rollcase
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In at number 2 is the stunning Pearl SK990C which was made with students in mind. The only thing keeping it off our number one spot is price. At around $200 it actually represents phenomenal value for money given that you are getting a:

  • Pearl quality drum
  • Wheel nylon carrying case with retractable handle
  • 14″ 2-Level Rubber Practice Pad and;
  • Stand With Adjustable Snare Basket

Once you have it set up and tuned it (both of which are very easy) and have practiced a few rolls on it you will realize just how good its value is. The crisp sound, the punchy projection, sensitive but with great attack. This starter snare drum is fantastic for any kid from age 5 all the way up to adulthood and with a solid stand and a great travel case we would highly recommend it to anyone serious about drumming even if the snare is only to practice on. The case itself can be a backpack or you can take the wheels out and it doubles up as a little case on wheels, with padding to protect the drum and pockets to put sticks, metronome, etc in. The snare stand is adjustable so is appropriate for a range of heights, as we said from age 5 all the way to adult heights. The stand has anti-slip properties, although as it does not have ‘memory lock’ it can slip occasionally, but overall it is sturdy. The stock sticks are cheap but that is to be expected. For snare sticks, check out our guide

Pros

  • Good quality student snare with stand and travel case with wheels
  • A surprisingly competent response, tone, reverb and attack.
Cons

  • The stand can slip a bit
  • Stock sticks are not good

Aileen Lexington Steel Shell 14″ X 5.5″ Snare

Best Student Marching Snare Drum
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In at our 3rd sport is a wonderful starter snare by Aileen Lexington. Maybe their name doesn’t hold the same weight as Yamaha, Pearl or even GP but they have produced a sturdy shelled snare that delivers a clear, powerful and punchy sound with an aggressive attack and it does this for little more than $50! A quality chrome finish, this 14” x 5.5” drum is perfect for entry-level kids school age and older. When it comes to response and tone you can’t compare it to say the Pearl, but it really holds its own and doesn’t in any way sound trashy. It has been constructed well and is a solid and what seems like a durable snare. Your kid will be able to piddle for years to come on this inexpensive option. It comes with a drum key, drumsticks and strap all of which are fairly standard stock items and the stock head is also fairly average so you may wish to change it.

Pros

  • Remarkably cheap price for a decent quality snare drum.
  • Easy to tune and play.
Cons

  • Sticks and head aren’t great
  • Bit of reverb and if not tuned well won’t be too crisp.

Yamaha Power-Lite Marching Snare

Yamaha Power-Lite Marching Snare
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Next up is the most expensive of this list but arguably the best value for money. In at just under $250 the 13″ Yamaha Power-Lite represents magnificent quality at a very affordable price. Out of the list, it is the only one that could be used for (non-competitive) marching as with 6-ply Birch shells it looks and sounds the part. As such it is a fantastic snare for any serious beginner who wants to progress quickly. It may not that perfectly crisp sounding, free-floating snare that you get with the marching drums over $500, but it is a quality, lightweight marching snare that produces a really decent sound and if perfect for your school band that performs is parades. It is fairly lightweight and modeled after the Field-Corp series. You may be looking for a more classic 14″ snare, but even at 13″ it is remarkably loud, sharp, responsive and even though it doesn’t have the crispness and fatness of the higher-end advanced drums, it is still sharp with plenty of attack.

Features:

  • Yamaha’s Air-Seal System shell ensures a perfectly round shell for a lifetime
  • Steel, triple-flanged hoops
  • Lug casings reinforced with a zinc, die-cast construction for high-tension tuning
  • Nylon and steel washers to minimize friction
  • A 6-ply Birch shell for a lightweight design
  • Three removable feet protect the drum from damage
  • 20 Straight cable snares provide a bright and quick response
Pros

  • 6-ply birch shells with Yamaha’s professional Air-Seal system
  • An incredible response, attack, volume and tone for an entry-level model
Cons

  • No stand or mute pad as not tailored to students

LAGRIMA Marching Snare 14×5.5 Inch

LAGRIMA Marching Snare 14x5.5 Inch
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In our last spot is something just short of a miracle. It is a 14 x 5.5″, 3-ply poplar shell snare drum for under $40! Take a minute to understand how remarkable that is. Even if it sounded horrible it would still be worth buying just for the wood alone! The wrap finish is simple but surprisingly stylish; nothing about this drum looks it was made on the cheap. At this price you cannot expect quality wood and a rich, punchy sound with plenty of response and if you play it straight out of the box that will quickly become apparent. However, if you tighten up the snares, bring the batter head up a fair bit and do the same with the reso head, the response will improve dramatically and you will be astonished by the difference in sound. It will be sharp, clean and punchy and the shallow boxey sound should have disappeared. So all in all, with a bit of tweaking you get a perfectly good snare drum to practice on for under $40. If you then change the heads you will actually have a pretty useful snare drum. You can’t really ask for a lot more!

Pros:

  • Mind-bogglingly cheap for a wooden snare drum
  • The finish looks nice even though it is a low-cost wrap
  • Once tuned and heads adjusted it sounds pretty decent!
Cons:

  • The wood is fairly cheap as is the wrap
  • Sounds awful out of the box and needs a lot of tuning
  • Stock head isnt’t great

March On

What is great about marching snare, is that nearly everything that applies to them can also be applied to a drum kit. Marching licks are a great way to clean up your strokes and rudiment techniques and will put you in good stead if you choose to branch out from marching snare. In fact, you will pick up many of the 40 basic rudiments as you progress playing the snare and end up seamlessly tying them together with flexibility and ease, all of which is invaluable. As you are just beginning I would highly recommend checking out this website that has a great video on each of the rudiments.

The right marching sticks for you are as important as the drum and that’s why we have given our opinion on what we consider are the best marching sticks and we would also advise you invest in a good snare drum carrier if it isn’t a standing snare. We haven’t reviewed those available but the link will take you to a company who is very reliable and easy to deal with.

With the right drum, stick, harness and mentality you will be marching you’re way into any junior or senior school band in no time.

While starting out I would strongly recommend getting a dampener/mute so that you can practice without disturbing half the neighborhood. A great way to silence the sound so that you can keep drilling into the night without driving everyone crazy!