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How Do I Choose the Best Vintage Snare Drums?

Snare drums are the most vital part of a drum set.
Rummage sales are a great place to start looking for vintage snare drums.
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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
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Purchasing vintage gear is an art form in itself. It’s an endless hunt for inimitable and often rare items. Some buyers are collectors, while many are musicians looking to achieve an old-school sound that cannot be acquired by certain new gear. A snare drum is perhaps the most vital part of a drum set, so drummers search long and hard for snare drums that best suit their preferences and needs. Choosing the best vintage snare drum involves great patience, the ability to see value, and persistence.

Vintage snare drums can rarely be acquired in major retail stores. Due to the difficulty of finding a steady source for vintage snares, the hunt can take a long time. Keeping an eye out at rummage sales, used gear shops, and online independent sellers are great ways to acquire vintage snare drums. Used music shops carry shelves of snare drums as drummers are always buying and trading snares, looking for upgrades or a new sound. Vintage is often classified by older gear that is not made anymore.

Drummers can get addicted to purchasing vintage gear, particularly vintage snare drums. Many drummers have more than one snare drum, even though they typically use only one at a performance. In the long run, patience garners the most optimal snare drum and the best price. You never know when someone will be cleaning out an attic or trading a vintage snare drum into a pawn shop, so keep looking.

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The ability to see value is important when choosing the best vintage snare drum. Vintage snare drums do not have to cost a fortune, but good shoppers can see resale value or hear a great tone from a snare. What’s perfect tone to one drummer may be completely unwanted to another. Many drummers go for a more raw sound that doesn’t necessarily require a $500 snare drum. Even cheap drums can offer great sounds depending on how you tweak them.

Finding the best vintage snare takes persistence. It takes many visits, phone calls, and follow-up phone calls to shops. Putting yourself in the right place is important, but putting yourself in many places is even more important. Used gear is always a buyer's market as musicians retire or move on from their instruments every day. The market for used gear is massive, and the ever-changing influx of snare drums offers endless options for vintage shoppers.

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