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The snare drum is the most important part of a drum set. It provides the backbeat, which is what everyone latches onto when you’re playing grooves. Mapex is a brand that has a solid reputation for offering quality snare drums at great prices. So you should consider Mapex when looking for a new snare to buy.
While beginner and intermediate kits often come with snare drums included, higher-quality shell packs typically don’t include them. So, you have to purchase a snare drum separately when buying a new high-quality kit.
The amazing thing about Mapex snares is that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to shell type. There are so many different woods and metals used across their snare range, and all of them give the snare drums unique sounds.
In this guide, we’ll look at a few of my favorite Mapex snare drums. They range in price, and I’ve compared them according to shell type, size, and hardware features.
What Are The Best Mapex Snares?
Mapex Snares Reviews
The Mapex Black Panther Design Lab Maximus is snare is one of the highest-quality snare drums that Mapex has on their product line. It’s the signature snare drum of Jeff Hamilton, who is a well-known jazz drummer.
While the snare is excellent for jazz playing, it tends to work well for just about every musical setting.
It has an 8-ply mahogany shell that gives it a warm and woody tone that shines particularly well on the low end. That tone is refined by the SONIClear bearing edges, which are a staple feature in all of Mapex’s high-end drums.
The snare has Mapex’s 2.3mm Sonic Saver hoops. These are triple-flanged hoops, but they’re a bit heavier than what you’ll find on many other snares. They accent the rimshot sound of the snare drum significantly.
The last impressive feature of this snare drum is the Trick Multi-Step throw-off, which allows you to adjust snare wire tensions quickly while playing.
- 14” x 6” mahogany shell
- SONIClear bearing edges
- Heavy triple-flanged hoops
- High-quality hardware features that make it feel like a premium snare drum
- Included drumheads and vintage-style wires make it sound excellent when using brushes
- Sleek piano black finish leads this snare to fit well aesthetically within any drum kit setup
- Mahogany shell leads to some excellent low-end tones if you enjoy that tuning
- Very expensive for a single snare drum
The Mapex Black Panther Hydro is a 13-inch snare drum that packs a solid punch. While the diameter is slightly smaller than most snares, the 7-inch depth makes up for it and gives the snare a wide tuning range.
The responsiveness of this snare is what I find most impressive. It has a deep snare bed that allows the snare wires to vibrate a bit more and highlight ghost notes.
The shell is made from a mixture of maple, which is a wood that brings out a very warm tone and even tone across all tunings.
It’s an extremely versatile snare drum that can be used for any setting. It’s loud and powerful when tuned low, and it’s bright and cutting when tuned high.
Overall, it’s my top pick out of all the Black Panther snare drums.
- 13” x 7” maple shell
- Deep snare bed
- Triple-flanged hoops
- Highly versatile snare option thanks to its wide tuning range and boosted sensitivity
- Sounds just as good tuned low as it does high
- 13” size makes it work brilliantly as a side snare option
- Dark counter hoops look amazing in contrast to the dark shell finish
- Some drummers may not like the 13” size, preferring to stick with a standard 14” snare
The Tomahawk is a remarkable snare from the Mapex Armory line. It has a strong steel shell, giving it tremendous cut and a good amount of responsiveness.
Metal snare drums are a lot brighter than wooden ones, and this is one of the brightest snares that Mapex offers.
It’s one of my top Mapex snare suggestions for live gigging, as it can be clearly heard in loud environments. If you’re a fan of overtones, this snare has plenty of them. Otherwise, they can easily be muffled.
This snare has the same 2.3mm Power Hoops as the previous snares, but it comes at a much more affordable price. It also has rounded 45-degree bearing edges that keep it in tune and hold a rich tone.
Overall, Mapex Armory Series Tomahawk is a great gigging snare. It’s a good metal snare to add to your collection.
- 14” x 6” steel shell
- 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops
- SONIClear bearing edges
- Loud and powerful with enough projection to fit well in any large venue
- Very responsive and sensitive to soft strokes
- Ideal option for gigging drummers, as it sounds great and is relatively affordable compared to Mapex’s higher-end Black Panther snare drums
- Easy to tune
- Doesn’t sound too great when tuned low, so it performs better in medium and high tunings
The Mapex Black Panther Wasp is another steel snare drum, but its size is a lot smaller than standard snares. This 10-inch snare drum packs a very tight punch, and it has a surprising number of uses.
It sounds great when tuned low, meaning you can use it for a main snare if you need to. I can see it making a good addition to a compact drum set. It also works well as a side snare, giving you a vastly different tone from your main one.
This snare has a mounting bracket, allowing you to mount it to a cymbal stand the same way you would a rack tom.
It has all the top-tier design features that Black Panther snares are known for, but it’s more affordable considering that it’s a smaller drum. The Sonic Saver hoops and the cylinder-drive throw-off are sought-after features that make the snare feel amazing to play with.
- 10” x 5.5” steel shell
- Sonic Saver triple-flanged hoops
- SONIClear bearing edges
- Can be used as both a main or auxiliary snare, especially for drummers that like high-pitched snare tones
- Sounds surprisingly good in most tunings
- Can be mounted to a tom arm, so you don’t need an entire snare drum stand to place it in your setup
- The small size stops it from feeling as comfortable to play as larger snare drums
The Mapex MPX Series is Mapex’s entry-level line of snare drums. Although they’re inexpensive, they’re a lot better sounding than the snare drums that come with full entry-level kits.
The Mapex MPX Maple snare is one of my favorites, as it has a surprisingly good tone for such an affordable snare drum.
The snare sounds a bit better in higher tunings than it does in lower ones, so keep that in mind if you decide to get it. Also, the snare wires here aren’t as responsive. You can swap those out to improve the overall quality of the snare, though.
This is an excellent snare drum for beginner drummers. It’s one of the most affordable maple snares on the market, making it a great choice to go with.
- 14” x 5.5” maple shell
- Sleek black finish
- Triple-flanged hoops
- Good option for beginner drummers or drummers not wanting an expensive snare option
- Sounds the best when you tune it high
- All-black finish and hoop color are visually appealing, making this snare look a lot better than other budget ones
- Tones aren’t as rich as the other snares on this list
- Not the most responsive snare drum out there
Mapex Snare Drum Buyer’s Guide
Mapex has over 30 snare drums available that can be purchased individually. That’s an impressive number to think about.
The best thing about Mapex snare drums is that most of them are affordable, they offer several different shell types, many of the shells mix woods, and the SONIClear bearing edges ensure that they have pure and rich tones.
Whether you’re looking for a beginner, intermediate, or professional snare drum, Mapex has a few top-tier options in every category.
You should consider getting a few different snare drums if you want to have access to multiple tones and qualities that you can use when needed.
Here are features to look out for when choosing a Mapex snare drum.
What Features to Look for in a Mapex Snare Drum
Mapex snare drums make use of most shell materials you can find on the drum market. This includes maple, birch, mahogany, walnut, cherry, steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. The type of shell that the snare drum has will greatly determine how it sounds.
One of the most interesting things about Mapex snares is that they have many options that mix shells as well such as the Mapex Black Panther Hydro. This allows you to get the best of both worlds when using two wood types.
Their mixed shells are in their mid and high-priced range of snares, while the more affordable snares only have one type of wood for the shell.
Steel snare drums from Mapex tend to be more affordable, while a copper and brass snare are in the more expensive Black Panther line. There are a few other metal snares to choose from too.
Most of Mapex’s snare drums like the Mapex Black Panther Design Lab Maximus and Mapex Armory Series Tomahawk are 14”, but there are a few smaller ones that have higher-pitched tones. You should look at shell depth as a better determining factor in how the snare will sound. The deeper the depth, the better it will sound in lower tunings. It’ll also have slightly more resonance.
Many drum companies give you the option of getting the same type of snare drum with different depths. Since Mapex has so many snare drums available, you only get single-depth options with most of their snares.
Snare drums with shallower depths are more affordable, while snares with deeper depths cost more.
You can easily tell the quality of a snare by the types of hoops it has. All the best Mapex snare drums including the Mapex Black Panther Wasp have Sonic Saver triple-flanged hoops. It’s highly worth spending the money to get these as they cause incredible rim shot sounds. They also make the snares easier to tune.
The intermediate snares from Mapex have Power Hoops. These are also triple-flanged hoops, but they’re not as heavy or durable as the Sonic Savers from the Black Panther line.
Mapex’s MPX snares have triple-flanged hoops that come in stock with most snare drums in the same price range. There’s nothing too special to mention about them, but they’re still fairly reliable!
A snare throw off is what controls the snare wires underneath the snare drum. Mapex’s highest-quality Black Panther snare drums come with a highly intuitive throw off called the Trick Muti-Step throw off. It allows you to adjust the snare wire tension on the fly.
The slightly more affordable Black Panther snares come with a cylinder-drive throw off. This throw off doesn’t offer as much, but it’s a reliable lever that works solidly.
The most affordable snares from Mapex come with a vertical throw off. It doesn’t feel as rigid and secure as the ones from the more expensive snares, but it does its job well. You’ll find that it doesn’t hold the snare wires tightly for as long, so you’ll regularly need to adjust the tension of the snare wires.
Mapex Snare FAQs
Where are Mapex Drums Made?
Mapex drums are made in Taiwan. The brand was started in 1989, and there’s a large factory in Taipei. Mapex drums are distributed all around the world, and the brand is known for producing affordable drums that offer qualities only found in more expensive high-end kits.
Are There Any Signature Artist Mapex Snare Drums?
Yes, there are several Mapex snare drums that have been designed with the help of popular artists from their artist roster. At the moment, the signature Mapex snare drums available are from Jeff Hamilton, Chris Adler, Craig Blundell, Russ Miller, and Ralph Peterson.
These snares are part of a line called the Black Panther Lab Artist. They were made with specific requests in mind by those drummers. When buying one, you get to use a snare drum that is loved and used by each particular artist.
Just note that signature snare drums aren’t as versatile as standard ones. So, I wouldn’t recommend using one if you’re looking for an all-purpose snare.
What Makes Mapex Snare Drums Good?
The biggest draw factors for Mapex snare drums are the multiple shell options available, the SONIClear bearing edges, and the Sonic Saver or Power Hoops. Some of the best snare drums from Mapex are also surprisingly affordable compared to professional snares from other brands.
Most Black Panther snare drums fall within the $300 to $600 range, whereas other top snare lines from major brands cost from $600 to $2000.