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Piccolo snare drums offer unique sounds to your drum kit setup. With their shallower shells, they’re mostly used to give you high-pitched and cracking snare drum tones.
Some drummers like to use them as main snares, while others utilize them as secondary sound options to play at different times.
It’s a great idea for every drummer to have a piccolo snare drum in their collection, and there are dozens of options among all the drum brands.
I’ve selected five of the best ones to pick from. I’ve compared them according to their value, tonal quality, design quality, and features.
- What are the Best Piccolo Snare Drums?
- In-Depth Piccolo Snare Drum Reviews
- Small Snare Drum Buying Guide
- What are Piccolo Snares Good For?
- Features to Look Out for in X Product
- Best Piccolo Snare Drum FAQs
What are the Best Piccolo Snare Drums?
In-Depth Piccolo Snare Drum Reviews
Gretsch Gergo Borlai Signature Snare Drum
Gretsch Gergo Borlai Signature Snare Drum Review
The Gretsch Gergo Borlai Signature snare drum bears many resemblances to Gretsch’s famous USA Bell Brass snare. However, this one has been designed with a uniquely shallow depth, and it gives it a tonal character that not many other piccolo snare drums have.
The snare drum has an incredible cracking sound when tuned high, but the shell also offers a bit of depth to the tones rather than just having it sit in the high range.
This makes it highly versatile, and it’s a good option for drummers that don’t want a snare as shallow as most other piccolo snares. It’s also versatile with its wide tuning range, which is to be expected from a brass shell.
It has some of Gretsch’s best hardware features, including their 4mm die-cast hoops and lighting throw off. The thick die-cast hoops do a great job of keeping the tones under control.
The snare drum comes equipped with a Permatone Controlled Sound batter head. These are heads that Gretsch designed with Remo to put on all their high-end drums. It brings fantastic open tones from the snare.
If you’re looking for something very shallow and high-pitched, this may not be the best option for you, though. Also, not everyone is a fan of signature snare drums.
- 14” x 4.25”
- 1.2mm sandblasted brass shell
- 4mm die-cast hoops
- Slightly deeper than most piccolo snares, making it highly versatile
- Extended sensitivity from the 40-strand snare wires
- Great stock drumheads
- Die-cast hoops control the tones very well
- May be too deep for drummers seeking a traditional piccolo snare
DW Collector’s Series Pi Snare Drum
DW Collector’s Series Pi Snare Drum Review
DW has a long list of high-tier snare drums that the brand has designed over the years. One of the more interesting creations is this DW Collector’s Series Pi snare drum. It’s probably the only mass-produced snare drum in the world with a depth of 3.14”, giving it unique tonal qualities.
While it has tight and snappy tones, the North American hard rock pure maple shell gives it a warmer texture as well. You can tune it surprisingly low, but as with all piccolo snares, it sounds best when cranked up high.
The snare has all the hardware features found in high-end DW drums. However, they’ve been tweaked to suit its small size.
The 3mm True-Hoops are special triple-flanged hoops that sound and look incredible. The MAG throw off is much smaller than the ones on standard DW snare drums, but it works just as well, locking the snares in place with a magnetic lever.
The turret lugs are the final hardware touch, and they’ve been uniquely designed to fit this specific shell size.
This is an incredible professional snare drum option that offers just as much value as DW’s larger snares. Just note that it’s the most expensive option on this list.
- 14” x 3.14”
- North American hard rock maple
- 3mm True Hoops
- Very easy to tune well
- Mini-MAG throw off makes turning the snares on an effortless process
- Unique design idea makes it an appealing snare drum for collectors
- Surprisingly wide tuning range
- Priciest snare drum on this list
Pearl Piccolo Steel Snare Drum
Pearl Piccolo Steel Snare Drum Review
The Pearl Piccolo Steel snare drum is arguably one of the most popular piccolo snare drums in the music industry. There was a relatively big piccolo snare drum craze many years back, and most drummers ended up with this one.
It’s an explosive option, giving tones that are both cracking and very powerful. Those loud tones come from the shallow steel shell.
The snare drum has eight lugs that allow you to tune it with plenty of detail, but it only sounds good in medium and high tunings. The low tuning sounds very muddy, but the missing body causes it to fall flat quickly.
I think the snare is nicely designed. It doesn’t offer any particularly interesting features. But everything about it works reliably well.
The most common place you’ll see this snare being used nowadays is by drummers that play up-tempo music like drum & bass and jungle. The quick and powerful tones work perfectly in those styles, and the high-pitched and cracking tuning is always the go-to option.
However, it will work fantastically for anyone that wants a piccolo snare drum. I’d recommend only using it as a side snare drum, though. The steel shell doesn’t have as much depth of tone as a few of the other snares we’ve looked at.
- 13” x 3”
- Steel shell
- 1.6mm triple-flanged hoops
- Loud and popping tones in every tuning
- Affordable compared to many other options
- A highly popular option for jungle and drum & bass drummers
- The shallow steel shell doesn’t have as much tonal depth as the other snares on this list
A&F Drum Company Rude Boy Snare Drum
A&F Drum Company Rude Boy Snare Drum Review
This A&F Rude Boy snare drum is a beautiful option to consider. It’s made by a custom drum company, giving you qualities that none of the other snare drums on this list offer.
The biggest design feature is its solid-stave shell. The single ply of oak wood gives it a boosted amount of sensitivity, ensuring that the snare drum picks up every small detail of your drumstick strokes.
It also causes the snare to resonate a lot more than other oak snares with multiple plies. When you play the snare softly, you get musical tones with plenty of depth. When you strike it hard, you get explosive woody tones.
The other interesting design feature is that the snare has single-flanged brass hoops. These brass hoops give the snare drum a worn-down appearance, but they also control the tones very well.
The lugs and tension rods also have the Patina look, further adding to the overall aesthetic of the snare.
With this being a custom snare drum, it doesn’t come cheap. The cost is slightly lower than the DW Pi snare drum, but it’s because the snare drum is also a bit smaller.
- 12” x 3”
- Single-ply oak shell
- Single-flanged brass hoops
- Very sensitive to ghost notes
- Beautifully aesthetic design
- Brass hoops are a highly unique hardware choice
- Fantastic tones in every tuning
- Very expensive for a 12” x 3” snare drum
Tama Metalworks Snare Drum
Tama Metalworks Snare Drum Review
While most of the Tama Metalworks snare drums are low in quality, the 13” x 4” version has surprisingly good sound quality. It’s a great pick for drummers that want to get a piccolo snare drum without spending much at all, thanks to it being one of the most affordable snare drums available.
The 1mm steel shell produces resonant and cutting tones. They sit very strongly in the mid to high range, and you get an incredibly punchy sound when playing rimshots.
The 4” depth stops the snare from ringing too much, but it also takes away a lot of the body. I wouldn’t recommend tuning this snare drum low or medium, as the sound quality is noticeably poorer in those tunings.
When you tune it high, you get the best sounds out of it.
I also suggest getting a higher-quality snare batter head to place on it. The stock head isn’t too good, and a stronger head will control the tones a lot better.
With that being said, this is one of the best-sounding snare drums you can buy that costs less than $200. It has incredible value for the money you pay.
- 13” x 4”
- 1mm steel shell
- Triple-flanged hoops
- Unbeatable value for the money
- Great replacement option for entry-level kits that come with poor-quality snare drums
- Matte black finish fits well in every setup
- Only sounds good in high tunings
- Throw off feels a bit sluggish
Small Snare Drum Buying Guide
The definition of a piccolo snare drum is that it has a shorter depth to allow it to produce higher and brighter tones. So, you should only be looking for a piccolo snare if that’s the kind of sound you want.
While you can tune a standard snare to sound high, it will never sound as bright or popping as a piccolo option.
Piccolo snare drums come in all shapes and sizes, though. They also have various features that add to the hardware and sound quality.
What are Piccolo Snares Good For?
- They’re great for using as auxiliary snare drums to provide different sounds from your main snare.
- They work well as punchy snare drum options that cut through mixes easier than deeper snares.
- Certain musical styles benefit from the bright and punchy sounds that piccolo snares produce.
- It’s always a good idea to have a piccolo snare drum in your snare drum collection to offer unique tones for different purposes.
Features to Look Out for in X Product
Size should be the first feature you look at in every piccolo snare that you consider. The size of the shell plays a huge role in the tones it produces.
While all piccolo snares are designed to be shallow, some are shallower than others. You also get differing diameters that affect both the tone and how the snare feels to play.
The wider a snare drum is, the more surface area you’ll have to play on. Drummers tend to feel more comfortable playing 13” or 14” snare drums. So, it may take a bit of getting used to if you get a 12” or smaller option.
The deeper a snare drum is, the more body it will have in its sound. However, body isn’t something that is very prevalent in piccolo snare drums, so it’s not a feature to be on the lookout for.
The shallower the shell, the less resonance it will have. That’s why all the smallest piccolo snare drums have the quickest tones.
If you want tight and cracking tones but you still want a good amount of resonance, you should aim for a thicker drum with a deeper snare sound. If you want the snare to have quick tones, a depth of 3” is usually the best option.
Shell hardware refers to all the components that hold the snare together and make it work. When looking at snare drums, you should take note of the counter hoops, throw off, snare wires, butt plate, and lugs.
These hardware components are sometimes very expansive on regular snare drums, but you’ll mostly find simplified designs for piccolo snares.
The snare throw off is what controls the snare wires. Some snare throw off designs are far superior to others, and they make it easier to control the snare drum.
For example, the mini-MAG throw off on a DW piccolo snare works far more reliably than the inexpensive and sluggish throw off on a Tama Metalworks snare.
The counter hoops on a snare drum affect the tones and how the snare feels to play when doing rimshots and cross-sticks. Every brand has their own counter hoop designs, with some adding better performance quality to the snare than others.
Many people tend to think die-cast hoops are the best option, but brands like A&F and DW offer standard single and triple-flanged hoops that are just as good.
The type of material the shell is made from has the biggest impact on how the snare drum sounds. Snare drums are made from a variety of different woods and metals, but the list seems to be a bit smaller when only looking at piccolo options.
Here are all the shell materials we saw from the snare drums above, along with the tonal qualities that you can expect from them:
Maple – A versatile wood type with even tones across the frequency spectrum. It’s one of the best all-purpose woods.
Oak – Drums made from this wood are slightly less resonant than maple ones. The highs are soft, while the mids and lows are warm.
Steel – An aggressive metal type that brings out accented high frequencies. It’s very vibrant.
Brass – The most musical metal to use for snare drums. The tones always sound fantastic, and most brass snare drums are highly versatile.
Picking between a wood or metal shell will give you the biggest tonal difference.
Best Piccolo Snare Drum FAQs
Can Piccolo Snare Drums Sound Deep?
Yes, you can tune piccolo snare drums to sound deep. However, most of them lack body, causing them to sound ineffective in a mix. That’s why they’re best used when tuned high and cracking.
What Styles are Shallow Snare Drums Good For?
Any style that benefits from having a tight and punchy snare drum sound. This includes pop, R&B, jazz, drum & bass, and other high-energy styles of music.
You can happily use a piccolo snare drum in most styles, but those ones are where you’ll hear high-pitched snare drums being used often.
Can You Use a Piccolo Snare Drum as Main Snare Drum?
Yes, many drummers happily use piccolo snare drums as their main snare. It helps to use one with a depth of 4” so that it has a wider tuning range.