Ludwig Black Beauty Vs Supraphonic Snare Drum Comparison

In this comparison review, I’m going to be taking a look at the Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snare drums, side-by-side, to find out which is the best. I’m going to be looking at the shell construction, build quality, sound, and cost to help determine which is the winner!

Ludwig is one of the most iconic drum brands and is the choice of many of the world’s greatest drummers – both past and present. They have an incredible legacy, and their drums are truly first-class. 

Both the Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snares are extraordinarily beautiful drums. Widely regarded as some of the best sounding and most versatile drums around, you can be sure they’ll make fantastic additions to your collection. 

In this article, I’m going to be comparing the two legendary Ludwig Black Beauty Vs Supraphonic snares to understand the differences and see which offers the most versatile performance and best value for money.

Shell Construction

The Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snares are both top-of-the-range drums. There are several differences between the two, most notably the shell construction. 

The Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum boasts a seamless beaded 1.2mm brass shell. The shell is completely smooth, with a black chrome finish all over the brass. The brass shell delivers a powerful and rounded tone, with a lot of bite. 

The Ludwig Supraphonic, on the other hand, takes advantage of a seamless beaded 1.7mm aluminum shell that sports a smooth, mirror-shine chrome finish. The aluminum shell produces a bright and focused attack that is remarkably musical. 

Due to the complex manufacturing process, the Ludwig Black Beauty snares are only produced in limited quantities each year from Ludwig USA. This makes them very sought after and desirable snare drums. 

The Ludwig Supraphonic snare drums are also very desirable. The Supraphonic snare drum was indeed the choice of the legendary John Bonham, and it can be heard on almost every Led Zeppelin record. 

Build Quality

Both the Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snare drums are extremely well built. Both drums are USA-made and whilst many competitors have tried to replicate these drums, none have successfully duplicated them. 

The Ludwig snare drums both take advantage of the same 2.3mm steel triple-flanged hoops and elegant looking Imperial lugs. The performance-proven shell hardware is stylish, functional, and robust. 

Also adorned onto both of the Black Beauty and Supraphonic snare drums is a P88AC snare throw off and P35P butt plate. The snare throw-off action is smooth and reliable. It’s easy to engage and it feels heavy-duty.

My only real disappointment with these flagship Ludwig snare drums is the quality of the snare wires equipped onto them. Although they are adequate, they are not as high quality as I would expect from a drum of this caliber.

Sound

The Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snare drums boast wonderful sonic qualities. They are highly versatile drums and would suit any style of music whether it be jazz, pop, rock, blues, or funk. You can count on these snares to provide the perfect sound. 

Comparing the two drums side by side does reveal some unique characteristics from each drum. But neither is strictly better than the other, and both deliver fantastic results.

The Ludwig Black Beauty has a darker tone with a more aggressive bite. It has a lot of ring and an incredible mid-range projection that allows it to cut through the mix, without being too harsh. Whilst it has a great attack, the tone is also still very warm and musical. 

This Black Beauty snare drum sings incredibly well across all different tuning ranges – low, medium, and high. It’s a characterful drum with a distinctive voice and it excels in any musical scenario. The thin brass shell offers a well-rounded and powerful tone.  

The Ludwig Supraphonic snare offers a surprisingly smooth and warm tone despite its thin aluminum shell. It’s not as aggressive or ringy as the Black Beauty, but it produces a sound that is just as punchy and focused. This Ludwig snare offers a very pleasing sound indeed.

I found the Ludwig Supraphonic snare to be easier to tune than the Black Beauty. And it excelled across each tuning range just as well as the Black Beauty, if not better! The tone is a little more controlled and musical in the medium tuning range in particular.

Price

Neither of these pro-level Ludwig snares comes cheap. They are highly sought after musical instruments and ones that you would own for a lifetime. Having been played on countless hit records, both the Ludwig Black Beauty and Supraphonic snares carry a premium price tag. 

Out of the two snare drums, the Black Beauty is priced more expensive. Whilst the snare drum components and hardware are identical across each drum. I imagine it’s the aluminum shell that makes this drum more affordable.

The Black Beauty costs $759 for the 14×6.5” sized drum. The Supraphonic costs $579 for the 14×6.5” snare drum. 

Verdict

If you ever had the pleasure of hearing both of these gorgeous Ludwig snare drums side-by-side, you’ll know just how difficult it is to choose a winner between them.

Having to choose between the Ludwig Black Beauty Vs Supraphonic, I prefer the sound of the Supraphonic. Its tone is a little more musical and rounded. It has a warm yet punchy sound that makes it suitable for pretty much any style of music imaginable. 

The Black Beauty has a distinctive rawness and bite, but it’s also more stubborn to tune and it doesn’t offer quite as much versatility for softer styles of music. 

Taking price into account, the Black Beauty also doesn’t offer quite as good value for the money. Nonetheless, both of these are some of the best snare drums that make suitably good investments, and would be an excellent addition to any drummer’s arsenal!

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