The most common snare drum size sold in stores is 14 x 5.5 That is, 14 inches in diameter and 5.5 inches deep. This size however, is only one of many sizes you can use.
Depth and Diameters
Names are assigned to the other drum depths and diameters. For the depth, there are three types: the piccolo (3 to 4.5 inches deep), standard (4 to 5.5 inches) and deep (6 to 10 inches). For the diameter, there is the popcorn (10 inches in diameter), suprano (12 to 13 inches) and standard (14 inches).
The dimensions given earlier are often combined by manufacturers. For example, snare drums can measure 12 inches in diameter and be 5 inches deep or 12 x 3 inches. Some manufacturers use the name for the drum.
That is, a popcorn drum can be 10 inches in diameter or be a suprano (12 inches). Buyers should be aware that the 5 inches is the standard depth. If the depth is 3 inches, the drum is a piccolo.
Sounds and Sizes
The snare drum size has a direct effect on the sounds. The tone is more greatly affected by the diameter. A 10 inch diameter will produce a higher pitch compared to a 14 inch drum. If you want more projection, get a 10 inch diameter drum that is deep.
The big snares have a 14 inch diameter and 6 to 12 inches deep. The sound is generally lower or “fat”. The sounds will vary depending on the other sizes. These will affect the tuning sounds as well. The typical 14 x 5.5 is able to produce a sharper or flat sound.
Two materials are used, wood or metal. Wood produces a warmer sound. Maple can produce a dark or warm sound. The wood density has a direct effect on how warm or dark the sound will be. However, metal is used mostly for snares.
Other materials that may be used are bronze, aluminum and brass. Some snares have holes to improve the sound. The vented snare is also popular among some designers. Others have a free floating shell. This means the shell can be rotated when the kit is put together.
Given the different snare drum sizes, it is clear that one should study all the options first before deciding what to buy. For those who are just starting out, the standard snare drum will be sufficient.