The snare drum is one of the most important instruments on any drum kit. It’s essential to many styles; from rock to pop beats. In fact, the term “backbeat” refers to accenting certain beats of the bar, and usually with a snare drum. For many reasons, finding a quality snare drum for your electronic setup is of huge importance.

There is a wide variety of drums to choose from when you go shopping. You could end up spending anything from $100 to $1,000 on just one drum. Not all drums will be compatible with your setup so you’ll need to do a little research beforehand.

Also you may have certain requirements for shell size and head type which is essential to you. In this article we will discuss a range of possible options that may appeal to you and your budget.

Budget

Depending on your current electronic drum kit you may be restricted in what your options are when it comes to upgrading or replacing a snare drum. As we move up through the price ranges from inexpensive to expensive, each pad discussed will provide more features with enhanced responsiveness and playability.

It’s worth noting that a top-of-the-range snare drum pad may not work to its optimum capabilities with just any drum module. In this respect, you will have to match the drum pad and its specs to your own kit.

Alesis Mesh Pad 8 Review

This is an 8-inch snare drum pad with Alesis’ mesh. Mesh is a big advantage when it comes to electronic drum sets. It helps keep the room noise down to a minimum and offers a better stick response than traditional rubber or plastic pads. Being an 8-inch drum, this is quite small but that is reflected in the price too. There are cheaper snare drum pads out there but it’s hard to find any that offer a mesh drum head.

The Mesh Pad 8 can typically be used as an upgrade to your beginner or entry-level electronic drum set. Being an Alesis, it works well with either the Alesis DM-10 module or the Alesis Nitro module. That said it can also be used along with other brands of drum modules on the market. Connection-wise you can use a standard ¼ inch jack to hook the Mesh Pad 8 up to your module. It comes with an L-arm clamp which can be used to mount the pad to a standard drum rack. Some consumers have complained that the quality of the clamp is not the highest but you can always stick with the original you had on your kit.

The pad itself is touch sensitive and can be adjusted with a knob on the drum. You can set the sensitivity of the drum trigger to best suit your playing style. Heavy players might want to turn the sensitivity down here. Likewise if you play softly you can turn up the sensitivity.

The mesh head is black in color and, like a real acoustic drum, the head tension can be loosened and tightened to your preference. These heads are well made but will only withstand so much abuse. If you are a hard and heavy player, you’ll need to be careful you don’t cause irreparable damage to the head.

Goedrum GED12 Review

Goedrum, which reads as “Go E Drum”, has been manufacturing electronic drums for some years now. They make and sell every part of a standard electronic drum set from the lugs and hardware to the triggers and components.

There are three models in the Goedrum range. They’ve creatively named these the Keeper, the Jumper, and the Runner series. Each series offers different features aimed at the various user types. The Keeper series has larger drums overall, most notably the bass drum which looks on first impression just like an acoustic bass drum.

All Goedrums are made with mesh heads and compatible with the vast majority of electronic drum sets available.

The GED12 is a 12-inch mesh drum with dual triggers, namely on the head and the rim. If your module is up to the task, you can program these triggers to function as any selection of sounds you like. The drum is available in four colors; black, silver, red, and wood. A stereo jack connects the GED12 to your drum module for usage.

You can mount the drum either using the clamp provided or else on a regular snare stand. The trigger response is very impressive and the GED12 works well will standard Roland drum modules, among others. The Goedrum GED12 is great bang for buck.

Watch the GED12 in action here:

Expert tip

Electronic snare drum pads are interchangeable with tom pads. If you need a quick fix to get you through a gig or rehearsal, simply swap the faulty pad with another.

Kevin O'Shea

Roland PDX-100 Review

The Roland PDX-100 is a high-end electronic snare drum pad. This pad usually ships with the professional level drum sets such as the Roland TD-25KV. The PDX-100 has lots of features that make it one of the most realistic and playable snare drum pads on the market.

First off, this pad is a 10-inch drum but is not overwhelmingly bulky or heavy. It will happily sit on a typical drum rack without much strain of weight. If you prefer, it can be instead mounted to any regular snare stand for extra stability. Like the GED12, the Roland PDX-100 has triggering both on the drum head and on the rim.

This is a nice drum to play on, and it comes with six “tensionable” bolts which can be used to adjust head tightness and stick response. The drum also functions as a tom pad should you need it. It is compatible with the majority of drum modules and quick and easy to set up.

While the PDX-8 is a decent electronic snare drum, it is inferior to the PDX-100. The PDX-100 has a larger playing area and more responsive triggering built in. While this drum is smaller than the aforementioned GED12 by two inches, it still feels good to play on. It also lacks the realistic look of the GED12. The PDX-100 feels sturdy and the rims are nicely absorbent when struck with a drumstick. This helps to keep the overall room noise down.

Here’s a short demo of the PDX-100:

Yamaha XP120SD Review

The Yamaha XP120SD is the snare that comes with the DTX760K series of electronic drums. This drum set is typically in the higher end of price tiers and thus aimed at professional drummers. The XP120SD is a part of that bundle which makes it one of the more expensive options you have to consider when shopping for an electronic snare drum, even when bought separately.

As the name hints at, this is a 12-inch snare drum. It’s a solid piece of kit with Yamaha opting to go for a blasted aluminum shell. This shell gives the drum a real sense of solidity and reassurance that it will withstand the rigors of live touring. It’s light in weight yet robustly built.

To the side of the drum we have an adjustable control knob. This knob is ideally used in conjunction with one of Yamaha’s high-end drum modules. There is a range of ways in which this knob can be used. You can use it to adjust snare strainer tension, just like with a real snare drum. Alternatively you can use it to switch sample sources on the fly when performing. It can also be used to adjust the level of effect or change the pitch of the drum. It’s important to note that you will only have the functionality here if your module is compatible with this control knob.

The drum head on the XP120SD is a step up from earlier Yamaha drum heads. Whereas most mid-range to professional-level Yamaha drum sets offer mesh, in this case they’ve gone for a… *drum roll*… textured cellular silicone head. The heads are extremely silent and very responsive, offering a healthy stick bounce. It’s probably the closest any electronic drum manufacturer has come to a realistic acoustic drum response to date.

This is a three zone drum head, which means you can trigger with both the rim and the head. The drum is also compatible with sticks and brushes alike, and you can use the control knob here to adjust sensitivity for these purposes. Getting the best out of the XP120SD really comes down to making sure you have a compatible drum module to go with it.

For example, this video shows the Yamaha XP120SD being used with a Roland TM6 Trigger Module;

Roland PD-140DS Review

One of the best electronic snare drums on the market currently is without a doubt the Roland PD-140DS. This is an ultra-realistic electronic drum which has an emphasis on style and design. To look at, this drum first appears to be a regular acoustic snare drum. It’s the same size as a conventional snare drum (14-inches) and also has a deep shell. Roland has designed the PD-140DS with a shiny chrome finish so it looks like any model of steel snare.

Roland PD-140DS

This is the flagship snare drum that is featured on Roland’s prestigious TD-50 line of drums. It really is the best they have to offer and is packed full of all the elite technology to date. Triggering on the PD-140DS is so sensitive that it can automatically detect when you place your hand on the drum to cross stick. It also excels when it comes to brush playing and makes sweeping on the drum head a breeze.

Roland has refined the triggering on the PD-140DS so as to mimic the nuances of a real acoustic drum. Using this drum along with the TD-50 drum module is the best way to get the most out of its capabilities. Playing consecutive strokes on the pad with this setup means that the module will cycle through its vast bank of samples, so as to give a more natural playing feel. This effectively means that you no longer have the robotic consistency that is usually associated with electronic drum pads.

There’s no doubt that the PS-140DS’s price means it is restricted to the very few who can afford it. Like a lot of premium drum pads, the PS-140DS relies on a substantial drum module to provide the sound sources worthy of such an advanced piece of technology. There’s really no point matching this drum with a mid-range module – you won’t get the most out of it.

Expert tip

Many tuneable mesh drum heads are replaceable just like regular drum heads. So if you break a head, the pad can easily be repaired.

Kevin O'Shea

Conclusion

When it comes to replacing or upgrading your electronic snare drum, pay attention to the capabilities of your current drum module. The vast majority of consumers will be purchasing to make the move from rubber pads to mesh. Or perhaps you’d like a bit more responsiveness in your toms. In most cases snare drum pads will work perfectly when swapped with tom pads. This means that you can upgrade your single-zone toms to dual-zone, complete with rim playing capabilities. Do make sure to have a good read of your module’s manual so that you know what it is compatible with. Only then can you really asses your options.