Kenny Sharretts
Drum Technician - Drummer - Educator
When, why, and how to change snare wires. Plus tips for reducing sympathetic snare resonance.
by Kenny Sharretts on February 10th, 2020

One of the most common questions I receive via DM’s from my Social Media accounts, and see in Facebook Drum Groups is about when one should change your snare wires, and what is the best way to install your snare wires. These are excellent questions as a properly setup snare drum with a good set of wires makes all the difference in a great sounding drum set. When snare wires are properly centered, leveled, and balanced it makes the drum sound better, louder, it has way more snare sensitivity, and greatly reduces something pretty much all musicians, band leaders, and audio engineers dislike; EXCESS SYMPATHETIC SNARE RESONANCE!!! LOLOLOL!
Some snare resonance is unavoidable. It’s a snare drum doing what a snare drum is designed to do. Low bass notes, and toms strikes will always cause a touch of buzz. When snare wires are properly mounted that buzz will be minimized, and hence musical.  If not done right, however, poorly mounted snare wires will cause an enormous amount of sympathetic snare resonance. (Especially if the bass amp is right next to you. LOL! The same goes for snare wires that are old/worn out, bent, or missing a strand (or 2). Snare wires stretch when used, and eventually the coil will loose it’s elasticity much like a worn out spring. Same when the wires are bent in any fashion. They in essence “don’t hold tension” the same as the other wires, and hence they rattle. I’ve seen great drummers locally here in the ATX not get  gigs because their snare sound was terrible/“rattley”. Here’s a few indications it’s time to replace your snare wires
- The snare sound becomes papery, even with new heads
- The wires are bent
- The wires are rusty or, dirt laden
- Excess snare resonance at your normal tension settings even when centered, leveled, and balanced.
- The only way to stop the excess buzz is to choke the wires. For more specifics please watch this video.

Now installing them, is another story entirely. While everyone has their own method, I have found the method I use gives me the largest range possible of snare wire tensioning options. Just note as a pro tech, I don't have the option of being wrong. LOLOL! To make sure the work I do to center, balance, and level is effective, I install the wires with the snare strainer ENGAGED. I set the tension knob to halfway between the tightest setting, and it's loosest setting without it feeling like it's coming undone. Then you attach the strainer side first making sure both edges of the snare wire plate are evenly distanced from the shell, and the wires are just the tiniest bit off center towards the butt plate. Then attach the butt plate side by pulling on the strap/cloth/string evenly so both plates are evenly distanced from the shell. Then tighten the strainer knob slightly to center the snare wires  while pulling lightly on the butt side strap/cloth/wire tighten the butt plate. When you have installed the wires they should pull evenly, and be centered when engaged. IN GENERAL, they should also be level. That is when the wires are disengaged, you can hold the drum up to eye level and see the wires are hanging evenly. Not too twisted in one direction or another. While this is not always a 100% fool proof method of verifying your work, 9 times out of 10 it's a great indicator that the wires are installed well. This video shows the whole process in a way that will help you see the technique
The importance of fresh wires mounted properly is even more important for those using IEM’s. As a pro tech I need my mix to be as clean as possible so I can instantly hear a problem, or an instrument failing. That’s why I use UE 18 Pro’s on my tech gigs. As a singing drummer, I need my bottom end to be ripping, and my high end to be as clean/clear as possible so there is space for both the click, and my voice in the mix. That’s why I use UE11 Pros when I drum. Excess snare resonance is the direct enemy of both of these objectives. If snares are buzzing away it truly affects the “AIR” of your IEM mix. I once worked with a drummer who initially told me he hated his IEM mix. On the first gig I tuned up the kit, and dialed his snare wires. My artist flipped!! He said his mix was instantly better. That being said the best way to describe the concept is for you to imagine listening to your fave song, in your fave headphones, but there is a constant buzzy wash humming along with the song keeping you from hearing it well. Now imagine that annoying wash being gone. LOL. Another comparison I could make is that it’s AM radio station that buzzes out when you slowly go under a bridge in rush hour traffic. Now think of how the signal clears up when you emerge from under that bridge. Properly maintained snare wires can seriously make that much of a difference. More drum tuning blogs , and videos coming soon. Until then, here's a quick tip vid on tips for reducing sympathetic snare resonance. 
More Blog posts coming soon.
For more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel


Use my code -  KENNYSUE at checkout for a 20% discount on the UE 7, 11 18+, RR, and Live Models. Visit  for more info

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Drum Tuning, drum tuning blog, how to tune drums, drumming, Drum Technician, drums, how to tune a snare drum, how to install snare wires, how to get rid of snare buzz