Usually, if a drummer wants to alter the sound of a drum, he’ll change the heads. That can make a dramatic difference to the way a drum sounds. However, many drummers have favorite heads and resist swapping them for those with a different sound and feel.
Upgrading the wires under your drum is another effective, if often overlooked method, to improve the sound of your snare. The more wires in contact with the bottom head the drier the drum will be. If you have a very lively or thick metal snare that has too much ring, one way to help tame it is with a wider set of snare wires. The number of wires beneath a snare can also affect the drum tone a bit.
Enter the Back Beat 30 and 42 Snare Wires (models CPSS-BB14 SNP30 and CPSS-BB14 SNPW). These chromed snare wire sets are similar to each other but differ in the number of coiled wires that contact the bottom head. The 42-strand model is about 4” wide compared to the 30-strand model that is an inch narrower.
As you’d expect, the wider wires had a drier sound than the narrower set. So if you have a drum that sounds too lively with standard 20-strand wires, either of these models can help dampen the decay.
I tried these on a couple of different drums. One of my metal snares has a raucous, lively character and long decay was noticeably improved with these wires. I slightly preferred the 30-strand model on my drum, but if yours is livelier than mine, the 42-strand model might work better. However, I liked how the 42-strand model helped dry up some of my drum’s rim shots. It seemed that the brightness of my drum was slightly attenuated, bringing out more of the midrange, making for a fuller and more balanced tone. Best of all, my drum’s seemed to become more sensitive with these wires.
Also, I noticed that if you like your wires to be a little on the loose side, more wires can give a smoother, denser rattle/decay. This can be effective on a power ballad.
I also received sets of the Vintage Wires (CPSL-14NP, CPSL-14DR) and Back Beat Wires) CPSS-14NP, CPSS-14DR) to try out. Frankly, I liked all of these wires on my snares. I put each set on the same drum and all these wires improved the sound over the stock wires that had been on the drum. My drum seemed brighter and crisper with the Canopus wires. If I had to pick one or two for my drum, I’d choose the chrome vintage or chrome backbeat model, since they were a touch brighter than the natural wires in each series. If your drum doesn’t need brightening, the natural finish wires might be a better choice.
When I loosened these wires some, they had a slightly coarser decay than the wider wires mentioned earlier, but were still quite nice.