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   Do You Need Them?
   How Deep Should They Be?
   What's The Best Way To Make Them?
   Which First - The Edge or the Bed?
   Flat or Angled?
   Does A Snare Bed Affect Stick Rebound?
   Converting A Tom To A Snare
   Old Ludwig Beds
   Step By Step Pictorial
snare bed by tbone snare bed by jriolo

Do You Need Them?
What's the real importance to cutting snare beds? What would happen if I didn't cut them?? And if absolutely needed, what's a good way to cut them - after the lathing I assume? How deep?

You gotta cut 'em, or the snare wires won't sit on the bottom head. It's really easy - some people use a router to do it. I like to use a file and then some sand paper to finish. I usually cut them just a few millimeters deep, just enough - depends on your liking. Some like to cut them very wide. I just file where the snare gates are.

In my opinion you don't really have to cut beds, and you can always add them later, but you cannot undo a snare bed! My advice here would be to try first without a bed. If you cannot tune the snare without a lot off snare noise/buzzzzzz you might consider snare beds.

Count Of Monte Cristo:
Well, when I didn't cut the beds the first time it had so much buzz and I hate that. I like ring but not buzz, so the first time I did them I "mapped" off an area I wanted to sand down using tape and a pencil and then sanded that area to my map. I like it wide and I do mine 3/8" deep. It doesn't have to be wide but I like mine wide. I have a sick snare sound and I love it!

If you get buzzing, then cut snare beds. If you like the sound you get without them, then don't cut them.

The snare bed allows the snare wire ends to be pulled down lower on the head since the end plates are thicker than the wires; this prevents the center of the wires in the middle of the drum from 'floating' slightly and causing 'snare buzz' due to frequencies of other instruments and especially tom toms. How Deep Should They Be? How Wide?

I have just made a 14x7 wood stave shell and am unsure of what depth/width the snare bed should be. I have a 20 strand snare wires... how does the depth/width effect the sound?

How Deep Should They Be?
Depth of a bed is personal matter. I cut mine at 3mm (14" shell size), but I've read others doing less or even up to 1/4" (6.35mm).

Sam Bredeson:
Just remember, if you go deep, you have to go wide, too, or the snares will cut through your reso head. *experience*

Taper out to the first lug either side of the strainer. Start about 1/16 or 1/8 deep. Assemble and try it. You can always go deeper or wider, but you can't reverse that!

I cut mine about 1/8" deep and 4" wide then gradually slope them back up into the bearing edge again. Some people like the cut rounded in, I like 'em flat.

Is there any rule about bed depth, width or angle? I'm thinking that maybe very small (almost undetectable) beds might be the best way to go...any thoughts?

All snares have beds, or should. I bet if you looked really, really hard you'd see a bed on the ones you don't think have them.

Yea, the only drums that are not supposed to have snare beds are the Rogers Dynasonics (I think...). Other than that they should all have it. Personally, I really like wide shallow snare beds

bobthebuilder: (later - from a different thread)
Some people like drastic beds and some like to use the "barely there" method for beds. I would say the average bed is about 1/8" deep and about 3" wide.

The number of strands affects the width. It defeats the purpose if you have narrow beds and 40 strand wires. Here is a great article reprinted from:

How Your Snare Beds Affect Your Snare Sound
By Not So Modern Drummer's John Aldridge
The snare bed is essential in creating a bow in the center of bottom head that increases the amount of contact between the drumhead and the snare wires themselves. Keep in mind that not all snare beds are created equal. Some are as wide as 8 inches and as deep as a quarter inch, where others are as narrow as an inch and a half or as shallow as 4/1000ths of an inch. A deep, wide snare bed will produce a bow in the head which is fairly consistent over much of the surface. A narrow, shallow bed will create a bow and a snare sound that are less pronounced. However, both types of beds can be very effective in producing attractive snare sounds in a wide variety of applications. To get the brightest, most resonant sound from the drum and the most activity out of the wires, select a set of snares that are about 1/2 the width of your snare bed, generally 12-16 strands. That way, the part of the head that is most active (the center of the bed) will have the most impact on the sound and provide you with the most snare action (sensitivity and response).
&bull If you are playing in an environment where you want a lot of snare action, but would prefer a bit shorter decay, choose a set of snares that are slightly wider - approximately 3/4ths the width of the snare bed - usually 16 to 20 strands.
&bull In a close-miked studio environment, where you might want to get the maximum snare sound but decreased response and decay, try a snare unit that is wide enough to cover the entire snare bed - 20 to 24 strands.
&bull To further dampen the drum, use the widest set of snares available (assuming the snare bed is wide enough to accommodate them). This will focus the drum's tone and reduce the length of decay as much as is possible without muffling or choking the drum. However, as the bow of the head decreases towards the edges of the snare bed, the amount of tension on the snares may have to be increased to keep the outer strands from bussing excessively. Generally, this tends to lessen the impact of using wider snares in the first place, but because Puresound snares are designed to be more active than others, the 24-strand model is wide enough to accomplish this effect while avoiding snare wire tension problems.
&bull In situations where an even drier, tighter, yet still musical sound is required, the off-set wires of an Equalizer model may be the ideal choice.

What's The Best Way To Make Them?
Personally, I cut my beds with a router. Look at the DrumFoundry website. They sell a very nice template for snare beds and do a mini-movie how-to.

Count Of Monte Cristo:
I want to get the snare bed template from Drumfoundry eventually. For now this is what I do: I use a Dremmel sanding drum and sand it out then touch up with a file and sandpaper.

Most accurate way I've found so far (other than doing it on a router) is to use 100 grit sand paper and your bare hand. Real technical stuff..... mark your centerline where your strainer and butt will go, measure out about 1.5" in each direction from that line, then, mark up about 1/16" deep. Take some tape and trace the lines with it, and at the end of the 1.5" line make a gradual ramp with the tape up to the next lug hole. Then take your sand paper and start in. Check it often. I've tried Dremmels, electric sanders, files. All of those worked, but I didn't have as much control as I needed. Doing it by hand with sand paper really prevents you from taking too much off at one time, it takes longer, but you'll be assured you wont ruin your shell that way. Problem is with faster methods before ya know it you've taken too much off in one place, then you have to even it out, thus making your bed deeper than you wanted. Do that a few times and you have a bed so deep it sucks.

I've taken to cutting beds on the router.....super fast, super easy.

...and I do a combination of the above; initial cuts with the router and finish with file and sand paper. Also between 1/16th and 1/8th deep. I space mine centered on the strainer/ butt plate and a little more than lug to lug wide.

Phat Tubz:
I'm not sure there is a best way. I do mine by hand, first marking the area I want. I usually go from lug to lug, then taper back up. I use a hand file to do this. When checking the bed, I put the shell on a flat surface (granite slab) with a light inside, and slowly lift the back of the shell toward me. This should allow an even amount of light on each side to come thru on the snare bed. It should also seem like a smooth transition, no bumps. When all is said and done, the purpose of the snare bed is to allow even contact of the snare wires on the bottom head. If after assembly your wires are not touching in any spot, you may need to re-cut the snare bed. Good luck to you. By the way, the router approach is a good method to use. I would suggest that you use this method for the main part of the snare bed, and hand sand the taper on each side. Just my 2 cents...

Some like to use a fine file, some use a Dremel tool and some just use sand paper. I suggest putting some blue tape over the area where your beds will go, then draw the depth and width of the beds on the tape and then get at them with your file or Dremel.

Definitely, definitely, definitely use a router table. It's damn near impossible to use just the router itself. It seriously took me 20 minutes to learn how to use it and my edges turned out flawless. Also, definitely use the file method, its much easier to not screw up that way. I am a new beginner too and I built my first snare in 1 day and used to learn a router and cut edges in that same day. The snare turned out amazing.

So lately it seems what takes the longest for me to do is the snare beds cause I do them with a file. I know some people do beds with a router, I was wondering how. What bit to use? Sure would make my beds more consistent, and I would think easier to do. Problem for me with filing the bed is that I get a slightly different bed every time. Ramps are sloped more, or it's a tad bit deeper than id like etc. Anyone use a router to do their beds, and wish to share the knowledge?

Here's an idea. Use a 45 degree chamfer bit (same one used to cut edges) and raise it up enough to cut the bed on the outside - the edge will now be more to the inside of the shell - then raise it a bit more and make the inside cut until the edge is back in line with the original bearing edge. Takes practice but make small cuts and you'll be fine.. put some stops on either side of where you want the bed to be, hold them in place with clamps, route the bed with that bit then sand smooth. The stops I'm going to use are pretty much just small pieces of ply shell re-rings.

I do all my snare beds with my router this way. Works great and turns out perfect every time. The way I do it is I drill all the holes for the lugs and I make the snare bed in-between the lugs. Line up the bit under one lug and router to under the next lug. Works great.

Do you guys use some sort of vertical board or something as a "guide", or like how do you keep the shell from moving when rolling it across the router?

No fence is necessary. Just keep the shell flat against the table and against the spinning blade. The tricky part is controlling the shell because the blade will want to spin it. Be EXTREMELY careful with this.

Without a fence I don't see how you keep the edge in-round (i.e. on the same ply)?

The bit has a guide bearing on it, so it will only cut so deep.

Which First - The Edge Or The Bed?
Do you do the edge or the bed first?

Edge, then bed.

Vaughn: the edges first, then the bed.

Flat Or Angled?
James Walker:
tbone knows far more than I do about cutting beds, but just to share my 2¢...on some slightly thicker shells (5/16" thick segment, f.i.), I found that I needed to angle the snare bed cut to (roughly) match the interior angle of the bearing edge - leaving the snare bed flat (so that the entire thickness of the shell touch the head) resulted in a drum that lacked in sensitivity, IMHO. I got much better snare response with only a pointed edge making contact with the head On thinner (Keller) shells I've worked on, it wasn't an issue - just some anecdotal evidence based on my limited experiences, take it FWIW. I've had a number of exchanges with drummers on other online message boards, discussing the necessity for snare beds - you'd be surprised how many out there simply don't think that beds are necessary (and one or two even think that snare drums are better without beds). Just out of curiosity, I tried my last snare project (the Marcato c/f) first without cutting any beds. Oy. That experiment lasted for about ten seconds, before the heads came off and the file hit the edges of the shell.

So how many people run the bearing edge through the snare bed? I know lots of drum builders just leave the bed flat. However, on a stave drum I built I found that the ends of the snare wire quickly wore through the snare head so I ended up re-working the bed with a bearing edge.

I do it both ways. What a customer wants. With my own snares I re-edge the snare bed exactly like the bearing edge. In my opinion re-edging the snare-bed ads sensitivity and instant response from the snare wires. The slightest touch with a finger tip activates the wires. I also think that by extra attention on tuning the reso head at the four T-rods closest to the bed you can play with the sensitivity.

Mine are somewhere in-between. I cut the bearing edges first and utilize a 1/4" round-over on the outside. My "standard" snare bed is roughly 3/32 deep and tends to leave enough of the counter-cut to smooth over the transition from the shell to the bed. While premature damage of the head could be an issue, I have never had a snare side head fail at the bed.

Personally, I want the snare head - and the snares themselves - as free to move as possible, especially where the snares are making contact with the head. A flat snare bed means less head movement, which IMO decreases sensitivity. (On some thicker stave shells, if the bed is left flat, then it's possible that the inner edge of the shell and the ends of the snare set will overlap - not good, IMO.) At least, that's my half-arsed theory. All I know is I get better results when I shape my beds with a bit of an edge, rather than flat. As always, YMMV. I don't shape the bed's edge quite as sharp as the main portion of the bearing edge, but I do get away from "100% flat," just to give the wires some breathing room. P.S. I also avoid bed sharp/deep shapes that cause the head to wrinkle, in favor of shallower beds, with wide, gradual ramps. I've read comments from drum builders far more experienced than I am, that it doesn't matter if there are some minor wrinkles around the snare bed, but whenever I try it, it's a disaster. These are subtle things, to be sure, but those little subtleties add up, especially where musical instruments are concerned. Attending to a few of these details can make the difference between "that's not a bad drum" and "Ooooooh..."

A soft angle or curve for wires/gut to rest on the head. It also depends on if you are using extended wires/gut, you'd want the wires to slope onto the head without bending or restriction.

Does A Snare Bed Affect Stick Rebound?
I was wondering...when you cut beds into the edge of a snare, does it affect stick rebound or the sound? I have had snares that do not have beds and ones that do, and I always have felt a little bit of a lack of good stick rebound towards the middle on snares with beds.

I think any difference in rebound is going to be small or negligible if tuned the same (heads have more influence on the feel). I would have thought that snare bed's only influence the sensitivity and response of the snare wires not rebound.

Count Of Monte Cristo:
That's due to the fact that the head isn't as tight in the middle of a drum. Think of a blanket stretched over a ...lets say trash can. If you threw a tennis ball or something like that around the edges it would bounce more than in the middle due to how much pressure is applied at the edge versus the middle. That's also why the tone in a middle of a drum is deeper than the edge. Hit the middle with your stick and then the edge. It's a lot brighter huh. You have 3 main sounds in a snare drum. The middle gives it that fat sound, the edge gives it that tinny ringy sound, and a rim shot is the combination of the two--- fatback and tinny /ringy

Converting A Tom To A Snare
Is it a bad idea to turn a 13"x10" tom into a snare?

Enraged Panda:
I just did this with a old 13x7 (I believe ) blue Ludwig Vistalite. As long as you know how to cut edges well enough you should be fine.

I'm actually doing the same thing right now. The only thing is its only a 6 lug. It's not that much of a difference, but it won't be as pro.

Snares are generally tuned much tighter than toms, so they really need more lugs than toms (usually 8 or 10). Of course, in the old days they made 6 lug snares, so it definitely can be done – just makes tuning difficult. If you tune your snare really tight you'll be able to see the rims bending between lugs of a 6 lug snare. Die cast rims will help because they are much stronger (but unfortunately, more expensive).

I've cut down loads of toms into snares from crappy drums to expensive ones. I use a marking gauge and scribe the shell all round then use a fine tooth saw. Re-cut the edges and then re adjust hardware etc.

Hey, I have a 12"x7" Tom that I made from a Keller shell and was wondering if I could convert it into a snare without getting new bottom edges. Is this possible? P.S. The drum has Double 45 Degree edges.

You may be able to pull it off by using a Rhythm Tech Active Snare system. It's similar in concept to a Dynasonic.

Old Ludwig Beds
I have a 5x14 wooden snare from an early 70's Ludwig Standard set. I am cleaning and re-wrapping the set for my son who has started playing drums. It was the first set that I got when I was about his age, so there is sentimental value to these drums that is above the negatives of a Standard kit. That said, here are my questions. The snare bed, if you can call it that, on this drum is a very gradual and long. By that I mean it starts under the snare area and extends almost all the way around each half of the drum. There seems to be very little of the snare side bearing edge that is not part of the snare bed. Was this how they come from the factory? I am thinking of sanding the snare side flat and cutting a snare bed more like what I am seeing on the drums being built on this forum. The bearing edge on the batter side is the typical vintage Ludwig 45 degree inside with a poorly shaped round-over on the outside. I am thinking about cutting a double 45 degree on it. What do you guys think? Will I ruin the warm vintage Ludwig sound or will it make that much of a difference? If it will mess it up, I can just cut a better round-over than it came with from the factory.

Ludwig snare beds are long, sweeping and shallow. This is part of that great Ludwig snare sound and sensitivity. The inner bevel is not 45º, but closer to 30º. I do NOT recommend ANY 45º angles, inner or outer, on these old vintage drums. You WILL lose the mojo, and it just removes TOO much meat from the bearing edge.

Step By Step Pictorial
Here is a pictorial of a jig for making a snare bed: