Drummers often walk into the shop with the following complaint: “My snare doesn’t sound right.” Even though you don’t usually hit the bottom head or snare wires, both should be changed every second or third time you change the batter head, depending on your playing style. And of course, swap them out immediately if there is obvious wear or damage.

I’ve seen my share of drums with a batter head used as a resonant head, and the results are never pretty. Snare wires, like guitar strings, can go dead just sitting on the instrument, so keep them fresh.

Many drummers don’t change these essential components often enough because they’re worried they won’t be able to get everything back together and sounding decent. There are many ways to change snare wires, but I’ve found the following technique works great for most throw-offs:

After removing the resonant head, wipe down the bearing edges to make sure they’re clean. Use even tension after fitting the new head.


1. Loosen the tension screw on the throw-off (and butt-plate if it can be adjusted) so that it’s loose and more on the open side.


2. Leave the throw-off in the on position.



3. Center the snare wires on the drum.


4. Insert and lock the strap, string, or cable into the butt-plate.


5. Insert the strap, string, or cable into the throw-off and pull tight.


6. Tighten the screws, lock the strap, string, or cable into place, and tighten to taste.

The beauty of this method is leaving the throw-off in the on position when you put the snares on. There is plenty of room to drop the snares and plenty of room to tighten them when they stretch.

Whether you move the drum a lot or it stays in one place, leave the throw-off in the on position. The snares and bottom head are less likely to get damaged when the wires are tight against the head.