Versatile Sound in One Snare
A decade ago, Sonor collaborated with famed German drummer Benny Greb to create a snare drum. The model proved to be a huge success! It was revered for its unique design quirks and overall playing flexibility. For many drummers, it became a go-to that challenged conventions and opened up a world of possibilities as far as playing styles go.
The new Sonor Benny Greb Signature snare takes things up a notch. This model is a killer reimagining that combines old features with new ones. The latest snare ratchets up the flexibility even further, giving you new ways to fine-tune your sound to perfection!
Sonor Benny Greb Signature Snare
Sonor is an innovative brand that’s been around for nearly 150 years. The company continues to push the limits on drum form, creating unique designs that you don’t see very often with other brands. This collaboration is no different. Here are some basic specs of the new Signature snare.
- Available with beech or brass shell
- 13 inches in diameter and 5.75 inches tall
- Teardrop lugs
- Dual Glide strainer system
- MonoRail dampening system
- Triple-flange hoops
- TuneSafe lugs
As you can see, this snare has a lot going for it. But how do these features hold up in a real-world performance setting?
With this Sonor Benny Greb Signature Snare Review, we aim to find out. We’re going to break down what this instrument has to offer so that you can decide if it deserves a spot in your collection!
Let’s start with some of this snare’s highlights.
Right off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice is the unconventional sizing. The 13-inch diameter is slightly smaller than the “standard” 14 inches. It also has a signature depth of 5.75. This sizing is a staple for Sonor and is one reason why the original Benny Greb snare was so popular!
It offers a wider tuning range. The smaller diameter lets you achieve a distinct “crack” with every hit. Meanwhile, the shallow body provides ample resonance to fatten the sound up nicely.
On top of that, the snare is well-built to achieve a balanced sound. Up top, you’re getting a triple-flanged Power Hoop. It has a 45-degree bearing edge that creates a good head and shell response. The bezel lets you get crisp transients without much effort, which is a nice touch.
As if the core design features weren’t enough, this snare drum has a couple of standout elements that help you fine-tune your sound on the fly!
The first is the MonoRail dampening system. New to the 2020 Sonor snare model, it’s a real game-changer. Usually, including dampeners is a pretty rudimentary process. You can toss the material of choice onto the rim and hope for the best, or you can install a built-in dampener. But even if you go down the integrated route, you’re still limited in terms of sound.
That’s not the case with is Benny Greb snare. The MonoRail system features two mufflers. One has soft sheepskin wool while the other is pure felt. They can help soften or harden the sound, respectively.
The cool thing about this snare is that you can make adjustments quickly and easily. The mufflers sit on a rising rail system. With a twist of a knob, you can control each muffler’s level of contact to the snare head. Use one exclusively or blend them to create a distinct tone. The choice is yours!
Achieving the right sound or getting rid of unwanted overtones is usually challenging. The MonoRail eliminates that struggle. With a little practice, you may be able to change tones between songs. Your audience will think you’re using multiple snares during your set!
Of course, drummers can swap out components as they see fit, too. The snare has Sonor’s Dual Glide snare strainer, which lets you exchange heads without having to go through the trouble of readjusting wire tension settings. It’s also sporting the brand’s TuneSafe tuning lugs. They prevent the rods from vibrating loose, ensuring that you have a smooth and consistent sound no matter what.
The Sonor snare clearly has a lot to offer. But with that distinct design comes some potential drawbacks.
It’s important to note that the dimensions of the snare aren’t for everyone. If you’re used to playing on a 14-inch head, you’re looking at a pretty big learning curve. One inch might not seem like much. But, that slightly smaller head can lead to some accidental cracks and poor technique. It’s something you have to familiarize yourself with before you hit the stage or recording booth.
Another possible drawback of this snare happens to be its strongest asset. Having tons of flexibility is great if you know what you’re doing. However, those who aren’t well-versed in snare sound complexities might be getting in over their heads!
This is especially true if you lose muffler settings. The MonoRail system is designed to be as simple as possible. Unfortunately, being easy to adjust on the fly also makes it easy to lose settings.
It can take a lot of trial, error, and overall experimentation to get things right. If you’re not careful, you could lose all of that progress and find yourself at square one.
Beech or Brass?
This snare drum from Sonor comes in two distinct styles: Beech and Brass. Believe it or not, the differences go beyond aesthetics.
The wooden version is made out of Scandinavian beech, which is the same as the original Benny Greb collaboration model. It’s a 9-ply wood that comes with a complementary Bubinga inlay. The beech shell is thicker at 5mm, and like most wooden snares, offers more resonance.
While tunable, the beech drum does offer a warmer tone.
The brass model is only 1.2mm thick. The shell is a beautiful orange-toned brass with a golden horizontal stripe. Compared to the beechwood, the brass shell is a bit brighter. The transients are crisper, lending themselves well to a vintage sound. The material also provides great overtones that add some depth to the timbre.
Both materials have the same MonoRail system. They also utilize retro-looking teardrop lugs, which is a new feature for this updated model. You can easily tune the sound to your liking, but it’s important to remember that you’re working with a different baseline depending on the shell material.
The Final Verdict – 4 Stars
We’re going to give the Benny Greb Signature snare from Sonor 4 out of 5 stars. There’s no denying that the snare is an enticing buy. For most drummers out there, it’s going to be a powerful tool for experimentation and flexibility. It’s a fantastic “all-in-one” instrument that can easily replace several drums.
The flexibility you get from the MonoRail dampening system is unrivaled. That alone is enough to capture the attention of many drummers!
That said, its biggest strength may be a hindrance for some. We have to take a star off because not everyone is willing or capable of dealing with this instrument’s complexities. It has a lot going on. Some features could be far too confusing for less experienced drummers or those who want to stick to a signature sound.
Whether or not this Sonor snare is a good choice for you depends on your priorities. If you want to maximize your potential for tone creation and style, this is a snare that will serve you well.
Check It Out
Benny Greb on YouTube
No blog is worth anything without the contribution of its readers. A special thanks to Darryl for suggesting this snare for review. You’re awesome!