A classic maple/poplar option designed to be one drum you can’t leave home without.

Gretsch recently teamed up with endorsing artist Mike Johnston to develop a snare drum that would be extremely versatile, have a wide dynamic range, and be able to produce a variety of useful tones at different tunings. Johnston was also adamant about keeping this model at a modest price point ($499) that would be accessible by students and players looking to purchase their first pro-level instrument. Enter the new Brooklyn Standard snare.

The soul of the Brooklyn Standard drum is a 5.5×14 6-ply maple/ poplar shell. This shell is great for versatility because the depth strikes a happy medium between the super-responsive nature of a shallower drum and the throatier/beefier tones of a deeper shell. Plus the combination of hard maple and soft poplar gives you a full, open, and powerful sound that’s a bit warmer and more focused than a drum made from 100-percent maple.

To amp up this drum’s sensitivity, Gretsch added wider fortytwo- strand wires and utilized sharp double-45-degree bearing edges instead of the company’s traditional 30-degree profile, which tends to produce a punchier tone on snares. To help focus the overtones without eliminating too much resonance, Gretsch employed 3 mm double-flanged 302 hoops, which are a nod to the rims that the company used on all of its drums until the mid 1950s. These hoops are a bit more ridged than thinner triple-flange options, but not as stiff and heavy as die-cast.

Other hardware appointments include eight chromed brass tube lugs, a quick-release Lightning throw-off that has the tension knob on the opposite side from the lever, plastic washers on the tension rods, and a classic Gretsch internal tone control system that allows you to apply varying degrees of dampening to the batter head via a large round knob.

The drum is painted in Satin Black Metallic, which gives the Brooklyn Standard a cool yet universal look that will blend well with any drumset finish. Gretsch Permatone single-ply heads (by Remo USA) are included, and each drum is adorned with a black round badge and an internal ID label signed by Johnston.

Before I dive deep into the sound of the USA-made Brooklyn Standard snare, it’s important to state that you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal for a drum of this caliber. At just $499, it’s almost a no-brainer. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s assess its performance.

I began our test by tuning the batter head medium-high and the bottom head very high. I kept the dampener disengaged so I could see what we’re dealing with in terms of overtone and sustain versus attack and snare response. The wide forty-two strand snares helped control some of the overtones by dampening the bottom head more than a thinner set would, and they provided a wide bed of white noise beneath each stroke. For some applications, such as quiet symphonic or light jazz, the additional snare response might be too much. But in any situation requiring backbeats, they allow for greater options for dialing in the desired amount of natural sizzle.

The maple/poplar shell had a full, open voice with a nice, thick attack. The overtones were plentiful yet tuneful. And the internal dampener allowed me to go from wide-open and ringy to completely dead and focused in the matter of a few turns of the tension knob.

Tighter tunings brought out more attack and crispness, with drier overtone, while lower tunings had tons of tone and chesty punch. The only weak point in this drum’s tuning range was in the superlow, gushy register; it just didn’t have enough character to my ear to be my first choice for that vibe. But when tuned to pretty much any other tension, especially medium-high and up, this Brooklyn Standard would be a reliable and dependable go-to for just about any application.