Nick D'Virgilio explains what a snare drum throw off is, and shows how it works.
Snare drum throw off is a lever on a snare drum that engages the drum’s snares by moving them away from or up against the resonant head. The snare wires connect to the bottom of the throw off on one side of the drum and on the opposite side they connect to the butt plate using either string or a piece of plastic. Throw offs come in many different designs but their function is all the same. When the throw off arm is down, the snare wires are disengaged. When the arm is up, the snare wires are engaged. Throw offs also usually includes a tensioning screw for tightening or loosening the throw off tension. In the modern day, a strainer and throw off are one in the same. Some drums have more versatile throw off while many have a very simple lever that is engaged to change the pitch of the drum due to the snares being moved by the throw off. By using the throw off during performances a drummer can instantly change the sound of their drum if the song calls for that type of change. The throw off gives drummers a unique way to get the most out of their snare drum.