Practice pads are essential tools for all drummers. They’re playing surfaces that allow a drummer to practice patterns and stickings without making a huge noise from their drums. They’re designed to be practical, portable, and give an authentic feel that you would experience from a real drum. When getting a drum pad, there are a few things that you need to look out for.
Things To Look Out For in Practice Pads
Size and weight
Practice pads come in varying sizes and weights. Similar to real drums, the diameter of a practice pad will affect how much playing surface you’re going to have. Some pads can be as small as 4 inches while others can be as big as 14 inches.
Certain drummers prefer to have a smaller pad because it will increase their sense of accuracy when playing. The smaller surface will force you to play in the middle of the pad, otherwise, you’ll miss hitting the pad completely. This skill will transfer over to the drum kit and you’ll hit the middle of the drum skins.
Other drummers prefer to have larger pads. A larger pad can be placed on the snare drum, allowing you to practice rhythms from the familiar comfort of your drum kit. The best option would be to just have many drum pads of varying sizes and weights.
Feel and Response
Feel and response are the most important aspects of practice pads. How it feels will determine how your hands develop when playing on it. If it’s too hard, it may have too much rebound and will be detrimental to your playing since acoustic drums don’t have that much rebound. If it’s too loose, it won’t have any rebound at all which is also detrimental.
A good practice pad will have a balanced rebound response, causing it to feel great for any drummer who plays on it. Some drum pads have more rebound than others, so it comes down to the personal preference of the drummer over which pad he likes.
Type of Material
Different practice pads are made with different rubbers. The type of rubber will determine how hard or soft the pad feels. Some practice pads have more than one type of material, giving multiple playing surfaces with different responses.
When buying a pad, just make sure that you like how your sticks feel when playing on it. That feeling will be up to the type of rubber surface it has.
Practice pads are designed to be practical alternatives to practicing on real drums. So, they need to have features that are beneficial and practical. Firstly, the pad should be quiet. If it makes a noise and bothers your neighbors, it’s no good. The quieter the pad is, the better it is.
Some pads have unique features that add to their practicality. Whether it be rubber tips for sticks or a pad that you strap around your knee, there are a lot of drum pads out there that will work in certain situations.
Practice Pads Reviewed
So, let’s have a look at some available practice pads on the market. By now should know what to look for when choosing one. Just remember that all these drum pads are great products. Some may just work better for you than others.
1. Vic Firth Double-Sided Practice Pad
Starting off the list is a product from Vic Firth. Vic Firth is the biggest stick company in the world, selling drum sticks of all shapes and sizes to all levels of drummers. Since they’re such an accomplished drum stick brand, you can bet that they have some high-quality practice pads on offer as well.
Their Double-Sided drum pad is a standard 12-inch pad that has two sides. Each side has a different rubber material that produces a different sound and feel. One side has a soft, grey rubber that provides the authentic feel of a drum head. The other side has a harder black rubber that is a lot louder and a lot more articulate.
The soft grey side is great for playing patterns that you’re going to transfer over to the drums. The hard black side is better for practicing rudiments and marching patterns. If you’re a marching snare drummer, the black side is ideal. Many drum kit players choose not to use the black side as it’s really hard and has a fair amount of rebound.
No matter how hard you hit this pad, both sides refrain from producing a very loud sound, making it a great option for quiet practice. The soft grey side is softer and works well when playing along to a metronome.
Since the pad is 12 inches, it’s easy to just put it on top of a snare drum and start playing. It’s a bit trickier to attach it to a snare drum stand if you don’t have a snare drum.
2. Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Slim Pad
The Heavy Hitter Slim Pad is a drum pad that is designed specifically for marching drummers. It’s a 12-inch pad with a natural gum-rubber surface and a durable wooden base. It has a seriously tight response that is great for taking the impact of the large sticks that marching drummers use. Although it’s intended for marching drummers, drum kit players can get a lot of use out of it as well.
It has a nice woody resonance to it and is packed with a good amount of articulation. This means that you’re going to hear every single stick note very clearly. In terms of playing surfaces, the cream-colored rubber pad feels great to play on.
It has a rubber pad on the bottom that stops it from slipping around on surfaces. This means that you can place it on any type of table with no problem.
The pad is arguably one of the heaviest drum pads on the market. So, it’s going to weigh you down if you’re someone who likes to put practice pads in your backpack. However, the heaviness does make it feel very secure and solid when you’re playing. Flimsy pads are a huge pet peeve for drummers.
It’s also one of the loudest drum pads out there. So, if you’re looking for a pad for late night practicing, this one isn’t going to be your best option.
3. Vic Firth Practice Tips
Here is a bit of brilliant innovation from Vic Firth. Everyone knows a drummer who likes to play on every possible surface with their drum sticks. The sound of wood or nylon hitting a brick wall or a wooden coffee table can get extremely irritating. So, Vic Firth designed these small pieces of rubber that you can attach to the head of a drum stick.
The Vic Firth Practice Tips come with 2 pairs in every package. They fit onto most heads of sticks except for heavy and thick marching sticks. When playing on a surface, the sound they produce is similar to that of a standard rubber practice pad.
These practice tips are ideal for anyone who travels a lot and doesn’t want to carry a practice pad around with them. It’s a lot easier to keep a pair of sticks in your backpack rather than a cumbersome piece of wood and rubber. Wherever you go, you can just attach them to your sticks and start playing on tables, chairs, and any other surface you could possibly think of.
You can even use these to play on your actual drum set. It will lower the sound significantly and give you a tone that is similar to using mallets. However, it will be difficult to get a nice cymbal sound when using them. So, they’re best suited for just getting some unique drum sounds if you use them at a gig.
Overall, they’re a very cheap alternative to having a standard practice pad. They work well, they sound great, and they save a lot of space.
4. Evans Realfeel 2-sided Practice Pad
Moving from a drum stick company to a drum head company, Evans is one of the top drum head companies on the market. They produce many high-quality heads that are loved by drummers all over the world. The Evans Realfeel pad is a 12-inch practice pad that has two playing sides with varying rebounds and responses.
One side features a textured gum-rubber surface that exhibits the realistic rebound response that you’d feel from an acoustic drum. The other side is a bit harder and is catered more to doing intense wrist workouts. A drummer will use both sides for different practicing scenarios.
Overall, this is a great pad to get if you want to play it safe and buy a product that you know will work well. It has a quiet sound that won’t bother anyone along with a solid structure that will last you many years. It can easily fit into a snare basket as well as be placed on top of a snare drum.
Other than having two playing surfaces, it doesn’t have any other fancy features. It’s a workhorse practice pad that will get the job done and it will do it well.
Evans also offers the exact same pad in a 6-inch size. If you’re a drummer who prefers smaller practice pads for increasing your accuracy, the 6-inch pad would be a better choice. Both options have high-quality construction and are highly durable.
5. Remo RT-0008-00
Remo is the other drum head company that competes directly with Evans. These two companies have rich histories and both produce wonderful products. However, Remo’s tunable practice pad has an edge in terms of innovation. At first glance, you’ll notice this pad looks different from all the others we’ve seen so far. It has a rim as well as screws all around it. These screws can be tightened or loosened to change the tension of the drum head of the pad. This gives the same feeling as tuning an acoustic drum.
The playing surface isn’t rubber like the other drum pads on this list. Instead, Remo has put a coated Ambassador head that is clamped down with the rim. So, you’ll be practicing on an actual head. If you’re a drummer who likes your drums tuned low and loose, you can tune this practice pad to feel loose and sound low. You can also tune it to be tight and sound high. It’s extremely versatile and caters to all types of drummers.
Since the playing surface isn’t rubber, it can get quite loud. So, it’s not the best option for quiet practicing. However, it’s one of the best practice pad options if you’re looking for the most authentic feel possible.
The product has two finish options. The first one is a sleek grey and the second option is a red rim mixed with an ebony playing surface. Both color options look great.
6. Gibraltar SC-PPP
Gibraltar is a company that is mostly known for specializing in drum hardware. They make so many great hardware products that are affordable and practical. So, it’s great to see that they’re selling a practice pad as well. However, this isn’t just any practice pad. The Pocket Practice Pad is a small 4-inch rubber surface that is attached to a strap intended to wrap around our leg.
It’s the perfect option for traveling, warming up before a gig, or just saving space in your backpack. As it says in the name, you can fit this pad in your pocket. The rubber surface is extremely quiet, making almost no noise and not bothering anyone around you.
It has a great feel and response and is a wonderful tool for practicing the accuracy of your strokes. You could buy two of these and strap one to each leg. This would allow you to work on moving your hands from one surface to another while playing.
Meinl also makes a practice pad like this with a leg strap. However, the Gibraltar SC-PPP is one of the most affordable practice pads with this design. It’s a great tool for any drummer to have.
7. Drumeo P4 Practice Pad
Drumeo is the biggest platform for online drum education on the internet. The people running it are very passionate about education and practice, so they developed a practice pad like no other. The Drumeo P4 drum pad has 4 different playing surfaces, making it a unique pad that will benefit drummers of all levels.
The different surfaces allow a drummer to practice patterns and play on varying levels of tension and hardness. This is similar to an acoustic drum set where the snare drum would be tight while the toms would feel looser. The pad also has different heights for each surface, helping the drummer feel a difference between each level and practice accuracy when changing from surface to surface.
The first surface is a blue gum-rubber that feels like your standard practice pad rubber. This is where you’ll be playing most of your patterns and phrases as it resembles a snare drum. The second level of the pad has black and cream surfaces. The black surface is a harder neoprene-rubber that feels similar to playing on rack toms. The cream side is a lot softer and quieter, having a similar feel to that of a floor tom. Lastly, the third level has a red pad that is the hardest surface out of all of them and resembles the sound of a cymbal.
In total, you get 4 different surfaces that emulate the feel of a full acoustic drum set. If you’re someone who likes having multiple practice pads with different responses, the P4 pad is a great solution for space. You’ll get varying sounds in just one pad.
8. Remo Putty Pad
The Remo Putty Pad is arguably the most unique practice pad on this list. It’s basically just a bunch of putty that is stored in a small box. You can take it out and roll the putty out on a table. The tension and response you get will depend on how much you roll the putty out. This makes it a versatile practice pad option.
The sound is very muted, so you won’t be bothering anyone when practicing late into the night. The putty doesn’t leave marks on any surface it’s placed on, making it a seriously easy process to roll it out and pack it back into the box.
The best thing about this pad is that it’s highly affordable, making it a great practice option for anyone on a budget. A lot of drum teachers will recommend this pad for their younger students as there is no way of breaking it.
As you can see, most of these pads do the same job. Each one just has it’s own flair to it, incorporating varying levels of innovation from the drum companies that make it. Most drummers own more than one drum pad, so there’s plenty of room for you to try different ones out.
If you just want one, find one that is versatile enough for every situation. If you want more than one, get pads that offer different things so that you’re equipped for all scenarios. Remember that your technique is more important than the gear you own. These practice pads are just tools to reflect your drumming.