Best Drum Practice Pads in 2020 – Staying Sharp and Ready to Play
Since the moderately accurate Whiplash came out, a lot of teenagers and maybe even adults have started to take drumming more seriously. The instrument has suddenly become entertaining and not just part of the background noise.
However, picking out a drum set and going to town on it is not as simple as picking up a guitar for the first time, or even a bass guitar (if anyone wants to be a bass player anymore). Luckily, for the aspiring drummer, there are tons of practice pads out there.
These are the tools of the trade for you to practice at home without waking up every newborn in the building. And a lot of professional drummers carry pads like these on tour so they can warm up before an act or simply practice their technique.
11 Best Drum Practice Pads to Use Anytime, Anywhere
These are the best drum practice pads according to me, for honing your skills while on the move, or simply when you feel like playing but don't have access to your drum kit.
Table of Contents
- 11 Best Drum Practice Pads to Use Anytime, Anywhere
- Simple vs. Complex Drum Practice Pads
- Surface Area – What to Look For
- Don’t Dwell on Accessories
- How Much Does Size Matter? – Not a Lot
- How to Avoid Getting Whiplashed By Band Mates
Practice makes perfect and Evans knows that probably better than anyone. The RealFeel practice pads come in three sizes – 6”, 7”, and 12”. This gives you a chance to either save money or have two practice pads with the same feel, with the added bonus of one being portable.
The 12” pad will be the best one to practice your technique on. It has a flat surface and should fit on most standard snare baskets. On the other hand, because of the design, you can also place it on any flat surface when you feel like exercising some beats.
The feedback is quite good but nothing too sensational. You’ll need to be careful and keep a proper posture when you practice, as well as a proper angle with each hit. This will save you the trouble of developing bad habits and carrying them with you to a real drum set.
Now, regarding the feel, both pads have two surfaces. The neoprene surface will give you a tough workout as it is harder and has less feedback. But if you’re looking for a taste of real drumming, the rubber surface might suit you better as it has a stronger rebound.
This Remo practice pad comes in three sizes – 6”, 8”, and 10”. The portability is top-notch given the options. However, because these pads are smaller, they’re better suited for beginners. It’s not that professional drummers can’t put them to good use, but practicing your technique on a small pad that won’t even fit standard snare stands isn’t ideal.
That being said, I particularly like the protective rubber bottom. This creates stability on slippery surfaces while also protecting the furniture from scratches. The pad is lightweight, which is always a good sign for when you want to travel with a pad.
What is impressive here is the feel. The Remo RT-0010-00 manages to replicate the feel of a real snare rather well in terms of bounce and feedback. It’s still miles away from the real deal, but it might actually be better to practice on the Remo than some low-end drum kit snares.
In addition, just when I thought I’ve seen all there was to see, another feature took me by surprise. Despite the small size and the affordable pricing, the Remo RT-0010-00 is also tunable. Granted, tuning it won’t make it sound amazing or anything.
What’s possible here is that it allows you to set the rebound so that you can either work out until your wrists go numb or spend hours practicing your favorite beats.
This one’s called the Vic Firth Heavy Hitter for a good reason. The pad is made of a 12” very rugged wooden base, sports a 3/16” gum rubber cover, and it offers a very articulate response.
When it comes to durability, this pad scores off the charts. Also, its size gives it a realistic feel, even though this model is not fully rimmed. That said, its feel is similar to that of a bass or tenor drum.
If you’re looking to get a more plastic or bright tone and snare-like response, you could use one of the Vic Firth mylar laminates. Just know that they’re not included with the HHPSL Slim Pad.
One of the best features of the Slim Pad is how little rebound it offers. It’s quite suitable for beginners too because unlike most rubber hitting surfaces, the Slim Pad won’t bounce the drumstick back at you. That’s even if you’re not the most coordinated drummer.
Vic Firth is synonymous with drumming and all things percussion-related. Although it all started with drum sticks, nowadays the company makes a wide range of high quality instruments, most of which are quite affordable too.
This double-sided practice pad is good for both beginners and expert drummers. It is a robust 12” pad that can handle lots of abuse and for a very long time. The two sides offer the best of both worlds – practicing in silence and working up a good sweat.
The soft rubber side is the one you want if you’re aiming for a quiet yet realistic practice session. The bounce is very nice and helps you exercise control. The hard rubber side tells a different story. Although you’re able to hear every stroke and exercise difficult techniques with better results, you will need to hit it harder. It’s a bit noisy but still nowhere near as loud as a real snare drum.
Although Vic Firth puts forth many affordable instruments, this practice pad is slightly more expensive than others. This 12” practice pad still has the size and a very nice feel to make it worth the money to anyone serious about improving their technique anytime, anywhere, but the build quality may not exactly honor the price tag.
This double-sided practice pad can help you go through a variety of difficult exercises and hand techniques. The pad comes with four playing surfaces, which will give you different feedback and sounds. There’s also a full rim if you want to practice rim shots.
I like that the pad is not only big at 12” but also comes with two inserts. One is laminated and ideal if you want an articulate response. You can use also use this if you don’t want a traditional snare sound.
The conditioning insert is perhaps my favorite due to how quiet it is. It’s great for practicing difficult techniques and getting accustomed to a low-rebounding surface.
On the other hand, the Movement Drum Co. pad has a dual surface, which means that it’s even quieter. I think that this can give you a tough workout, too, especially if your hand conditioning is not up to par.
6. Drumeo P4
Sometimes, exercising beats on a single practice pad may seem impossible or boring. No matter how you try to change your contact point, there’s only one sound that comes out of the practice pad. That is, of course, until you run into something like the Drumeo P4.
This practice pad features four different sections installed at slightly different angles. This simulates a very basic drum kit – a snare, a hi-hat, and two toms. For the bass drum, you can just use your foot. In terms of practicing actual songs or specific patterns, it doesn’t get any better than this.
But let’s talk feel. First of all, the two toms don’t really sound like much. But they still have distinctive sounds and different rebound action, so in terms of mechanics, they’re spot on. The hi-hat pad is somewhat interesting and probably better sounding than the tom pads overall.
The snare isn’t bad but not great either. However, since you can play it in an ensemble, it sounds better than you would expect. It may just be a bit harder for newbie drummers to use as it only makes up a small portion of the 12” practice pad.
So who is this best suited for? – I would say that professional drummers will have a blast practicing with this pad more so than first-timers. However, once you get to know the basics, exercising at home or on the road with the Drumeo P4 might become the standard, as it makes the workouts more challenging and rewarding.
Given the complexity of the pad, the price is not bad. There are definitely more expensive alternatives on the market, some of which sound a lot better. But what you have to keep in mind is that practice pads don’t have to sound like a real drum kit. The Drumeo P4 is great as is and more than enough for you to work on simple 4/4 12-bar blues rhythms and odd time signature fusion-jazz beats.
The Invader V3 is a very interesting practice pad. You’ll either love it or hate it, mostly because it’s so different than most pads on the market. The first noticeable design feature is the hard rim around the pad. One could argue that the rim not only adds to the cost but also the risk of breaking sticks when practicing.
At the same time, it makes playing the Invader V3 much more realistic. If you were to exercise proper technique on a pad, this one forces you into developing good habits by keeping you on your toes at all times. The sound is pretty great too. It’s loud and punchy and overall realistic.
However, this also means that the practice pad is not suitable for every environment. You might not want to use it at home in the late hours. But if you take it on tour, it should make practicing easier as you’ll be able to hit all your hits instead of having them blend in with the background noise.
Setting aside the fact that this is a loud pad, there’s only one thing that makes the pad unattractive to beginners. It’s expensive compared to most on the market. Sure, the build quality is also superior, but a beginner won’t learn faster on this pad because it has a higher degree of difficulty.
The Lolunut 12” silent drum pad is an octagonal double-sided practice pad. It has a 12” playing surface and a very sturdy solid wood body.
One side of the pad features high-density TPE rubber, which provides ample resistance. The other side of the pad has shockproof foam that also has noise cancellation properties. It also makes it so that the pad feels more natural to play on, thus reducing the strain on your arms and wrists.
The sound is deep, especially if you’re using the included hickory head 5A drum sticks. Seeing as this comes as a complete practice package, it’s one of the best that I can recommend. That’s especially true if you’re not sure what kind of drum sticks to use to avoid ruining your pad or playing too loud.
One could argue that Tromme priced this practice pad to be almost a mid-level option. But if you factor in the fact that the cost includes a carry case, it doesn’t seem that bad anymore. Although the pad is fairly large at 12”, the case makes it easy to take with you everywhere
Another interesting thing about the Tromme pad is the use of silicone as opposed to the standard gum rubber. As such, it has a higher resistance to wear and tear and high temperatures while retaining at least the same responsiveness as a soft rubber surface. In this case, the rebound is almost realistic while the sound is considerably muffled.
Sure, there is still the idea of paying a bit extra for just a one-sided snare practice pad. But if all you want is to disturb anyone, the silicone surface certainly fits the bill. And the stability of the pad isn’t bad either.
The design allows you to use it on a standard snare basket, but you can also use it on a regular table or other flat surfaces. It is somewhat slippery as it doesn’t come with any coating and such, but the three hinges may provide enough stability if you don’t hit it like you’re playing in the Super Bowl halftime show.
The single-sided design may not be as versatile as some beginners might prefer, as it can limit the number of techniques they can work on. That being said, the ability to safely carry the pad with you wherever you go in the included case is a nice quality-of-life feature.
If you’re going for the absolute basic setup at an affordable rate then this Donner might pique your interest. Right off the bat, you’re getting good value as you get a 12” practice pad and a pair of sticks to start learning as soon as you tear through the packaging.
The rubber surface is surprisingly high density which allows the pad to muffle most of the impact noise. While it may not have the most impressive feedback, I can’t stress enough how quiet the pad is. You can practice your technique for hours and maybe even forget you’re playing at some point.
The pad is big enough to fit on a standard snare basket. In addition, the solid wooden board also gives it a nice stable base. Since the bottom material is an EVA polymer mat that takes slippage out of the equation, you can exercise with this Donner drum pad on anything.
The price tag is worth mentioning again. The price is even more competitive if you count the pair of quality maple drumsticks. It doesn’t get more beginner-friendly than this. Except perhaps if you’re willing to consider the new 8” Donner practice pad that’s designed for ultimate portability.
11. RockJam RJDPAD
Although the hexagonal design gives the practice pad an artificial feel, the 12” surface area is more than enough for anybody to exercise a wide range of wrist techniques. The one thing that makes this practice pad worth using is also what that makes it annoying at times.
RockJam designed the RJDPAD practice pad to have very realistic feedback. Unfortunately, the realistic percussive response also makes the pad a bit loud. If you’re looking for something to practice in silence during the night, this might not be a good idea.
The good news is that there are two sides to the pad. The foam side is what you want for a realistic experience. And the rubber side gives you a stiff response and allows you to keep things quiet even when practicing at faster tempos.
Because of its size, this practice pad can fit comfortably on a snare basket. This is good news because the bottom surface doesn’t adhere all that well and won’t allow you to use the pad as standalone on a slippery table.
Another thing I like about this model is the low price point. Considering how loud you can play on the foam side, how realistic the feedback is, and how durable the base is, RockJam hit a home run with this beginner-friendly snare drum practice pad.
Simple vs. Complex Drum Practice Pads
When most people discuss the complex nature of practice pads, they often refer to the design and whether it has one or two playing surfaces. But that’s not what gives drum practice pads their complexity or even half their versatility.
Complex practice pads are those that incorporate multiple playable areas on one pad. These pads simulate more than just a snare drum and allow a drummer to practice as if it’s a full drum kit (minus the kick drum, obviously).
Should you look at complex drum pads all the time as the solution to your problem? – Not exactly. Although there are a few of them that are really responsive and allow you to hear distinct the sounds of hitting the different sections, they’re more expensive and may have a higher learning curve.
Surface Area – What to Look For
The two staples in the industry at the moment are foam and gum rubber. Over 90% of practice drums are either foam or gum rubber. Foam can sometimes be very realistic in terms of feedback. It’s also good if you want your practice pad to be very loud.
On the other hand, rubber is more versatile as you can find both hard and soft rubber surfaces. (Foam also comes in different densities but soft foam would be too fragile for use in drum pads.) Hard rubber will always give you a proper workout but also plenty of noise. Soft rubber has a more pronounced rebound and lets you exercise power and control without waking up the neighborhood dog.
But there is another material that you can find these days and it’s often overlooked by top percussion instruments manufacturers despite its performance. Silicone is used on some practice pads for its superior durability and quiet delivery.
In a way, silicone is like a combination of soft rubber and hard rubber as it has decent feedback and noise level. Note that silicone pads are not necessarily more expensive; they’re just harder to find in a proper size.
Don’t Dwell on Accessories
We’re all hardwired to think about what else is included besides the main product in a package. You don’t need to worry about that with drum pads. A pair of practice sticks costs almost nothing so getting a practice pad should be all about casual practice rather than bells and whistles.
At most, looking for a pad that comes with its own carry case may be worth it. The case would be fitted for that exact pad.
How Much Does Size Matter? – Not a Lot
Snare drum practice pads rarely exceed 12”. They’re usually found in sizes of 6”, 7”, 8”, 10”, and 12” and you may think that it will affect your play style or workout efficiency. It won’t.
The only reason 12” practice pads are the most popular is that they fit on regular snare drum stands. This allows the drummer to sit on the stool and practice various techniques and solo fills on the pad exactly as he would play them in a performance.
This also helps a drummer to maintain posture and improve stamina to be able to handle long gigs. However, smaller practice pads are just as useful. They may not be easy to position in a drum kit-like fashion, but they’re small and easy to take with you anywhere.
Note that the size of the practice pads has almost no influence on the feel or sound. Those are mainly tied to the material of the playing surface, the density of the wood base, and the wrist technique.
How to Avoid Getting Whiplashed By Band Mates
While everyone can recognize the lead guitar player, the vocalist, and even the bass player (only if it’s Flea), people rarely acknowledge the talent of drummers. This is despite the fact that drummers make the whole band come together. They maintain the tempo and make basic guitar riffs sound fuller, and at the end of the day, drummers set the song structure.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already made it, you should know that there’s no excuse to stop practicing and improving. With drum practice pads, practicing your wrist technique is just as easy as practicing solos on an unplugged electric guitar, and in some cases, even better.
As you can see from this list of the best practice pads for drummers, there are plenty of options that can meet even the most demanding requirements in terms of space, noise, and feel. Pick smartly and don’t worry about not being able to smash cymbals on your practice runs. As long as you own the beat, adding flourishes will become easier.