A drum practice pad can be a fledgling drummer’s best friend, not to mention more advanced drummers too. If you start having lessons, then there is a good chance your teacher will advise you to get a drum pad which can be invaluable, especially whilst you are trying to hone in on your rhythmic best. A practice kit is a more full-scale replica of the drum set and perfect for simulating the drumming experience whilst being lightweight and portable – we look at practice kits in full further down. If you are just starting out, make sure to check out our guide to getting started for some further tips.
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Not to be confused with a silencer, mute or dampener, all of which are terms for rubber pads that you add onto a regular drum set in order to quieten them. If this is what you are looking for then you will want to check our article on the best mutes and dampeners. You also don’t want to confuse this with an electronic drum pad which also serves a particular purpose. A practice pad, sometimes called rhythm pad is a stand-alone pad which aims to imitate a real drum in its response and playability, without replicating the noise. Whilst an electric drum set can do that, it is a bit extravagant to buy electronic drums to practice on if a practice pad is what you are looking for until you play an acoustic set. We have also discussed the downsides of electronic drums for beginners in our article on Acoustic vs Eletronic.
That being said, whether you play acoustic or electronic drum sets these pads are great to have. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to play rock, jazz, metal, classical – providing you have the right sticks the pad is a great tool to learn your craft. After the reviews for the best practice pads for we have listed the pros and cons of starting off on a practice pad so be sure to read it before making any decisions.
This is a list of the out and out best practice pads ranked for their feel, response, noise and cost.
|Model||Name/ Rating||Summary||Check Price|
Drumeo P4 Practice Pad – The Best Drum Practice Pad On The Planet
Score: (4.90 / 5)
|Remarkable pad and superbly crafted. 4-textured surface simulating the snare, toms and cymbals|
Evans 2-Sided Practice Pad, 12 Inch
Score: (4.85 / 5)
|Slick pad and unbeatable on a budget. Realistic feel and well-crafted.|
Tosnail 12-inch Silent Drum Practice Pad
Score: (4.60 / 5)
|Cheapest pad that retains realistic feel. Comes with sticks|
So if you have looked on other sites that are comparing practice pads, you will see that this pad keeps on coming up as the number one. We tried to be different, we honestly did, but this pad wouldn’t let us. Very few products can call themselves ‘The best XXX on the planet’ and get away with it. This pad is one of them. This pad is produced by Ludwig but was crafted and designed by the world-renowned Pat Petrillo.
One of the main reasons we love this pad is that it has 4 sections that each respond differently. If you have ever played a kit before you will know that hitting the snare will not give you the same response as the toms or the cymbals. With this pad, you get a more realistic feel for what it’s like to play the cymbal, toms and snare drum, which is an incredible feature for what is ultimately just a rubber pad. Funnily enough, you can also hear the difference. It is well designed and the multi-surface pads are made of strong materials so this compact little pad should last you for a long time. At 12” and just under 4lbs it is not at all flimsy. We can’t fault this pad – it is not only compact and great for practicing but it gives you a better appreciation of the different drum surfaces and even the feel of moving from ‘drum to drum’ whilst maintaining speed and rhythm. Overall it is the perfect practice pad.
Next up is the slick looking Evans 2-sided pad, which really deserves top spot as much as the Drumeo. At a third of the price, this incredible practice pad is easily giving our top spot a run for its money. With over 750 reviews on Amazon, 95% of them are 4-stars and over and overall it is a straight 5-star rating. Normally we don’t use Amazon as a factor for our reviews, but this consistent praise is something quite special. It is called the RealFeel pad and this is a fair description. You would expect as much from Evans who are world famous for their drum heads. Vic Firth has a similar pad but it is slightly more expensive and not as responsive.
The pad has two sides that you can practice on – a softer side which is remarkably quiet and has fantastically realistic rebound and a harder side that provides much less stick rebound. This is good for warming up or for working on stick control and endurance. It is quite a bit louder than the rubber side as you would expect. Overall this is a well-constructed pad, with a solid ‘head’ that will endure a lot of practicing. The same size as the Drumeo pad and a little bit lighter at around 3.5lbs this pad is perfect for no-nonsense rudiments and with practice will help you in progressing to an intermediate level very quickly. With this pad, you can roll in your bedroom, paradiddle in the car and do double drags in between lessons.
In at number 3 is a pad which is essentially a cheaper version of the Evans RealFeel, being the same size and weight. However at under $20 including a pair of sticks it represents incredible value and so is absolutely perfect as an impulse purchase where you don’t know if your kid will be drumming one day and the next trying out the sax. The pad is solid and seems quite durable and doesn’t mark easily. As well as this the response is really competent and it has a nice bounce to it, without the pad moving or shifting.
As mentioned above, these are actually incredible. They very closely simulate a real acoustic kit and look like electronic sets. These pads can be a drummer’s best friend -whether a rookie, intermediate or more advanced, especially if you don’t want to receive noise complaints from the neighbors. If you are considering that an electronic kit can do the same, make sure you read below for ‘What about a practice kit?’ These are supremely and unbeatably portable and incredibly lightweight while remaining sturdy. We are only looking at one kit as there is only one on the market at the moment that is worth getting. There aren’t many on the market and the only other one that comes close is lower quality and more expensive! This kit is priced higher than a practice pad but still well below even the lower-end electronic kits. This makes the perfect practice kit for drummers who want to graduate on to an acoustic kit.
For under $200 you get these 5 pads and all the stands and mounts that you need to feel like you are sitting behind an acoustic drum set. Whilst it looks a lot like a basic version of an electronic kit the response and feel of an acoustic is pretty spot on. It is of course not the same, but you will be able to understand and gauge how well you are performing rolls and you can even play ghost notes.
Due to the smaller size pads than an acoustic, this set helps in advancing your chops, fills and all your rudiments as it forces a heightened accuracy when aiming for dead center, unlike e-kits. It is quiet, but not too quiet that you can’t hear what you are playing. This is a must for all drummers who want something between a pad and e-kit. At under 20lbs it manages to be lightweight (half the weight of an e-kit) whilst being incredibly sturdy. You can carry it from one room to another with one hand, but at the same time you can go at the pads without any movement and the pads are tight. We really like this kit and believe it is a fantastic practice tool, perfect for small apartments or situations where you need something quiet, compact and portable.
The kick pad is wide enough to use with a double pedal, although you will want to muffle them if quiet practice is the name of the game. The pads are height adjustable so provided you get a throne that fits, this kit can be played by someone as young about 10 years old onwards.
Snare drumming is slightly different from an acoustic set (as you can see from our dedicated article on marching snare drums) and so it only goes to follow that practicing for marching is going to require a different and more targeted practice pad. As such these following 3 will get you from your couch to paradiddling at 150 bpm in no time!
If you are serious about marching snare or any sort of snare drumming then this is the perfect pad for you. We haven’t seen a pad that so closely replicates a snare drum as this, so it was a no-brainer to put this at the top of our list. This innovative, slick pad has unbelievable articulation and response. You can really attack it! The beauty of its high articulation is that the pad will nitpick your chops and licks, shining a light on your rudiment techniques, unlike other pads where you can sound pretty decent even if not 100% accurate. It is quieter than a lot of pads which pays testament to its design.
The pad has a thick rim which better emulates the angle of playing on a snare and ensures you don’t pick up bad techniques. It also gives the rim a realistic marching feel. Make sure to follow the instructions with regard to pad maintenance and if you do it will last a long time. It feels remarkably durable and high quality.
We can’t praise this pad highly enough. This is a must-have for any snare drummer or even any drummer looking to brush up on speed, technique, timing and rudiments. This pad is really a case of ‘Take my money please’. Buy it, buy it now!
So going on what can only be described as a complete 180 from the Offworld V3 pad is the Remo Putty Pad. Yes, you heard us right, a putty pad. This product is as fun as it is cheap and portable. It is so portable that it goes back into a small pot once you’re done practising! This product is like the silly putty you have inevitably played with at some point in your life, except, once flattened out, it becomes a drum practice pad! It sticks to almost any hard surface, it won’t mark the wood or leave any residue, nor is it toxic and it has a solid cushioned feel with very little sound. Some people suggest just using a mousepad and sticks if you want a makeshift practice pad but we think that can be a little underwhelming for a first-time drummer and can turn them off practice whereas this adds on a whole new element. Your kid just grabs the patty, flattens it out and can practice. What can be more fun and enticing than that! Suddenly any surface is a practice opportunity.
Now, this does sound like a bit of a gimmick, so how is it in action? Surprisingly good. It is a versatile pad in that you can choose and customize your thickness which will vary the response and bounce of the pad. If you want to challenge yourself you can also use less putty and give yourself a smaller target to aim for which will improve accuracy and means on a full-sized head you will have no problem hitting the center. We really love this putty and it is definitely more than just a fun toy, you can get some serious practice out of this and all for around $10! It is extremely quiet so you can practice for hours without disturbing anyone The only downside is that it does require a hard surface – but just keep a hardback book or chopping board with you and your good to go!
Next up is the slick looking Evans 2-sided pad, which really deserves top spot as much as the Drumeo. At a third
Yup back again is the Evans RealFeel. It is a great pad and very affordable. As we said above with over 750 reviews on Amazon, 95% of them are 4-stars and over and overall it is a 5-star rating. Normally we don’t use Amazon as a point of reference or ratings but that is something quite special. It is called the RealFeel pad and it is a fairly accurate description and you would expect as much from Evans who are world famous for their drum heads. Vic Firth has a similar pad but it is slightly more expensive and not as responsive.
The pad has two sides that you can practice on – a softer side which is remarkably quiet and has fantastic realistic rebound and a harder side that provides much less stick rebound, which is good for warming up or for working on stick control and endurance. It is quite a bit louder than the rubber side as you would expect. Overall this is a well-constructed pad, with a solid ‘head’ that will endure a lot of practicing. The same size as the Drumeo pad and a little bit lighter at around 3.5lbs this pad is perfect for no-nonsense rudiments and will have you progress to intermediate level very quickly. With this pad you can roll in your bedroom, paradiddle in the car and do double drags in between lessons.
There are quite a few benefits to the practice pads, the main one being its convenience. You can be sitting in front of the TV working on your rudiments, barely making any noise, which is ideal for one of the loudest percussion instruments. If you fancy fitting in 15 minutes of double drag tap training but don’t want to sit behind your kit then these are perfect. They are so portable you could practice on a school bus if you are really die hard.
Another huge benefit for a beginner (and even as you progress) is that you can hear the metronome much more clearly when practicing which will really help with tracking your progress. Some pads even have metronomes built in and whilst the best electronic practice pad hasn’t been awarded its own top 10 list, we have included a few below. When it comes to speed training you need to be able to hear if you are on the beat and it is much harder on a full kit. So when practicing rudiments we would highly recommend a practice pad. Do it this way and you will have the paradiddling speed of this man (…or is he machine?):
Practicing on a pad instead of a kit means it much easier to focus, you won’t have the temptation to start messing around trying to get a cymbal roll going. It is just you and the pad which means your rudiments and stick control exercises will take front and center. As well as that, with a drum, your technique can get lost in the sound, whereas with a pad you will hear everything and if you aren’t clean or at pace it will be very telling. All this being said, there are some fairly obvious cons with the pad. It is not a drum set! Whilst the feel is similar it will not react in the same way as a Tom. You will get less bounce on a real drum head and so you may start hitting 175 bpm on a practice pad but find that you can’t replicate it on the real deal. As well as this you won’t get the feel for the full kit as it is just a pad so you won’t be moving your arms and coordinating your playing in the same way. Another thing that we said was a positive a minute ago is that you can’t move across the kit and experiment as you only have the pad – no cymbals, no bass. This is perfect for practicing techniques, but part of the joy of learning to drum is the freedom and creativity to try stuff out. These are the things that will eventually define you as a great drummer.
What About a Practice Kit?
You can buy a drum practice kit (link to above) which have multiple heads and are set out like an actual drum set are extremely portable. These will give you a much more realistic experience than a pad and so are worth seriously considering these. If you are playing in a small apartment or really looking to hone your technique these are both space efficient, quiet and play well. One point raised is that you could just use an old cheap e kit (electric kit) to do the same. Whilst that is fine to some extent, it is not the same. The feel, response, dynamics and sound on an electronic kit are drastically different to an acoustic set. If you have an e-kit well over $1000, for example, the Roland TD50s, then you will be absolutely fine but for lower end electronic kits you may find this a problem.
For example, you may hit the snare pad on an e-kit and the recorded sound will produce a perfect hit even if you haven’t hit your snare pad dead center. This will give you a false understanding of how clean your hit was and so your technique will be looser and suffer as a result. (On the high-end e-drums there are multiple zones on a pad so you would hear if it was off center.) The same can be said for the range of dynamics with quieter strokes like ghost notes and the limit to the how loud you can go. As importantly you may have altered the volume or balance between the cymbals as you are really going for it which may sound great when plugged in, but on an acoustic it will be quite different. On the other hand, you may want all the functions, programmes and headphones that come with the electric kit so you get the full range of sounds. In which case these may be for you. If so just make sure to turn off the ‘brain’ sometimes and remove your headphones to make sure your technique doesn’t suffer.
The best way to simulate an acoustic set is, as you would expect, to buy one, and then modify it with things like the, a super pad kick, Arton black hole mesh heads, Remo Silentstroke mesh heads and silence struck practice pads. However, modifying the kit will cost as much as the practice kit itself and that’s not even taking into account the costs of the acoustic set. As a beginner, you might just need something to practice on which will is realistic enough to emulate the drums whilst learning the rudiments and techniques. If so then a practice kit is a great choice.
So there you have it, whether or not you are just starting out or brushing up on a few rudiments you should own a practice pad. This isn’t usually in place of a full set but in compliment to it. Their fairly cheap price means that you can buy them without too much thought. If you are just testing the drumming waters then you don’t need to worry about where to put a stand, cymbals, the bags and all the rest; it is just one little pad. They are essential to brush up your technique and to track your progress. They truly are a drummer’s best friend.