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Drum pads are purposely designed to make you work a little harder than playing actual drums. They can help to build up your hand and wrist strength, and also your drumming technique, so when it comes time to sit behind the kit, you’re skilled and ready.
But besides building strength and learning beats, these also give you a feel for stick control. They’re an excellent option for all drummers to enhance precision and power, maximize efficiency and speed, and get a more consistent tone from most any drum without the extra noise.
What Are the Best Drum Practice Pads?
Pads can have a rubber surface, which is usually harder than other materials while still providing a bounce-back feel. There are also pads with a real drumhead on them and a hard material underneath, along with gel, leather and mesh pads or multi-surface ones with a mix of everything.
Choosing a practice pad depends on a few different factors. First, if you’re just starting out and looking to learn basic form and build muscle mechanics, you’ll want a different pad than a drummer who’s had a few years of experience already. It’s best to stick to a moderately hard surface, but size comes into play, too: If you’re looking to work on precision, some pads are purposely small, to get you used to hitting your sticks in a condensed area.
Choose your material carefully as well. A mesh head may be fun to play on with all of its bounciness, but it’ll most likely do the least to improve your technique. Rubber, which is a commonly used surface material, comes in different densities, but can be the most helpful to really work your muscle memory and perfect your skills.
Finally, keep in mind that these aren’t only for practicing textbook techniques — you can rehearse your actual songs on them too, whether you’re at home surrounded by roommates or hitting the road. That way, when it’s showtime, you’ve perfected your whole setlist. Here, we’ve picked some of the best drum practice pads for every drummer.
1. Ahead Practice Pad (AHWCP)
If accuracy is what you’re looking to build up, this Ahead is the fast track to getting there with a width of under five inches. It’s admittedly tough to start out practicing on this, for any drummer, as you’ll feel pretty boxed in after being used to a whole drumhead or full pad. But after a while, you get the hang of it, and it even becomes less stressful to play since you don’t need to be looking down all the time to check your precision. It’s also lightweight, and easy to carry in any drum bag.
2. Drum Workshop Go Anywhere 5-Piece Set Practice Pad
This five-piece multi-pad is easy to set up and start practicing, giving you more of a full-set feel. Two 8-inch pads act as a tom and cymbal, with another two 10-inch pads for snare and floor tom. There’s also a bass drum pad, though you’ll need to supply the pedal yourself.
The pads give a nice rebound when hit without much noise, making this set ideal for apartment living. It’s a bit bulkier than just a regular pad, but still foldable and portable, while retaining a solid build quality.
3. Vic Firth 12″ Double-Sided Practice Pad
It’s hard to go wrong with a Vic Firth pad. Firth first whittled a custom pair of drumsticks, by hand, in the early 1960s while playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Nearly 60 years later, the company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of drumsticks and mallets.
This 12-inch pad is double-sided with natural rubber on a wooden base (one side is harder than the other), with a hearty rebound that still gives your wrists a workout. It’s easily portable, and still quiet even when hitting it forcefully. Best of all, it should last any drummer for years.
4. Evans Realfeel 2-Sided Practice Pad
This Evans RealFeel pad is mountable on a snare drum stand, but is just as easily playable on your lap, even during car rides. And because it’s silent, early morning or late night practicing is always an option. It’s also double-sided, with one featuring a gummier rubber for a more rebounded feel than the other side lined with a firmer, recycled rubber. With 6-inch, 7-inch and 12-inch sizes, an Evans pad is a tried-and-true choice for drummers looking to practice wherever they go.