10 Best Drum Practice Pads out of 23 Tested [Updated Buyer Guide]

Posted in Drums | Last Updated on October 19, 2019

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Practicing is an everyday activity for drummers, but our instrument is too loud and heavy to carry everywhere, so a practice pad is a must-have for staying in shape. If you’re the kind of drummer that wants to practice all the time but doesn’t want to be hitting your lap with the sticks like a caveman, we have a wide selection of pads made of various materials and in different sizes, to help you practice like a pro.

A quick glance at our list:

 

Evans RealFeel Pad

  • Good bounce
  • Not noisy
  • Black side doesn’t feel as natural as the grey one
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Movement Drum

  • Incredibly versatile
  • High quality materials
  • Quite heavy
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Vic Firth Single-Sided Pad

  • Can be screwed to cymbal stands
  • Realistic rebound
  • Smaller playable area
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Meinl Mkpp-4 Knee Pad

  • Not too hard, not too soft
  • Extremely portable
  • A bit noisy
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DW Backstage Practice Pad

  • Rock-solid build
  • Quiet
  • Expensive
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Moongel Workout Pad

  • REALLY quiet
  • Light weight, since it’s mostly gel
  • Not versatile
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Remo Putty Pad

  • Moldable
  • Rebound/volume are easily modified
  • Wears out when it gets dirty
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Gladstone Style Rubber Pads

  • One of the quietest models available
  • Good for any surface
  • Not designed to mimic an actual drum
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Vic Firth QuadroPad

  • Lighter than you would think
  • Can lie on a snare stand
  • Pads are a bit hard
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DW Go Anywhere

  • Compact
  • Kick pad is big enough for a double bass drum pedal
  • Screws need to be re-tightened after some time
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Evans RealFeel Pad

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This is one of the most popular pads ever made, featuring one side made of gum and another of hard rubber. A simple design that doesn’t look ultra-fancy but hey, the idea is to practice, not to show it on your wedding pictures!

The grey side (rubber gum) is rather soft and silent, while the black side (hard recycled rubber) is louder and less bouncy. Both sides are equally thick (1/4”) and have a good grip when facing down, so the pad won’t slide during a practice session.

This model comes in 6, 7, or 12” with the same thickness and construction, with the only change being diameter, so both are equally reliable.

Pros:

  • Good bounce.
  • Not noisy.

Cons:

  • The black side doesn’t feel as natural as the grey one.
  • Very strong smell during the first week.

Movement Drum Co All-In-One Practice Pad

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Advertised by the company as “the most versatile practice pad for drummers of all type,” it’s designed to have everything: four playable areas with two additional surfaces that you can insert to modify the response of the pad, and a rimmed side for practicing cross sticks and rimshots. With all these features, you are guaranteed a product that will suit you for any occasion.

The top surface is made of silicone rubber that imitates incredibly well the response of a snare drum and comes with a rim for practicing exactly as you would do it in a real drum. The bottom side is made to grip to the floor or wherever you’re putting it, and it gives a quieter sound with less rebound.

It comes with a “conditioning” insert to reduce the rebound. The coolest aspect comes from the properties of the material since usually less rebound is equal to a pillow-like surface, but this one is compact enough to give you a realistic feel, so this is ideal for helping you work on your wrists.

There are two options that you can get with this pad: Laminated for a more attacked sound, or one that emulates a coated head for playing with brushes. Why hadn’t all the other manufacturers thought about a brush insert before? And also it’s resistant to water, which is pretty cool for you practice freaks who work on their rudiments while taking a shower. It’s available in 12”, ideal size for putting on your snare drum or carrying inside a backpack.

Pros:

  • Incredibly versatile.
  • High quality materials.

Cons:

  • Quite heavy.
  • Laminated insert is not so durable.

Vic Firth Single-Sided Pad

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This is a model that stands in the middle in almost every aspect: Moderately lightweight, normal volume and mid-range price, but high quality. The top side is a bit harder than the RealFeel pad by Evans and offers a realistic rebound that is very enjoyable. The bottom side is made for stability to keep it in the same place, and for isolation to prevent it from getting noisy when placed on different surfaces.

Some people may think, “why is this particular one on the list, and not the double-sided models?” Well, this one has got an 8mm thread for putting on a cymbal stand, which is super useful especially if you get the 6” model. Small pads can be placed on a snare stand, but when being adjusted, they end up on a very uncomfortable height. This problem goes away if you have a boom cymbal stand since you can place it much lower, or even high enough to practice standing up.

This pad is available in 12” or 6”, and they’re both equally thick and responsive, but I’d nonetheless recommend getting the 12” since the smaller model bounces a lot when it’s not screwed to a cymbal stand.

Also (this is some serious advice), imagine you get to meet one of your favorite drummers, and the only “autograph able” thing in your backpack is your practice pad. You definitely will prefer having more space to avoid erasing the autograph with your sticks. It happened to me, and I surely regretted not having bought the 12” pad.

Pros:

  • It can be screwed to cymbal stands.
  • Realistic rebound.

Cons:

  • Smaller playable area, too much space for logo.

Meinl Mkpp-4 Knee Pad

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If you’re the kind of drummer that has to go to many places throughout the day and would find it annoying to carry a big pad with a snare stand, you may need some implements to keep the opportunity to practice at hand’s reach. That’s what this Meinl pad is all about! No separate mounts are required, just get it out and start playing.

This is a practice pad that comes with an extendable strap, enabling you to adjust it easily and play while you’re riding the bus or watching tv. It’s only 4”, so it barely occupies any space, and you won’t be bothering anybody with such a small pad. While the size is a downside for many people, many others see the small surface as an aid for working on accurate hits.

Pros:

  • Not too hard, not too soft.
  • Extremely portable

Cons:

  • A bit noisy.
  • Strap relaxes after several minutes.

 

NOTE: If you already have a small pad with no straps then you might find this useful: Meinl and Benny Greb designed a mount that allows you to strap any pad with an 8mm thread to your knee. It’s stable, comfortable and available here.


DW Backstage Practice Pad

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Next, we have another similar design for a different taste. Drum Workshop created this one in collaboration with Steve Smith, who wanted a serious, yet a portable tool for pre-concert warmups and practice sessions.

As soon as you put it on you notice it’s heavier than other knee pads, due to the curved piece of wood to keep it in its place. This is not bad at all. Instead, it gives a sturdy feel that makes it more pleasing to use. It fits your leg comfortably and also features a nylon strap for a quick release.

It’s still smaller than a regular pad, but it’s big enough to play without hitting one stick with the other. The playing surface is slightly angled for those who play using traditional grip, but if you’re into a matched grip you can simply turn it around, and there’s no trouble.

Pros:

  • Rock-solid build.
  • Quiet.

Cons:

  • Could be a little less bouncy.
  • Expensive.

 

NOTE ABOUT KNEE PADS: keep in mind that since they aren’t going to be centered, they may impair your posture if you don’t pay enough attention to your back and the height of your arms.


Moongel Workout Pad

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Now we have a weird-looking, unusual kind of pad. This one is made of gel! Don’t worry, it’s not sticky. Let’s take a more in-depth look at it.

Gel pads are like working out with weights. Since you get no rebound, it’s beneficial for developing wrists, because you’re forced to make the whole movement to get the stick back up. RTom, the company that manufactures Moongel products, advertises it as “revered by advanced and professional players alike.”

That’s another way of saying it’s not recommended for beginners since the feeling is intentionally not realistic and would probably end up giving bad habits if you’re not used to the natural rebound of a drum head.

In summary, the Moongel pad does exactly what it offers: build muscle. Of course, you shouldn’t expect to be able to work on your finger technique with this because it’s not its purpose, so it would be a smart choice if you intend to use it as a second pad.

Pros:

  • REALLY quiet.
  • Light weight, since it’s mostly gel.

Cons:

  • Not versatile.
  • Too small for a snare stand (7”)

Remo Putty Pad

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This little product has been on the market for over 15 years, and there must be a reason for that. Apart from looking cool, it's a pocket-sized pad that you can just flatten and start using in 30 seconds. A total game-changer for drummers wishing to practice at random locations.

When you put it on the surface, it only adheres enough to avoid bouncing around and doesn't leave any residue after you're done practicing. It grips rather than sticking, which is great. Another particular thing about this product is that it's hard or soft depending on where you put it, so in a certain way you can choose how loud and responsive you want it to be.

The bounce is compared to a marching snare, and the volume level is just like any standard pad. The main cool thing about the Remo Putty pad is the unusual material. I've seen some people asking why not getting silly putty instead of this product. The material here is quite firmer than silly putty, so it's more durable and specially made to take drumstick strokes without being pierced.

Pros:

  • Moldable.
  • Rebound/volume are modified just by changing surfaces.

Cons:

  • Wears out when it gets dirty.

Gladstone Style Rubber Pads

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The original model for this pad was designed by Billy Gladstone more than 80 years ago. He is one of the best snare drummers to have ever lived, and his finger technique was so unique and effective that even Joe Morello and Shelly Manne took lessons from him! Apart from being a legendary percussionist, he was known for inventions like the first remote hi-hat, a snare drum with individually adjustable snares, and of course, this pad.

Alright, the history lesson is over, now let’s take a look at the product. It’s essentially a black piece of rubber that is much thicker in the center. It’s meant to be placed on top of a drum and muffle almost all sound so you can practice even during the night. Some drummers also buy more than one for putting on the toms and practicing on the whole kit.

About the rebound, though it’s good, the feel doesn’t resemble the one of a real drum head because it’s made to offer more resistance, which forces you to put more effort into your movements. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a pad for everyone.

Originally this pad was manufactured by Ludwig, but nowadays they are a bit hard to come by, so a lot of people get imitations that serve its purpose. If you get one, you can be sure it’s going to last a long time. In forums, you can find comments like “I got one of these when I was a kid and now I’m 50”.

So in summary, this one is pretty simple, but it’s undoubtedly a super functional pad that can be placed anywhere.

Pros:

  • One of the quietest models available.
  • Good for any surface.

Cons:

  • Original pads are hard to find.
  • Not designed to mimic an actual drum.

Vic Firth QuadroPad

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Some people look for multiple separate surfaces to work on fluent movements around the kit, but many different practice pads would be a little too expensive. Fortunately, there are models like Vic Firth’s QuadroPad that come with different-sized playable areas on the same wooden base.

This one is designed to bear a resemblance to marching tenor sets, but drum set players can take advantage of it as well. It comes in two sizes: Small, with 8”, 10”, 12” and 13” pads, and a larger version with 6”, 10”, 12” 13” and 14” pads. For a more responsive sound, you can put a set of laminates on top of these pads.

When you get it, you receive the wooden piece with four pads and an empty space for sticking the other pad (the one that would be the #1 drum of a tenor set) on the most comfortable position for you. It’s a big plus, the fact that this product is in some way customizable. The large model comes with two additional pads instead of one.

Pros:

  • Lighter than you would think.
  • Can lie on a snare stand.

Cons:

  • Pads are a bit hard.

DW Go Anywhere Practice Drum Kit

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Sophisticated and simple, this is a practical option for practicing with many pads and setting them in many ways. This is essentially a stand with four arms with slim practice pads screwed to them, and a fifth pad on the lower part for your bass drum exercises.

DW seems to have thought about everything when designing this product, it even has a metal piece on the bottom for attaching a bass drum pedal.

It’s made for traveling drummers, so the most remarkable feature here is the size. The whole thing barely occupies 24” when folded. The pads have plastic instead of wood underneath them, to avoid having an overly heavy bag in case you need to transport it. The weight of the materials does not compromise the quality; it’s still very durable.

It only takes 2-3 minutes for putting together or disassembling it, and the pads are easily detachable. Now the most critical part for drummers with neighbors, the volume is lower than in most pads.

Pros:

  • Compact for small practice rooms.
  • Kick pad is big enough for a double bass drum pedal.

Cons:

  • Screws need to be re-tightened after some time.
  • Kick pad could be just a bit quieter.

Buyer’s Guide: Things to Consider Before Buying a Practice Pad

 

What’s the difference between all the pads?

Materials: Practice pads nowadays are made of rubber, plastic, gel, or even leather! They all have their differences in playability since the rebound changes, so there’s a material that suits every need and every taste.

Response: This depends on the thickness and stiffness of the playing surface. You can find many rubber pads, for example, but some of them may be too loud or too bouncy for you. Some mesh head pads are tuneable, so you can play as tight as you would on an actual drum.

Size: Usually, they come in 4-12 inches.

What to look for?

Regardless of the brands and materials, the elements that make up a good practice pad are rebound, volume and of course, assemblage. You don’t want to be gluing the playing surface back to the wood every time it lifts off, or a pad that sounds so hard that you can’t play it at home. Remember, a pad is one of the best investments you can make to improve, so try spending a fair amount of money on one with a solid build and a natural feel, and you won’t regret it.

Would you profit from having many surfaces?

The temptation of being a fancy pants drummer and getting an expensive pad with many surfaces, and then realizing you just wanted to study your rudiments, and now it’s annoying to have two different rebounds on each hand. Some others are seeking mainly to improve their smoothness around the kit, but having a single area to hit won’t help them for that purpose.

Though one ability helps you achieve the other, it’s important to decide whether you’ll need a simple design for your pad or if it would be wiser to invest more in a model that resembles a bit more a drum set.

Is it for home practice or to carry in your bag?

Some drummers keep their pad on their practice room, so size and weight won’t be a problem. For the other type who wants to carry it all the time on their bags, there are many models available with lighter materials or even smaller versions of the regular pads. While small pads are easier to move around, they’re hard to put on a stand, and can be annoying to use when being placed on top of a table or a drum, because many hits with the stick make them bounce, but if you’re okay with putting them on your lap then you won’t have any problem.

Other options for practicing

- Drumsticks with a rubber tip: Practical option to play anywhere. Check out Vic Firth Chop-Out models.

- Mesh heads for your acoustic drums: Of course not a portable method, but perfect for practicing at a low volume on actual drums. Some of the most popular models available are Remo Silentstroke, Evans SoundOff, and Aquarian Super-Mesh

- Build your own pad: Much cheaper than buying one and it’s surprisingly comfortable to play. Watch Drumeo’s tutorial here: