The drummer is one of the most important members of any band. The drummer keeps the rest of the band in line, never misses a beat, and ties the whole song together. But drumming is harder than it looks, which is why practice is essential.
Here’s the issue — drums are loud. Extremely loud. If you set up your whole kit in your home, your neighbors won’t take kindly to you practicing drum exercises on your snare in the evening.
If you can’t practice playing your whole kit, a practice pad will still help keep your chops sharp.
Here’s what to look for in a percussion practice pad.
When choosing a drumming practice pad, you have two main material options: mesh and rubber. Here’s some information about the two materials.
A mesh practice pad is the most similar to the sound of a real snare drum.
The mesh delivers the power of the snare sound but quiets the impact. You can also easily adjust the tuning with mesh, something that isn’t convenient when using a rubber practice drum head.
Since mesh practice pads don’t use a rubber head, they usually use a batter head with a rim. This is comparable to a traditional drum head, making practicing on a quilted pad similar to playing a real drum head.
Depending on the model you buy, some are real snares with the ability to decrease the intensity of the sound.
Unfortunately, mesh practice pads aren’t perfect. Like a real drum, the mesh will wear down. You’ll have to regularly replace these materials.
Rubber is the other most common material used in practice pads.
The rubber helps quiet the tone while still audible enough for you to test your skills. Some rubber practice pads are made with a rim, giving you a similar drumming experience and the ability to practice multiple-drumming techniques.
Like the mesh pads, there are rubber pads made to replicate a real drum head. Some even feature a high-quality drum head over the rubber padding so the practice pad plays like a real drum.
Stands vs. Single Pad
After you decide which material you want, you’ll have to decide if you have practice pads on stands or if you prefer using the standalone pad.
Playing a practice pad on a stand is the most similar to playing drums. You can attach the pad on a traditional drum stand and adjust it to your preferred height.
These drum pads are designed so they’re sturdy and won’t move while attached to the stand. You can sit on your drum throne and practice your chops like you would your normal kit.
You also have more versatility when setting up your practice pads on stands. You don’t have to settle for one practice pad; you can set up a mini-kit complete with cymbals, hi-hat, and even a bass drum.
Even though you mimic the experience when practicing with pads on stands, single pads have the versatility and work better with traveling. This is essential if you’re a touring musician or want to bring your practice pad to a local gig.
Single pads don’t require any setup. You just set the pad on your lap or another surface, take out your sticks and start practicing.
Acoustic vs. Electronic
The acoustic vs. electronic drum argument will always be a powerful debate, and the same goes for practice pads. Here’s a breakdown of each practice pad type.
Since drummers play acoustic kits on-stage, playing an acoustic practice pad makes sense.
Acoustic practice pads mimic the sound of real drums and other made with specific materials such as replicated drum heads.
Even if they’re not made to replicate real drums, they’re made with thick rubber so the sound and feel are similar to a real acoustic drum kit.
Unfortunately, acoustic practice pads do quiet down the tone. If you want to quiet your tone but still want to hear what you’re playing, opt for an electric practice pad or kit. All you have to do is plug in your headphones and start practicing.
To outsiders, they only hear a quiet tap. But to you, you’ll hear every detail of your drum tone. Some electronic kits even come with more features, such as a variety of drum tones and even a built-in metronome.
Electronic practice pads are a little more expensive than acoustic practice pads. So make sure this option is perfect for you before you make the investment.
While these are some of the basic considerations, there are a variety of practice pads on the market. Here are a few other features to consider.
With so many styles of drumming, many drummers look for versatility in their practice pads. This prevents a drummer from having to buy multiple practice pads. This is where double-sided practice pads come into play.
The two sides vary between each product. Some have a larger pad on one side and a smaller pad on the opposite. Others offer different fabrics and materials on each side for different sounds and tones.
Which Practice Pad Should You Buy?
Now that you know what to look for in a practice pad, it’s time to go shopping for one. So, which brands have the best practice pad?
First, look for the drum brands you already use.
Major drum head companies such as Evans make practice pads that replicate drum heads.
Cymbal companies such as Sabian, Meinl, and Zildjian make practice cymbals if you decide to set up a practice kit. Even drumstick companies such as Vic Firth create versatile practice pads.
There are also brands that specialize in practice pads. Reflex is a popular example.
Learn more about the best drumming practice pads.
Use a Percussion Practice Pad to Master Drumming
No matter what style of drumming you play, a percussion practice pad is essential to honing your drumming skills.
Are you looking for some amazing music festivals to watch some of the best drummers? Take a look at the Woodstock 50th Anniversary festival.