Every drummer should own a practice pad. They are one of the best pieces of practice equipment that you can have. You will spend a lot of time developing your hand technique, so you need to choose the best drum practice pad for your individual needs.
Practice pads come in all shapes and sizes. Lightweight, portable, quiet, they all offer a different combination of qualities. But which of these qualities do you need the most?
How do you know which is the best drum practice pad for you? Every player is different, so how do you choose between the hundreds of options?
In this post we’ve rounded up ten popular practice pads to investigate their merits and picked out our choice for the best overall pad.
10 Best Drum Practice Pads in 2020
Remo Silent Stroke Practice Pad, 8″ | The Quietly Spoken Cousin of Remo’s Classic Pad
The Remo Silent Stroke Practice Pad’s design will look familiar to a lot of players with its white drum head and large plastic rim from other Remo models. But there’s one difference with this model and it makes a significant difference.
It uses one of Remo’s ultra quiet Silentstroke drum heads. You may know that some of Remo’s other practice pads are pretty loud, but the Silentstroke reduces volume by an impressive 80 percent without sacrificing feel or response.
The head is tune-able so you can adjust the tension to suit your preferred stick response. The bottom of the practice pad has a rubber base to prevent any slippage when you’re playing on a flat surface, or you can mount the pad onto any cymbal stand which uses a standard M6 thread if you prefer.
The 8 inch playing surface is large enough to practice your chops, while keeping the pad to a portable size for when you’re on the move. You can practice your rim shots and cross sticking on the sturdy plastic rim.
This near silent practice pad is perfect for playing any time of day or night without disturbing others and it gives you the realistic response you need to work on your playing skills.
Here’s a clip to show just how quiet this pad is:
Sabian Quiet Tone Mesh Practice Pad, 10″ | As Quiet as You Will Get and Great to Look at
The Sabian Quiet Tone Mesh Practice Pad simply looks great. It closely resembles a real snare drum with its triple-flanged metal hoop and working tuning lugs. You can tune the head to dial in the response that you need for different styles of playing and the metal hoop means that you can practice perfect rim shots and cross-sticking just as on a real snare drum.
It’s not all looks with this practice pad though. The best feature about the Quiet Tone practice pad is its low volume. Its mesh head reduces volume by up to 99%.
The pad will fit right into a snare drum basket for a natural feeling practice position, or you can place it on a flat surface. The pad has rubber feet to prevent slippage.
The Quiet Tone head is perfect for practicing with brushes, something you can’t do well or at all with a rubber practice pad. If you manage to wear out the drum head, you can replace it, there are several different heads which are suitable if you would like to try something different.
Here’s a clip of a player performing a solo on the Quiet Tone Practice Pad:
Evans RealFeel Practice Pad, 12″ | Full Sized and Solid Practice Pad
The Evans RealFeel Practice Pad offers you a large playing surface of 12″, close to that of a real snare drum, and it will fit right in to a standard snare drum basket. The pad has two distinctive playing surfaces which are mounted to a solid wooden base, which gives the pad a very strong, substantial appearance and feel.
The pad is extremely durable and will stand up to years of your playing. On the first side is a gum rubber material, overlaid with a dark grey fabric. This side gives you a good amount of rebound which is pretty close to what you would get from an acoustic drum head. This gum rubber surface will suit most practice applications, and you won’t disturb those around you too much, because it’s not overly loud.
The second side, however, is a completely different story. It is made from a harder recycled neoprene rubber which is much louder and has a higher pitch. This surface will let you hear every nuance of your sticking and it requires more effort to play because of the reduced rebound, which makes it good for building strength and endurance.
You can make use of the extended wooden rim on either pad for including rim shots into your practice routing as on a real snare drum.
Even at a substantial 12″, the Realfeel pad will slip right into a standard backpack, making sure you can take it with you on the move. If you’re a little tighter on space, or you simply want a smaller pad, the Realfeel comes in a 6″ size as well.
This thorough video review highlights all the benefits of the RealFeel 12″ and 6″ models:
Vic Firth Double Sided Practice Pad, 12” | Durable Practice Pad From a Trusted Brand
The Vic Firth PAD12D Double 12″ Double Sided Practice Pad gives you a full sized playing area and will sit perfectly on your snare drum, in a snare basket, or on any flat surface. Both of the playing surfaces provide good grip to ensure the pad won’t slide around while you play.
One side has a softer rubber surface which gives you authentic rebound and allows you to practice your chops quietly thanks to the sound absorbing material, while the other side is a harder rubber and lets you hear your sticking more clearly and is good for building endurance due to the reduced rebound.
The playing surfaces are mounted to a solid piece of wood, with a nice rim around the outside to let you play rim shots when you practice. This wooden construction also means the pad is solid and very strong. It’s just the right size to be portable, and it’s also available as a 6″ pad if you need something even smaller.
Here’s a good video of the Vic Firth pad’s sound and playability:
Movement Drum Co Ultra Portable Practice Pad, 6” | Play Anywhere
The Movement Drum Co 6” Ultra Portable Practice Pad takes up almost no space, meaning you can take it wherever you go. Now there’s no excuse to be without a reliable practice pad at all times. Weighing in at less than 300 grams, you won’t even notice it’s in your bag.
The Ultra Portable Pad will grip to pretty much any flat surface you can find and it will stay put without slipping until practice time is done. Simply put the pad back in the handy storage box to keep it clean. But if you don’t, no problem. The pad is fully water resistant and wipes clean without any hassle.
The playing surface is responsive and doesn’t make much noise. The low volume means you won’t disturb anybody while you work on your chops.
Movement Drum Co’s advertisement for the Ultra Portable pad demonstrates how convenient this practice pad is:
Meinl Knee Practice Pad, 4″ | Small, But Perfectly Formed
The Meinl Knee Practice Pad is an extremely portable and durable practice tool which will even fit into a good-sized drum stick bag with no trouble. Thanks to the fully adjustable nylon strap, you don’t even have to worry about finding a suitable playing surface, because you just attach the pad to your leg!
It’s perfect for backstage warm-ups, hotel rooms, and in front of the TV. There’s almost no excuse not to practice with this pad. The 4″ surface helps to build accuracy and consistency in your playing by focusing your strokes much more than a larger practice pad does. The pad offers a realistic stick response and is made from a durable rubber material.
Thanks to the small size, the price is also great for the benefit you’ll get out of this small, but very handy practice pad.
Here’s a demo of the pad in action:
RTOM Moongel Workout Pad 7″ | Build Your Strength and Stamina
The RTOM 7″ Moongel Workout Pad is, as you may have guessed, made by the same company that makes the famous Moongel damping pads, loved by drummers around the world.
This practice pad gives you a completely different playing experience, because it absorbs just about all of your stick’s rebound. This forces you to work your fingers and wrists to build up any speed in your playing. It feels much more like a large tom drum in response than a snare. This is challenging to begin with, but as your strength builds you will appreciate the ease with which you can play your regular drums.
Another advantage of the Moongel material is its low volume. It is very quiet and can be played in the same room as other people. At 7″ the pad is easily portable, and you could use it just about anywhere. There is an 8 mm thread on the bottom and the pad can be mounted to a cymbal stand.
While the Moongel Pad carries a fairly hefty price tag, the unique benefits to your playing make it worth the cost.
Wishbone Ash’s drummer, Joe Crabtree, demonstrates the benefits of the Moongel Pad:
Donner Drum Practice Pad, 12″ | Great Value Without Compromising On Quality
The Donner Drum Practice Pad is great value for your money and it comes with a pair of 5A maple drumsticks, the perfect size for most players. They are quite lightweight for 5A sticks. This practice pad is ideal for beginners or those wanting to dip their toes into the world of drumming without making a large investment. It comes in five different colours so you can highlight your personality or give it as a fun gift.
The pad is double sided, with one side made from a foam material which is designed to give you realistic feedback as from a real drum head, and doubles as a non-slip surface for when you’re playing on the other side of the pad. The other side is made from a hard rubber which gives less bounce, meaning you’ll be able to build your muscles and stamina.
Normally a double sided practice pad doesn’t have a thread for mounting to a cymbal, but the Donner pad has kept this feature and it’ nice to have the option. The rubber pad is very quiet which makes the pad suitable for playing in almost any environment.
The pad is strong and durable, mounted to a wooden frame which sticks out slightly at the edges, like some of the more expensive pads, allowing you to practice rim shots. The pad is also available in 8″ size which is even cheaper.
Here’s a video overview of the Donner practice pad:
Gretsch Round Badge Practice Pad, 12″ | No Nonsense Quality
The Gretsch Round Badge Practice Pad has a silica gel playing surface which gives you stick response like that of a real drum head. It is a full 12” and will fit into a snare basket, or mount to a cymbal stand with an incorporated 8 mm thread.
The pad is built on a dense and solid wooden base which gives it a real substantial feel and durability. If you’re not mounting the pad on a stand, it features a non slip foam rubber material on the base. This lets you play the Round Badge practice pad on a flat surface or even on top of your snare drum without movement or causing any damage.
You get a choice of two colours of logo and the pad also comes in 6” size for when you need a little more portability.
Here is a video of drummer Jorge Cambareli giving the pad a workout:
Movement Drum Co Double Sided 4-in-1 Practice Pad, 12″ | Maximum Versatility
The Movement Drum Co Double Sided 4-in-1 Practice Pad is a complete solution for when you need to cover all bases in considering your practice pad.
The pad is a full 12” in diameter, perfect for mounting into your snare drum basket, or job the drum itself. Each side of the pad features a rim which is perfect for practicing your cross sticking technique.
To achieve the four playing surfaces, the 4-in-1 pad comes with two removable inserts to double what you can get from a regular double sided pad.
The first surface is a hard-wearing silicone rubber which feels and responds like a snare drum.
Simply slot in the laminate insert for surface two, giving you a more articulated sound to ensure you can hear every aspect of your playing.
Swap in the conditioning insert for the third surface. This surface increases shock absorption, while retaining some rebound, forcing you to use your wrists and finger muscles more, to build up strength and endurance.
Flip the pad over for the fourth playing surface which gives you even less rebound and the quietest playing experience. Perfect for muscle development which will give you more control when you’re on a full sized kit.
If you wear out any of the inserts, simply replace them with another. A brush insert is also available separately, which gives you another option for developing your brush skills.
Movement Drum Co’s ad shows of the range of playing surfaces:
Sometimes, bigger is better, but as with everything, this depends on your personal requirements. A large pad will give you the appearance and comfortable feel of a typical snare drum, but you can potentially lose portability and gain weight.
If your practice pad will stay in one place, then a full sized pad may be right for you. If you’re needing to take it with you, check first if it will fit in your bag and it doesn’t weigh too much to cause a problem.
While a smaller practice pad can be a challenge for some players, due to a small playing area, there are plenty of benefits to considering a smaller pad.
A small sized pad is great for developing consistency with your sticking. There’s little room for positioning mistakes as you’ll likely put a dent in the coffee table!
Portability is a plus with a smaller pad, a 6” or smaller pad will fit in pretty much any bag and they don’t tend to weigh too much.
There are a variety of playing surfaces on offer with practice pads. The most common is rubber of some form or another, which tends to be a highly durable choice and relatively inexpensive for the number of years it’ll last you.
Mesh headed practice pads cost a bit more, but they give you a great feeling and very quiet surface. The heads may not last as long as rubber, but they’re generally replaceable if you get to that stage.
Other playing surfaces are available, such as the Moongel pad mentioned above, silicone, mylar, etc. Check out some reviews and videos of the characteristics of these types of pad before you buy, to learn about any unique benefits and drawbacks.
This may not be a problem for some players, while being a huge concern for others. Double sided pads tend to have a rubber side which is fairly quiet and suitable for most environments, where the second side may need to be used with consideration for others.
Mesh headed practice pads are very quiet in general, but might be a bit bouncy for some people.
The surface that you put the pad on to can have quite an affect on volume, so consider playing it on a surface with a bit of cushioning, in a snare drum basket, or mounted to a cymbal stand if possible. Playing the pad on a bed would help, for example.
A lot of practice pads have a screw thread which lets you mount them to a cymbal stand, if you happen to have one spare. This is good with a smaller pad, as it’s not possible to mount them in a snare drum basket. You won’t get this ability with a double sided pad, because the second playing surface covers the bottom of the pad.
Larger pads, typically 12”, will mount nicely into a snare basket to give you the most realistic positioning compared to a real snare drum.
Some practice pads come with straps that allow you to clip them around your leg. This is great for portability and securing the pad in place, but it works best with a smaller pad which won’t try to rotate around your leg. If you already have a small sized pad with a screw , (6” would be a reasonable maximum),
If none of this is possible, you can just place the pad on top of your snare drum, which will give you a nice little bit of snare rattle (if you want it!) or simply leave the pad unmounted, it’s not a problem to play on a nice flat surface.
Best Overall Choice
As you can see, these products all have their strengths and weaknesses. They are all good pads on their own way and we’d be happy to have any one of them.
But after getting to know each of these ten quality practice pads in turn, we can say that our vote for best overall drum practice pad goes to the Evans RF12G RealFeel Practice Pad, 12″
For the price, this practice pad has a great feel, with the option of switching up playing surfaces for when you really want to hear the sticking detail in your playing.
It sits nicely into a snare drum holder and the nice big wooden rim gives you a good surface for practicing rim shots. It’s just small enough so it’ll fit inside a backpack for portability and it’s solid.
The RealFeel practice pad also comes in a 6″ version if you’re in need of something more portable.
We hope this roundup has helped you to make a decision when choosing the best drum practice pad for your level and situation. You won’t regret buying a decent pad, because it will last you for years to come and if you follow a good practice routine on the pad, your drum set playing will benefit greatly.
What’s your pick for the best practice pad? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you.