The Best Single/Snare Practice Pads
Kibaga Drum Pad 12"
The Kibaga is an affordable 12 inch practice pad made of silicone rubber, a wood base and a thin foam underneath to prevent the pad from slipping around while you play it.
It fits on top of a 14 inch snare drum or on a snare stand well, provides a medium level of bounce and a low volume playing surface.
This has been described as a 2-sided practice pad but the black EVA polymer mat side is designed more to prevent it from moving around rather than as a second playing surface.
- Size: 12"
- Material:Silicone Rubber
- Extras: N/A
Many owners praise the affordability and value of this practice pad, that the rebound feel was good, and that it was reasonably quiet when played. Also when describing the practice pad in their reviews, the word "quality" is often used positively.
There were some reports of the rubber playing surface starting to peel off the base. Also, since this is marketed as a double-sided pad, some have tried playing on the thin foam side leaving pits and dents even after light use.
If you're new to drumming or on a tight budget, this is a great, affordable option to try out.
The Slint pad is a 12 inch practice pad geared towards beginners.
It comes with a carry case and a pair of 5a sticks to help you get started learning the drums.
It's orange playing surface is described to be louder than most pads but is still a lot quieter than real drums.
Similarly to the Kibaga, this practice pad is marketed as a double-sided practice pad but one side is more for slip resistance and sound dampening.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: 5A Drumsticks and Carry Case
Many users appreciated the extras that came with the practice pad such as the carry case and pair of sticks. Beginners and kids alike enjoyed the playing feel of the pad and speak highly of its build quality, especially for the price.
There were some complaints regarding quality control such as the rubber side not being aligned precisely with the edges of the base and air bubbles on the bottom side.
If you're a beginner or buying a practice pad for someone who is, this set comes with the drum sticks and case included and is a fun way to begin your drumming journey without breaking the bank.
Evans RF12D RealFeel 2-Sided 12" Speed and Workout Pad
The RealFeel 2-Sided 12 inch is a highly popular practice pad with the original design considered a classic dating back to the late 80's.
This practice pad was originally produced by a company called HQ percussion before they were acquired by D'Addario in 2004 and incorporated into the Evans brand.
This pad features two playing sides, one natural gum rubber side for bouncier and quieter practice, and the other made from harder recycled rubber for articulate playing and a more intense workout.
The gum rubber side is coated in a gray fabric for more resistance to wear and tear.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber Speed Side and Recycled Rubber Workout Side
- Extras: Double Sided
Many users speak highly of the versatility and usefulness this pad offers. They say the gum rubber side is a great general purpose practice surface, while the harder, recycled rubber surface is great for when you want to be heard like when recording videos of practice sessions.
Some couldn't help but compare the newer RealFeel pads to the older versions unfavorably in terms of playing feel and build quality. There were a few instances of pads arriving with damaged bases and glue issues (some coming unglued and some having extra glue marks around the sides).
RealFeel is a trusted and longstanding name in practice pads, it would be hard to go wrong with this choice as a perfect balance between price, features and build quality.
Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Slimpad
Vic Firth is among the most respected brands in percussion accessories.
While mostly known for their sticks and mallets, they also have a highly rated line of practice pads and their highest rated one is this Heavy Hitter Slimpad.
This pad features a gum rubber playing surface harder and thinner than most, designed for marching snare drummers who need more articulation and a feel that's closer to a high tension marching snare drum.
A mylar laminate insert (link to Amazon.com) can be purchased for this pad to make the feel and sound of the surface even closer to an actual Kevlar head.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: Optional Mylar Laminate Add-On (Sold Separately)
One stated pro this pad has is that it's extremely durable. Some users have owned one for years and claim it even outlasted their more expensive practice pads. Although louder than most pads, the Slimpad has been described as being quieter than other pads geared towards marching snare such as the Invader V3.
Due to its thin gum rubber surface, some found this pad too loud for their tastes. Also, some didn't like the rebound and found it too bouncy. If the volume is too much for you, the Slimpad has a quieter, softer surface sibling also designed for marching snare drummers, the Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Stock Pad.
If you're into drum corps snare and don't mind your pad being a little loud or even prefer it, the Heavy Hitter Slim Pad is a popular, portable and cost effective option.
Vic Firth Double Sided 12"
Another highly rated option from Vic Firth is their 12" Double-Sided Practice Pad.
This practice pad features two playing surfaces of different densities for a varied practice experience and different volume options.
The gray side is the softer, quieter and bouncier side while the black side is harder, louder and less bouncy.
Being 12 inches in diameter, this practice pad is the perfect size to be placed on a 14" snare drum and can fit in a backpack.
- Size: 12"
- Material:Natural Rubber
- Extras: Double Sided
Users praise the solid construction, its nice, weighty feel without being too heavy, and its 2 playing sides for their nice stick response.
Being a practice pad with 2 playable sides and no dedicated non-slip side, some players have complained about a little bit of slippage when placed on certain surfaces.
This is a great all-around practice pad for most players coming from a highly reputed brand. Whether you want to warm up without waking the neighbors or work on the evenness of your strokes, this double-sided practice pad from Vic Firth has a surface that will suit your needs.
Offworld Percussion Invader V3 Drum Practice Pad
The Invader V3 by Offworld Percussion is a premium practice pad designed for marching snare drummers.
Its playing and bottom surfaces feature their proprietary polymer they call "DarkMatter" which is meant to be a very close representation of a marching snare head and to be non-slip and grippy when placed on top of various surfaces.
It also features a realistic 360° drum rim which allows you to practice shots and clicks while being less damaging to your sticks than regular metal drum rims.
- Size: 13.75"
- Material: Proprietary "DarkMatter" Polymer
- Extras: 360 Rim Element/Stick Saving Rim, Playable DarkMatter Non-Slip Bottom
Many marching drummers have reported that this is the best feeling and sounding practice pad they have ever used. Some say that due to the included "shottable" rim, this practice pad does not give them "Pad Hands". Its sound is loud, clear and articulate allowing you to perfect your technique down to the microscopic level.
Although great for simulating a marching snare head, the shiny DarkMatter material is reportedly susceptible to wear and tear and requires regular maintenance cleaning with Armor All™ car cleaner and Turtle Wax™ protectant. Some found this pad to be bulky and not very portable.
If you're fully committed to being the best marching snare drummer you can be and want a realistic and well-built practice pad, the Offworld Invader V3 is a serious choice for serious drummers.
The Best Drum Practice Pad Set
DW Go Anywhere 5-Piece Practice Set
For those who feel that practicing on just one pad isn't enough, the DW Go Anywhere is a 5-piece low volume drum practice solution emulating the configuration of an actual drum kit including a kick drum pad that can accommodate double pedals.
With a wide adjustment range, you can closely match your preferred kit placement all while occupying just a little over the space requirements of a typical cymbal stand and large ride.
This set of practice pads and the hardware included are well-built and heavy duty while being light enough to carry around with one hand.
- Pads: Two 8" Pads For Tom and Cymbal, Two 10" Pads for Snare and Floor Tom, One Bass Drum Pad (Bass Pedal Sold Separately)
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras:Pad Stand and Arms, Memory Locks and Drum Key (Sold Separately)
Users love its compact footprint allowing it to be used in tight spaces such as small apartments. Also - due to it being quiet (definitely quieter than a drumset), some owners have reported major improvements in their playing by being able to practice more often and at different times of the day.
There were some who found the of the positioning of pads and assembly to be difficult. Also, some commented that they were constantly re-tightening the pad arms after a few minutes of practice. The optionalmemory locks that are sold separately might help with this.
If you're a drumset player who for space, sound or price reasons can't have drums in the house, this might do the trick.
The Best Drum Mute Set
Drum mutes are a great option for those who already have their drumset set up and want to practice quietly on their actual kit.
Vic Firth Drum Mute Prepack MUTEPP6
The Vic Firth MUTEPP6 is a drum and cymbal mute pre pack containing mutes for a 5-piece drumset, a hi-hat and 2 cymbals.
The mutes are made from black, non-slip rubber and allow you to practice quietly on your drum set.
They also double up as thin, lightweight practice pads when placed on a hard surface.
- Includes: 10", 12", 14", 16", 22", Hi-Hat, and 2 Cymbal Mutes
- Material: Pure Rubber
- Extras: N/A
Apart from the good look and feel compared to other mutes, users appreciated the fact that they were easy to install and remove when they wanted to go back to playing on their unmuted drumset, an obvious advantage over those silent mesh heads that you'd have to install semi-permanently on your drums.
There were some who were hoping for more of a reduction in sound than these provided. Also, a few people were sensitive to the smell of the rubber although most reported that it would dissipate in a few days.
If you want a convenient way to practice quietly on your actual drumset, this mute pack from Vic Firth is a highly rated option.
Things to Consider When Buying Practice Pads
Make an informed purchase by considering the following things when selecting a practice pad:
It's extremely common for practice pad marketing material to tout how "realistic" a practice pad feels. Unfortunately, practice pads never feel 100% like an acoustic drum because they generally use different materials such as rubber to keep the volume down.
Practice pads usually fall somewhere in between two extremes. They either feel “dead” (like you’re hitting a pillow), or “bouncy”. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, just used to train different aspects of your technique.
Bouncy surfaces work on your ability to control and harness the rebound of your drumsticks while the deader surfaces offer resistance training much like lifting weights to build strength and endurance. Many companies offer double-sided practice pads that give you the best of both worlds.
One of the main purposes of a practice pad is to be quieter than acoustic drums. Other than that general fact, a practice pad's sound level will vary greatly depending on the material and density of the practice pad.
Some practice pads (such as marching snare pads) are designed to produce a sound for you to be able to work on the evenness of your strokes and even participate pad jams.
The playing feel and volume of a practice pad usually go hand in hand so you will have to find a balance between the two.
- Practice pads come in different shapes and sizes. Smaller pads are more portable and can help you work on accuracy, but larger pads measuring closer to actual snare dimensions such as a 12" pad can more accurately replicate the feel of an acoustic drum and will move around less when being played.
"Pad Hands" is a slang term originating from drum corps to pertain to the loss in translation between practicing on a practice pad and playing on actual drums. As mentioned earlier, no practice pad will feel or sound exactly like real acoustic drums. Pad hands is especially seen in the inability to hit rim shots.
The only way to prevent pad hands is to have experience with actual drums. Try to approach your practice pad as you would a real drum by using your imagination and being mindful of how a real drum will feel and sound.
Here's a more in-depth discussion on the topic:
Sizes and Portability
A Quick Note About Pad Hands
Best Drum Practice Pad Selection Methodology
The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on November 25, 2021.
For this November 2021 Edition we began by looking at single practice pads, sets and mutes available from major online American music equipment retailers and short-listed 37 of them for closer examination. Then we collected over 17,200 rating sources (over double we had last year) which included user reviews, store ratings, forum discussions and expert opinions which were then processed by the Gearank Algorithm to produce rating scores out of 100 for each product. We then selected the highest rated options to recommend above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.
About the Author and Contributors
Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.
Lead Author & Researcher
As an experienced producer and musician, Alden loves to help fellow musicians find the right gear for the job. Aside from music, Alden's interests include: CS:GO and MLBB.
The video has been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.
The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.