The Best Single/Snare Practice Pads
Evans RealFeel RF6D
- Uncoated MDF base seems prone to moisture damage
- No side dedicated to preventing slippage - moves around when playing very loud not secured to anything
- 2 well built and good feeling playing surfaces
- Compact and light enough to conveniently take anywhere in most bags
- Quite affordable for a hallowed name in practice pads
The Evans/RealFeel pedigree is fully present in this practice pad… and for a pretty good price too!
The fabric coated gum rubber part has a very nice texture - you know this is the main surface.
This cloth textured gum surface is where you'll be spending most of your time.
The hard recycled rubber side seems durable and refined - much like a corkboard in texture but with a lot more rigidity. It doesn't feel like an afterthought - some so-called double sided practice pads have one good surface and one that's just an excuse to market the pad as double-sided with anti-slip purposes as the main function of the second side. But no, not the RF6D.
Having no side dedicated to preventing slippage poses its own challenges though. This works better mounted on a snare stand. Or modulate your playing to a maximum of F (forte) and leave your FFF practicing to full-sized 12" pads that have less tendency to jump around while you're smacking the life out of it.
The wood base however, is a different story. It seems to be made of a soft, light-colored MDF of some kind. And it gives me the impression that this would suck up moisture like its nobody's business. I'm not going to test that by dropping any liquid on it and risk damaging the pad but I would have like to have seen some sort of varnish or coating to protect it from accidental spills during those late night practice sessions with some hot cocoa.
The 6" size is great for practicing accuracy, hitting close to the center of the drum gives you a very consistent and full sound. The problem is, most people (including me) end up hitting stick to stick. Also, being on the small side lets you chuck this in your backpack with no hesitation. The best pad is always the one you have with you and I think the beaten-up tables, chairs and mousepads around me are grateful that I got this little dedicated practice buddy.
The play feel is very familiar and reassuring - much like a medium tuned concert snare. The gray gum part has less bounce, more of a "thuddy" feel to them with a little more body in the sound. It's not completely quiet but surely is a far cry from any kind of drum designed to make a sound. Inconsistencies in my playing were instantly unmasked and the unbalanced pitch of the sticks I was using quickly made its way into the forefront.
This is the harder, louder side that feels a lot like a marching snare.
The recycled rubber part is where it gets interesting. Fully expecting less bounce (possibly due to my lack of knowledge in material sciences) I was pleasantly surprised in the contrast this black side gave to me in both feel and sound.
In terms of feel, it's very bouncy… almost like a Mylar snare head, not extremely close but enough to simulate it without the extreme projection those heads are known for. The rubber is hard, it almost feels (and sounds) like playing on wood with just a bit of the edge taken off, damaging your drum tips a lot less than if you went wood to wood and with a less peaky sound.
I really like the concept of 2 different surfaces for practice. It might even mitigate that dreaded "pad hand" to an extent by accustoming your hands to different surface feels never letting you get comfortable with 1 feel that wouldn't be entirely translatable to a snare drum. But of course, pad practice is never a full substitute for practice on your actual instrument - just a convenient way to keep you warmed up or maybe a way to practice rudiments without having your neighbors call the cops on you.
For those purposes, this pad is excellent.
I've done a number of other reviews, including one for the Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs.
- Size: 6"
- Weight: 16 oz
- Material: Gum Rubber Speed Side and Recycled Rubber Workout Side
- Extras: Double Sided
|YouTube||Hype The Clean||100/100|
Evans RealFeel RF12D 2-Sided 12" Speed and Workout Pad
- Quality of MDF base is questionable, seemingly vulnerable to moisture and impact damage
- Good feeling gum rubber side coated in a gray fabric for more resistance to wear and tear
- Features an extra, well-made playing surface made from harder recycled rubber for louder, articulate playing
The RealFeel 2-Sided 12 inch is a cult classic practice pad with the original design dating back to the late 80's. They were 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 natural and quieter practice, and the other made from harder recycled rubber for louder, articulate playing and a more intense workout.
The gum rubber side is coated in a gray fabric for more resistance to wear and tear and feels especially good to the touch.
I hold the versatility and usefulness this pad offers in very high regard. The gum rubber side is a great feeling general purpose practice surface, while the harder, recycled rubber surface is perfect for when you want to be heard like when recording videos of practice sessions.
One gripe I have with this pad though is the finishing of the base. It feels almost like it hasn't been coated with anything to protect it from warping, impact and moisture.
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.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber Speed Side and Recycled Rubber Workout Side
- Extras: Double Sided
Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Slimpad
- The playing surface feels hard and springy - not great for drumset players
- Plays loud due to thin rubber surface - not for discrete practice however quiet for a marching snare practice pad
- Rock solid build quality and durability
- Aesthetically pleasing purple (or black) finish on the base
- Simple yet functional design quite easy to transport for a 12" pad
- Can be fitted with an optional mylar laminate insert to further simulate the feel of a marching snare
Vic Firth is among the most respected brands in percussion accessories. While mostly known for their wide selection of different size drum sticks and mallets, they also have a highly rated line of practice pads and their highest rated one today is this Heavy Hitter Slimpad - a pad that sports a simple yet functional design quite easy to transport for a 12" pad.
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 can also be purchased for this pad to make the feel and sound of the surface even closer to an actual Kevlar head.
The good thing about this pad is that it's extremely durable. With this build quality, I see it outlasting even some of my more expensive practice pads. Although louder than most pads, the Slimpad is quieter than other pads geared towards marching snare such as the Invader V3.
Also, the purple coated base is eye-catching and a step up from the RealFeel's seemingly bare MDF base. The manufacturer's website features a photo of this pad in black - that would be pretty cool too.
Unfortunately due to its thin gum rubber surface, I find this pad too loud for me - unusable in the middle of the night or when trying to practice around my family. Also, the rebound is a bit too bouncy for my tastes. Since I'm not liking the loudness and springy feel of it, this pad makes me look towards its quieter, thicker surfaced sibling also designed for marching snare drummers, the Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Stock Pad as a better option for my needs.
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 highly rated, portable and cost effective option.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: Optional Mylar Laminate Add-On (Sold Separately)
|YouTube||Hype The Clean||92/100|
Offworld Percussion Invader V3 Drum Practice Pad
- Proprietary surfaces require some special maintenance
- Bulky and heavy compared to simpler practice pads
- Ultra-premium build and feel
- Employs proprietary polymer surfaces very close to the feel of a marching snare head and is non-slip and grippy on many surfaces
- 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
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 a very close representation of a marching snare head and is 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.
When it comes to simulating a marching snare - this is the best feeling and sounding practice pad I have ever used. Also very welcome is the included "shottable" rim, letting me practice all sorts of techniques involving the rim such as rim shots and rim taps lessening translation time to the snare and reducing "Pad Hands". Its sound is loud, clear and articulate allowing me to perfect my technique down to the microscopic level.
Although great for simulating a marching snare head, the shiny DarkMatter material is susceptible to wear and tear and requires regular maintenance cleaning with Armor All™ car cleaner and Turtle Wax™ protectant or similar products. Also, this pad is bulky and not very portable.
If you're fully committed to being the best marching snare drummer you can be and want an ultra-premium, realistic and well-built practice pad, the Offworld Invader V3 is a serious choice for serious drummers.
- Size: 13.75"
- Material: Proprietary "DarkMatter" Polymer
- Extras: 360 Rim Element/Stick Saving Rim, Playable DarkMatter Non-Slip Bottom
The Best Drum Practice Pad Set
DW Go Anywhere 5-Piece Practice Set
- Positioning of pads and assembly quite an involved process
- Pad arms come loose and need re-tightening after a few minutes of spirited practice - memory locks sold separately
- Compact footprint while retaining a wide adjustment range, simulating a full drumset
- Practice surfaces and the hardware included are well-built and heavy duty while staying light enough to carry with one hand
- Kick drum pad designed to accommodate double pedals
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 its wide adjustment range, you can closely match your preferred kit placement all while occupying just a little over the space requirements of your 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.
I love its compact footprint allowing it to be used in tight spaces such as my tiny bedroom. Also - due to it being quiet (definitely quieter than a drumset), I've noticed major improvements in my playing by being able to practice drumset more often and at different times of the day.
On a lower note, I found the positioning of pads and assembly to be quite difficult and time consuming. Also, I find myself constantly re-tightening the pad arms after a few minutes of hard practice. The optional memory locks that are sold separately would probably help with this.
If you're a drumset player who for space, sound or price reasons can't have drums in the house or would like a handy, compact and quiet practice option, this might do the trick as a cheaper alternative to an Electronic Drum Set.
- 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)
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
- Not very "silent" - could use a bit more sound reduction
- Pronounced rubber smell that dissipates in a few days
- Great feeling non-slip rubber pads
- Easy to install and remove - get back to playing full volume in a flash
- Double up as thin, lightweight practice pads in a pinch when placed on a hard surface
The Vic Firth MUTEPP6 is a drum and cymbal mute 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 quieter on your drum set. They also double up as thin, lightweight practice pads in a pinch when placed on a hard surface like a table.
Apart from the good look and feel compared to other mutes I've tried, I appreciate the fact that they are easy to install and remove when I want to go back to playing on my unmuted drumset, an obvious advantage over those silent mesh heads that you'd have to install semi-permanently on your drums.
I was hoping for more of a reduction in sound than these provide - I guess I'll have to stick to my regular practice pads or electronic kit if I want to be "middle-of-the-night" quiet. Also, I'm a bit sensitive to the smell of the rubber but luckily that dissipated over a few days.
If you want a convenient way to practice quietly on your actual 5-piece drumset without altering your heads, this mute pack from Vic Firth is a highly rated option.
- Includes: 10", 12", 14", 16", 22", Hi-Hat, and 2 Cymbal Mutes
- Material: Pure Rubber
- Extras: N/A
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 in 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.
For this 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 23,000 rating sources (33% more than the previous edition) 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
I'm a drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. I also studied music for 6 years majoring in percussion and jazz studies with a minor in classical piano.
I'm an enthusiastic drummer that started playing snare drum in marching band back in high school. Fast forward to today and I'm proud to have extensive experience on various percussion instruments and drumsets for college ensembles, rock bands and musical theatre productions.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.
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.