The Best Single/Snare Practice Pads
Evans RF12D RealFeel 2-Sided 12" Speed and Workout Pad
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Drum Practice Pad.
While many think the The Evans RF12D RealFeel 12" Speed and Workout Drum Pad is a recently designed product, the original design for the RealFeel drum pad has been around since the late 80s and early 90s and was distributed by a company called HQ Percussion.
HQ was acquired by D'addario in 2004 and their products were eventually assimilated into the Evans brand.
The RealFeel series has been constantly improved upon over the course of decades with changes like covering the rubber pads with fabric to prevent scuff marks, to formulating new rubber densities for better feel and response.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber and Neoprene
- Extras: Double Sided
Users have near-universal praise for the RF12D. The convenience of having two surfaces with different responses to practice on is a consistent positive comment on the product. The noise level is noted to be quiet enough not to be distracting to people in their immediate surroundings.
Two customers have noted that some of the pads they received have quality control issues with regards to air pockets/uneven gluing of the pad. This resulted in an uneven feel when their sticks hit the unglued parts. Other people noted that there was a strong industrial smell on their drum pads. There were comments on the wood material being compressed MDF and not an actual piece of cut and shaped hardwood.
The Evans RF12D is a perennial favorite in the drum community for years. Two different surfaces allow you to target different areas of your playing. One side has less bounce and gives your hands a better workout. This alone can do wonders for your stamina as a drummer. The other side has more bounce and allows you to work on your accuracy and speed.
Vic Firth Slim Pad Drum Practice Pad
The Vic Firth Slim Pad has a thinner playing area than most drum pads.
The gum rubber pad is only around 1/8" thick and is meant to mimic the feel of a high tension marching snare drum.
Couple that with a thick wooden base and a non-slip rear mat and you have a solid foundation to train on.
- Size: 12"
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: N/A
Most users note that this particular pad feels the closest to a marching snare that they've ever felt. This is a definite plus if you're also a rock drummer that enjoys high tuned snares. The response was noted as snappy and making speed playing and rudiment practice an enjoyable experience by several users. One drummer noted their skill translates well into an actual snare drum.
Because of the thinner rubber used on the playing surface, the Slim Pad can get loud. Several users have noted that it is among their loudest pads which may be a problem if your goal is silent practice. Another user mentioned that if you're more used to lower tuned snares, the response may be too much.
If you're willing to trade off volume with a fairly accurate response compared to a high tuned marching snare, the Vic Firth Slim Pad is a great training tool.
Aquarian Drumheads SP14 Superpad
The Aquarian SP14 Superpad is a dual-purpose pad/drum mute that enables you to take your practice almost anywhere.
When placed on a snare as a mute, the snare wires will still activate so you can still work on buzz, drag, and ghost strokes.
- Size: 14""
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: N/A
As a standalone drum pad, the SP14 scores good points for the low volume. The real value for people is the dual-purpose nature of the SP14. One reviewer noted that with it, they have no excuse not to practice.
There are some compromises with the feel as the pad doesn't bounce as much as some users want. This is the trade-off for versatility.
If you want a versatile drum pad that doubles as a mute for your kit, the Aquarian SP14 Superpad is an ideal pick.
Offworld Percussion Invader V3 Drum Practice Pad
Different to most other drum pads, the Offworld Percussion Invader V3 utilizes a proprietary material they call Darkmatter which was formulated to bring the playing feel close to a kevlar drum head.
The Pad itself features a raised rim area made of plastic. This allows you to incorporate rimshots into your practice.
At 13.5", the pad itself can fit over a 14" snare easily.
- Size: 13.5"
- Material: Darkmatter
- Extras: 360 Rim Element/Stick Saving Rim
Because of the proprietary playing surface material, many users note that transitioning from pad to snare feels natural and avoids "Pad Hand". Several reviews praise the articulation of the playing surface, taking note of how different the pad sounds depending on where it is struck and it enables them to incorporate more expressive runs into their practice routine aside from center hits.
Several reviews note that the bottom surface loses traction when dirty and may need several wipe downs with a damp cloth for it to regain grip on surfaces. Others note that having an articulate and moderately loud pad defeats the purpose of having one in the first place. Some feel that the Invader V3 is too expensive for a practice pad.
For those who want a practice pad that allows creative practice with multiple articulations, the Invader V3 is the ideal drum pad. If volume level, size and price are not a cause of concern for you, the Invader V3 is a great choice.
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 silent drum practice solution emulating the placements of an actual drum kit including the kick drum.
With a wide adjustment range, you can closely match your preferred kit placement all while occupying just a little over the size of a typical cymbal stand and large ride.
- Pads: Two 8" pads for tom and cymbal, two 10" pads for snare and floor tom, one bass drum pad.
- Material: Not Stated (Most Likely Gum Rubber)
- Extras: Drum Sticks
People who purchased the DW Go Anywhere Practice Set generally note that they bought it for it's compact size and convenience. They mostly note that it enables them to silently practice their accuracy when moving across different parts of the kit.
The kick pad being a bit loud is a common caveat from owners, but still significantly quieter than an actual kick drum. Screws coming loose from hard hits are also noted as a minor inconvenience. Some users would rather spend a little more money on a cheap electronic drum set.
The DW Go Anywhere 5-Piece Practice Set presents the perfect solution for apartment dwellers or anyone who wants a compact practice solution while not necessarily needing to hear actual drum sounds. It also makes a great teaching tool for drum teachers.
The Best Drum Mute Set
Drum mutes are a great option for those who don't want to compromise the feel of playing a full kit for quiet practice.
Vic Firth Drum Mute Prepack MUTEPP6
Practicing on a pad helps with the finer points of your playing.
However, nothing beats a full kit with regards to practicing especially for muscle memory and playing with the different timbres a full kit offers.
The Vic Firth Drum Mute Prepack is a full kit mute with pads for individual drums including the kick, as well as hi-hat and cymbal mutes.
- Includes: 10", 12", 14", 16", 22", hi-hat, and 2 cymbal mutes
- Material: Gum Rubber
- Extras: N/A
Several reviews jokingly note that the actual people who love the mutes are the neighbors. Kidding aside, they also note that the attenuation doesn't come at the cost of tone as the snare wire still rings and some resonance can still be heard on toms. The snare mute was given many praises for it's ability to retain a low volume even with harder hits.
The kick mute was still letting harder hits sound loud. A user found a workaround by removing the resonant head and stuffing the kick with a thick blanket. Another noted that they wished the mute would let a bit more cymbal through rather than fully choking them.
If practice with a full kit is very important to you, but quietness is more important for your neighbors, the Vic Firth Drum Mute set is your best bet for silent practice.
Things to Consider When Buying Practice Pads
Make an informed purchase by putting the following things into consideration when selecting your Drum Pads:
Choosing a Practice Pad Based on Feel
A lot of companies say that their drum pads feel just like an acoustic drum, offering the same response and feel. Supposedly, this allows you to practice silently on what is essentially a drum head you can put on any surface. Unfortunately, in practice it doesn’t always work out this way. There’s almost always going to be a difference in how a practice pad feels compared to a real drum head, and there’s also going to be some variance in how one practice pad feels compared to another.
Essentially, practice pads generally fall somewhere between two extremes. They either feel “dead” (like you’re hitting a pillow), or “bouncy”. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, and many companies offer double sided practice pads that give you the best of both worlds.
Volume of Different Materials
Though practice pads are intended for silent practicing, some offer anything but. Sure, they’re definitely quieter than a full drum kit, but they can still be loud enough to be disturbing to the people around you.
The main factors that are going to decide the volume of a practice pad is the density of the material used, how much give it has, and the inherent acoustic properties of its construction. So, for example, the Vic Firth Double Sided 12” Drum Practice Pad is going to have two different base volumes. The softer side is going to be quieter because it has more give, while the firmer size is going to give you more of that “clicky” practice pad sound.
If you get a drum practice pad that you feel is too loud, some have suggested putting a shirt, handkerchief or any similar material over the surface but do take note this may change the response slightly.
The Different Sizes of Practice Pad
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.
As a general rule, choose a drum pad size based on what you want to target when you practice. If you’re looking for a silent practice session that is easily transferable to your kit, look into a 12” practice pad. Likewise, if you’re going to be focusing more on accuracy a 6” pad may be more up your alley. An 8” or 10” provide a happy medium between the two extremes. There are a plethora of different practice pads available in different materials and sizes, so as long as you know what you’re looking for you can find a combination of these two factors that will allow your pad to best work toward your goals.
A Quick Note About Pad Hand
A term you’re going to hear a lot when you’re looking for a practice pad is “pad hand”. Pad hand is when your hands grow accustomed to playing on a drum pad, resulting in a loss of fidelity and power on an actual drum kit or marching snare.
Some drum pads claim to alleviate this issue with their playing surfaces. You may find that the drum pad you eventually buy will feel different from your actual kit. Do take note of what feel the pads have on our list so they can accurately replicate your snare or drum kit. Higher tunings and marching snares usually have their equivalents as pads with a bouncier feel while low tuned rock snares are closely analogous to pads with less bounce.
Best Drum Practice Pad Selection Methodology
For this November 2020 edition we began by looking at single practice pads, sets and mutes available from major online American music equipment retailers and short-listed 31 of them for closer examination. Then we collected over 8,000 rating sources 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.