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How to Find Your Perfect Practice Pad

June 6th, 2019 by James Haynes

Finding the perfect pad is important for any drummer, but it can also take years and dozens of pads if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for! We put together this guide to help you sort through all the different options and pick what’s best for you.

We’ll start by looking at a few different surface types for a practice pad - then we’ll dig into some of the smaller details that can make a big difference!

Gum Rubber Pads

 

These pads have been a staple in the drumming community for decades! They give you a soft, bouncy feel that is great for a wide variety of drumming styles - if you’re looking for versatility and play a wide variety of styles, like concert, marching, and drum set, this type of pad will serve you well.

These pads are also usually pretty quiet so you can avoid annoying your family, roommates, or friends (since you should be drumming everywhere, all the time). That said, gum rubber might also not give you a highly specific feel to mimic one certain kind of drum, so if that’s what’s important to you, there are some other options below.

Dark Matter Pads

 

Dark matter is a material developed by Offworld to give a high-rebound, hard, articulate sound and feel when you are practicing. This material is more specifically designed to feel like a marching snare drum than most gum rubber pads, but can still work for practicing your concert snare drumming (especially quieter passages!).

They offer a ton of rebound, and it’s easier to hear how clean and accurate your playing is than gum rubber. This material also tends to be much louder than gum rubber, which can help you hear each note clearly, but can also make it harder to practice when you need to stay extra quiet.

Carbon Fiber Pads

 

Carbon fiber practice pads are definitely the companion to a marching drummer. These pads are usually as close as you will get to the sound and feel of a marching snare drum. They are very articulate, with an instantaneous rebound, and usually make more sound than the previous materials.

These tend to work best in an environment where you can make more sound. That said, they are still much, much quieter than a real marching drum!

Real Head Pads

 

Some pads come with a real drum head! These can sound and feel more like a drum than something like gum rubber, and can vary greatly in how loud they are depending on the pad (but they are usually somewhere on the louder side).

These are great for drummers who want an authentic rebound that feels like you’re playing on an actual drum even when you’re not!

Other Considerations

Size

It’s important to consider how big you want your pad to be. A large pad comes with a number of advantages - you have more space to play so you can practice moving playing zones, and the pad won’t bounce around when you play loud or on uneven surfaces. Smaller pads can sometimes bounce around a little bit if you lay it down on a less even surface and play loud, but they are also much more portable, easily fit in a backpack, and tend to be more affordable!

Non-Slip Surface

A non-slip surface can help make sure the pad doesn’t move around while you’re playing, which is especially good if you’re laying your pad on a drum or a surface that might not be perfectly flat and smooth.

Double-Sided

If you don’t think you need the non-slip surface, a double-sided pad can be another excellent option! You’re essentially getting two pads in one, with two different sound and feel options to offer more versatility for different types of practicing.

Rim

It’s important to consider whether or not you want a rim on your pad! This will usually increase the price a bit, as well as the weight, but also allows you to practice rim shots and rim clicks where they are written into your music, which can help make the experience more like playing on a real drum.

Snare Sound

Snare sounds can be great if you want your pad to sound more like a snare drum. This can give you a more realistic experience while you’re practicing, as well as more clarity and articulation. Sometimes the snare sound is even removable, giving you different options depending on what you’re practicing!

Laminate

Some pads come with a laminate surface on top of the main playing surface. This will usually improve articulation overall, making each note stick out more clearly and individually. Depending on if this is the sound you’re going for, they might be a good option for you.

Tunable/Adjustable

A lot of pads come with some sort of adjustability. This can help you hone in a variety of different feels for different circumstances, which can be a nice feature!

Now Go Practice

We hope we were able to help you out in your pad-hunting adventures. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know down below!



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