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Best Practice Drum Pad

A practice drum pad can be a wonderful tool in developing technique and speed while at the same time allowing a drummer to practice anywhere, and not worry about making a lot of noise. A practice pad looks like a thick drumhead that a drummer can hit to simulate the feel of playing on a real drum. Most drum companies have their signature practice pad available in multiple sizes. Usually the sizes range from 6-12 inches. The most common pad surfaces are rubber, plastic, and an actual drumhead. However, it’s important to note a practice pad is only a tool for practice and not an acceptable substitute for an actual drum. While practice pads are great for practicing stick control exercises and speed building workouts, they cannot improve sound production.

Recently companies have been making practice pads with multiple surfaces to simulate the feel of playing on different types of drums; for example, snare drums feel different than tom toms and often require different techniques. Therefore, some of our picks have multiple surfaces on one side while others are double-sided with a soft surface on top and a hard surface on the bottom. Most rubber surfaces are soft and are good for speed building.

It’s important to note some soft pads aren’t designed to feel like a real drum, but rather are designed to help build better technique. Hard plastic surfaces are good for simulating the feel of a marching snare drum or cymbals. The actual drumhead surface does a great job of simulating an actual drum and can often be tuned to different tensions.

A drummer should have several pads for practicing different techniques. It’s preferred to have multiple surfaces on a pad so one can practice multiple techniques in a given practice session. Another hallmark of a good pad are mounting options for cymbal pad stands. I usually prefer 6 inch double-sided pads for gigging. They are small and don’t take up a lot room in my stick/hardware bag. Small pads are perfect to have for a pre gig warm-up backstage and you’ll usually want to keep larger practice pads in your studio at home.

We chose these best practice drum pads for their responsive, drum-like feel aimed at helping you build better technique, they offer multiple playing surfaces to simulate different drums, and their overall durable construction ensures each pick will last you many years.

Aquarian QBP6 Quik-Bounce 6 Drum Practice Pad

Aquarian’s Quick-Bounce practice pad is the smaller version of their Tru-Bounce practice pad which has the same realistic feel of the Tru-bounce but less expensive. Its smaller size also makes this pad easier to fit in your stick bag or hardware case. The Quick-Bounce has a neoprene surface that has a very realistic feel for rolls and other rudiments. It’s not overly bouncy like other pads and evens responds to soft playing.

I often encounter the problem of having to switch between different practice pads for different exercises so I can accurately hear what I am playing. However, when using the Quick-Bounce, I don’t have to change pads. It has a realistic feel and response at any volume or speed of playing so you can use this pad for practicing drum set techniques as well as classical and rudimental drumming. It can be mounted to an 8mm cymbal stand for easy placement while practice sticks and some instructional studies are included with your purchase.

DW DWSMPADMS Multi-Surface Pad

DW’s 12” multi-surface 3-way pad has three different playing surfaces. One side has a foam surface that is mean to build strength, making it great for stroke exercises and accent building. The other side has split soft and hard rubber playing surfaces; the soft rubber simulates the feel of drums while the hard rubber is meant to feel like the surface of cymbals. I like to practice drum set patterns on this side because it gives me a more realistic feel. The 12 inch practice pad can be mounted on a snare drum stand or can simply be placed on top of a snare drum. DW has always made the highest quality products, and this is one of the best practice pads featuring multiple surfaces for more effective practicing.

Sabian Quiet Tone Snare Drum Practice Pad

The playing surface of the Sabian Quiet Tone Pad feels very close to that of an actual drum. The playing surface is an actual drumhead and can be tuned to be tighter if needed. I like this pad because it the closest thing to playing an actual drum while remaining very quiet at the same time. The Quiet Tone also has rubber feet so you can place it on top of your snare drum for warm-ups. Since this pad has a real drumhead, it can also be used to practice a limited amount of brushwork. Available in 10 and 14 inch model, I recommend the 14 inch because it fits perfectly on top of most snare drums and doesn’t move around when played.

Evans Real Feel RF6D 6" 2-sided Speed and Workout Pad

The Real Feel pad is probably the most popular practice pad because it does a great job of warming your hands up quickly. The RF6D features a soft side and a hard side with the soft side being a bit softer than an actual drum and great for building strength. I usually use the soft side for pre-gig warmups because it is quiet and can even be played on stage. The hard side is great for practicing rolls, because it makes me work hard to get my own rebound. There are larger sizes available, but I like this 6 inch model because of the small size so you can even fit it into a stick bag if needed.

Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Slim Pad

Vic Firth’s Heavy Hitter Slim Pad is the best practice pad for simulating the feel of a marching snare drum. Slim Pads are perfect for high school students looking to practice their drum line/ marching music at home and beneficial to drum core drummers and college marchers as well. Very well made and durable, this practice pad features a very thin rubber surface to simulate a very hard marching drumhead.

To be clear, this pad isn’t designed for concert or drum set practicing, but rather designed exclusively for practicing marching snare drum. It’s been made to take the beating thick marching sticks dish out. It also has a strong wooden base that will last through many marching band seasons. Traditional drummers can mount it on a snare stand and angle it to their preference.

Rick Urban
Rick began playing drums at the age of 10. In 2003, He received Bachelor's Degrees in Percussion Performance and Music Composition from the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. While at DePaul, Rick studied with Ted Atkatz (Principal Percussionist - Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Also founder of the band NYCO), Mike Green (Principal Percussionist - Lyric Opera of Chicago), Al Payson (Percussionist - Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Fred Selvaggio (Drumset and Marimba Artist) and Ed Harrison (Principal Timpani - Lyric Opera of Chicago) In 2005, Rick received a Master's Degree of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied with Will Hudgins (Percussionist - Boston Symphony Orchestra), and Fred Buda (Drummer - Boston Pops). While in graduate school, Rick performed with the Boston Philharmonic, including performances at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Hall in Boston.  

As a performer, Rick has performed with orchestras all over the world. He has also played drums for several groups in everything from rock bands to musical theater. He has worked with such world-renowned conductors as Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, and Michael Tilson Thomas. He has performed with the New World Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the National Reperatory Orchestra, and the Schlesvig Holstein Festival Orchestra in Germany. Rick is also the drummer for the band Standby Radio. In 2010 they recorded their first album entitled When Signals Cross, and they released Awake at Midnight in 2012.

In the summer of 2005, Rick moved to Chicago and became Music Director of the A.A. Stagg Percussion Ensemble. He also created and served as the resident conductor for the "Bad Vibes" new music ensemble. In the fall of 2005, rick became a percussionist with the West Michigan Symphony under the direction of Scott Speck. In 2009 He became the resident conductor of the Lincoln Park Percussion Ensemble. In 2011 they premiered his latest percussion ensemble work entitled Over 4. In the Fall of 2010, Rick enrolled in the "Music Composition for the Screen" program at Columbia College under the direction of Andy Hill and David McHugh. While studying with Mr. Hill and Mr. McHugh at Columbia, Rick also studied Film Composition with Gary Chang and Hummie Mann. He also studied conducting with Alan Tinkham.

In the Spring of 2012, Rick received his Master's of Music from Columbia College and moved to Los Angeles. Since moving to Southern California, Rick has played with the San Diego Symphony and the Santa Barbara Symphony. He is currently the Percussion Ensemble Director of the Open Academy of Los Angeles.
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