This is the first question I ask when a drummer asks how they can improve their drumming skills: “Do you own a practice pad?”
If they say no, that’s almost always the first port of call.
A practice pad is an exceptional tool for any drummer. It allows you to perfect your rolls and rudiments quietly, consistently, and when you’re on the move.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much my drumming improved after just a few weeks of consistently practicing on one of these bad boys.
For example, your drum kit fills will instantly improve after you practice your single or double stroke rolls consistently on one of these.
I’ve identified the top three drum practice pads that I think you should consider. There are many different options out there. However, I think the following pads cover the main types of practice pads that you’re going to find. I also really think these are the best ones out of each of these categories:
The Real Feel – Evan’s 2 Sided Drum Practice Pad
I’ve given this drum practice pad a right beating. Including a large number of heavy hits!
That’s an insanely large amount of value for the low price tag. This comes in two versions. The 12-inch model and the 6 inch one. If this is your first practice pad, I would recommend the smaller model.
However, the 12 inch is a great option if a bit of extra weight and space is not a problem for you. You also get a lot more space to play with for your drum strokes.
This pad is double-sided. One side is made of a gum material, which gives solid rebound. This is great for practicing snare and cymbal strokes.
The other side is made from more of a rubber material. This is useful for putting your muscles to work. This is useful for practicing on deeper tuned drum heads that don’t give a lot of rebound.
Both of these practice options are very useful, as it allows for practice across different surfaces.
Also, Evan’s is one of the biggest names in drum head manufacturers.
The Drumeo P4 Practice Pad
This pad consists of four different materials, and it allows you to quickly switch between surfaces at once. It can help you to develop the versatility required to move between different playing surfaces such as a drum set.
This is also a very quiet practice pad, so it’s useful for drumming practice situations where you can’t make much noise.
This drum practice pad was also created by Drumeo, one of the biggest online drum education websites in the world.
This pad is a little bit more expensive than the others, but you get a lot of value for your price.
Check out the video below. It will show not only the Drumeo practice pad in action, but it will also give you a flavor for what you can practice using one of these.
The Remo Tunable Practice Pad
This drum practice pad is a little different to the previous one mentioned. This one really simulates the bounce of a real drum, but at the expensive of being a little louder than the other practice pads.
It’s also tunable, which enables you to simulate drums of different tension.
This practice pad has one serious benefit. It’s tuning and slightly higher noise makes it a lot easier for you to listen out and observe your drum strokes.
Therefore, you should really consider this if ultra quiet practice is not a top priority of your drum practice pad.
It’s manufactured by Remo, one of the top drum head manufacturers. If you choose this pad, you’re going with an exceptional brand (It’s also the brand of drum heads that I have been fitting to my acoustic drums for years).
What to practice first
When you get your practice pad, you should identify what your weak spots are with your drumming. If you have a drum teacher, they may have already hinted at certain parts of your strokes and playing.
If you’re unsure, then work through some of the basic drum rudiments, such as single stroke rolls, double stroke rolls, paradiddles, flams, etc. I would also highly recommend practicing with a metronome.
You should quickly be able to identify which ones are uncomfortable or unfamiliar to play. This is especially the case at high or very low speed.
Your practice pad is a great tool to try out new techniques. For example, try out the Moeller technique or simply perfecting your rebound.
This one is pretty superficial, but some drummers and fans love it. Many stick tricks involve hitting the drum and working with your rebound. The practice pad is a perfect place to try these out.
What drum sticks to use
This is a matter of personal preference. I would recommend that you get a pair of heavier sticks for a real workout. These can be great for practicing your speed and endurance. You will notice the difference when you go back to using your lighter sticks.
Otherwise, just play with your regular sticks if you are warming up on the practice pad before playing on your drum set.
However, don’t just take my advise, play around with different stick types on your practice pad to see what suits you the best.
Learning resources to use
There are many amazing drumming instruction videos online. Check out Drumeo if you are interested in getting access to top quality online drum tuition.
You could also buy the fantastic book “Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer” by George Lawrence Stone. This has been referred to as the drum bible.
Personally, Dom Famularo’s book “It’s Your Move: Motions and Emotions” was one of the best resources I ever had for drumming. It’s first few chapters really paved the way for me to improve my technique.
If in doubt, you should always try to seek the tuition and help of a local drumming instructor. It can be quite difficult to identify bad habits for yourself. An experienced teacher could identify them in a heartbeat, saving you so much time, and possibly saving you from injury from bad form and technique.
If you are still unsure what one to purchase, I would highly recommend the Evan’s 2 sided practice pad. I really think you can’t go wrong with this one. As I’ve previously mentioned, this has been my go-to pad for years.
Also, this pad is an extremely popular choice for drummers.
Do you have any questions? I’d be very happy to answer them below.