Rubber Pads vs. Mesh Drum Heads – Which Should You Choose?

Mesh drum heads are better than rubber pads. They are quieter, offer better bounce, can generally be tuned, and are generally more responsive. Rubber pads, on the other hand, are more durable and cheaper than mesh heads.

Electronic drum kits have become increasingly popular in recent years, and one of the most important decisions you’ll make when choosing a kit is deciding which type of drum head to use.

There are two main types of electronic drum heads: rubber pads and mesh heads. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to know what to look for before making your decision.

  • Rubber pads were traditionally the most common type of electronic drum head (although mesh heads are becoming a standard nowadays) and they are still the main material used for electronic drum pads.
  • Rubber pads are generally less expensive than mesh heads, and they offer a good amount of durability.
  • Mesh heads are generally more expensive than rubber pads, but they offer a better feel for your drums.
  • Mesh heads are easier to tune, and they offer a more authentic drumming experience. However, they can be more fragile than rubber pads, and they’re not as durable.
  • While rubber pads offer a similar feel to practice pads, they are not tunable as you can’t adjust the tension. Plus, they are much louder than mesh pads.
  • In addition to offering a more realistic feel, mesh pads have better triggering technology and are more suitable for beginners.

Rubber Pads

Rubber pads are the cheaper option of the two, but they do have some disadvantages. Firstly, they are not as responsive as mesh heads. This means that you might not get the same level of feel and accuracy when you play.

Rubber pads do not offer the same level of authenticity as mesh heads. This is because they do not mimic the feel of a real drum head as closely as a mesh head does.

Pros and Cons


  • Cheaper than mesh heads. Mesh heads have gained in popularity because they are a better choice overall, but when the price comes into question, rubber pads are way cheaper.
  • Durability. Rubber pads are also more durable, you can play them for much longer, therefore saving once again.
  • Similar feel to practice pads. If you are someone who practices on practice pads, getting used to rubber pads will be much easier.


  • A lot louder than mesh heads. There is no question when it comes to loudness. Mesh heads tend to be quieter.
  • Rebound. Rubber pads have reduced rebound, therefore making mesh heads feel better and more “natural” compared to acoustic drum kits.
  • They are not tunable. You cannot adjust the tension of rubber pads, whereas, on mesh heads, you can.

Mesh Heads

Mesh heads are the more expensive option of the two, but they do offer several advantages. Firstly, they are much more responsive than rubber pads. This means that you’ll get a better feel for your drums, and your playing will be more accurate.

Mesh heads are also easier to tune than rubber pads. This is because the tension of the mesh can be adjusted, whereas the tension of a rubber pad is fixed. As a result, you’ll be able to get the perfect sound out of your drums every time you play.

Finally, mesh heads offer a more authentic drumming experience. This is because they mimic the feel of a real drum head much more closely than a rubber pad does.

Pros and Cons


  • More realistic feel. Mesh heads feel closer to acoustic drums and also have the option to adjust tension which all adds up to the realistic feel.
  • Better technology. They allow you to play more different styles and generally have a better triggering technology.
  • Mesh heads are better for beginners. Since mesh heads have a feel similar to acoustic drum sets, if you learn to play on one, you can easily adjust to the other.


  • Expensive. Due to the newer technology and materials used in mesh heads, they are more expensive.
  • Too bouncy. Some drummers feel that mesh heads are too bouncy and don’t replicate the feel of acoustic kits enough. Some prefer the feel of Yamaha silicone heads to mesh for this reason.

Rubber Pads or Mesh Heads for Beginners?

Mesh heads are better for beginners in learning to drum because they feel more natural, therefore, the skills and techniques that you learn are easily transferable to an acoustic drum kit. Rubber pads, on the other hand, are cheaper and a more budget-friendly option.

If price is an issue, or you’re not sure if you want to spend a lot of time learning this instrument, then it might be a good idea to start with rubber pads. Electronic drum kits with rubber pads are way cheaper compared to e-drum kits with mesh heads.

Electronic drum kits with mesh heads, on the other hand, have better and newer technology, often better triggering, and are slowly becoming a standard for e-drum kits in general. They are also tunable, which means you can adjust the tension on the heads to fit your playing style.

How Long Do Mesh Heads Last?

Mesh heads are known for their longevity. You can expect to get a few years out of your mesh heads before they need to be replaced. That’s the other great part of mesh heads, just like acoustic drum heads, they CAN be replaced at a great price.

How do you Tune Mesh Heads?

Just like acoustic drum heads, mesh heads are tunable. The process is quite similar with one exception, acoustic drum heads are tuned so that they sound good, and mesh heads are tuned so that they feel good. Make sure to not leave the tension too loose when tuning your mesh heads as you might have double-triggering issues.

For a better and more visual explanation, check out the video below on how to tune your mesh heads.


So, which type of electronic drum head should you choose? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a more responsive feel and a more authentic drumming experience, mesh heads might be the better choice. Whichever type you choose, make sure you take the time to test it out before making your final decision.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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