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Mesh Head Pads
Mesh head practice pads are often the cheapest of all, offering good value for money. Also some come as frame drums which means they have a rim built on, allowing you to fully practice your rimshots accurately. The response of a mesh head allows you to learn complex strokes and rudiments with ease. Therein lies one of the problems with mesh, I always find that mesh pads are often too responsive and don’t give you a really good work out. Put simply, they can make it seem too easy and when you sit down to play either a normal acoustic or even a electronic drum kit, you’ll find yourself struggling to perform to the same level. Basically if you a keen drummer looking to brush up slightly, maybe when your out and about or on the go, a mesh head is a good option for you. If your just starting out, I would go for an alternative.
Rubber Head Pads
Rubber head pads are the industry standard when it comes to practice pads, every manufacturer has at least one rubber pad on the market today. The main reason being is that they are one of the most durable pads around, also they allow you to mount them onto cymbal stands as most come with a threaded hole on the underside. This allows you to practice with complete comfort. One of the only downsides is the feel, which is a double edged sword really. The rubber pads require you to work much harder than you normally would on a drum kit, giving you less bounce. But the principle here is that with practice on the rubber pads you will find it easier to play on acoustic kits as they are much more responsive than rubber. Therefore with hard work and sticking at the rubber pads you can get very fast hand speed, and also reduce your hand fatigue through longer playing. Mid range pricing also means that rubber pads give the best value for money in the long run.
Also in recent years, rubber pads exsist with snare sounds. They have snare 'beads' in the bottom of the pads which re-create a snare sound. These are high-end pads which are extreme enjoyable to play.
RTOM ‘Moon Gel’ Practice Pads
These pads are one of a kind and are made from the very popular moon gel material that drummers have been using to help tune their drums for years. These are also mountable onto cymbal stands, like most rubber pads. The idea of these pads is that the feel that they offer is completely dead, not giving any bounce at all. Therefore giving you the toughest work out available on the market. After prolonged playing on one of these pads your hand speed will increase greatly and hand fatigue will be a thing of the past. Also you will find you have a greater control in your wrists on double and triple strokes. One of the only downsides is that these are not ideal for first time buyers, they are made with experienced drummers in mind only. Another is price, with such sophisticated construction you will find that these pads fall in the higher price bracket. But if you are wanting to improve you play greatly there no better alternative.
Electronic Practice Pads
These practice pads are fantastic for tuition and learning rudiments, patterns etc. These often come built in, as well as lessons for hand co-ordination and advanced time signatures. This is all dependent on the model purchased and it is the case that you get what you pay for, some pads do not have all these functions included but they will always help you to get a grip on the basics. An area in which they lack from time to time is feel, with the amount of features built in the feel is often an afterthought. These pads fall into the high price bracket.
Makes: Ahead, Moongel, HQ, Stagg, Yamaha, Roland