When it comes to drum practice, full-size drum kits can be expensive and take up a lot of space. On top of that, acoustic drum kits are loud and electronic drum kits require additional equipment (headphones or an amplifier) just to hear it.
A more affordable and space-saving alternative for drum practice is an electronic drum pad. Let’s take a look some a best options for a beginning drummer.
Please Note: I have not tested all of the instruments and options recommended below. I have chosen these recommendations mostly based on three factors: included features, overall perceived value, and word-of-mouth/online reviews. I encourage everyone to do their own research before making a purchase.
If you indeed choose one of the options listed below, please use the links in this post to make your purchase. A small portion of the purchase amount will go towards a budget for improvements and upgrades to the instruments used during private lessons.
The Roll-Up Drum Pads
If you search on Amazon for “Roll Up Drum Pads”, you will discover hundreds of these small little drum pads that have multiple drums all lumped together on one piece of vinyl.
The concept is great: a small, simple, easy to store set of drum pads to practice on. Even if they didn’t make sound, they at least give you more of a sense of practicing with an actual drum kit than you would get from a single practice drum pad.
However, there is a reason these things are so inexpensive.
To start, it seems to be easy to end up with a dud. But, if even if your works, the sound quality will likely be mediocre at best. The roll up drum kits are not touch-sensitive (meaning they won’t get louder or softer depending on how hard you hit the drum). And, in my limited experience, the sensors for these drum pads have been either are too sensitive or not sensitive enough (either go off with just a small shake of a table or require a hit with a sledge hammer to produce the sound).
As such, I have done my best to narrow down the brands that I think have the best chances of working well (without having tested them myself).
Pyle Roll Up MIDI Drum KIT w/9 ElectrIC PADS (NO SPEAKERS)
Pyle is not one of the top players in the music industry, but they have been around since 1960, which is a lot more than you can say for most companies selling these roll up drum pads. Typically, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of their audio products as a whole, despite their low price tags.
This first drum pad includes many features including play-along music, multiple drum sound styles, the ability to record, a built-in metronome, etc. Plus, an impressive 9 total drum pads and two pedals (for the bass drum and hi-hats).
However, it is important to note that this particular model DOES NOT INCLUDE SPEAKERS. It will be necessary to wear headphones or plug it into a home stereo (computer speakers will do) in order to hear the sounds of this drum pad.
If you don’t want the hassle of having to find a pair of headphones or speakers to plug your drum pad into when you practice, this is the drum pad to get.
This drum pad is almost identical in function and features to the one above, except it includes speakers to listen as you are playing.
You may notice, however, that this drum pad only includes 7 drums pads instead of 9. But, quite honestly, the extra two cymbals on the first pad are just gimmicky. Sure, a real pro drummer may have more than 3 sets of cymbals, but a standard kit only needs the 3 included here.
The Standard Tabletop Drum Pads
You might notice a trend by now. Another Pyle product. The comparison of actual value to price you pay is quite impressive when it comes to their products.
And, for any drummer really serious about practicing at home with an electronic drum pad, this is my top recommendation in the high quality, but affordable category.
There are many great features I could list here, but the top two reasons I would recommend this over the roll up drum pads above are simple: touch sensitivity and the overall feel.
On this drum pad, you can practice playing soft vs loud by hitting softer or harder with the drum sticks. And, while it’s not going to feel like sitting at an actual drum kit, the response of the stick after hitting one of these drums is going to be much more similar to the real thing. This will make it easier to practice rolls and other rudiments.
And, just in case this one isn’t quite enough for you, Pyle makes a slight bigger version of this electronic drum pad with even more features.
If you just need an inexpensive, space-saving tool to help you practice drums, you don’t need to read any further. But, if you want a drum pad that is serious about sound quality and might be used for recording or performances in the future, you are going to want to consider Alesis or Yamaha.
These two brands dominate the drum pad space with superior quality (and a higher price tag). If you want something a step up from the options above, but still portable and easy to store, check out these electronic drum pads.
Clearance & Used Items
There are many places to get used electronic drum pads and other musical equipment at a discount. Check out my Buying Used Musical Instruments Guide for more details.