The Donner 8 inch single-sided practice pad is a nice, portable and budget minded practice pad option that even includes a pair of drum sticks, which is nice. It plays like a harder practice pad and doesn’t have any major drawbacks.
Feel and Playability
The playing surface on this practice pad is about 7 inches across, and it has a textured, hard rubber feel to it. I find that it plays well and there is a good amount of stick definition and sufficient rebound. It’s great for rudiments, technical work and warmups, just like any other practice pad. Some people might be skeptical of Donner due to their budget reputation, but in terms of playability this plays just as well as any other pad at it’s price level.
There is only a single playing surface, which is the gray rubber surface on top. The bottom is a foam pad that is meant to be more of an isolation pad for when this pad is placed on harder surfaces. I tried playing the bottom just for kicks, and it feels like a soft foam that would wear out quickly if I actually played on that side heavily.
How Loud Is The Donner Practice Pad?
As far as sound levels go, this one is somewhere in the middle of the pack. It’s not quite as silent as some of the softer rubber pads can be, but it’s not overly loud either. For an example, I like to think of the volume levels and sound characteristics as somewhere between the soft and hard sides of the Evans Realfeel pad.
Portability and Design
The 8 inch version of this pad, which is the one we tried out, is very portable. It’s an easy fit into a backpack or drum gear bag and it’s pretty lightweight.
The design is typical for a drum practice pad, and at first glance it might remind you of the look of the Evans Realfeel pad. The wooden base looks and feels like a pressed board material and has no paint or finish, so it has a little bit of a rough feel to it. The rubber surface on the top is fairly thick and the foam pad on the bottom is just thick enough to provide some isolation for vibrations when you have it sitting on a harder surface like a table top or counter top.
My only real complaint about this pad is that when I first opened up the package it had a pretty strong rubber smell to it, almost like a new tire or something like that. And the rubber surface and logo was a little bit greasy. I wiped it down well with a microfiber cloth and let it air out for a couple days and now I don’t notice the smell anymore. I haven’t run into that with any other practice pads.
This feels like a pretty tough pad, it doesn’t seem like it will wear out any time soon. Like many practice pads, it’s basically just a rubber layer on a wood surface, so as long as the rubber doesn’t separate it’ll hold up for a long time. It also should hold up well to abuse, being played hard or even dropped. I haven’t seen any issues with people wearing these out.
- Very portable
- Available in two sizes
- Good rebound and stick definition
- Slides around a little during play while sitting on hard, smooth surfaces
- Strong rubber smell and was greasy out of the box
This Donner practice pad is a good practice pad for those that find some of the other options to be too expensive, and the version I picked up came with sticks as well for some added value.
The playing surface is harder and isn’t as quiet as some other soft rubber pads, but it’s still not overly loud either. The only real negative is the potential rubber smell after unboxing but that goes away after a few days.