Ludwig's P4 Practice Pad
By Dendy Jarrett |
by Dendy Jarrett
When growing up, everything was a practice pad! Pillows, the mattress, dash and steering wheel of the car, my sister’s head … everything. We drummers are that way. Even air drumming became my virtual pad. When I started taking lessons, having a good practice pad became essential. Back “in the day” we had vulcanized rubber pads that floated on the drum head on our “student” snare drums, which were held in place by the vacuum created by their shape. They worked but were certainly not ideal.
Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention: Enter Pat Petrillo.
Ironically, I've known Pat Petrillo since I was in the 10th grade in high school. Our high school hosted a DCI Drum & Bugle Corps competition in South Carolina, and Pat marched in the Bayonne Bridgemen (New Jersey-based). This was in the late 1970’s when the Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps were on their way to winning top drums for several years running. They broke a cymbal in a rehearsal and I was assigned the task of escorting Pat to a local store to acquire a replacement. Later, I too marched a Top 12 Corps and while we never were buddy buds (we were in competing corps), we did sit and watch many corps together. But as happens in life, we went on with our separate lives. Pat has gone on to have a tremendous career in the field of drumming, having played with Gloria Gaynor, Patti LaBelle, and more. He also has a great website and teaching studio, and coined the phrase: Groovalution.
In his own practice and in finding standard one-surface or flip-surface pads lacking for his students, Pat developed the P4 Practice Pad in partnership with Ludwig.
Yeah, not what you think …
A major reason for creating this pad was that Pat was not only teaching strength building exercises (which can be taught on a one surface pad), but he was also trying to teach “travelling” around a kit. In the past, this required having an entire practice pad kit (which can be a good thing, but not when space limitations are an issue). Pat developed this pad specifically with the drum set player in mind, because it simulates the travelling and coordination effort of a drum set.
Yeah, but again … not what you think …
This pad is built on a multi-level platform, which is a benefit I would certainly tout if I was in charge of marketing. These levels are part of the “travelling training" while practicing. Your kit isn’t all on one level nor is this pad. From the back of the pad to its front, each of the four surfaces is at a slightly different height (just like your kit). The first pad is at the lowest level. The two middle pads are on a different, slightly higher level, and the upper area is at the highest level.
Overall, this allows for your brain and limbs to learn to travel on a multi-level approach.
And again … not what you think … really!
Each of the four (4) playing surfaces of this pad is comprised of different consistency grades of gum rubber. And this is important when the rubber meets the road!
Pad Section 1: This section is color-coded dark grey/black. It gives the feel you'd expect with just about any regular gum rubber practice pad - a standard feel, if you will. Designed to be in the “snare” position of your drum set, this is the section where you would spend the majority of your time if you're doing strength or endurance exercises.
Pad Section 2: This section is color-coded robin egg blue, and gives the feel of a tom-tom. It's tighter than Section 1 as it emulates a high tom, which is tuned higher. It provides a tighter, quicker rebound action.
Pad Section 3: This section is color-coded light grey. It gives you a totally different feel than the neighboring section 2 pad. It's very “mushy,” requiring you to really work for your rebound … just like you would on a floor tom. This is great if you sometimes in the past have used a pillow to work your chops, as this surface will give you a similar experience. I personally really liked working out on this pad cause I could “feel the burn.” It is especially nice because this particular section is quiet, quiet, quiet … allowing a workout when volume becomes a concern.
Pad Section 4: This section is color-coded in a ruddy red. It is the tightest playing (or densest) surface. The intention is to provide an experience similar to playing your high-hat or ride cymbal. This pad really gives that sense of playing on a cymbal (hard) surface.
It’s exactly what you think …
Pat hit a home run with this pad concept, and Ludwig has found a winner. I’m feelin’ the love!
It makes sense on so many levels. For the cost (see pricing below) of most single surface “no concept” practice pads, you get so much more. And for added convenience, it has an 8mm receiver on the bottom of the pad so it fits on almost all industry-standard cymbal stands.
I really felt the benefits of having these multiple surfaces, especially when breaking patterns like a paradiddle down between the pad voices. Suddenly you really distinguish the funky patterns you can create, which carry over to the drum set. It allows your hand and brain to start training on independence and movement, fluidity and the things that make playing a kit with some “groovalution” important!
YouTube: Pat Explains the Pad and takes you on a Groovalution ride.
To Purchase Ludwig’s P4 Practice Pad — MSRP: $79.95 Street Price: $42.99
Want to discuss practicing techniques, the use of practice pads and more?
Dendy Jarrett is the Editorial Director and Director of Communities for Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.