Rubber Pads vs Mesh Head Electronic Drums: Full Comparison

When purchasing an electronic drum kit, one of the first things you need to decide is whether you want to go with rubber pads or mesh heads. This will influence the feel, volume and price of the kit, in addition to plenty of other factors.

In this article I’ll directly compare the pros and cons of rubber and mesh drum pads to help you decide which option is the most suitable for your kit.

Rubber Pads vs Mesh Heads 101

Mesh electronic drum heads offer more rebound and a better feel in comparison to rubber drum pads. Mesh heads are typically more sensitive and also sound quieter when struck. The advantage of rubber pads is that they are cheaper and slightly less prone to damage.

Mesh HeadsRubber Pads
Offer more bounce and reboundFeel harder and stiffer
Feel more sensitiveUsually less sensitive
Lower ambient volume when struckHigher ambient volume when struck
Larger padsSmaller pads
May split or become damagedVery unlikely to get damaged
More expensiveLess expensive
Mesh head vs rubber pad electronic drums

Rebound and Feel

One of the biggest advantages of mesh heads over rubber pads on electronic drum kits is how they feel.

Mesh heads feel more like acoustic drum skins as they have more response and rebound. Another benefit is that the tension on some mesh heads can be adjusted to give you a different feel so you can really dial in the amount of rebound you prefer.

You also have the option with mesh heads to have different tensions for different types of drums (snare, floor tom and rack tom), allowing them to feel more like acoustic drums.

The only complaint that some players have with mesh heads is that they can cause more vibrations in the sticks compared to rubber pads. Some players do not like this feeling, however it is usually only experienced if the heads are struck particularly hard.

Conversely, rubber pads are often criticised for feeling too hard and can lead to elbow fatigue if they are played on for several hours.


Mesh drum heads are typically more sensitive compared to rubber pads. This means that the heads offer a more varied response according to the dynamics of the hit.

For example, if you hit the pad very hard vs very softly, a mesh head is usually more capable of recognising that difference. Hence, the volume of the drum (played via the module) will be adjusted accordingly.

Rubber pads are usually less sensitive to dynamics and do not feel as much like acoustic drums.


Mesh heads are quieter in comparison to rubber pads.

Note that this volume difference refers to how the pads/ heads sound when they are struck without using the drum module to create a specific sound through an amp or headphones. It’s just the ambient volume of the impact on the head which varies.

Mesh heads are quieter because they have tiny holes in them which help to reduce the vibrations and decrease the noise when striking the pad. Rubber pads on the other hand are solid and harder, so sound louder when struck.

Mesh heads are not silent but they are significantly quieter compared to rubber pads. This serves two benefits:

  • The sound of the heads/ pads does not interfere as much with the sound of the module, making the drums sound more like an acoustic set. This is the case when wearing headphones or using an amp.
  • Your neighbours and other people in the house are less likely to hear you playing.

Pad Size

Rubber pads have a “lower profile” in comparison to mesh heads. In other words, the depth of a rubber pad is shallower in comparison to a mesh head. This makes the kit a bit more compact when storing it.

Rubber pads also usually have a smaller diameter, again making them easier to store. However, having larger mesh heads does make it easier to play, especially for beginners and they will also be more similarly sized compared to acoustic heads.


If you are purchasing a good quality electronic drum kit then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the pads breaking.

However, it is true that rubber pads are more durable compared to mesh heads. Since rubber pads are thick and made from harder material, they are very unlikely to break. Mesh heads are usually very strong but can get split if they older and are struck awkwardly, or if they are over-tensioned.

Price Difference

The main advantage of rubber drum pads is that they are cheaper in comparison to mesh heads.

Let’s look at the ranges for the most popular electronic drum kit brands for comparison.

Note: Yamaha also offers some kits with a mesh snare and rubber toms which are cheaper than the all mesh kit listed in the table. Roland and Alesis only have one rubber pad drum kit each.

USA Prices

Cheapest Rubber Pad Kit$600 (TD-1K Compact)$500 (DTX402K)$210 (Alesis Debut)
Most Expensive Rubber Pad Kit$600 (TD-1K Compact)$700 (DTX452K)$210 (Alesis Debut)
Cheapest Mesh Head Kit$700 (TD-1DMK)$1900 (DTX6K3-X)$350 (Alesis Turbo Mesh)
Most Expensive Mesh Head Kit$6400 (TD-50K2)$5150 (DTX10K-X)$2700 (Alesis Strike Pro)

UK Prices

Cheapest Rubber Pad Kit£400 (TD-1K Compact)£335 (DTX402K)£230 (Alesis Debut)
Most Expensive Rubber Pad Kit£400 (TD-1K Compact)£630 (DTX452K)£230 (Alesis Debut)
Cheapest Mesh Head Kit£560 (TD-1DMK)£1575 (DTX6K3-X)£260 (Alesis Turbo Mesh)
Most Expensive Mesh Head Kit£6400 (TD-50K2)£3820 (DTX10K-X)£1950 (Alesis Strike Pro)

Comparing the Pros and Cons

Here is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pad/ head material.

Rubber Drum Pads

Lower priceDo not feel as similar to acoustic drums
More compact for storageTension cannot be changed
The sticks vibrate lessHigher ambient volume
Very unlikely to get damagedUsually have smaller pads
Pros and cons of rubber drum pads

Mesh Drum Heads

Feel more similar to acoustic drums More expensive 
High level of sensitivity Produces more stick vibrations 
 Low ambient volume Higher profile design so less compact
Usually have larger pads Mesh can become damaged and worn 
Pros and cons of mesh drum heads

In conclusion, if you are looking for the best feel and quietest ambient sound then it’s worth paying the extra for mesh head drums. If you are on a tight budget then you may only be able to find rubber pads in your price range.

If you are looking for an inexpensive mesh head kit, then make sure you check out Alesis’ range. Here are some comparisons to help you narrow down your selection:


I’m here to share with you my passion for drumming, as well as some tips and tricks for choosing and making the most out of your drum kit and accessories. Whilst I play primarily on electronic drum kits, I love all things drumming and hope to share this with as many people as possible!

Recent Posts