The Real Feel Practice Pad
is an indispensable item to any percussionist
who has ever even begun to dabble with drumline
The practice pad comes in two diameters, one being 6" and the other 14". Diameter is a relative term used for measurement because the wooden base of the practice pad is actually octagonal in shape.
Real Feel Practice Pads come (or have come in) three styles, and each style can be directly attributed, both in chronology and availability, to trends being perpetrated in marching percussion
at the time.
The first style consisted of one playing surface with a foam latex
covering on the bottom for table top
stability. This style was supposed to emulate the feel of playing on a Falam
marching snare drum head; as such, the playing surface was 1/4" of hard, black, polyurethane rubber
. Falams, made out of Kevlar
and being known for their ability to withstand unbelievably high tensions
(approx. 400 ft lbs of torque tension per lug, times twelve lugs) were well emulated by this unforgiving surface.
The second style featured two playing surfaces, the first of which being the hard black Falam surface used in the first model. The second playing surface was designed to feel like the Tendura
marching snare drum head. Tenduras were next-gen Falams, and the heads greatly improved upon the design of the original. More tension, higher tuning, clearer quality of sound, and more responsiveness and give were features of the new head, and Tenduras were largely embraced by the marching percussion community. The playing surface modeled after the Tendura featured 1/2" of beige polyurethane rubber, featuring a much more forgiving surface which accurately emulated
what it felt like to ram out beats
on a Tendura.
The third generation was simply a copy of the first, only this time featuring the Tendura-like playing surface instead of being modeled after the Falam. To my knowledge, only the second and third generations are still in production as Falams have fallen out of favor.
Real Feels were fantastic for the amateur and the pro alike. When I could still play, I carried one in my backpack, sticks in tow. I saw the drummer in the pit for Jesus Christ Superstar
(the broadway touring company) warming up on one before the Dallas show. I saw Neil Peart
using one backstage at a Rush
concert. If you are a percussionist you have some sort of practice pad, and Real Feel broke the mold by producing the most realistic, quiet, effective, non-injury causing pad ever.
A popular past time of drummers with Real Feels was to get their friends and significant others
to draw on the playing surface. A well marked Real Feel was the sign of someone who took their playing seriously. Every drummer I know had a severe emotional attachment
to their Real Feel. I know one who broke down into tears when his was stolen. I'm pretty sure this stems from the fact that every moment in a drummers life from the day he procures a Real Feel is usually spent with it being in tow.