SledgePad

A simple set-it-and-forget-it muffling device.

Felt strips, blankets, pillows, shredded newspaper…these are just a few of the many ways drummers have tried to control bass drum sustain. Enter SledgePad, a simple-to-install and effective foam-based dampening system designed to focus bass drum, tom, and snare tone.

The idea for SledgePad came about when inventor Mike Vermillion had to quickly tame his bass drum at a gig with a piece of acoustic foam. Today there are four types of SledgePad systems available in depths from 12″ to 22″: the original, the Vented Mini, the Vented Small, and the Vented Large models, of which the latter allows more air movement below and through the pad.

We put the Vented Mini model in a beastly 18×24 bass drum that’s always been difficult to control. Installation was quick and painless, requiring the removal of only one drumhead. The pad is held in place by two small tape tabs found on each end that attach to the drumheads. The tape keeps the SledgePad in place and allows the foam to fl oat a bit when the drum is struck.

The SledgePad Vented Mini did exactly what the company claims. It instantly gave the drum a focused and deep punch, with excellent attack, minimal sustain, and just enough “woof” of moving air. A sound engineer told me how easy it was to dial in the drum with the system installed during soundcheck. And when I listened to someone else play the kick from the audience’s perspective, I was really impressed with the drum’s attack, clarity, and punch.

I put the original SledgePad model in a 16×24 bass drum, and the drum sounded massive. It had excellent clarity, attack, depth, and punch, and it allowed for a pleasant pedal feel.

The tom and snare dampeners also come fitted with tape on both the sides. When mounted inside 16×16 and 16×18 floor toms, I found that they provided a decent amount of muffling and enabled a round, full drum tone. But they also changed the feel of the batter heads a bit. This wasn’t an issue with the snare mufflers, probably owing to their higher drumhead tension.

As for the positioning stability of the SledgePad, one of my drums that had the system installed lived in a trailer for months through hot and cold weather. The drum has also been dropped and tossed around like a giant hot potato by stagehands. The SledgePad hasn’t budged. I had little trouble removing the tape from drumheads, but you’ll want to be careful not to tear away the tape from the foam when you change heads. The tape retained tackiness, sticking solidly to the replacement head as if it were brand-new.

Street prices range from $69.85 for a Vented Mini to $92.85 for the original model. Four packs of floor tom strips are $25.45. Visit sledgepad.com for more information.