I've been trying for a while to perfect my practice setup. I've got challenges, with precious little space. Also, I have a curious 3-year old who loves to innocently topple things.
I had a proper electronic kit, but when the room became my daughter's, there just wasn't the space. So, I decided to focus on the basics. I set up a snare pad (my trusty old HQ Real Feel Cartridge Pad) and purchased the Gibraltar GBDP bass drum pad.
Both worked well. I've had my HQ Real Feel for years, probably 10-12 years at least, and it's travelled around the world with me. However, I've always noticed the difference between the practice and acoustic kits, not to mention the affect on my joints of playing on rubber surfaces.
It was while I was watching JoJo Mayer's bass drum video where I noticed he has what looked like an 18 or 22" bass drum practice pad with what appeared to be a mesh head.
I began researching and I came to the conclusion that whatever he had was not commercially available, that it was likely a customisation based on the Sabian Quiet Tone mesh practice pad. I studied the video, as there are quite a few good views of the construction. I drew up plans based on vertically mounting the pad (which I did not yet purchase) and constructing a base and truss system.
I figured I would order the pad first then examine it to be sure I could design something and have it built. So, I ordered the 12 and 14" pads.
As I was waiting for the pads to arrive, I had a thought, that perhaps I could utilise the foundation of the Gibraltar GBDP for my design. As I pulled it apart to better understand it, I observed that it's design was both simple and solid. In other words it would be logical to reuse it. It was only the soft rubber beater surface which I wanted to change, the chassis itself was well built and would suit my purpose, I'd just end up building something similar anyways.
The design of the GBDP consists of a circular beater surface with a hollow rubber striking pad, filled with formed styrofoam. It's actually quite an inefficient system for managing impact, and provides almost no rebound. This transfers quite a bit of the energy to the knees which, over time, could cause issues. The pad itself is secured to the GBDP frame by a single bolt dead centre, which allows you to simply spin the pad counter-clockwise to remove it.
With the basic design of the GBDP understood, my pads arrived. I decided to use the 14" as my snare pad, and to repurpose the 12 as my new bass drum pad. In examining the Quiet Tone pads, I observed that they are quite simple, a standard 6 lug hoop with equidistant (obviously) holes, tensioned by pressure exerted by the tension rods securing the pad frame (which consists of 4 flat aluminium bars), against a simple collar which sits where a standard drum rim would be.
I had the idea of replacing the aluminium bars with a circular piece of Perspex, with holes drilled for the lugs and the centre mounting bolt. The tensioning of the lugs would tension the head using the same principle as the original design, therefore allowing accurate tensioning.
I drew up the design after measuring, and allowed for the Perspex to be about 6cm larger (35cm diameter) than the Quiet Tone pad to create a solid backing.
I looked on line for a company which could make it, and found AB Plastics in Hallam. I sent in my plans and waited for the disk to be completed.
When the disk arrived it worked perfectly. The holes were exactly where they needed to be and it was solid. I made one more switch, I replaced the standard heads of the Quiet Tone with Remo Silentstroke heads. It plays like a real drum, and I couldn't be happier. I can play for hours with no noticeable knee or leg fatigue.