Beginners guide to Pads

New to Pads? Let’s get you set up right, with this basic guide to posture and technique.

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Written by Rhys
Updated over a week ago


Maintaining the correct posture while playing Pads will help you avoid strain and injury. Getting your seat height and position right is a good start.

Seat distance

Position your seat a comfortable distance from your controller, and sit toward the front edge. This will help you to maintain good posture, without being too rigid.

Seat height

Set your seat height so that your forearms are parallel to your controller. If your seat is too low, your shoulders and back will have to work overtime. If you’re too high it will cause unnecessary stress in your forearms and wrists.

Don’t forget to feel the groove, and move with the music.


Pads are an incredibly versatile instrument. They can be used to play anything from complex rhythmic patterns, to melodies and chord progressions. Your hand position and technique will change depending on the context, but it’s important to get the fundamentals right.

Keep your wrists up, don’t rest them on your table or controller. You will find this is far less strenuous on your wrists over longer periods, and you will be able to play with more precision and speed.

Keep your hands in a relaxed, natural position. Your fingers should be curved so that you’re hitting the pads with your fingertips, rather than the flats of your fingers.

Use a combination of finger and wrist motion when hitting the pads, stay loose, and maintain good posture.

Finger drumming

For rhythmic finger drumming, focus on bouncing your fingers off the pads instead of pressing them like buttons. This will help develop your speed and allow you to easily move between pads with more precision and less fatigue.

If you’re playing a linear pattern i.e. just using two fingers, there are a few different techniques. Each has its pros and cons, details below:



Good for accuracy, but you’ll need to rotate your wrists slightly inwards to play which can become strenuous over time.

Middle finger

Middle finger

Your middle finger has the most stability and power. Your wrists will rest in a more comfortable, natural position.

Double it up

Double it up

A combination of the above methods – use both your middle and forefinger together. This reinforces your forefinger, allowing you to play with more speed and accuracy with less fatigue.

While playing linear patterns like this, you may be tempted to ball the rest of your fingers up into a fist. Resist this, and keep all your fingers extended naturally – this will come in handy when the time comes to utilize all your digits.

Chords and melodies

Playing melodic sequences and chords on Pads is a little different. Unlike Keys, there are no standard techniques as different controllers have different layouts.

The most important thing is to plan ahead. Your positioning may change depending on the pad arrangement so work out which ones you’ll need throughout a song, and position yourself comfortably so that each pad is easily within reach.

More complex patterns and chords will call for more fingers. You may find your ring and pinky fingers feel weaker and less dexterous initially, but keep working on it and you’ll build their strength and independence in no time!

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