Not all players wear shoes while hitting their drums. In fact, I’ve met many drummers who prefer to play barefoot. For the rest of us out there, we have to ask ourselves, “what are the best shoes for drumming?”
In a rush? We recommend the Emerica Reynolds Low Vulc.
A quick Google search reveals many a forum speaking on the topic. The answer generally is one of four things:
- “Whatever you can afford should be fine. Don’t worry about it!”
- “Find a lightweight shoe that you find to be comfortable.”
- “I don’t wear shoes, I rock what Mother Nature has given me!”
- “Check out this awesome shoe from a company that specializes in drumming shoes!”
Let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market:
PUMA Men’s Turin Fashion Sneaker
- Synthetic Leather
- 11.5 D(M) US
- White Peacoat
Puma has always been a company that provides great quality, style, and performance with their shoes. The Turin Fashion sneaker is made from synthetic leather and has a nice rubber sole to grip your pedals with.
When you’re on stage, the last thing you want to be feeling is discomfort. I have had shoes that are so uncomfortable that by the end of the show, my feet are in excruciating pain.
I even had tried to untie my shoes and loosen them mid-song. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about that with the Pumas.
Converse Chuck Taylor Low Top All Star
- Lace-up, low-top sneaker
- OrthoLite insole for cushioning
- Medial eyelets for airflow
- Canvas upper
Converse holds a special place in my heart. When I was just a kid, my Chuck Taylor’s were the first shoes I can remember getting from my parents. There’s a reason this company has maintained its popularity over the years.
If you’ve ever been to a rock show before, I guarantee you’ll be familiar with these shoes. They’re extremely iconic of musicians and are a style that hasn’t changed for decades.
I personally pick the low-top variant of this shoe because I think they are easier to put on. I also get blisters when playing in the high-top version of this shoe. There are tons of color options available and have an awesome flat sole that grips perfectly to your pedals. For me, I need that grip when I play.
Drummers who wear Chucks on stage:
- Tré Cool (Green Day)
- Matt Tong (Bloc Party)
- Marc Cazorla (The Record Company)
- Ben Gillies (Silverchair)
Adidas Original Superstar
- Leather / Synthetic Upper
- Textile Lining
- Synthetic Sole
- 7.5 D(M) US
The Superstar is an iconic and modern shoe, boasting more than 1,000 customer reviews on Amazon. It’s a popular shoe. This design has been around since the 70s, so they must be doing something right.
It’s an old-school shoe, but just like the Chuck Taylors, is a great option. My big issue with Adidas as always is the price. These shoes are a bit expensive and you may be better off picking a different shoe if budget is your biggest concern.
Drummers who wear Superstars on stage:
- Joey Jordison (Slipknot)
Emerica Reynolds Low Vulc Skate Shoe
- One Piece Vamp
- Vulcanized Construction
- Die Cut EVA insole
- Triangle Tread Outsole
The Andrew Reynolds signature shoe has always been one of my go-to’s when I was skateboarding. It wasn’t until then that I realized that these shoes we also fantastic for playing the drums.
Being that they’re made for skateboarding, they’re extremely light and flexible, making these the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned.
Why shoes for drumming?
In my experience, I think you can either find a great, comfortable pair of skateboarding shoes or pick out a pair of drumming shoes from a specialized company. Whether it’s golf, football, tennis, skateboarding, or drumming, shoes made specifically for the sports count.
You will hear many cynical people speak of the sale of snake oil when it comes to drum shoes, though, I don’t buy this sentiment. JoJo Myer, for instance, has his own shoemaker that replaces his shoe soles with leather to make it easier to slide on his pedals. With rubber soles, there is too much friction for his taste.
Neil Peart is the same way. His shoes are made by a company called Urban Boards. Like JoJo, the soles of his shoes are made from leather, along with the entirety of the shoe. Ignore the naysayers on all the forums!
I’ve never been comfortable in anything other than a tennis shoe and have a hard time seeing other drummers struggle on stage.
In fact, Josh Dun from twenty one pilots played drums in big boots when I last saw their band. I don’t know he manages to play so well!
That being said, no drum shoe alone is going to turn you into the next Luke Holland. Playing drums requires years of dedicated practice and patience.
Things to consider
I can get behind the notion of not wearing shoes while drumming since it should be the lightest way to play. However, I have never felt comfortable playing in just my bare feet. While you may not have to move the weight of a shoe on your foot, I feel that the weight of the shoe actually helps in playing the kick pedal.
Now I have no way to actually prove this, but the force of gravity bringing the weight of the shoe down along with your foot gives you a more impactful kick when playing harder. I also think the added weight makes it easier to play quick parts due to this as well as the friction from the sole material.
2. Pedal grip
Many drummers like myself want an extreme grip on the pedals. I feel as if I can play faster and tighter with good friction. When choosing a pair of drum shoes, deciding on how much grip (or how little) you like on the pedals is a big factor. Drummers like Neil Peart and JoJo Myer use shoes that have a leather bottom for extra slippage.
Having an extreme grip on your pedals will come at a cost. Certain techniques like the bass drum slide are nearly impossible to pull off without a slippery sole. However, I have always felt that the cleanliness of these types of techniques almost always results in a sloppy performance and a poor tone. So I don’t bother with the slide technique personally.
Everyone loves a comfortable shoe, right? Well, you’ll want to be extra sure your shoe is, especially when playing drums. I’ve had gigs where I’ve worn the wrong shoes and have had to pay for it for days to come. The worst is getting blisters on the back of your heel.
When choosing shoes for drumming, be sure to get materials that a flexible and ones that wear in easily. Some solid choices include thin leather, suede, and canvas.
4. Quality of the maker
By now you’ve probably owned enough shoes in your life to understand that some last longer than others. It’s always a shame when your favorite pair falls apart.
Shoe quality can often be identified on the product page. Those manufactured inside the United States may be of a better quality than those created with cheap labor. While you may pay a higher price, the product you get will often time be much better.
Since these are intended for drumming exclusively, you may want to only use them when you play. Keep them in a drum case if you tour and put them on before the show. It’s no different than if you had a wardrobe change. Not only will your shoes last longer, but they will stay cleaner, always looking good for the stage.
5. Skate shoes are a great choice
While many often attack the idea of flat-bottomed shoes for health reasons, for playing drums, they are perfect. When standing barefoot, the heel, toes, and ball of the foot are making even contact with the floor. Keeping that ratio together is important when you’re sitting down at your drum kit. Tennis, basketball, and skateboarding shoes are great for playing drums. I have never felt comfortable playing in running shoes, however.
What kind of shoes do you use while playing drums? Do you use shoes at all? Let us know down below in the comments. If you have any questions, we’ll be sure to answer promplty. Thanks for reading! 🙂