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What Shoes to Wear While Playing Drums

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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?”

A quick Google search reveals many drum forums with users speaking on the topic. The answer generally is one of four things:

  1. “Whatever you can afford should be fine. Don’t worry about it!”
  2. “Find a lightweight shoe that you find to be comfortable.”
  3. “I don’t wear shoes, I rock what Mother Nature has given me!”
  4. “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 Sneaker

Available at Amazon

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.

The Puma shoe tends to run much smaller, so you should probably go one size up if you pick these.

Converse Chuck Taylor Low Top All Star

Available at Amazon

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

Available at Amazon

The Superstar is an iconic and modern shoe, boasting thousands of customer reviews online. 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:

Emerica Reynolds Low Vulc Skate Shoe

Available at Amazon

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 specialized shoes for drumming?

Famous drummers such as Neil Peart and Thomas Lang use drum shoes, why not you?

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 Mayer has a bit more of a DIY approach. He tacks on a piece of leather to the bottom of his shoe soles to replicate a leather-soled shoe. Drummers like Sonny Payne and Buddy had incredible foot technique and wore leather-soled shoes.

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 myself have never been comfortable in anything other than a tennis shoe.

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 specialized drumming shoe is going to turn you into the next Luke Holland. Playing drums requires years of dedicated practice and patience.

Drumming shoes are not exactly “in demand” currently and it can be hard to find exact sizes from manufacturers. While these are specifically targeted at drummers, there’s no saying that companies like Adidas and Puma won’t serve you well for playing in.

Things to consider

1. Weight

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 shoes for drumming in, 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.

3. Materials

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 promptly.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.


  1. I tried boxing shoes as they have very thin and flat sole, leaving the ankle untied, they work really well for drumming.

  2. So ive played for years, but mostly off and on. Always prefered just wearing some good solid nike basketball socks or something that felt like barefeet, but that didnt start to become a battle, albeit a sorta fun battle keeping your foot from from flying off your SH** pdp pedal while intentionally trying to piss off the “too good to talk to you, lebian couple” downstairs with diarrhea blast beats…..Anyways, I discovered the guaranteed one step two feet program that’ll have you picking up those “dimes” that have always just straight cucked you to the friend zone, ever since you were able to sneeze in your jeans. Buy five dollar wal-mart derpy ass “water shoes” and immediately go from Lars Ulrich to Anthony Barone. No not boat shoes like Sperries or Don Johnson, but water shoes. They look like some poor young Samba Fu**** and knocked up a wet suit, and somewhere in there was a little thong’d flip flops in there somewhere.

    All seriousness, i decided it was obviously time to try shoes again, especially the amount of power you lose while drumming naked…foot naked, I highly recommend drumming naked, just make sure ya do it in public cause, good ideas yknow! Nah but seriously using water shoes was easily the best shoe ive ever tried. They are lighter than light but grip just the right amount (i prefer a little slippage possible cause it helps my “heal toe” or as my guy Wyatt Stav calls them, scuffs). The literally feel like youre not wearing anything, but have the power of a shoe, they breathe so well, Maybe cause theyre literally made to leak water, but its impossible so far for my foot to get sweaty. Oh and they only cost MAYBE like ten bucks….or if you ever been canoeing in your life, they’re yours for the price of “digging in the back back of your closet, right under that pair of bowling shoes you stole in 9th grade. End, All stupid wannabe jokes, if you prefer barefeet or real low sole shoes or love a very shallow toe box, and dont mind that theyre pretty derpy lookin, try them out and thank me later with a Trick double VI bigfoot pedal. Hell if someone for real blew my mind like that…..id have to bet the chewbacca to your han (or leia if you were a female).

    Also, rybodean is my instagram name lmao if you were did just so happen to have Elon Money and sense of charity, or just wanted to make some lucky ass stuff happen to someone whos never once had that “holy shit i cant believe i was so lucky and hit that 100 dollar scratch off”…hell ive not even won a raffle. NAHHHHH im not tryin to apply any guilt sympathy feels at all lol. Just throwin it out there hahaha

  3. I like to wear Puma driving shoes (https://us.puma.com/en/us/pd/scuderia-ferrari-drift-cat-5-ultra-ii-shoes/306422.html). Nice looking and stylish. They run narrow but I like the feel on the pedals. Others I know like to use indoor soccer shoes (Adidas Sambas). I have also heard people say they like to use bowling shoes (some use the old fashion, thicker sole variety) with the good leather sole. You can easily adjust the bowling shoe soles with grip tape to adjust the slide factor.

  4. I’d prefer Vans as it has a rubber sole which grips the pedal perfectly, and I’ve never had a issue where my foot slips of pedal.

  5. Don’t play drums without wearing shoes!
    I developed neuropathy in both of my feet after many tears of pratice and many years of band jobs.
    I’d strongly recommend wearing some shoes.
    I’m still playing but now I ware shoes.

  6. I recently saw a video where the band was on an ice rink, dressed for hockey. (Cory Wong On Ice). The drummer was able to play okay in Ice Hockey Skates. This proves that anything can work. Some will prefer grippy non-slip soles, and others will prefer leather or suede soles to employ pedal slide techniques. It is very easy to injure a bare or sock-clad foot so I would not encourage that habit.

  7. I do one of three things. Impromptu sit ins,, jam sessions, whatever, I make do with what I’m already wearing. I’ve played in dress shoes AND combat boots. Not my favorite shoes to play drums in, along with running shoes. It gets the job done but I personally must dumb things down a little. Probably not doing any John Bonham “Good Times Bad Times” doubles but whatever….
    My preferred choice for anything serious are Aesics wrestling shoes. I always keep a pair in my gig bag and I’ve used the same pair for the last 24 years or so. Yes, I play in them alot but I ONLY wear them when playing. They have lasted but it’s probably time for a new pair. If I know beforehand that I’m going somewhere and I’m going to be playing a few songs, open mic night, planned session, whatever, but I don’t want to go through the (sometimes) hassle of changing shoes, or explaining to someone why I’m changing shoes (it happens fairly often) I’ll wear Puma speed cats. They look good in a pair of jeans and they are excellent drumming shoes, just not as good as the wrestling shoes. Sometimes I’ll wear Converse All Star hightops, circa 2004. Those work pretty good too. But 9 out of 10 times it’s the wrestling shoes. I’d highly recommend them. But this is all personal. Nothing worse than some smart-ass watching you change your shoes and saying, “Duuuuude, Terry Bozzio plays in combat boots…”

  8. Seems like every time I see Roger Taylor (Queen), he has red Converse on his feet on stage.
    I think I’m gonna give them a try!

  9. “Whether it’s golf, football, tennis, skateboarding, or drumming, shoes made specifically for the sports count.”

    Well yes, but also no. Basketball and Futsal shoes aren’t comfortable at all to be used for drumming.


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