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Pearl Drums - The Definitive Guide

Pearl Drums Buyer's Guide
Pearl Drums Buyer's Guide

Pearl Drums - The Definitive Guide

From premium drum kits at the forefront of design, to high-quality and affordable options for budding players - learn about the esteemed Pearl Drums brand and see why it's become an industry leader.

Shop Now | Pearl Drums

By Joe Synnott | Published 02.07.20

Since 1946, Pearl Drums has been at the forefront of drum manufacturing. Pearl drumkits have featured on countless stages, with innumerable artists worldwide. From players at the very top of their game, to new musicians, weekend warriors, and working pros; Pearl is the go-to brand that meets the demands of every drummer.

But why do people prefer Pearl Drums? And why should they be at the top of your list? This definitive guide will show you.

We’ll run through the most exciting new Pearl Drum kits. We’ll help you find the best Pearl kit for you – no matter what your level. We’ll also show you the best Pearl kits for kids, to give them the best start possible.

So, read on and we’ll explain why Pearl absolutely deserves to call itself “the best reason to play drums”.

Pearl Drums

The Early Beginnings

Pearl Drums was founded in Japan in 1946 by Katsumi Yanagisawa. The company started creating its first drum kits and percussion instruments by the ‘50s; built its own 15,000 sq. ft factory in the ‘60s; and expanded to the U.S.A. in the early ‘70s.

Since then, Pearl has gone on to dominate the drumkit market with acoustic kits, electronic kits, hardware and drum modules, plus other instruments. Pearl now operates from Japan and Taiwan, distributing its instruments and accessories world-wide.

Pearl Drums

Pearl Drums’ manufacturing ethos and SST

Pearl employs rigorous manufacturing processes – blending the best elements of craftmanship, design expertise, and precision technology. Whether its drumshells or hardware, a constant evolution has ensured that every part of every Pearl kit is thoughtfully designed and manufactured.  


When creating drumshells, Pearl developed a special technique called ‘Superior Shell Technology’ (SST) – now used on every single Pearl drum shell.

Pearl Masterworks

SST involves creating a completely smooth shell with heat, pressure, and precision joins. First, a drum ply is precisely milled and then pressed in a cylinder under high pressure – over 1000lbs! The ply is precisely overlapped with a scarf joint and offset seams to create an air-tight fit.

Next, a proprietary “AcoustiGlue” is heated and added to the ply. The combination of pressure and heat means the glue is forced into every pore and right through the grain of the wood. This process creates a seamless and tight shell that’s unbelievably robust, making the perfect air chamber.

The fact that Pearl uses SST on all its shells is proof of its commitment to premium-standard design across the range. No matter whether you’re looking for a top-of-the-range kit, an entry-level option, or anything in-between, you’ll find the same spirit of true quality craftmanship that makes Pearl stand out from its competition.

Pearl has also pioneered a raft of technology with its material choices, hardware designs, and finishes. More on that to come.  

Pearl Drum Kit Guide

Here we will run through the current 2020 series line-up of Pearl Drums, showing you how each is made and what sort of player it is most suitable for.

Grab yourself a coffee or beverage of choice, and enjoy the show...

Pearl Masterworks

The Pearl Drums’ flagship. A true masterpiece of drum craftsmanship – handmade and completely custom. Here you’ll find the ultimate in drum perfection, specified to your exact requirements.

Pearl Masterworks

Masterworks drums are hand built by an elite group of Pearl Master Craftsmen. You place your order (or your Pearl dealer specifies a kit in advance), and Pearl delivers a custom kit like no other.


Choose your wood from more options than any other custom drum builder on the market. Pearl’s Wood Specialists visually inspect and select each individual wood ply at the mill to ensure absolute quality.

You can choose from North American Maple, Scandinavian Birch, African Mahogany, Gumwood, plus advanced materials like Carbon Ply, Fiberglass, or a complete composite shell of mixed materials.

Pearl Masterworks

Once you’ve selected your wood, there’s also options for shell thickness, bearing edge profile, hardware plating options, an array of drum sizing options, and even a connoisseur’s choice of exotic woods. Each shell is created with Pearl’s SST for the ultimate in seamless design.

Once you’re happy with your shell, you’ll have access to the Custom Paint Artisans that use a labour-intensive 38-step process to create custom finishes in an endless array of colours and styles.

Unlimited choice, or pre-made recipes

Masterworks is all about choice. It represents the pinnacle of all that is possible for the professional drummer, letting you specify a kit to your precise requirements.

With so much choice, it may be overwhelming finding the perfect setup. Pearl’s master craftsmen know this, so they’ve created 5 “recipes” to streamline the process. Each recipe is a pre-specified, tried-and-tested custom kit - designed to bring out the best of certain genres or playing styles. These masterworks recipes include: Urban, Stadium, Studio, Heritage and Modern Dry Sonic Select.

Masterworks Urban

Pearl Masterworks 22'' 8pc Shell Pack, Black Mist Over Zebrawood

Here’s a very special Masterworks kit we’ve pre-specified – the Pearl Masterworks 22’’ 8pc shell pack.

The “Urban” recipe is the perfect setup for Pop, RnB, and Hip Hop. While it excels in these styles, the prestige quality of the Masterworks series ensures it has the versatility and tuning range to cover almost any genre - Rock and Metal included.

The Urban recipe has a thin, even 6-ply shell. It is composed from a sandwich of 2-ply birch/gumwood/birch, with reinforcement rings made from 4-ply Maple. The medium-weight STL Swivel Lug tension rods increase projection and reduce unwanted overtones. Here you’ll find a high-volume response with real punch and a quick, even decay.

The tom shells and kick drum feature a rounded 45-degree bearing edge, while the snare has a standard 45-degree bearing edge. With the toms, you’ll get boosted mid and high-end; the bass drum delivers maximum low-end and reduced sustain; while the snare can be tuned to your perfect response. With additional SuperHoop II’s on the toms and snare, this kit can withstand heavy playing while retaining a wide option of tunings.

The artisanal craft poured into this kit is nothing short of exquisite and creates a professional drum kit that’s punchy, bright, and powerful.

Shop now | Pearl Masterworks 22'' 8pc Shell Pack, Black Mist Over Zebrawood

Reference Pure

Pearl Reference Pure 22'' Double Bass 7pc Shell Pack, Ivory Pearl

Designed to achieve the perfect tone, resonance, and projection from each individual drum – Pearl Reference Pure is a studio drummer’s dream.

The mission of Reference Pure is to make the perfect studio kit, with each drum shell being treated as a separate instrument in its own right. Rather than giving every shell the same composition and spec, Pearl has created an independent specification for each drum independently - giving you the perfect response, balance, and purity of sound across the kit.

Reference Pure snares and small toms have a Birch/Maple composition, larger toms have Maple or a Maple/Mahogany blend, while the largest toms and bass drums have Maple/Mahogany or Mahogany composition.

The same approach to design dictates the shell thickness and bearing edges on each drum separately. These design choices provide a drum kit that has a naturally EQ’d sound, with the perfect blend of materials and build processes for playing live and (especially) for recording in the studio.

For the finishing touches, you’ll get an assortment of premium hardware: Pearl’s Swivel Tube Lugs for optimal head seating and tuning ease; bass drum claw hooks for scratch prevention and consistent pressure; floor tom air suspension tips to rest on a cushion of air for maximum sustain; the OptiMount Suspension System which lets rack toms float and resonate to their maximum potential; low-mass FatTone Hoops for incredible rim shots and resonance; and much more!

Shop now | Pearl Reference Pure Drum Kits

Check out our pre-spec’d Reference Pure kit in the gorgeous Osiria Rose Stripe finish.

Shop now | Pearl Reference Pure 22'' Double Bass 7pc Shell Pack, Ivory Pearl

Masters Series

The Esteemed Pearl Masters series is now available in 3 distinct varieties: Masters Maple Gum (MMG), Masters Maple Reserve (MRV), and Masters Maple Complete (MCT).

With many design features and production methods taken from the Masterworks custom range, here you’ll find a thoroughly professional, pre-specified family of drums in a range of styles.

Masters Maple Gum (MMG)

Pearl Masters Maple Gum MMG 22'' 4pc Shell Pack, Black Diamond Pearl

A contemporary, yet vintage sound for the professional drummer. The Masters Maple Gum is the latest addition to the Masters family – delivering (in Pearl’s words), “arguably the greatest drum tones every recorded”.

Borrowing design features and manufacturing methods from the Masterworks series, this limited-edition production kit offers a more affordable way to get true Masterworks quality.

The vintage-inspired combination of Maple and Gumwood provides incredibly warm mid-tones with exceptional low-end projection. The even 6-ply Maple/Gum shell is hand-selected from the Masters vault, with a 4-ply maple and 2-ply gumwood interior layer. Once formed the shell is then cut with 60-degree outer bearing edges for extra punch and finished with Mastercast hoops and CL bridge lugs for enhance volume, attack, and sustain.

Shop now | Pearl Masters Maple Gum MMG 22’’ 4pc Shell Pack, Black Diamond Pearl

Masters Maple Reserve (MRV)

Pearl Masters MRV 3pc Shell Pack, Red Burst Triband

A vintage recipe derived from a classic formula for tonal purists. Get the same quality materials from the Masterworks supply vault, finished with Pearl’s 38-step lacquering process for a truly refined look.

The Masters Maple Reserve features thin 4-ply shells with 4-ply re-enforcement rings. The Maple veneers are hand-selected from the Masterworks vault and have low 45-degree bearing edges that are finished with 1.6mm FatTone hoops and CL Bridge Lugs. This combination provides a powerful mid-range with a smooth resonant shimmer.

Here you’ll get a well-rounded performance with accurate tuning, snappy response, and the warmth of vintage thin-shelled maple.

Shop now | Pearl Masters Maple Reserve MRV Drum Kits

Masters Maple Complete (MCT)

Pearl Masters MCT 3pc Shell Pack, Chrome Contrail

The perfect kit for busy professionals. The Masters Maple Complete kit combines tonal purity with warmth, power, and premium build-quality - giving you a well-rounded instrument that is perfect for a variety of genres, night after night.

An archetypal maple sound is delivered with a 6-ply American Maple shell, finished with CL bridge lugs and 2.3mm SuperHoops. You’ll also find premium hardware like the OptiMount Suspension System plus insulated die-cast bass Drum Claws.

The Master Maple Complete is an attractively priced purchase for the touring professional; a robust, road-worthy Pearl Masters maple drum kit that doesn’t break the bank.

Shop now | Pearl Master Maple Complete MCT

Session Studio Select

Pearl Session Studio Select 4pc 22'' Shell Pack, Nicotine Marine Pearl

A sonically refined yet highly affordable studio recording drum kit.

The Session Studio Select is a drum kit that provides ultimate value for money for studio and session players. With specs borrowed from the flagship Masterworks series, this kit punches well above its weight.

Using Masters-grade birch and mahogany, this kit features an even 6-ply composition with RT Fat Lugs and SuperHoop II’s to control any unwanted overtones. Additionally, the outer 60-Degree bearing edge, normally seen on the Masterworks series, helps increase punch and volume.

The hybrid shells ensure you’ll get both the snap of Birch and the warmth of African Mahogany. Designed for recording environments and medium venues, this kit has a pre-EQ’d sound with bottom-end sustain and high range attack. The thin shell lets the shell breath fully, so you’ll find long sustain without losing articulation.

The finish display here is the vintage Nicotine Marine Pearl.

Shop now | Pearl Session Studio Select


Pearl Decade Maple 22'' Am Fusion w/ Hardware Pack, Solid Yellow

A serious drum kit for advancing drummers.

The Pearl Decade was created to fill the gap between professional-level and beginner drum kits. Despite being pitched as an upper-mid-range drum kit, it would quite happily suit the needs of professional drummers too.

Featuring 6-ply 100% Maple drum shells crafted with SST technology, this drum kit is beautifully resonant with crisp highs and thundering lows. The Decade drum kit also features low-mass NDL lugs and the Opti-Loc mounting system to give the shells enhanced resonance.

This kit also includes a premium set of Pearl’s 830 series drum hardware, which is built to last.

The finish displayed here is the artisan Satin Black Burst.

Shop now | Pearl Decade Maple Drum Kits


Pearl Export EXX 20'' Fusion Drum Kit, Matte White

A household name and precursor to countless drumming fables.

For decades, Pearl Export has been one of the best-selling drum kits in the world. Providing exceptional quality at an affordable price tag, Pearl Export has been the start of countless drumming careers.

With a winning combination of SST-crafted shells, high-quality 830 series hardware, and standout wrap (EXX) or gloss lacquer (EXL) finishes, this is a complete package for new and progressing drummers – it’s the perfect introduction to the Pearl family.

The shells are a 6-ply blend of Poplar with Mahogany interior, crafted with SST technology.  Here you’ll find sustained low-end frequencies and deep resonance. Further emphasizing resonance and sustain, the Pearl Export features sound-enhancing low-mass hardware and Opti-Loc mounting system.

Shop now | Pearl Export Drums


Pearl Midtown 4 Piece Compact Shell Pack, Black Gold Sparkle

A travel-sized gigging kit for contemporary players.

The Pearl Midtown drumkit packs big quality in a small design. Designed for tight spaces and small stages, the Midtown is easy to setup and quick to break down – perfect for metropolitan drummers.

Despite its compact size, Pearl hasn’t skimped on features. 6-ply poplar shells moulded with SST technology create a classic drum sound with a pure tone. This compact kit also features a robust bass drum lift, Opti-Loc mounting system, and a matching 13” x 5.5” snare drum.

Shop now | Pearl Midtown Drum Kits


Pearl Roadshow 5pc 20'' Fusion Drum Kit, Charcoal Metallic

Amongst the best starter drum kits on the market.

If you’re voyaging into the drumming world for the first time, the Roadshow family is here to kick-start a life-long passion. The trickle down of Pearl’s expertise and manufacturing processes means you’re getting a serious amount of kit for your money with the Roadshow Series. You’ll find a range of bundles to get you started, in some eye-catching finishes.

The Roadshow comes with 9-ply poplar shells with hand-cut 45-degree bearing edges for better shell-to-drumhead contact and optimal tonal power. You’ll also find the essential accessories to get you going. Hardware includes dual-chain bass drum pedal, double-braced cymbal and hi-hat stands, plus a double-braced throne. What’s more, you also include a matching snare-drum, hi-hats and a crash cymbal.

Shop now | Pearl Roadshow Drum Kits

Roadshow Jnr

Pearl Roadshow Junior 5pc Complete Drum Kit, Grindstone Sparkle

The quality Pearl Roadshow bundle in a smaller package.

Designed for younger drummers, the only difference from the larger Pearl Roadshow bundle is this kit has 6-ply shells instead of 9-ply poplar, plus single-braced hardware which is lighter and perfect for smaller drummers.

If you’re seeking a starter kit for a child, don’t settle for a toy – get the Pearl Roadshow Jnr and you’ll have a real instrument that’ll inspire any young player.

Shop now | Pearl Roadshow Drum Kits

Compact Traveler

Pearl Compact Traveler

The compact drum kit for busking musicians and studio apartments.

The Compact Traveler drum kit is composed of an 18’’ bass drum with a mounted 10’’ snare drum. Super easy to set up and put away, the Compact Traveler is expandable with a 10’’ and 14’’ toms. You can also get a unique drum bag, making transportation a breeze.

Shop now | Pearl Compact Traveler Drum Kits and Accessories

Crystal Beat

Pearl Crystal Beat 22'' American Fusion 4pc Shell Pack, Ultra Clear

Acrylic drums with a stunning aesthetic.

Pearl first introduced a transparent drum kit to the world in 1973. With a spectacular combination of stand-out aesthetics and incredible attack, this drum kit was here to make a statement.

With 7mm seamless acrylic shells, Opti-mount suspension system, 1.6mm triple flange tom hoops and CB Mid Lugs, this kit has a serious amount of body and projection to offer. The 45-degree dual bearing edges add control and articulation.

Shop now | Pearl Crystal Beat Drum Kits


Pearl e/MERGE Traditional Electronic Drum Kit, Powered By Korg

A revolutionary approach to electronic drumming.

A new joint venture from Pearl Drums and Korg has resulted in a revolutionary electronic drum kit. Featuring cutting-edge design and quality, this electronic kit challenges current market-leaders in a sophisticated way.

The Wave Trigger Technology from Korg is incredibly fast - it captures every nuance of playing with an imperceivable latency. Based on Korg’s legendary Wave Drum technology, e/Merge delivers unparalleled realism, response, and dynamic range. The module features a huge range of drum samples, captured in pro studios at Nashville, TN. You’ll find familiar sounds from multiple genres and different decades, as well as a vast range of world, electronic, and orchestral instruments.

Pearl compliments this module beautifully with its PUREtouch cymbals and drumheads. Designed to combat the unnatural bounce of standard mesh heads, and the one-dimensional feel of rubber pads, Pearl has created a new standard for electronic drum kit feel. The Pearl e-Rack completes the package, and ensures this flagship drumkit is a serious rival to other brands’ top-tier offerings.

Shop now | Pearl Electronic Drum Kits


Pearl Drums

So, there you have it… 12 incredible series of drums from Pearl!

Which Pearl drum kit do you think is the best? Which provides the service you need? Let us know your thoughts!

Find out more | Pearl Drums at Gear4music

Posted on 2 Jul 2020 17:56 to category : Instruments News

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