Hands-On Review:Musical, affordable, The sound's in the shell . . . beauty from within

Buying a drum set is a big deal - both a serious investment, and a commitment to a long-term, intimate partnership. It has to be the right set, one you will enjoy playing and hearing for a long time. It has to hold up to years of repeated blows and still look good in public. Most importantly, you want a set that plays with an ease and expressiveness that brings out the best in your music. This is a tall order, but there is an easy answer: Pearl Drums. For many years, Pearl has made drums that fulfill all these essential requirements, beautifully and affordably.


Drums are complicated instruments. Shells, hardware, heads, tuning, woods, sizes, design details, and construction - all make a difference in how a set performs. Pearl drums have improved continuously over the years in many ways - better designs, upgraded hardware, and refined manufacturing techniques. Where others cut corners and lower the quality in their lower-end kits so players will more quickly feel the need to move up, Pearl has always maintained high-quality standards for all its drums. Even Pearl's most-affordable kits provide a sound and response comparable to its advanced sets - a sound that experienced drummers can appreciate, that developing players won't easily outgrow.


The secret is in the shell
The most important component of any drum is the shell itself. Like Stradivarius violins or handcrafted guitars, drums are resonating acoustic instruments. The music comes from the woods the drum is made of and the way it is constructed. Knowing this, Pearl has always put its primary effort into producing shells with exceptional strength and tonal integrity. Pearl's process has been developed over many years and is the foundation upon which all Pearl drums are built.


Selecting the woods
Pearl drum shells are made of maple, birch, and mahogany - the three most valued tone woods in the history of drum crafting - and Pearl uses only the very best of each. Through the expertise of its wood specialists, the highest quality plies are meticulously selected - by hand and eye - then carefully graded, sorted, and allowed to fully dry and cure before they are used. This curing process is especially significant, because only fully cured wood will result in a drum with lasting strength, maximum resonance, and musical tone.


When the plies are ready, they are cut to size and tapered for scarf joints at either end. Lesser shells are made with butted joints. Pearl's use of scarf joints results in a more complete mating of the separate pieces, thus eliminating any potential dead spots within the shell that would inhibit the transfer of vibrations.


Another feature of Pearl's shell construction is its special glue formulations. Pearl has developed glues designed to harden to the same densities as the woods they are binding together. As a result, completed Pearl shells act like a solid piece of wood even though they are made of layers of plies. No gaps. No dead spots. No weaknesses. Just a perfectly round shell of uniform thickness that vibrates freely to produce the best sound inherent in the type of wood used.


Heat-Compression Molding
Pearl's method of forming shells is unique - a patented process using specialized hydraulic presses designed by Pearl and refined over many years. After the cured and shaped plies are inserted into the press and positioned, the press applies extreme heat and extreme pressure (154 lbs. per square centimeter), from both the inside and the outside. The pressure and heat are maintained until the glue is forced into every pore of the wood and has fully set.


When a shell is finally removed from the press, it has bonded into a single, solid, perfectly rounded piece. The shells are remarkably consistent. All possess unusual strength, and uniform density that brings out the inherent tone of the wood with exceptional clarity and presence. The only variations come from the types of woods used, the thickness of the shells, and from their diameters and depths. Finally, they are carefully inspected, tapped for tonal evaluation, and the bearing surfaces hand finished.


The shells may be given a standard finish or many coats of hand-applied lacquer. They may be fitted with standard hardware or the very finest. But whether these shells end up in a Forum, Export, Export Select, Session, or Masterwork Custom set, they all meet the same high standard. Choose any level of Pearl set and you can count on it to deliver a great drum sound that brings out the best in your playing.


Musician's Friend offers a great selection of Pearl drum sets, snares, and hardware, including Pearl's new all-maple Session Series kit and their new Eliminator Hi-Hat Stand, which incorporates the cam system from the Power Shifter Eliminator bass drum pedals. You'll also find great prices on all Pearl products, prices that turn excellent values into hot deals. Check them out and find the drums of your dreams. harmonic distortion







  • Tone woods: North American maple, African mahogany, prime Scandinavian birch
  • Selection and grading: Staff experts carefully select premium grade plies
  • Drying and curing: All ply pieces are fully dried and cured before use
  • Joint construction: Scarf joints rather than butted join each ply for a complete, gapless mating
  • Glues: Exclusive formulas dry to match the density of the woods they bond, enhancing resonance and tone
  • Heat Compression Molding: Patented process. Special-design presses apply extreme heat and pressure to form, compress, and bond the shells
  • Finishing: Shells are trimmed to depth, bearing edges hand finished
  • The result: Strong, durable shells with optimum resonance, consistent tone, clarity, and response