Pearl Drums

Pearl Drums Logo

Pearl Musical Instrument Company is an international corporation based out of Yachiyo, Chiba, Japan that sells a variety of products but focus primarily on percussion instruments.  Pearl has become famous for selling drum sets at both the beginner and professional level, however Pearl also has a strong footprint in hardware, pedals and marching percussion.  With a long list of high profile endorsers and a brand name that all drummers recognize, Pearl is without a doubt one of the top drum brands in the world.


Pearl Musical Instruments Company History

Pearl Drum SetKatsumi Yanagisawa founded Pearl in 1946 when he began making music stands.  This quickly changed in 1950 when the focus shifted to drums and the name was changed to Pearl Industry, Ltd.  Three years later the name changed to Pearl Musical Instrument Company and production expanded to include drum kits, marching percussion, timpani, latin percussion, cymbals, stands and other drum accessories.

In 1961 to meet increasing demand Pearl built a large facility and began to produce inexpensive drum kits for more than thirty distributors including Maxwin, CB-700, Stewart, Werco, Ideal, Crest, Revelle, Revere, Lyra, Majestic, Apollo, Toreador, Roxy and Coronet.   Five years later Pearl introduced its first professional drum kit called the President Series.

Today Pearl’s operation includes five factories in Taiwan which supplies the international marketplace.  On top of manufacturing, Pearl also distributes Adams Musical Instruments as well as Hughes and Kettner guitar and bass amps in the United States.  Pearl also distributes Sabian cymbals in Japan.  While Pearl made shells for over 30 companies in the 60s, today they manufacturing drums using their own name and have developed many innovations in drum technology from the 1970s forward.


Pearl Drum Lines

Pearl employs a unique manufacturing technique known as SST or “Super Shell Technology” on every drum shell they produce.  The process involves holding each ply of the shell very tightly together while glue is boiled and infused into the wood grain.  The result is a very strong and seamless drum shell.

Pearl Drums: Starter and Semi-Pro Lines

Pearl manufactures five different lines of beginner and semi-professional drum sets.  These kits are mass produced and include basics such as, hardware, cymbals and even sticks.  This allows for the new drummer to get started quickly and on a budget as these drum sets are all under $1,000 out of the box.

Pearl Rhythm TravelerRhythm Traveler – A drumset with shorter tom and bass depths allows for easy transport rather for practice or gigging.  The 5pc kit includes Pro-Tone heads, 13” hi hats and a 16” crash/ride.  A throne, hardware, mesh muffle heads and plastic cymbals are also included, making this one of the most complete starter kits.  The Rhythm Traveler is priced at under $500 and many retailers offer free shipping.

SoundCheck – The SoundCheck is Pearl’s entry level drum set that typically comes in a 5pc configuration and sells for $400 to $800 depending on the inclusion of hardware and cymbals.

Forum – A 6ply 5pc drum set is accompanied with Pearl’s CXP cymbal set, Pearl’s 890 Series hardware, Vic Firth drumsticks and an instructional DVD.  The forum is one of the most popular drumsets Pearl makes for beginners due to the completeness of the package and the price ranging from $500 to $800.

Target – This set is made exclusively for the European market and like other starter kits comes complete with cymbals, throne, hardware and sticks.

Vision – The Pearl Vision drum series is the successor to the widely popular Export and Session series of drums.  The vision series includes four variants the Vision Maple VML, Vision Birch VBL, Vision VBA and Vision VB.  Unlike the other starter kits Pearl makes, cymbals are not typically included with the Vision series.  Brand new, the Vision series can range from $400 to $1,000 depending on configuration and finish.

Pearl Drums: Professional Drum Lines

Pearl’s professional drum line features a wide array of products from the high quality mass produced drum set to the super high end custom hand made drum shell.  The professional line is a step up from the beginner but still offers affordable options.

Masterworks – The Pearl Masterworks series is the top of the line Pearl Drum set that is custom made to order via the drummer’s specifications.  This can even include exotic wood and 24K gold hardware.  Masterworks sets can take 6 months or even a full year to be completed.  A used Masterwork set can be as low as $2,000 for shells only but most sets are $7,000 and up.

Pearl ReferenceReference & Reference Pure – Reference is the highest end set by Pearl that is not custom-made.  The series is made with blended wood types such as maple, birch and mahogany as well as features a wide variety of finishes.  Made in Taiwan they are always available in red wine color but for custom colors lead time can range up to 6 months.  The Reference Pure variation features thinner shells for lighter weight and a more open, resonant sound.  Reference series drums are typically priced in the mid $3,000 price range with Pure’s price a little less at between $2,500 to $3,000.

Masters (MCX) – The Pearl Masters (MCX) series is a more affordable line of drums that still maintains the higher quality of the professional line of drums.  The Masters (MCX) is the successor to the Masters Premium, Masters Legend and Sessions Lines with the only difference being that they feature die-cast hoops, masters lugs, tom mounts and Remo heads.  Made in Taiwan, the Masters (MCX) are produced and stocked in large quantities which allows for a lower cost and shorter order time.  MCX sets can be purchased new for between $1500 and $2500.

Session Studio Classic (SSC) – The Session Studio Classic (SSC) is a reintroduction of the Session Studio Classic line and is the more affordable Pearl Professional drum series.  SSC drums can be purchased for between $1,000 and $1,500 brand new.

Pearl Drums: Electronic Drums (ePro Live)

Pearl’s first electronic drum set is truly a one of a kind, featuring the traditional look and feel of acoustic drums.  There is also the option with the ePro Live to swap for acoustic or electric heads and cymbals.  Additionally the drum module, (Pearl’s R.E.D – Real Electronic Drums) includes acoustic and vintage drum sounds.  As a kick off this drum line was heavily promoted and endorsed by Motley Cure drummer Tommy Lee.  Pearl ePro Live sets can be bought for between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on selected options.


Pearl Snare Drums, Hardware and Pedals

The Forum, Export, Vision, Masters, Reference and Masterworks Drum lines all come with matching snares.  There is however the option to mix and match options with the Reference and Masterworks series.

Individual Pearl Snare Drums & Signature Snares

Pearl offers individual snares that can be fit to any particular set.  These include piccolo snares for diverse sounds, snares with removed hardware from the shell, among other variations.  The individual snare drums made by Pearl include the SensiTone Elite, Ultracast, Free-Floating, Symphonic, Firecracker and Effects.  Pearl also makes a Signature line of snares that are made for some of Pearl’s most prolific endorsers as listed below.

  • Dennis Chambers – Intentional clinician and session drummer
  • Mike Mangini – Drummer for progressive metal band Dream Theater
  • Joey Jordison – Drummer and co-songwriter for metal band Slipknot
  • Virgil Donait – Australian drummer, producer and clinician
  • Omar Hakim – Drummed for top acts, Madonna, Sting, David Bowie
  • Ian Paice – Drummer for English rock band Deep Purple
  • Chad Smith – Drummer for the The Hot Chili Peppers
  • Daniel Erlandsson – Drummer for death metal band Arch Enemy

Pearl Hardware, Pedals & Thrones

Pearl hardware falls into 4 families the 700 series (lower end), 900 series (mid-ranged) and the 1000 and 2000 series on the higher end.  Included within these series of hardware are boom and regular cymbal stands, snare stands, hi-hat stands, drum racks, tom holders, drum (kick) pedals and thrones along with various adapters.


Pearl Percussion

Along with drum sets, Pearl manufactures various percussive instruments including Congas, Bongos, Cajons, Timbales, Djembes, Brazilian Drums, Cowbells along with various hand percussion instruments.  Pearl is also a popular choice in marching percussion first debuting in 1981 with the Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps and being used by big schools such as Ohio State University.  On top of distributing Adams concert percussion, Pearl has its own concert percussion line featuring, snares, concert toms, bass drums and accessories.


Pearl Drum Review

Because Pearl is such a large drum maker with a diverse line of products, it is difficult to sum up all of their drums and percussive instruments with one sweeping review.  It is safe to note however that Pearl is a quality brand that offers drums for drummers at all levels.  From the technologically advanced ePro Live to the high end Reference series, Pearl offers great value for the price.  With dozens and dozens of endorsers and a worldwide footprint, it is not a surprise that Pearl is one of the most recognizable names in drums.

For more info on Pearl Drums check out their website at

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2 Responses to “Pearl Drums”

  1. I miss the Pearl Export series.

  2. Hi I have a masterworks kit bought secondhand can you give me more info on this kit
    Serial numbers are
    10 x 8 007338
    12 x 9 00/339
    14x 11 007240
    16x 13 007341
    22x 18 007343
    All with reinforcing hoops
    Made in tawain in 02/04
    Can you advise colour
    Shell thickness
    Wood material
    Cost of this kit when new or how much would this kit cost now
    Please advise

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