Pearl has been one of the leading drum companies for decades. They’re so popular that even many non-drummers are aware of the brand. While they’re not at the forefront of the drum market like they used to be, they still sell incredibly high-quality kits.
Top 3 - Pearl Drum Sets
If you’re looking to get a new drum kit to play, you should consider getting a set from Pearl. I’m going to look through some of the best Pearl kits so you can weigh up your options. Let’s jump in.
My Favorite Pearl Acoustic Drum Kits
The Pearl Decade Maple is an intermediate drum set that can be used in a multitude of settings. I’d recommend getting this kit if you want to upgrade from an entry-level drum set.
While it’s fairly expensive with its price tag north of $1000, you’re getting a huge 7-piece kit.
There are a few drum kits on the market from different drum brands that have maple shells and cost the same. I think Pearl’s one stands out with its warm tones easy tunability.
The drums are so easy to tune that most drummers will be able to get them to sound fantastic in a very short time. I found that the only drum that is difficult to tune is the 16” floor tom.
Since it only has 6 lugs, it’s a bit more difficult to match the tension settings. This is especially due to its large size. However, I love how deep it sounds once it’s in tune. You’d most probably be surprised that it’s a 16” floor tom and not an 18” one.
The main selling point of this kit and the reason I’ve put it on the list is that it’s a 7-piece shell pack. Compared to the other Pearl kits, you’re getting an extra rack tom and floor tom. Having so many drums gives you a few options with setups.
I think this is great because you can choose different setups for different gig settings. You could play a metal gig with all the shells one day and then a jazz gig with only a few shells the next day.
The only big downside to this kit is that the stock drum heads aren’t amazing. You’d get much better sounds out of the drums with higher-quality heads. Unfortunately, it will also be quite expensive to replace all 7 of them.
The Pearl Session Studio Select is one of my favorite kits from Pearl. The drums have a clever mixture of birch and mahogany woods.
I found that the birch gives the drums a good amount of attack while the mahogany round that out with warmth. In the end, you get a drum set that sounds punchy, yet mellow. It almost has a sound that seems EQ’d, which is why the kit is so good for recording.
I personally think this is Pearl’s highest value-for-money kit. While it’s fairly expensive, you get professional quality drums that you can use in all settings. They sound fantastic straight out the box. I especially love the deep and fat tone of the bass drum.
The shells are quite thin compared to the shells on most drum kits. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I realized how much they sing when you hit them hard.
Another plus side to this kit is all the finish options you get. There are 6 of them, and they each have unique qualities that make them stand out. While it’s a wonderful kit to use in a studio, the beautiful finishes will also look fantastic on a stage with lights shining on the set.
The only thing missing from this shell pack is a snare drum. Instead, you get a second floor tom. While the large floor tom is great, I’d prefer to have a snare that would round out the set and not require me to buy any add-on drums.
Pearl has an extensive line of Session Studio Select snare drums to choose from.
Overall, it’s a fantastic professional kit to consider getting. While the price is quite high, the value-for-money is even higher. You’d just need to purchase a snare drum separately.
I’ve often found people comparing Pearl kits to the Masters Series whenever I have conversations about Pearl drums. The reason for this is that the Masters kit is the gold standard from Pearl. This is arguably one of the nicest kits that you can get for under $2000.
It’s a pro-level kit that has A-grade construction and beautiful sounding drums. The shells are made from a high-grade maple that gives them an incredibly warm and round tone. I was surprised at how open the drums sounded, meaning they resonate quite freely.
Apart from sound, the other thing to mention about this kit is the sheer quality of the hardware. Pearl has always been a brand with a good reputation for their high-quality hardware, but I feel that the Masters kit takes that to the next level. It feels incredibly secure when you play on it, with no components moving.
The rack tom mounts with Pearl’s OptiMount suspension system. Unfortunately, they don’t provide a tom holder with the kit, meaning you need to purchase one separately if you don’t have one already. I’m assuming they do this to keep the price under $2000.
I’d say that this is the most accessible top kit from Pearl. They have a few sets that are higher quality but they’re all incredibly expensive. While the price of the Masters is still relatively high, it’s attainable by most working people.
I’d suggest getting this kit if you want one of the best kits you can get from Pearl. Add in some high-quality cymbals and you’ll be good to go for several years. You’d also need to get a snare drum separately.
The President Series Deluxe kit is one of the more recent additions to Pearl’s drum kit lineup. Pearl made this kit available for their 75th anniversary. It’s modeled to look exactly like the President kits that Pearl made in the 60s and 70s.
If you’re a lover of vintage drums, this is a great kit to consider getting. It has lauan shells that give it a vintage sound. I’d say the sound the drums make would be any mixing engineer’s dream. They have mellow tones with controlled attack and sustain.
The toms are also quite dry. You can control that dryness with the adjustable tone mufflers in each drum. I love that feature as it gives you a second way of changing the tones apart from tuning the drums.
Another thing that I love about this kit is that the stock drum heads sound incredible. It’s always nice to have the best sound straight out of the box without needing to spend extra money on better heads. You can easily tune these drums as they’re intended to sound quite flat and dry.
With the classic Pearl badge and the Battleship lugs, you have yourself a vintage collector’s item. Pearl has made a limited number of these, so you should jump onto one quickly if you want one.
The vintage appearance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I wouldn’t suggest getting this kit if you love the modern look and sound of current kits. However, I think it’s important for all drummers to have some experience with vintage drum kits.
It’s great to see how far drum manufacturing has come, and also how high-quality and durable drum kits were back in the day.
Wrapping up the list of Pearl kits is the Roadshow. Up to this point, all the kits I’ve gone through have been intermediate and pro kits that are fairly expensive.
If you’re new to drumming or just need a cheap set, the Roadshow is one of the best entry-level kits on the market to consider getting. The kit comes with everything you need, including hardware and cymbals.
While poplar shells aren’t the greatest sounding shells around, they work fairly well with this kit. I have a few students who own a Roadshow, and I was able to help them tune it so that the drums sounded much higher quality than they actually are.
I think the real value in this kit comes in the hardware. As I said earlier, Pearl is known for their heavy-duty hardware. I think it’s incredible how you get such good hardware with such an affordable drum set.
I know quite a few drummers who have upgraded from a Roadshow but kept all the cymbal and drum stands to use with their new drum kits. That tells you how resilient the hardware is.
The weak point of the kit is undoubtedly the cymbals. They’ll work fine for a new drummer who is learning to play. However, you’ll find their tones are unsuitable if you’ve been drumming for a while.
I found that the cymbals are just a cheap addition that Pearl supplies with the kit so that new drummers have everything they need to start playing.
Overall, I don’t know any entry-level kit that is better than the Pearl Roadshow. You’re getting a full set with hardware, cymbals, a throne, sticks, and a stick bag. All of that for less than $600. A steal, if you ask me.
Just be aware that it’s a beginner kit, meaning you’ll be quite limited if you’re an intermediate or professional drummer.
Things to Consider When Buying a Drum Kit
Buying a new drum kit can be fairly daunting, especially if you haven’t bought one before. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced gear nut, there’s a checklist you should follow when buying a new kit.
Number of Shells
The number of shells the drum kit has is the most important thing to consider. It will determine what your entire drum kit setup will look and feel like. All the kits I’ve mentioned above vary in the number of drums they come with, so make sure you know how many drums you want with your kit.
If you’re in a metal band and need a large set with multiple toms, the Pearl Decade Maple will be the best choice as it’s a 7-piece set.
If you only need a few toms because you play in a jazz band, something like the Pearl President Deluxe would work excellently. All the other kits fall in between that in terms of the number of drums they have.
The other thing to take note of is whether the kit comes with a snare drum or not. If you already have a snare drum that you love using, you can get a higher-quality Pearl set that doesn’t come with a snare.
If you don’t have a snare, you’d need to get one of the shell packs that includes a snare, unless you’re willing to buy one separately.
You also need to establish what your budget is. Luckily, all the kits I’ve mentioned come at varying prices, meaning they cater to different budgets.
If you need a kit under $1000, the Roadshow or Decade Maple are your options. The Decade Maple I spoke of above is slightly over that, but you can get a 5-piece for less than a grand.
The other 3 kits all cost between $1300 and $2000. They’re fairly similar to each other in terms of quality, so they’re priced very similarly.
The last thing to think about is shell types. The type of wood a drum kit is made of determines how the drums sound. The Pearl kits I spoke of above are made from either maple, lauan, birch, mahogany, or poplar.
The most common wood that drummers love is maple, but I’d suggest you check out the other woods to to see just what they offer with regard to sound.
Pearl has some big-name drummers behind their brand. Artists such as Calvin Rodgers, Matt Halpern, Gabe Helguera, and Dennis Chambers are a few names that I can think of off the top of my head.
They’re a great company who provide fantastic support to everyone who uses their gear. If you’re looking for solid hardware, go with a Pearl drum kit. The kits I’ve mentioned above are my personal favorites from the brand. However, there are a few more where they came from.
I started my drumming journey on a Pearl Export kit, and I still use it for a few projects 20 years later. I got fantastic use out of my Pearl kit. You will as well.