Pearl Roadshow vs Export (2023 Comparison) – Which Kit to Buy?

Author: Joseph Scarpino | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

So you’ve decided you absolutely want to buy a new drum kit. A new drum kit from Pearl specifically. You’re off to a good start already! The problem arises when you have to choose between the Pearl Roadshow or Pearl Export series kit.

On the surface, these kits may look similar but they do have some key differences that could sway you in either direction. 

Let’s take a look at some of those differences to see which of these drum kits from Pearl is right for you. 

Both of the kits being discussed are the 5-piece configurations from their respective series.

Pearl Roadshow

Pearl’s Roadshow series is largely considered to be the entry-level drum kit from Pearl. 

Potential buyers might love the fact that this Roadshow kit comes with all the basics you need to get to drumming right away!

This five-piece kit also comes with all necessary hardware including a kick pedal and drum throne. You’ll also find this package includes a pair of sticks and two cymbals. A hi-hat and a crash/ride. 

The cymbals and sticks aren’t of great quality. Pearl should’ve not included them and lowered the price. The drum throne will get the job done but, consider replacing that as soon as you can as well.

Being that this is an entry-level kit the shells are constructed from the commonly used poplar wood. While poplar isn’t the most desirable wood used in crafting drum kits, Pearl certainly got the most of it when crafting these shells. 

For a less expensive kit, you can actually make it sound pretty good. The snare and kick specifically stand out to me. 

The largest rack tom is a little difficult to tune but, with a little patience, you’ll get it.

Swapping out the heads on this kit and tuning them upright will undoubtedly get this kit sounding just right.

Pearl Export

Being that the Pearl Export is a more expensive kit you can safely assume that this will have some upgraded shells and hardware components. 

It’s also worth noting that Pearl’s Export series kits are some of the most popular kits in the world. So what makes it so popular?

The Pearl Export shells are constructed from an ingenious mix of mahogany and poplar wood. 

Mahogany wood is known to produce smoother mid-range tonal qualities. It also tends to do a good job of muting high overtones. In theory and by the sound of it also in practice, the mixture of poplar wood and mahogany helps better manage the tonal range of the shells. 

You’ll also get some sturdy hardware with your Export. 

Pearl’s 830 series accompanies this kit. You’ll get a two-cymbal stand, one snare stand, a very nice hi-hat stand, and an impressive kick pedal.

The cymbal stands are easy to use and should accommodate most cymbals without issue. I say “most” because they are a little light. If you’re using larger cymbals with some real sway, then you might want something more heavy-duty.

What really shines for me in this package are the hi-hat stand and kick pedal. 

The hi-hat foot pedal is connected to the pull rod from an extra thick chain that makes this hi-hat response super quick. 

The kick pedal is a Pearl P-930. The P-930 is a longboard style with above-average customizability. It comes with a two-face beater and a cam capable of being swapped out for different power settings. This pedal’s addition to the kit is a real win for buyers


Both the Roadshow and Export kits I looked at came in Jet Black. Although it looks to me like the Export kit had a better wrapping on it. Or I might be crazy?

The Export kit just looks more professional. The badging is more prominent and stylized. There is a use of color differentiation in the hoops lip that accents the black kit nicely.  The hardware has a more brilliant finish. It’s a very pro-looking drum kit.

The Roadshow is about what you’d expect for an entry-level kit. It doesn’t focus so much on appearance. It’s all about function. 

That isn’t to say it’s a bad-looking kit. It looks good for what it is but, I wouldn’t call it anything impressive to look at.


The structure of each kit is almost identical to one another. You won’t find much difference in terms of how they play when you sit behind one of these kits and start playing. 

Where the difference is made between these two is the hardware and the shell tone,

The P-930 pedal on the Export kit is smooth for a single-chain pedal. Adjusting the spring tension is a breeze. 

The hi-hat stands are fairly similar in terms of response. 

The Export shells do have a more low-end tone to them. I’m someone who likes a lower-sounding drum so they’d be my preference here.

The Roadshow shells aren’t bad at all though. I think adding some decent 2-play heads on them would really do some good. 

Which Kit Offers Better Bang for the Buck?

To me, there is a very clear answer here. The Pearl Export would be the kit to purchase. Allow me to explain why I’m so “matter of fact” on this choice. 

The Roadshow kit to me is clearly a beginner kit with some false value built into the package. The cymbals, throne, sticks, and strangely enough a poster, don’t add anything of value to the kit. It just makes it seem like you’re getting more but, at the end of the day, you really aren’t.

You’ll find yourself wanting to purchase upgraded items to replace the flimsy hardware, pedals, and cymbals in no time at all.

The Export series kit is where the real value lies. 

The hi-hat stand and kick pedal alone almost make the Export series worth the money. 

You’ll also get better-quality shells, better overall hardware including an additional stand, as well as a nice-looking finish. 

Swap out the factory heads and you can confidently practice and gig with your Pearl Export kit for many years to come. 

My advice is to buy it once, buy right, and you’ll end up saving money in the long run.

Kits with Similar Value

Similar to the Pearl Export

If you’re interested in checking out comparable options outside of the Pearl Export series here are a couple of recommendations. 

Comparable to the Pearl Export series, consider the Tama Imperialstar 5-piece complete set. 

The Imperialstar kit is a bit less expensive than the Pearl Export series and comes with a similar quantity and style of hardware components.

This bundle also comes with Meinl HCS which includes a 14” hi-hat, 16” crash, and 20” ride cymbal.

I also wanted to include the PDP Concept Maple 5-piece here as well. 

The downside with the PDP option is that it doesn’t come with any cymbal stands or pedal components. 

If you don’t need hardware and want some shells with top-notch hardware then consider the PDP Concept Series.

Similar to the Pearl Roadshow

A kit I’d put up against the Pearl Roadshow series is the Ludwig Accent (5-piece) kit.

The Ludwig Accent’s build resembles that of the Pearl Roadshow with slight variations in shell depth and color. 

You will also get the same types of hardware. They even throw in a couple of cymbals from Wuhan. They aren’t great cymbals but it's something. 

Another kit I’d recommend that is similar to the Roadshow is the Mapex Venus 5-piece.

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About Joseph Scarpino

Joseph is a drummer and lyricist from Asbury Park, New Jersey. When he is not on stage, on tour, or in the studio, you can find him behind a camera, directing, or in front of that camera, acting. Joseph enjoys many genres of music but he most frequently listens to Heavy Metal, Punk, and Hard Rock.

1 thought on “Pearl Roadshow vs Export (2023 Comparison) – Which Kit to Buy?”

  1. I bought the Road show set in blue sparkle with 1 -12 ride on a stand and 14 & 16 floor 22 bass , bought all Evan 2 heads with 14 reverse dot on snare I’m 67 started when 9 years old
    After the new heads lug screw locks to keep srews where you tuned them. It was like starting over when I was 9.
    Retired now from work and playing music. The set sounds great and would play them at any gig, having a blast with this set . When you’ve had great drums and start again it’s not so bad make them sound good. Just added pearl 12×7 snare zildjian cymbals that helps also just keep playing with what you have and have some fun


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